Do you have an eye for fashion?
Fashion lovers tend to gravitate toward new and exciting trends. They rip their jeans and tatter their t-shirts before Instagram catches on. They’re plugged into the fashion “now”.
If this is you, it’s time to consider turning your passion into a new business. Like any new business, starting a boutique in a trendy part of town isn’t easy. But it’s well worth the effort if you’re willing to put in the work.
We’ll give you a little help in this article. Here’s our guide for how to start a boutique from the ground up.
Turn Your Idea Into a Plan
Your business plan is where your boutique dream takes solid form and hops one step closer to reality. This may sound intimidating but, fear not. There are tons of online resources to show you how to write a detailed business plan.
Your first step is to research your target customer. Create a profile of this person. Are they male, female, teenage, or middle-age?
Ask yourself all the relevant questions about the person you plan to sell to. Now you have a solid customer profile. This profile drives how you set up the rest of your business plan.
Research is essential to business success. Hit the pavement and ask for advice from other local entrepreneurs, preferably those in your line of business. Join a local entrepreneurial group to get some ideas and information.
Also, do internet research to determine the best area for your business and find potential sites. Your job is to know everything you possibly can about the business.
Set your goals. You need specific goals based on facts and numbers. That way you can measure success by how well you meet those goals in the future.
Most business plans include three years of pro forma financial statements. You’ll get these numbers based on your pricing and sales research. They should be based on historical information from similar boutique businesses.
You’ll also want to get specific about the physical things you’ll need to start. What building will you rent? How much inventory will you need to start?
Also, think about things like equipment. Know what types of retail furniture you’ll need. And do your research on the right pos system.
Your business plan is a guidebook that potential investors look at. Banks and other funding sources will want to see a solid plan too. The clearer you can present your plan, the better your odds at finding a funding source for your new boutique.
Get Your Paperwork In Order
Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to get moving on paperwork.
First, you need funding to get your business off the ground. Discuss your plan with local banks and find the one that works best with you.
It’s possible that you may need to take out a home mortgage to get your starting funds. If so, start that process rolling as soon as you can so that there’s no delay.
Decide on a location and sign your lease paperwork. File for a business name with your state and register to pay taxes. Open up a business bank account so you can keep the business money separate from your personal funds.
Talk to suppliers and learn the terms of their agreements. Many require you to set up a credit account and they may need to do a credit check on you. And get the necessary permits from your state and local government.
Find an accountant who will help you with things like bookkeeping and payroll. Talk to your insurance agent about setting up property insurance and liability coverage for your new store. Buy a domain name and get your website started.
Clearly Define Your Brand
Now that you’ve got the ball seriously rolling on your business, it’s time to define your brand. This will guide your marketing campaigns going forward.
Your brand should be specific to your likes and dislikes and to those of your target customer. What problem do you plan to solve for that customer? And how do you plan to solve that problem?
Think about your brand’s emotional impact. For example, if your new boutique sells only ethically-sourced clothing. Show this passion in your branding materials to envoke the same emotions in potential customers.
Also, come up with a mission statement for your new business. This shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out novel. Keep it to a few short sentences.
Define what you hope to accomplish with this new boutique and how others will benefit from it. This mission statement is important because it will help guide you through your marketing journey.
Market ‘Till You Drop
You have your paperwork in order and you’ve developed your brand. Now it’s time to sell it.
Your business plan set aside a budget for marketing. It’s important that you stick within that budget, at least during your first year in business. Lay out how you plan to spend the money in your budget in a detailed marketing strategy.
There’s the option of traditional marketing methods like print, radio, and television commercials. And these are great for bringing in a local customer base. But they can get spendy.
Create your website so that it’s easy to read and user-friendly. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly too. Many people will buy straight from their smartphones and you want to make that as easy as possible.
Set up social media accounts for your new Boutique. Invite all of your existing friends and followers to follow that too. Then lay out a clear calendar for content sharing on these pages.
Social media content is a huge bonus booster for your marketing effort. If you have regular posts that bring value to your customers, they’ll reward you with sales. And shares!
Start an email list using a prompt on your main webpage. Use email management software to help you track and segment your email list. This allows you to personalize your email content so that people find real value in what you send.
How to Start a Boutique the Right Way
Hopefully, we’ve given you a few tips for how to start a boutique the right way. It’s always best to start with a plan to define your goals. As your business prospers, you’ll be able to mark off certain milestones based on your original plan.
And reaching your business goals is one of the most fulfilling things you can do as an entrepreneur! If you’re looking for more business advice, check out our Business & Finance page for lots more tips and tricks.