Tips for Starting a Successful Retail Business: A retail business can be any size and can sell just about anything; from cupcakes to prom gowns. If retailers and wholesalers expect to succeed, however, they need products that consumers want, as well as a great location, a strategy for success, loyal customers, and well-trained employees. No matter what type or size of retail business you are running, you need a good plan in place. Below are five tips to help you start your business off on the right foot.

1. Do Your Research (Then, Research Some More!)

I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "failing to plan is planning to fail."

Even if you think your product idea is the best, do your research. Before you launch your retail business, be sure that there is a need or want for your product in the market. See how the local competition is doing. Think of something that will make your shop unique from theirs, and expand on the market instead of just copying what others already have done. Target the right audience by understanding who is interested in your products, and gear your advertisements toward that group.

2. Create a Solid Business Plan

So, you thought of a million dollar idea while you were waiting in line at Starbucks? Now you need to take a deep breath and create a good business plan (how?) before you start. You need to declare goals and describe how you plan to achieve those goals. Your program should be detailed, covering all areas of the business, including employee training techniques, advertising strategies, funding options, and product lines. Knowing what you are going to do and how you are going to do it will put you on the right track and keep you there.

3. Have a Great Advertising Campaign

You may have the best product in town, but if people do not know you exist, your business will fail. You have to create a strong advertising campaign that will build your brand. Use online methods as well as offline techniques to get your brand recognized. Social media networks, websites, and search engine optimization are useful and affordable online techniques. Offline methods should include a good location, a clear and visible sign, and local advertising methods.

Also, don't forget low-tech and free methods of marketing. Even though you might be focusing a lot of your budget on online and print ads, don't forget old standbys like business cards which have survived the test of time! (You can find high-quality inexpensive ones online from companies like Moo.com and Vistaprint. Oh, and don't forget to always use a coupon!)

4. Understand the Importance of Repeat Customers

Getting new customers can be expensive, so don't lose them! Keeping a customer is much more affordable than trying to obtain a new one, and repeat customers also tend to spend more money. Make sure you have high standards for customer service standards so that you can retain your current clients. Create incentive programs to keep them coming back to your shop; start a newsletter to stay in touch with them and inform them about new products or specials.

5. Train Your Employees Well

Don't you hate it when you walk into a store and some uninspired college kid is behind the counter texting?

Behind every great business are great employees. Take the time to hire only the most capable individuals, and then take the time to train them to your standards. Employee training is a huge part of your business's success. If you want to stay on track with your business plan, make sure you train your employees properly. Conduct monthly performance reviews and reward those who deserve it. Incentive programs for your employees can not only make them work harder, but also make your business more successful.

6. Retail Business = Potential Tax Deductions!

So, if you have a retail business or are in the process of opening one, you know that there are tons of unexpected expenses. Well, the silver lining is that every one of those expenses could be a deduction come tax season! If you have a retail business, make sure you use a good CPA or software specifically for the self-employed from one of the top two brands of tax software. (You can find discounts for both hr block & turbotax self-employed online) Remember, trying to save $50 doing your taxes the cheapest way might cost you hundreds or even thousands on your tax refund, so use the appropriate version with all of the features you need.

Every business needs a plan to succeed, including having the right steps in place and using the correct methods to reach your goals. Do not assume that having a good product will bring in the profits you need; there is much more to running a profitable business. Plan out your business's every move, and carefully carry out the steps you have created for a successful and profitable business.