Retailing is a full time commitment for every owner. In most cases, the owner is also the manager, the buyer, the promotional manager, the facilities manager, the stock room manager, the customer relations manager, and, well you get the idea.

The truth is that no one does it better. Because you not only have a vested interest (it’s your money), but because your store is your baby, your dream, and consequently, your life. You open the store, close the store, manage everything in between and spend a lot of time working alone when the store is closed to make sure all is well when it’s open.

As time goes on, the hours you spend will become less joyful and more debilitating. The toll on your mind and body are great, no matter what your age or physical condition. Life is about balance and once you are out of balance, you are in trouble.

Any person that desires to move ahead in business needs to do three things. First, your job (even if your job is the owner) must be detailed on paper (or on the computer). And I mean detailed, with nothing left out. This accomplishes two things: it allows you to actually see what you do (and what you don’t do) and it creates a clear road map for your successor. Next, now that you are totally clear on what YOU do, you will need to hire someone to take your place.

Hiring someone to fill your shoes is a tall order and it will not happen with the first candidate (but it might). I won’t pretend to be a HR expert, but you must be very comfortable that this person has the intelligence, drive, and compassion that will spell success. And be prepared to go through many candidates as first impressions do not always turn out to be correct. Once you have found a promising prospect, they must be trained. That goes way beyond handing over the manual you have created detailing your job. You must work closely and observe this new person in all aspects of their performance. If I’ve learned anything from working with literally thousands of employees it’s this: you can teach skills, but you cannot teach (or change) someone’s attitudes. Attitude trumps experience every time.

It’s only when you have gained the confidence that this person can be your replacement that you can have a life outside the store. And by having that other life, you’ll find you have renewed energy, ideas, and enthusiasm for the store that was starting to beat you down. Of course, there’s no reason for you to retire once you have your replacement, but the store will benefit from having two dynamos that are focused on growing and improving your store.

If you’re wondering where my mention of open to buy planning comes into this – well there it is. More about that later.


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