Imposter Syndrome of the Independent Retailer

I had imposter syndrome for years in my retail business. I felt like a fraud. I felt that everyone else knew what they were doing except me. I wrongly assumed that a lot of customers must feel like my stores weren’t ‘real’ stores and that they must know I was a small business and that somehow that was a negative.

I told myself this for the first few years with my business and because I was on the ‘inside’ and knew the mistakes we were making, the things I was ‘learning on the go’ and the reality of not completely understanding my numbers or stock levels for the first few years, I felt like a fake. And I felt the customers must see it too.

And then I finally started to believe in myself and in my concept. I started to behave like a retailer and implement systems and processes that made my business run more efficiently and by default this improved both the working environment for employees and the customer experience too. The more I found out about other, seemingly larger retailers and how they were running things, the more I realised I did know what I was doing, and size is not a factor of capability in business.

“I finally started to believe in myself and in my concept.”

I notice a lot of independent retailers behaving like ‘small’ retailers and then commenting on the fact that customers try to negotiate on price with them and the retailers feel it’s very unfair as that same customer would be unlikely to try to negotiate the prices in a larger retail store.

Why then do they feel your store is ‘negotiable’ on price rather like a market stall concept?

Let’s break it down because it isn’t to do with the square footage of your store. A lot of independent stores don’t focus on the professionalism of their brand. By that I mean looking at some of the things that the larger, more established retailers do such as having branded shopping bags, branded receipts, instore signage with their brand font being used across the store. Think of their swing tags, price labels and point of sale signage showing their return policies.

If you start to behave like a ‘bigger’ retailer then customers will treat you like one. Having your employees trained up to be able to assist efficiently and having regular opening hours that you adhere to are 2 major things you can start to do without any investment other than time.

It isn’t about being a bigger store with a more expensive fit out, it’s just about having a smoother, more professional operation so that customers by default take you seriously. But first you have to take your business seriously yourself. Are you ready to do that?

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