How to Avoid Retail Burnout

How to Avoid Retail Burnout

Getting burnt out is a bad look. Retail is rewarding yet extremely stressful, and many entrepreneurs say it drains them. The breakdowns, the crying, the hair falling out – no retailer should let the stress of running a store go so far as to physically and emotionally break them. Fortunately, there are a few things merchants can keep in mind to avoid reaching the absolute brink.


1. Eat and Sleep

It sounds obvious, but so many new store owners say they’re just too busy to eat properly, not to mention get enough sleep every night. We don’t need to list everything that happens to the body when one isn’t healthy. Notably, being sleep and nutritionally deprived can lead to making bad business decisions. Everyone’s options here are different, but managing your home life in order to prepare for your business day is key. Pre-pack snacks and bottled water for when you’re on-the-go, and turn off your phone after a certain time every night – how efficiently are you really solving problems at 3am?

2. Track how you spend your time

This is tedious but it can seriously help. From the time you open the store (write down the exact process of opening) to the time you clean up and leave, mark down each of your activities. Once you have every single task in front of you, ask yourself: Do I have to do this? Could someone else do this? Is there something I could change to become more efficient? Sometimes, seeing your day in time slots in front of you can put things into perspective and help you prioritize activities.

3. Shake things up!

First of all, who said your playlist needs to be on a loop? Talk about driving yourself insane. Make sure you or your employees are playing the right music for the store, while keeping it enjoyable and fresh. The same goes for holiday music – not all songs will make you think you’re losing your mind, so find music you like.

It’s also good to rearrange your routine sometimes. While some tasks can’t be pushed aside, others can occasionally take a back burner in place of staff dinners or new tradeshows.

4. Mental breaks

During the first year of building your retail store, it might be hard to justify an extended vacation, but that doesn’t mean your mind should be engaged at all times. Your brain needs a break, pretty much every day, and multiple times at that. Take a brief walk every couple of hours, call a friend for an uplifting chat (Instagram doesn’t count), read an article in a magazine, or even get a fast polish change at a nail salon (or hand massage) – anything to break up your nonstop focus.

“The first couple of years you can expect to work 7 days a week, with little to no time off. After getting your business off the ground, and surrounding yourself with a reliable support system (business partners, managers, staff, etc), taking time away is key. Six years later, I still love what I do thanks to my vacation time with friends and family every couple months.” -Josh Fagan from JoshuaDavid

5. Manage to-dos

Lists on paper, calendars, iCalendar, Filofax (throwback!), Siri … anything is better than relying on memory when it comes to getting organized. Writing (or typing) things out will help you get tasks done much faster. There are all kinds of software and apps to help you manage your time and activities. Check out Evernote and use the ‘reminders’ app on your iPad. If you aren’t working with a good system to manage your to-dos, definitely get on that.

6. Work remotely

New store owners and managers should spend as much time as possible in the store, but that doesn’t mean they should feel chained to it. If you can run your store using cloud-based software, you can check up on it from anywhere you are (driving your kid to soccer, or at home in bed if you’re sick).

The owners of Minnesota-based Primp love using their cloud POS because it allows them to make decisions when they’re on the go and bouncing between their many stores. No matter where they are, they can see what’s going on.

“We can see how the store is doing, and if we need to transfer inventory from one location to another. We see what the day’s sales are and who is selling the most. We can literally get all this information from Advanced Reporting using an iPad.”

7. Set realistic goals

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sorry for the cliche, but it’s a good reminder of how long it takes to build a successful business. Set reasonable, attainable daily goals. Keep your dream in mind, but focus on doing what’s in front of you to the best of your ability. Brick by brick, step by step, your store will begin to pick up speed.

Retail can be demanding, but it doesn’t have to take years off your life. We’ve met many dedicated store owners that admit to moments of agonizing stress, but have pulled it together and found balance in their lives.

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