What Boutique Owners Should Be Doing RIGHT NOWMar 31, 2020
Boutique owners: this is your time to shine. You are an entrepreneur and entrepreneurs are known for being scrappy, pivoting and making it work. How you choose to move forward might not be right for the boutique down the street though. This is where entrepreneur intuition comes into play. There’s no perfect answer on how to run your boutique business these days but I want you to know that you have options.
What could you be doing now as a boutique owner? What is the most important? Where should you be spending your time? What about money and employees? If you're feeling lost and confused, here are a few tips to help you navigate and decide what feels good for you and your boutique business.
First and foremost, stay calm.
What we are experiencing is a situation we have never seen before. There is no right reaction, no right answer, and no perfect solution. Take the pressure off yourself and know it's perfectly okay to freak out. It's okay to have the moments where you let yourself feel your feelings. In those moments, connect to your breath and see what potential lies in those feelings. I truly believe that there are plenty of opportunities to make money. There's plenty of space to build community. There's time to “skill up”; to get better at who you are and what you're doing.
Second, look for the opportunities around you. It’s probably in your boutique, but it may not be. It could be in the stock market, the housing market, loan refinancing and frankly, it doesn’t matter. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities that exist to help, to serve and to make money. Are you open to these opportunities? Are you ready for them? Or are you going to choose to focus on what's not working for you?
One of the easiest places to see opportunity is in your inventory. Most boutique owners don't know what's going on with their inventory. I've had multiple clients tell me, "I walked through my warehouse and I have so much on racks," or, "I looked through my stacks of inventory and found pieces that I forgot I had and can sell." This doesn't mean you put that lost inventory on a discount. I simply want you to see the opportunity around you because you have money sitting on your racks and your shelves. Put the excuse of, “There’s no way I can make money” away. My friend, you have money all around you in the form of inventory!
Take a few hours and go through what you have in stock and what’s on order. Have you looked to see what's hanging around? If you've been in business for five years, I can guarantee you have leftover inventory sitting around. Tap into your entrepreneur intuition and think, “What can I do with this? How can I make people happy with this?” Is there an opportunity to do a yard sale with a charity aspect in a private Facebook group? What about a live stream a sample sale event that you hype up? Get creative and tap into what’s going to feel fun for you!
There’s also an opportunity to use your financial resources differently. If that means cutting some expenses, like employee time or subscription services that you aren’t using, consider it. Remember, this won’t last forever. If you need your business to feel better, it’s ok to cut back. Look at your Profit & Loss Statement for the year and see if margins could increase, processes or apps could be streamlined and if non-essential expenses can be put on hold. This is something to consider doing quarterly regardless and why not now, as we close out the first quarter of 2020?
Next review all of your numbers holistically to make informed choices from a place of empowerment. Where you, as a boutique CEO, are doing what’s right for your family and business, long and short term. Money is energy so when you cut expenses from a place of fear or scarcity, it can bring you down to a feeling of desperation that disrupts you from making money.
Speaking of making money, there’s still plenty of customers shopping! Sell where you know you can. If that is on Facebook, sell on Facebook. If you have a great Instagram following then double down showing up there! If you’re a brick and mortar suddenly thrown out of your store, don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to build a website overnight. You can sell on social media and send an invoice through Shopify, Square or even PayPal. My thought is that using your energy to do what you do best, sell in-person, is going to serve you well in an “online” capacity through video.
That said, consider creating video content, whether it’s live or recorded. I’ve heard many boutique owners say: "I don't feel comfortable selling on video." My response is that you don’t have to sell. Instead, think of video content as having a TV show. Isn't everyone watching TV right now? Why can't they binge-watch you? Create some style videos or show customers how to take something from their closet and make it new. On the newest social media craze, TikTok, you'll find a ton of inspirational styling videos, it's wild! People love to watch styling videos because they don't know how to style. You're a boutique CEO and that means you're the head stylist for your boutique, right?
Here's the thing about video: whether you're doing a video drinking coffee and chatting or a sales video saying, "$10 for these glasses, comment 'sold' below," you're having a conversation with your people and connecting with your community. That is so important right now. We are starved for social moments. Connect with your community. You have a chance to dig your heels in and connect with your customers in a new way. If it ends up in products sold, great! But understand that it doesn’t have to be the intention if it doesn’t feel good to you. The intention is to connect with your community. The intention is to be a light, to be a joy, a place for people to take a break from their kids or their spouses working from home, news conferences and all the blah. You get to be the break and to be the solace in the noise. I want to encourage you to be that if it feels good.
You're brave for what you do. Not just anyone opens a boutique! This is the time you are being called on to be creative and to put yourself into and behind what you feel excited about. Your mindset is more important than ever before. Taking care of yourself, managing your energy and making sure that each day you are doing things that help you feel good to move forward. Spend 5 minutes journaling, go for a walk outside, stretch, drink more water and up your supplements. Protect your headspace from the negativity, scarcity, and fear that you might come up against. Try to stay in the place of knowing that we will get through this because most likely, you’ve been through tough times before.
There's no proof that everything goes away and goes to crap when things get hard. Jewelry designer Kendra Scott took a bold move in the 2009 recession and opened her first brick and mortar store. As the CEO of her company, she asked, "What do I need to do right now to pivot? What's going to be best for me, best for my family, best for my company? What does that look like? What does that feel like?" That's what you get to decide right now too. Her bold move to open a brick and mortar, when it certainly wasn’t the obvious move, is what helps Scott build her company, now valued at over $1 Billion.
Unprecedented times call entrepreneurs up to the plate to make bold choices and lead with innovation. Now is the moment to flex your entrepreneurial talents and rethink how you operate. You're creative and you enjoy coming up with new ideas. You, as an entrepreneur at heart, will figure it out. You get to use your entrepreneur intuition to pivot your business. That might mean you move into live streams to connect and sell. Maybe you decide to go heavier into jewelry because it’s easy to get and it’s what your customers are excited about. It might mean you pivot into graphic tees because your customers are responding to that. This is where you get to use your intuition, use the feedback from your customers and react to make something beautiful.
Finally, there’s one last way to approach what to do…slow down. This is for the boutique owner who needs a break. If financially and mentally you are good if revenue slows down over the next couple of months, then allow yourself to do less. Perhaps you’ve been working super hard for years and a period where you can just chill is exactly what you need right now.
Not sure if this is right for you? Look at your expenses and payroll, your inventory level and savings account. If you see that you can pay your bills and feel abundant even if revenue is cut in half, a slow down moment might be the path for you. This doesn’t mean disappear from social media or your business. Stay as consistent as you need to make the money you desire, adapt your time invested into business growth into self-care, and set a date/time/feeling on when you’d like to return to full speed. You are allowed to slow down if it feels like you’ll come out the other side with a new perspective and raring to go!
No matter how you choose to react right now, it’s all good. Continue to show up, be a force for good and know that no matter what happens, you’re doing your best!
PS. My popular self-study course Retail Mindset Makeover will be running LIVE for the next 6 weeks. Doors for enrollment will be open until Friday. April 3rd.