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    2 Replies Latest reply on Mar 11, 2008 2:13 PM by Lighthouse24

    Business idea, what do I classify it as?

    JDecker Wayfarer
      The past few years I've been working for a multi-national, Fortune 500 company in its merchandising department at the store level.

      I've been told by many of my superiors, co-workers, and I believe myself that I have a ability to see merchandising opportunities, mainly displaying products more profitably, seeing opportunities to move products to new locations in the store that will increase sales, essentially I have a very creative and visionary mind to see better ways to display and promote products within the store, and all my ideas have had positive success.

      The problem I've been encountering is this company is built around politics when it comes to being promoted from within (like most corporations), and I've had it with not having my talents and track record being the basis of promotion. I've wanted to go into business myself for awhile now, and I feel as if I have an opportunity now.

      I'm wondering if anyone feels there may be a demand for someone who may be considered a "consultant", who can suggest creative, innovative, and new ways to display and promote products in a traditional bricks-and-mortar retail store as well as internet retailers. If so, what would I call myself?

      I'm thinking this may be a good idea for smaller to medium-sized retailers, but I'm not even sure how to go about doing market research to determine if this is a consulting business that would be in demand, partly because I don't even know how to call it!

      Thanks in advance for any help!
        • Re: Business idea, what do I classify it as?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          The most important statement that you made was
          "I believe myself that I have a ability to see merchandising opportunities"
          If you believe, you should follow your dream.
          Go to Members page and tell us more about yourself.
          Do you know about SCORE?? SCORE is FREE and they can help you both online and in person,
          to succeed in business by starting with a Business Plan and more. (ALL FREE)
          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          • Re: Business idea, what do I classify it as?
            Lighthouse24 Ranger
            As for a "job title," it sounds like "Retail Merchandising Consultant" would work.

            As for the market demand among small and medium-sized businesses, I see at least two challenges:

            Most small business owners don't think they need your services, so before you can sell them on retaining you, you have to first convince them that they have a problem that requires outside expertise to address. That can be tough. First, about a third of the small retailers I know really are good merchandisers, so they really don't need your help. Another third are lousy merchandisers, but they think they're good and you could starve before you convinced them otherwise. Most of the remaining third probably don't understand the concept, and utilize a combination of wholesale reps, route jobbers, and employee stockers to fill aisles and shelves haphazardly. You could really benefit those owners, but you'll need to spend considerable time educating them. And that brings up the next challenge.

            For many professional services providers (including most consultants), the amount of work we perform to analyze and solve a business problem is nearly the same for a small business as it is for a large business. In other words, it wouldn't take any more "work" for you to identify and recommend a change to a CD endcap at Wal-Mart than it would at a locally-owned music store -- but the impact is radically different. Wal-Mart could measure the sales effect 15 minutes later and multiply the benefit by 2,500 supercenters before the end of the week -- while the local store may barely notice the results. If your suggestion moved 13 percent more units, that might be an extra million dollars at Wal-Mart (so they could afford to pay you for that kind of advice -- in fact, Wal-Mart actually employs a merchandising company to handle the music department at their stores). At the local store, however, your advice might mean they sell 8 units instead of 7 this week, and with a 92 cent margin, the small business owner really isn't going to see enough benefit to pay for your expertise.

            It may sound like I'm saying, "Don't do it!" -- I'm not. I would suggest that you "ease" into the business. Keep your regular job, but print up some business cards and start visiting small retailers on your own time. Try to target businesses directly related to your experience, but also businesses that have products with high markup-ups/margins. Make appointments with the owners and discuss your ideas -- determine for yourself if there's a market for your services locally. You could do the same in this community relative to on-line merchandising (see if you can drum up interest among small on-line retailers). If you get a few takers, you might get a fun, part-time revenue stream going. If you get more work than you can handle, your current question will be answered (you'll have done your own "market research" -- and you can then explore the other aspects of taking the leap to full time self-employment. And yes, that's a plug for my story "Making the Leap to Self-Employment" at Making the Leap to Self-Employment

            Hope this helps. Best wishes.