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20 steps to success – Opening a Deli

 1.   Get Busy– no matter how busy you think you are, it’s about to get a lot busier, try to eat & sleep properly. Don’t panic, it’s not a cool look. Think smart; make good time management a routine. You may have to research a few areas before getting it right. Get a plan; go over it with people you can trust, research property locations/products/local markets. If you don’t know what you’re doing, look at other businesses and try seeing it from the other side of the counter. Watch how they trade, their pricing and take notes

 2.   Ask the right questions – the most important advice and can save you a lot of money/trouble.  If you don’t know the answer, find out or ask and ask again if required until your happy. Many professionals you deal with will be making money out of you, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and always negotiate. You don’t ask, you don’t get. With suppliers ask what best seller/value lines are, they have know there market and its free to ask. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for advice/feedback, it can make new friendships/mentors/clients.

 3.   Do your homework – have a business plan, marketing & social media combined plan. Get help from local business gateway (they provide excellent advice/ free templates), get free help from family/friends. If you’re not good with numbers, get up to speed, it’s very important. You’re making judgment calls that decide whether your mortgage/bills/staff get paid.

 4.   Know who you are – if you’re going to get funding from a bank, a grant application, business angel, you will have to present to someone. If you watch the ‘dragons den’, they buy into the people as much as the product. Get who your market it is, do a SWOT analysis, what’s your UPS, what sets you apart, where are you going and why? It’s a must.

 5.   Make it legal – register: company, with accountants/tax office etc, with local council/services, it’s better to invite them in before trading, sort out any building or trading issues. Check paperwork for lease/property agreements; get a lawyer to check if not confident. Any social media rights. Don’t be tempted to ‘wing it’, make sure whatever you do it is legal, infringements can be very costly. Run checks If buying already trading business & remember TUPE. Make sure you know everything beforehand & ask to work while trading if makes you feel better.

6.   Shop around – for everything. For product lines check their website for distributors & compare with other suppliers, for buying big items using 3 quote rule. Get best value for every purchase.

7.   Filter the noise – everyone wants to tell you how to run your business. But they don’t own it, you do. You may have to make difficult decisions maybe every day. Compliments are great but complaints are where you learn. Go with your gut instinct, it’s got you this far already.

8.   Be prepared – When you open, that’s it, the whirlwind begins. So make sure you’ve got the 3 S’s = Stock, Staff, Star quality on show! First impressions count. If funding is low, try core products/best sellers/ fill out with pos/supplier deals. Hire staff who, buy into your vision.

 9.   Make an entrance (and an exit) – marketing with social media for launch, be unique, be bold, create a stir! You’re the new kid -for now, so make it count, bring something new, get your staff onboard and invigorate those around you. Get free advertising. But also nowadays an exit starts at the beginning, so think about it while you still have time to think! Have plan A,B &C at hand, things can move fast in business and be realistic.

 10. Build a Hub – you may have bigger landmarks around you, build a community with your customers, get active and keep up on social media, have a local charity strategy; support the arts/ support healthy eating/ business networking. Welcome business/residential neighbours old & new your hub.  Collaborate and engage.

11.  Be creative – what was your drive to start; a beach cafe on a gap year or a side street emporium. Bring your ideas, let them breathe, give them names and take your people on a journey. If snowed under seek help; invite your staff show their creative side and maybe offer a keen student/graduate your social media as a project.

    12.Live the dream – be confident. Go to meetings/ events / presentations with a spring in your step. You are putting your stamp on the high street, you’re making history and that’s exciting. Don’t overdo it though, be humble and always be genuine.

13.Don’t suffer – you can’t please everyone: fact. Not everyone in the community will get you. If/when tested, always be professional. Don’t be too proud to ditch lines that are not working don’t be afraid to change course, always ask yourself what’s the value added? Faze out low performing lines, fade in new lines through testers & specials. 

14.Walk before you run – the first 6 months is crucial, make sure you’re up-to-date with legalities/paperwork etc. If funding has been tight, be very careful with cash-flow, even if you think you’re doing well, costs can crop up anytime. Learn to be a shrewd buyer; watch your stock/ wastage etc. Keep

 15. Lead, don’t follow – your picking up the tab, so make your own decisions. Big companies get it wrong all the time, when you’re small you can react to customers’ needs quicker and get their business first. Be brave, it’s important for your hub, your staff and people who back you financially.

16. Be smart – whether it’s seeing an opportunity, potential/shortcomings in a property, watching cash-flow, following seasonal trends/products. Always make your shop look its best, if trade is slow with tight cash-flow then buy wise/ introduce thru specials. React to customers’ needs, but treat all equally.

17. Ride on the shoulders of giants – whether it’s through social media/ bigger company/ a charity/ a government initiative get involved/collaborate with something you have a passion for and it can bring you far more business than expensive advertising.

 18. Get real – Be wise and calming in the face of adversity. It’s important for your staff to look up to you/ have confidence in you and your customers to know they can trust you. Always follow through on promises. Be firm but fair. If mistakes are made, correct them immediately, be genuine & then spoil them. Be honest with staff & reward.

 19. Branching out- go with gut feelings, you know your business better than most. Ideas may come from unexpected places like staff, customers or suppliers. Look at value added when assessing new areas whether it’s product lines/outside catering/hot meals/hampers or new premises. Introduce small scale with low loss if cash-flow tight but the bigger the budget, the bigger the microscope to how it adds value. Is it sustainable?

20. Take risks – for every expanding business, a risk must be taken. To trade-on when your business is aching to grow is painful. It can sap energy and trouble the mind with: what ifs? There has to be always a drive forward and if risks are not taken then the business can fail in time. If your premises can’t expand, you need to move or take a second unit it’s that simple.

SmoothBoy’s Deli

What do you think, like to add to this or just give me some feedback? feel free to comment…

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