Thinking about opening a pens and pencils retail business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
The Nuts & Bolts of Writing Instrument Retail
One of the rules of small business startups is to find a market niche and set out to own it. In other words, instead of taking a general approach to the marketplace, find a small slice of the market and dominate it as effectively as you can.
Pen and pencil retail is definitely a market niche. In fact, it's tempting to believe that it's too narrow, especially when you consider that a successful sale may only a net a few dollars of profit. But for the right retail entrepreneurs, a pen and pencil startup can be a viable business startup concept. The trick is to develop the perfect mix of products and marketing vehicles capable of satisfying the largest possible customer base.
Successful pen and pencil businesses offer a broad range of writing products. To meet revenue targets, your startup will need to provide customers with bulk products for the office as well as gift sets, fine writing instruments and customized promotional items. In many cases, startup pen and pencil retailers discover that online sales (also called ecommerce or "e-tailing") is the best venue for reaching a large number of prospective customers.
Tips for Creating a Successful Pen & Pencil Business
Successful pen and pencil retail businesses don't happen -- they're made through the efforts of savvy entrepreneurs. Trial-and-error is part of small business ownership. But to minimize the number of blunders that occur in your startup, here are a few tips you'll want to consider.
- Don't underestimate the importance of marketing. Too often, pen and pencil entrepreneurs enter the business arena with the attitude that customers will automatically flock to their products. In reality, pens and pencils are easily available through office supply stores and other retailers. So your marketing strategy needs to proliferate messaging that incentivizes buyers to choose your store (online or brick-and-mortar) over other retailers.
- Get on top in inventory ASAP. Finding customers is hard enough. But having to apologize to customers because the pen gift set they just ordered is unexpectedly out of stock can be devastating. By implementing effective inventory management procedures from the beginning, you can avoid losing repeat customers to backorders and out-of-stock items.
- Leverage user-generated content. It's been proven that prospective customers give more weight to recommendations from other customers than they do to the claims you make about your company. That means it's important to leverage user-generated content and comments on your business website and in your startup's marketing materials.
Best Practices for Pens & Pencils Retail Company Business Plans
The idea of writing a business plan is intimidating to most aspiring pens and pencils retail business owners. If it's comprehensive and well-written, however, your business plan will serve as a strategic anchor point and a calling card for external stakeholders.
But writing a business plan is only half the battle. Have you given any thought to what your pens and pencils retail business will do with the business plan once it's finished?
To optimize the impact of your plan, it's important to consider a distribution strategy. Generally, effective distribution models include the incorporation of tracking systems into the company's startup plan.
Don't Overlook the Competition
Well in advance of opening a pens and pencils retail business in your town, it's a smart move to determine how many competitors you have. Use the link below to generate a list of competitors in your city. Complete the form by entering your city, state and zip code to get a list of pens and pencils retail businesses that are close by.
Is the established competition doing a good job? It's important to understand their strengths and weaknesses and think through how you'll stake up against those established businesses.
Learn from Others Who Are Already In This Space
If you are seriously contemplating launching a pens and pencils retail business, it's a wise move to talk to somebody who is already in the business. If you think owners of nearby pens and pencils retail businesses will give you advice, think again. It'd be crazy for them to teach you the business.
However, a fellow entrepreneur who has started a pens and pencils retail business in a location that is not competitive to you may be more than happy to give you a few tips, as long as they don't view you as a competitive threat. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.
What's the process for finding somebody who runs a pens and pencils retail business that lives outside of your area?
It's not that hard. Just use the handy link below and enter in a random city/state or zipcode.
Leveraging the Branding Benefits of a Pens & Pencils Retail Business Acquisition
Startup pens and pencils retail businesses typically suffer when it comes to brand recognition because unlike entrenched competitors, new brands lack visibility and history with their customers.
To compensate, one of the techniques entrepreneurs use is to buy a business to get an established brand. As a startup, the best you can hope for is to gradually develop brand awareness over a period of months and years.
However, a pens and pencils retail business acquisition can put you at the helm of a brand that is already highly trusted by your target market.
Don't Forget About Franchising As an Option
As an entrepreneur, your chances being a successful business owner go up significantly when you franchise and benefit from the prior work of others and their lessons learned.
Before you consider starting a pens and pencils retail business, a smart move is to assess whether purchasing a franchise might be the right move for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you currently own a pens and pencils retail business, these resources will come in handy:
If you came here to learn about selling to pens and pencils retail businesses, this isn't the right place for you. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.