As You Wish Pottery Owner Lori Neff Divulges Secrets To Success in Retail

Ken:  That’s great.  If you were talking to someone that’s starting out in a retail like yours, what’s the one thing that you’d say they have to get just right to be prosperous? 

Lori:  There’s actually probably two things.  I would have to say that it’s the right location and that they have to understand that it is hard work; it’s not an eight to five job for sure.  It’s not forty hours a week.  It is three hundred and sixty-five days a year, twenty-four/seven.  When the security alarm goes off in the studio at 2:00am in the morning, you can’t wait until 8:00am to go turn it off. 

Ken:  I know you network quite a bit with a lot of other business owners and are very actively involved in the community.  When you see other businesses in the retail space starting, what’s some of the biggest mistakes you see them make? 

Lori:  I know I just talked about this, but I would have to say that it would be they aren’t choosing the right location and they don’t have enough capital to make it through the lean times.  Our business is seasonal, so it’s getting busier when the kids are out of school and during the holidays.  The other months can be kind of lean, so you have to be able to budget right through that. 

I have talked to many, many studio owners across the nation and some of them are having a challenge with their location that they’ve chosen.  You have to have the right foot traffic. 

Ken:  Sounds like that’s really key to the success of a retail spot, location to make sure you have the right kind of foot traffic. 

Lori:  You’ve heard it said location, location, location.  That’s what they say. 

Ken:  Right.  Location is critical but what kind of mindset does a business owner need to be successful in a retail type business? 

Lori:  You must believe in yourself and you have to believe in your product.  I have a few favorite sayings that I tell myself.  The first one is ‘you can’t run a business on hope’.  Someone says, “I hope I that I can do that.”  Well, we don’t run our business on hope.  You either can or you can’t.

My next one is ‘failure is not an option’.  You have to set goals for your business and then you have to have a plan to achieve those goals.  Goals are no good without a plan of how to achieve them. 

Ken:  Yeah, I read somewhere that goals without plans are wishes.  So, what do you think are two or the three most common questions a new business owner must ask themselves when they’re growing their business? 

Lori:  Am I willing to put time in to make my business successful?  Am I willing to learn what I need to to be successful?  And, “am I willing to make changes I need to?”  When I first bought the business, I knew nothing about pottery, glazes or kilns, but I was willing to learn and had to learn very quickly. 

Where do I see my business in five years, and then make a plan to get there.  I had to take a lot of customer service, seminars and read books.  You just have to really get yourself into the business that you’re in and learn all about it so that you can become the best that you can. 

Ken:  So immerse yourself into your business and start understanding the mindset of your prospects and customers, and setting goals and making plans to reach your goals….itt sounds like that really could apply to almost any business owner really. 

Lori:  Absolutely. 

Ken:  It’s important to do all of those things for sure but what’s one thing that you see some business owners doing, or maybe it’s something they think they’re supposed to do to succeed, but can actually hurt their chances of success? 

Lori:  That’s an interesting question.  I think marketing is very important to all businesses, but you can definitely hurt yourself if you don’t keep up with the marketing trends.  Just a few years ago most businesses were still doing print advertising and now it’s all about social media, web marketing and blogging.  You have to be where your customers are.  If your customers are no longer reading the print advertising, they you don’t need to be there. 

You have to be able to market to your customers where they are.  You have to market in your store and out of your store. 

Ken:  Where your customers are is really important.  You’re right.  Online is becoming where everyone is looking for everything these days.  A lot of the old retailers are still stuck in the print advertising mindset.  I still get the envelope of coupons in the mail and if I open the envelope at all, it’s sorted right into the garbage.  If I’m not going to need that product or service immediately, then I’m not going to pay attention to it.  If I need something, I go online. 

Lori:  It’s interesting that you say that about the envelope coupons because we’ve had them contact us and I do exactly the same thing you do.  You probably go even a step further than to open it.  I just take the whole entire envelope and put it right in the trash. 

Ken:  Times have changed definitely in the way people market their businesses and the way that customers find business.  Lori, what’s the one thing you can attribute your success to more than maybe anything else? 

Lori:  I would have to say that would be surrounding myself with supportive and great staff have definitely attributed to my success.  When we bought the business it was already a really up and going business and I had some staff members that were just amazing at helping me learn the ropes.  Even now it’s really helped me to be able to lead the company.  They’re a huge support and you have to have great staff to be able to have a great business. 

Ken Sherman

Ken Sherman is a multi Best Selling Author, host of the Business Innovators Radio show and contributing writer for various media sites covering business innovators and successful entrepreneurs in Business, Health, Finance, Legal, and Personal Development.