10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Boutique
Owning a boutique is not a "get rich quick" scheme
Often times, people believe that business owners and boutique owners are loaded with cash. And that is simply not the case. It may be the case for the large franchise shop owners but small business/boutique owners are just your average John and Janes. A boutique owner purchases an item at wholesale, resells it at retail, and the profit she/he makes is what he/she must use to purchase more product, pay overhead, pay employees, and pay themselves + more.
Success doesn't happen over night
We all want to be optimists and believe that the moment we hit "launch" on our Shopify stores that we will have a line of people ready to sell out all of our inventory. It takes a lot of time and work to drive high levels of traffic to your site, it unfortunately will not happen over night.
You absolutely must reinvest to grow
You must prioritize reinvesting in order to grow your business. You may be tempted to take whatever profit you make to buy yourself that nice purse or take a vacation (because you work hard, you deserve a vacay, right?) BUT refrain. Prioritize your growth goals and reinvest as much of that profit as you can into growing your inventory selection, or growing into that dream store-front of yours.
Not every piece you select will sell well
Yeah, this one sucks but it will happen. You are bound to have a few pieces that you might take a loss on. And that is OKAY. Nothing to get discouraged about. Just markdown the items, be patient with them while they sell, and take note of why they did not sell well to apply to your buying strategies as you more forward.
Shipping costs are high
This one may be a no-brainer but I wish someone would have given me a heads up before I started. Budget for shipping costs from your vendors/manufactures. When you purchase a large quantity of clothing items, they will come in large boxes and they will be heavy and expensive to ship. You can expect the average shipping cost from your vendor to you to range anywhere from $20-$150. (Shoes/Denim/Home Goods tend to be the highest... heavy stuff)
Vendors can be slow to ship
Although you will be paying top dollar for those shipping costs, it does not create a sense of urgency for your vendors/manufacturers at all... As you start buying for your boutique you will take note of which ones are quick to ship and which ones take their sweet time. Graphic Tee companies tend to take the longest... and I'm talking like 3 weeks to ship sometimes. I'm assuming they print upon purchase and that is what causes the delay, but just expect it. Also, many vendors on FashionGo will have a "on time shipping rate" percentage, which is helpful to know what you are getting into when you purchase from said vendor.
You will work much more than 40 hours a week
Don't you dare go into this thing expecting to live a life of luxury with a perfect work/life balance... haha. You will spend the majority of your time working. You are guaranteed some early mornings, and some really late nights. There may be days you work 6am-9pm... just expect it. But also know, working this hard to build something from the ground up is so very rewarding.
Hire. An. Accountant.
"But I don't want to have to pay an accountant"
I get it, I get it. But unless you are an absolute wiz with bookkeeping and numbers, you are going to need help from a professional. Come tax season, you will thank yourself for having an accountant on your side from the beginning. And more importantly, an accountant will thank you for starting from scratch with them so they don't have to play catch up with months of messy finances.
Invest in marketing
And more importantly, start marketing your boutique/business BEFORE the launch of your boutique. The goal with marketing should always be to market so well at the beginning of your business, that you don't have to rely on marketing efforts for sales once you're established and have grown. You want to have a trustworthy, well known brand.
Friends will want to support you, not ask for freebies
When you start a business, you will not succeed if you are just giving away you items for free, or at wholesale cost. Your friends and family should want to support you. They should not ask for discounts, or free-products. Your true friends and family should want you to succeed.