The Safety Net - Cart Before The Horse

Wednesday April 20, 2016

Dear Nettie @The Safety Net
I have been given your details by a friend of mine and wondered if you are able to help me. I have recently leased a shop in an up and coming seaside town which I have always wanted to do, but I’m not sure whether to sell vintage clothes or open a coffee shop – I wonder if you can help?
Jane

Dear Jane

Thanks very much for your email, and please do let me know in due course who suggested we speak.

Well, this is an interesting one isn’t it?

It is rather unusual to lease a premises without a clear idea as to what you want to do with it, although great it has been narrowed down to a potential of 2 business ideas.
The first job to do is undertake some research, and I would suggest you make this an urgent priority as you already have premises that will be incurring costs.

For example, how many coffee shops are there nearby?  I appreciate that you say this is a seaside town, but how far from the beach would you be and who would be your clients? What will the trade look like in the winter months? How would you staff the shop? Have you looked into whether the premises have had a food licence previously, and does it have the necessary facilities you would require?

With regards to vintage clothes – this will certainly work better in some locations than others, but again it is all about the research – this is likely to be less seasonably reliant, however it all depends on the local clientele as well as the type of vintage you are looking to sell.

It does seem very much that you are in a ‘cart before the horse’ situation and this needs to be rectified quickly but also considered carefully.

Whichever venture you decide on, now needs to consider the following;

  • Research – competitors, market need, seasonal trade, what would make your business different from other retail outlets
  • Decision on what the business will be?
  • Business Plan – this needs to include not only how the business will work, but realistic cashflow forecasts – I am happy to provide you with templates for both
  • Status of the company – will it be a limited company, will you need to set up pay-roll, how will VAT work –( food outlets are different for VAT than other retail outlets)
  • How will you launch the business?

I fully appreciate that this is a longstanding plan / dream of yours, but you really need to move quickly to make sure that this does not turn into a nightmare and that you get that horse in front of the cart as quickly as you can.

Would love to actually chat with you further, so please do let me know some suitable times and dates

Good luck  Nettie

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