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Are You an Entrepreneur, People Person or Legacy Retailer?

Retailers — just like retail stores — come in a variety of shapes, sizes and personalities. What about your store most appeals to you? Is it direct interaction with customers? Or the creative planning behind the scenes? Are you a delegator or do you have a hand in every sale? Using the below personas, determine which retail personality type seems most familiar. Each different persona can impact retail decisions that ultimately impact your store success as well.

RETAIL PERSONA #1: The Entrepreneur 
I do it all, from sourcing products, to marketing, to all business operations." - Anne-Marie, 37, owner of Heavy Metal Beauty

Family: Husband and three young children. Family life is busy, and always comes first. The business is my freedom — it's great to be able to do something for myself.

Who I am: For Anne-Marie, her business is a product and labor of love. She fulfilled a long-term dream by starting her own business in this niche, and responds strongly to others who share her passion. It's a venture that is very personal to her. Balancing the joy of running her business and her family makes administrative and operational aspects feel especially burdensome. She's passionate about what she does, but views most operational tasks an irritation. She hates dealing with people on the phone, as she sees it unnecessary when everything can be done online.

What I enjoy most about my business: The satisfaction of giving customers what they want. There's also a strong sense of personal accomplishment for me. I dreamt this and now it's real!

What I find most challenging about my business: The day-to-day paperwork — it's so time-consuming.

My business goals: Now that I've had a taste of success, I'm thinking about opening more stores.

If I had one wish for my business: I would be the country's 'go-to' place in my niche market.
 


RETAIL PERSONA #2: The Guru
"I'm a techie. I love watching how the industry is evolving, and helping people manage technology to their personal levels of interest." - Allan, 35, owner of Jalisco Electronics

Family: We have two young children.

Who I am: Despite being a self-described through-and-through "techie," Allan is very much a people person. He thrives on making and sustaining relationships with customers, vendors, friends and family. Doing what he loves while still allowing time to spend with his kids is important to Allan.

What I enjoy most about my business: Working with customers to find solutions. It might be recommending the right hardware or helping them solve their user challenges… Creating meaningful relationships with people is what makes my day.

What I find most challenging about my business: Finding enough time in the day to do everything that has to be done and make sure I have time for my family and for me.

My business goals: I see more locations, maybe in the suburbs next. But I need to balance that with wanting to be part of my kids' activities. I also want to travel while I'm young enough, and patient enough, to appreciate it.

If I had one wish for my business: I wish I could carry more inventory. I know it's a huge risk and liability because the technology changes so quickly. I'd want to be able to trade-up existing inventory for the latest versions.  


RETAIL PERSONA #3: The Family Legacy
I feel ownership of our customers. They're ours and I strive to treat them that way." - Arthur, 45, owner of Alamo Shoes

Family: I have children and a spouse, but I never get to see them because we're open seven days a week. What personal life? The store is all-consuming.

Who I am: Arthur inherited the business from his parents who worked in it all of their lives. His model is work, work, work — and he doesn't trust anyone else to manage it. He wants to break out of that thinking, but it's deeply ingrained. Like many small business owners, letting go of enough to enjoy his personal life is very difficult. For Arthur, this leads to a sense of conflict — he has a strong sense of responsibility to his business and his family, but finds striking a balance hard. Being able to trust people is extremely important and, when he finds such people, he rewards them with his loyalty. He's never near a computer because he's tending to the store.

What I enjoy most about my business: It's all about the customers. Customer compliments of our staff and store. We pride ourselves on having lots of regular customers and serving the local community.

What I find most challenging about my business: The biggest challenge is staffing. It's always tough to find people who want to stay with us and that I can trust. As a result, I'm there every day, several days a week, and often until late at night.

My business goals: We're looking at expanding — something my parents and grandparents wouldn't think of doing. A second store is in the works.

If I had one wish for my business: I'd like to clone myself or find that trustworthy person who can handle inventory and provide great customer service.
 


Do any of these personas sound like you? Your retail persona should help you to better understand your own biases, or the perspectives that you may bring to your retail environment and to understanding who your customers are. To best support your customers, however, it's important to keep an open mind on who your customers are as well as who they have the opportunity to be. Understanding your own natural focus as well as your strengths and weaknesses can keep you from having blind spots when it comes to your retail business.


Find more ideas to strengthen your customer relationship in CNA’s 2018 Guide to the New Realities of Small Retail.
 
From the Author
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of RetailMinded.com, an industry publication that has been recognized worldwide for its leading retail insight. With a core concentration on independent retailers and small businesses, Reyhle is a frequent guest and contributor to various media outlets that include The Today Show, Forbes and countless B2B publications. Additionally, Reyhle has been the spokesperson for American Express’s Small Business Saturday since 2014 and is the author of the book Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business from McGraw-Hill. Reyhle writes regularly as a retail thought leader for various industry resources that include Entrepreuner.com, Fiverr.com, Forbes, IBM and more, as well as having taught Retail Management at Columbia College for eight years as part of their adjunct faculty. Reyhle is also the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. Learn more about Reyhle at RetailMinded.com.
 
Disclaimer
The purpose of this Guide is to provide information, rather than advice or opinion. It is accurate to the best of the author’s knowledge as of the date of publication. Accordingly, this Guide should not be viewed as a substitute for the guidance and recommendations of a retained professional. Any references to non-CNA websites are provided solely for convenience, and CNA disclaims any responsibility with respect to such websites.
 
To the extent this Guide contains any examples, please note that they are for illustrative purposes only and any similarity to actual individuals, entities, places or situations is unintentional and purely coincidental. In addition, any examples are not intended to establish any standards of care, to serve as legal advice appropriate for any particular factual situations, or to provide an acknowledgement that any given factual situation is covered under any CNA insurance policy. Please remember that only the relevant insurance policy can provide the actual terms, coverages, amounts, conditions and exclusions for an insured. All CNA products and services may not be available in all states and may be subject to change without notice.

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