To achieve your goals, you must commit to doing whatever is necessary, not just what is easy or pleasurable. Many things we must do are out of our “area of expertise” or we just don’t want to do them. But to succeed, we must grit our teeth and get the job done. Occasionally, we find we had untapped ability in areas we never imagined. Other times, we were absolutely right about the tedious nature of the task, but can take pride in getting through it and achieving the desired result.

Sounds a lot like retailing, doesn’t it? Most of us have entered into retail because of its product orientation. We love the products we deal with and are drawn into retail by that allure. Shopping for merchandise, ordering, displaying and selling are very pleasurable aspects of the retail process. But then there is the other stuff. Dealing with the staff, the landlord, the federal, state and local agencies, handling emergencies and eating lunch at 4:00 PM are just a few that come to mind. I’m sure you can expand the list. You probably took a break from one of them to read this post.

It seems that retailers are divided into two groups – product people and number people. Both love dealing with the product, but only the smaller “number” group enjoys the financial/business end of their store. The product people give lip service to the business aspect of retailing, but do everything to avoid it. This attitude brings more problems than the false sense of security it creates. Retailing is a business. A business that must be run by the numbers. The product is only a means of fulfilling the numbers.

Since your bottom line is directly tied to your buying, the most important numbers in your business are your buying numbers. By properly planning your buying dollars based on anticipated sales and desired turn rates you will always have the right amount of inventory in the right categories at the right time. This will produce a positive cash flow and enable you to pay the bills and take home a profit every month. This process is called “open-to-buy” planning.

An open-to-buy plan will guide you to having the right amount of inventory to support your sales and produce a positive cash flow. Retailing is a great opportunity for creative expression, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to find great financial success dealing with products you love. Many retailers are seeing the fruits of their labors by using open-to-buy planning to guide their buying. You can too, but first, you must commit to running your business by the numbers.

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