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Now, Stress Management for Retail Owners

Five proven stress reducers to help put the fun back into retailing!


by Patricia M. Johnson, CMC and Richard F. Outcalt, CMC  


Stress Reduction for Retailers

People decide to open their own retail business for a variety of reasons:

  • The chance to control their financial situation by their own efforts and expertise.

  • The sense of freedom and self-respect that comes from charting their own course.

  • The opportunity to do satisfying work.

  • The ability to structure their own time.

  • A chance to interact and communicate with people.

However, these reasons also happen to be the 5 biggest producers of stress! While each reason can be satisfying, it also can be stressful. 

Since learning to manage stress will benefit your body and mind, as well as your employees and store, The ROI has developed five Stress Reducers for Retailers.

Use just one, or use them all. The goal: put the fun back into retailing! 


Stress Reducer #1

You CAN Control Finances!

As the owner of a retail business, you get to decide what to do with profits. On the other hand, you may be personally liable for your store’s debts.

Financial management is one area in which retailers can reduce stress by working smarter, not harder. Why? Because solving real problems is less stressful than fending off nebulous fears.

Take the time to comprehend your store’s income statements and balance sheet. If you slept through Financial Management 101, work through the Retail Finance Basics section here at The Retail Owners Institute®

Or, for more structured training, check out The ROI's exclusive eLearning Kits for Retailers. Self-paced, interactive, and fun (!) for you (and perhaps others in your store.)  Quickly gain a much better understanding of the controllable – and uncontrollable – variables in your store. And peace of mind!

Obviously, if your store has a problem, the numbers themselves won’t tell you what to do

But armed with a basic financial understanding, the problems will move from the area of unnamed worries to the realm of concrete challenges. This allows you to develop specific remedies, and take strategic action.


Stress Reducer #2

Reflect, Relate – and Recharge!

Structuring your life around goals set from your own unique desires is incredibly satisfying. An independent retail owner is in the position to give his/her ideas substance in a way few other workers can. But before you can translate your vision into reality, it must be clear in your mind.

Set aside a specific time each day for reflection and planning and keep it sacred. Once you are in touch with what you want to accomplish, you’ll be amazed how your operations streamline themselves. Moreover, these quiet times will help you relieve stress.

Another way to reduce stress and keep tabs on your larger goals is by putting your network of professional contacts to use. 

Have lunch with your friend who owns, say, the flower shop down the street. Or attend a weekly discussion group sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA), your local Chamber of Commerce, or even your local Public Library. 

Taking the time to talk to other business owners will reduce your stressful feelings of loneliness and isolation while tapping into a valuable source of shared information.

Finally, cultivate a love of the unexpected. Visions need to be rooted in reality and reality is rarely predictable. By staying flexible and open-minded, you’ll reduce your level of frustration and increase your ability to take advantage of new business opportunities.


Stress Reducer #3

Assess Your Staff, Restructure As Needed, Then Delegate with Confidence

You chose retailing because some aspect of the industry strongly appealed to you. You love the products, or the people who buy the products. Yet, there is often a catch: instead of controlling your work, it can too easily begin controlling you.

Many independent store owners are reluctant to delegate. Unfortunately, no one can run a business single-handedly. 

Effective delegation involves giving an employee a task and the authority necessary to complete it.  (That is, they must have both the responsibility AND the authority.) Express confidence in that person’s ability to do the job. Be prepared to take mistakes in stride; delegating may initially require some patience, but it’s worth it.

Empowering employees inspires loyalty. Dedicated, competent employees will make your job much easier in the long run.

Make a flow chart to find out if you are using employees to their full potential and effectively managing the store’s workload. Prepare a list of every major function your store performs. Arrange similar functions into groupings including sales-related tasks and inventory control. 

While a few tasks may be difficult to classify, a hierarchy of major functions should emerge paralleling the workflow through your business. Write your employees’ names next to the jobs they perform.

Previously unsuspected gaps may appear in your chart, as well as unnecessary overlaps. The chart should suggest better ways to utilize the talents of specific employees, increasing their productivity and taking some of the burden off your shoulders.

Stress Reducer #4

That “Quality Time” Thing

As owner, you don’t need anyone’s approval to schedule a business lunch. The negative side is that you can’t report to anyone when you call in sick. 

Because you don’t punch a time clock doesn’t mean you work less. Many independent retail owners put in 60 or more hours a week—and then they take home the paperwork.

If you are troubled by nagging physical problems, your body is telling you it’s under stress and needs a little time off. 

Believe it or not, you can manage your time effectively and earn peaceful time off. Focus on the quality of time you put in rather than the quantity. 

Here are some techniques to increase the quality of your time:

  • Delegate responsibilities.

  • Set priorities. Postpone or eliminate low-priority items.

  • Know when you’re at your best and save those times for high priority activities.  Some people are most efficient in the morning, while others hit their peak after lunch.

  • Use remnant time effectively. The time between customers or appointments is valuable too.

  • Streamline your paperwork. You need to keep adequate records, but you are in business to sell merchandise, not shuffle paper.  It may be time to finally add or upgrade your use of technology.  And with the online resources available today, you also can outsource many services rather than trying to manage it all in-house.)

  • Give yourself a break. Whether it’s a 10-minute snooze or a two-week camping trip, getting away will give you a new perspective and make your work time more efficient.


Stress Reducer #5

Keep (or Regain?) Your Enthusiasm

As a retailer, you probably are a "people person."

The success of your business greatly depends on your relationships with customers and suppliers, but it relies even more on your relationships with employees.

As you work to create good relationships with you staff, remember that people mirror the attitudes they see in others. If your employees are tense and irritable, you may need to relax. If you project a relaxed and enthusiastic attitude, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by motivated, effective workers.

A sense of humor and a good attitude can help drive any business to success.

To illustrate this, consider the following story.

A tense, tired drug store owner sat in the ballpark across the street from his store, watching the local team practice. As he was thinking about how much he dreaded going back to work, one of the players hit a home run. Suddenly the druggist thought, “Why can’t I run my store like a game?”

As he returned to the store, his phone rang. A woman living nearby began to give him a list of items to deliver. The druggist signaled his clerk to quickly assemble the order. The clerk dashed out with the order while the druggist continued chatting with the customer. A few moments later, the woman’s doorbell rang and she excused herself to answer the door.

“How did you do that?” she asked when she returned to the phone. “That was the very order I just gave you!”

That druggist, Charles R. Walgreen of Walgreen’s Drugs, burst out laughing.

An enthusiastic attitude is vital to be an effective manager and reduce your stress. If, like Mr. Walgreen, you look at retailing as a game and play it with zeal, your  business will profit—and so will your health!

©Copyright, The Retail Owners Institute® and Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists, LLC.

Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"