Online Class: Retail Business 101

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Course Description

The idea of running one's own business is the dream of hundreds of thousands of Americans. The reasons for opening your own business are myriad; to be your own boss, to set your own hours, to do what you want to do, to provide a product or service where you perceive a need, to follow your passion.

Any one of these reasons are good ones for opening your own business. There are really only a few real reasons for not just jumping into the process and opening your doors to new customers and your heart to an entirely new and wonderful way of life.  The biggest reason is fear; fear based on lack of information.  When you do not know how to do something, there is underlying fear that it will likely be done wrong.
In order to tackle your fear, you need knowledge and that is what this course on  Retail Business will give you. By going through Retail Business you will discover whether or not you have the true entrepreneurial spirit to leave the corporate world and all that goes with it, and enter into your new world of Business Owner. The beauty of being a business owner is that you will never be bored, you will spend time doing the things that you love, and perhaps even with the people you love if you decide to join forces.

This course will take you through the lists of things that you need to do or consider before you open your doors.  Once you have completed the course, you will have enough information to decide whether or not business ownership is for you.

Many Americans are entrepreneurs at heart, and spend countless frustrated hours working for someone else, making money for someone else, when all they really want to do is work for themselves. They like the idea of being the boss, of being able to put up a closed sign if they want to go fishing or meet a friend for lunch. Others simply want the status of being in charge and demanding the respect of their friends and family as a store owner. Whatever the reason, the truth is, most people do not want to spend their lives working for someone else.

The answer for many is to open their own retail business. Retail business, by definition is a business that sells goods directly to the customer or consumer. Retailers are not wholesalers or suppliers who typically sell their goods to another business. Retail businesses include large corporations and small businesses that are run independently, like a family book store or coffee shop.
Retail business has changed over the years. It used to be that all you needed was to have a good product, put up a shingle, open your doors, and voila, you're in business. Today's retailer is competing in a world of the retail mega-stores, Wal-Mart, Target, dollar stores, etc. The trick for today's retailer is to figure out where there is a need not being met and determine the best way to fill it.
If you have never worked in retail, the idea of opening a retail store may seem very different than if you have worked in retail. Too often, people think that all they need is to provide a good product with good service and they cannot help but be successful. All too often, such grand and worthy ideas find themselves in the dust in just a year or two. The truth is, it is simply not enough to have a good product and good service.
In order to be successful in retail you have to understand every aspect of retail business as it is in the twenty-first century. The owner of a retail store today must be a financial whiz, have excellent people skills, know marketing, purchasing, inventorying, display, be a personnel officer, a coach and trainer, store designer just to mention a few. If you are not skilled in all of these areas, it is to your benefit to find people who are; people who will be willing to help you as you get your business off the ground.
With all this in mind, we will talk about how to find just the right retail business for you, or if you already have an idea, how to determine whether the idea is a viable business opportunity or not.

Self Assessment

For those of you who want to be in retail, but just are not sure what type of business you want to open, you will need to do some soul-searching, and identify your core interests.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you read about the most?
  • What magazines to you subscribe to?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • If you have only two to three healthy years to live, what would you do aside from spending time with friends and family?
  • What did you really want to be when you grew up?
  • Have you worked in retail?
  • Do you know anyone who works in retail?
  • Do you know anyone who owns their own retail store?

Next, list everything you have ever been interested in:

  • Cars?
  • Pets?
  • Quilts?
  • Books?
  • Bikes?
  • Fish?
  • Training equipment?

Lastly, you must rate each of the above interests based on:

(Use a scale of 1 – 5: 1 not really interested, 5 very interested.)

  • How interested are you?
  • How long would it take you to become an expert?
  • How likely are people to pay for your expertise and products?
  • How likely are people to pay a lot of money for your expertise and products?

Please take your time with these questions. Once you become a retail business owner you will eat, drink, breathe, and dream about your business all day every day.

Are you a People Person?
Being in a retail business means that you will be dealing with people on a nonstop basis; from your customers to your vendors, from advertisers to other business people that you network with. 

You do not have to be overly gregarious, but you do have to like talking to people and have to be able to communicate with them. And if you are really not a people-person, is your idea really good enough to get a business off the ground, in which case you will need a people-person to be the public face of your business. 

Is problem solving your forte? 
Retail business is fraught with problems. I have noticed that people for whom every little incident is a crisis, opening a retail business is likely not going to be a strong point for them.

In retail, you have to deal with all kinds of problems on an everyday basis--such as phone lines not working, air conditioning/heating not functioning properly, fuse boxes out of code, flooding, roof leaks, burglary, broken windows, doors, and locks. Credit cards get maxed out, shipping rates increase, shoplifters take some of our most prized merchandise, kids knock things over, grumpy customers take their bad feelings out on us.

This is a typical month in the life of a retailer. Being able to handle problems on a pretty regular basis and then additionally being able to leave the problems at work can indicate that you are one of the rare retailers who will survive longer than two or three years in the business.

Can you keep cool under fire?
This goes hand in hand with the previous conditions. Stress is a fact of life for a retail business owner. Being able to handle stress well is a critical key. How are your customer service skills? Do you find yourself steaming mad after getting off the phone with an unreasonable customer, and then vent to the rest of your staff for the rest of the day? Do you allow your irritation with the new-hire affect how you deal with your customers?

Or, can you keep your cool. Patience is one of your most compelling qualities. Being able to differentiate what is really an upsetting incident and one that is just an annoyance or irritating will help you become a retail business owner. Folks with hot tempers do not last long in the retail business. Mouthing off to a customer is the best way to get negative advertising for studies have shown that customers who are dissatisfied with their encounter with you in your store they will tell no fewer than six other people about their experience.

Managing to stay polite, working with your customers to solve their problems or concerns and all without a temper are absolute requisites for the personality of a retail business owner.
Getting Into Business

OK. You've got a business idea. You have evaluated yourself and believe you have what it takes. What next? You still have a little bit of evaluating to do. We will take you through the steps of evaluating your market, assessing your competition, and developing a business plan. All these steps are mandatory before you open your doors.

It is true, owning and opening a new store is a truly appealing adventure. Most of us love the idea of starting from scratch with just an idea and then building it into a successful business.

Most folks go into business for the following reasons:

  • Because I am looking for financial freedom.
  • I do not want to answer to a boss anymore.
  • I want to spend their time the way I want to spend it.
  • I want to be in charge.
  • I want to create something special, make my mark on the world.
  • I want to use my skills better.
  • I want to be with more people.
  • I see a need and I want to fill that need.
The reality is that opening a retail business is much more than a dream. It takes courage, determination, talent, and fortitude. That last ingredient is called luck.
Keeping Records

We will cover record keeping in this course as well because too many people forget that they have to keep track of all income and all expenses. Without this kind of information, there is no way to determine if your business is successful or not.

If you are not a financial wizard, then hire one. If you do not choose to hire one, then keep your job. Keeping records, paying taxes, filing appropriate paperwork, etc. is not an option. In order to get into business and stay in business, keeping records must become a top priority.
Hours and Responsibilities

Much is said about being your own boss. One of the best kept secrets of retail business is that in the beginning, you will be spending quite a bit more time working than you did at your 9 to 5 job.

Your work demands will seem easy and trifling after you begin the journey into retail. Most retailers, in the beginning, work anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week, that works out to anywhere from 72 to 112 hours a week. If you are really used to a 40 hour work week and think you can open a retail business with those hours, you might just consider keeping your job.

If, however, you believe that you are willing to put that kind of effort into something of your own, knowing that down the road you will likely be able to slow down, then you likely have the makings of a retailer.

Additional responsibilities include the risk of failure and the risk of losing all the money that you have invested into the business. If you have a family, there the responsibility is to provide a living for them.

Ultimately you will be responsible for:

  • Finances
  • Marketing
  • Purchasing
  • Selling
  • Inventory
  • Staging
  • Hiring/firing
  • Keeping records
  • Paying taxes
  • Countless other tasks


  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
  • Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

    Course Lessons

    Average Lesson Rating:
    4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
    "Extraordinarily Helpful"
    (390 votes)

    Lesson 1 : So you want to be a retailer?

    Individually owned retail businesses are among the fastest growing in the country. Determine what type of business is best suited to your interests, expertise, and goals. 64 Total Points
    • Lesson 1 Video
    • Take Poll: It's a Matter of Importance
    • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
    • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 1 : So, you want to be a retailer?

    Lesson 2 : Your Options and the Competition

    Overcoming fear and uncertainty is a major hurdle for many who dream of opening their own retail business. This lesson will teach skills and methods to help you achieve your goals. 60 Total Points
    • Lesson 2 Video
    • Review 2 Articles: Getting Ahead of the Competition; Make it Green
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 2 : Your Options and the Competition

    Lesson 3 : Developing a Business Plan

    Before you take steps to open a retail business, you need to have some sense of direction. A business plan is an essential part of the planning process. Learn how to develop a "blueprint" for your business. 58 Total Points
    • Lesson 3 Video
    • Review Article: It's Nice to be Different
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 3 : Developing a Business Plan

    Lesson 4 : Structure of Your Business

    Okay, you're the boss. Now what do you do about expenses and tax obligations? As your business grows, you may decide to form a partnership, incorporate, or form an LLC. This lesson offers the basics of each. 50 Total Points
    • Lesson 4 Video
    • Review Article: Build it Strong
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 4 : Structure of Your Business

    Lesson 5 : Location, Location, Location

    Location is vital for the success of any business endeavor. This does not mean that the busiest street in your city is the best for your business. This lesson will show you how to determine the best location for your business. 54 Total Points
    • Lesson 5 Video
    • Take Poll: Location is the Key
    • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 5 : Location, Location, Location

    Lesson 6 : Merchandise

    Understanding how vendors and suppliers stock your store and how to purchase and price such goods is one of the foundations of delivering value and setting price points for resale to your potential customers. 58 Total Points
    • Lesson 6 Video
    • Take Poll: And the Winner Is...
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 6 : Merchandise

    Lesson 7 : Designing the Store

    How you display your products will have a great deal to do with your ultimate success in attracting customers. Product placement and attractive displays utilizing floor space and window treatments will appeal to and entice customers. 62 Total Points
    • Lesson 7 Video
    • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 7 : Designing the Store

    Lesson 8 : Marketing Issues

    Marketing is important because it alerts consumers that you are open for business. Not only is marketing vital for building clientele, it's an investment that should not be overlooked. Various marketing methods are explored in this lesson. 49 Total Points
    • Lesson 8 Video
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 8 : Marketing Issues

    Lesson 9 : Staffing

    Finding honest, reliable employees is an important part of managing your retail business. Learn what to look for when hiring and create a loyal workforce for optimal success. 52 Total Points
    • Lesson 9 Video
    • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 9 : Staffing

    Lesson 10 : Training and Motivating

    Happy employees mean happy customers. Adequately training employees and keeping them motivated is essential to ensure a smoothly functioning business and enhance communication with customers. 42 Total Points
    • Lesson 10 Video
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 10 : Training and Motivating

    Lesson 11 : Will We Make It?

    Determining whether you are or will continue to be, successful as a retailer depends on several factors. These factors are addressed in this concluding lesson. 483 Total Points
    • Lesson 11 Video
    • Take Poll: What do you think about this course?
    • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
    • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
    • Complete: Quiz for Lesson 11 : Will We Make It?
    • Complete: The Final Exam
    Total Course Points

    Learning Outcomes

    By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
    • Define what is a retail business and whether or not it is right for you.
    • Summarize your options and the competition.
    • Develop a business plan.
    • Structure your business.
    • Define location, location, location.
    • Describe merchandise.
    • Describe designing the store.
    • Describe marketing issues.
    • Summarize staffing.
    • Describe training and motivating, and
    • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

    Additional Course Information

    Online CEU Certificate
    • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
    • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
    • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
    • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
    • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
    Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
    Course Title: Retail Business 101
    Course Number: 7550124
    Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
    Lessons Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars (390 votes)
    Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
    Course Type: Professional Development (Self-Paced, Online Class)
    CEU Value: 0.5 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
    CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
    Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
    Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
    Syllabus: View Syllabus
    Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
    Course Fee: $55.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $80.00

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