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Ideas are everywhere -- Part II

Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place

I noted in my last blog that ideas are everywhere for small retailers to make their businesses and lives better.

Being an avid runner in my off hours, some of my favorite ideas come from articles in running magazines, like a Duncan Larkin story titled "Recharge Your Running" in the August issue of Competitor.

Just like a runner, if you don't train and plan for your next race, chances are you'll not be as successful as you could have been or you'll just hurt at the finish line. Applying a couple of Larkin's points for runners to your retail business just might shake things up for you.

Larkin writes, "Know when to shut down your season. Learn your limits: Don’t try to squeeze in 'just' one more race if you are physically and emotionally spent."

So true. As retailers, we want to sell more products and do everything we can to make our customers happy. That mindset is what makes us successful businesspeople, but it can also tempt us to take on "just" one more sale and "just" one more promotional project, even though we may not perform at our best. Business owners, like runners, need to recognize when it's time to take a breather and focus their attention elsewhere for a few days or even weeks before going full speed ahead again.

Conversely, you may need to speed things up. Sometimes when runners are in a late-summer slump they need a jolt to their system, especially if they have a fall marathon coming up, Larkin writes.

What looms for my store, the Heart of Iowa Market Place, and every other retailer is the marathon called the holiday season -- and it will be here before we know it.

This may be the perfect time to give your business a jolt by speeding things up. Picking up the pace considerably to get everything in shape right now will help your business be more efficient and more profitable during the holiday season marathon.

You could complete your holiday catalog by mid-summer so it's ready to go out ahead of the season and you get people thinking about your business. You can reach out now to line up your additional seasonal help. You can even do that task we all dread: Clean up the back room so you have an organized workspace for the season.

Whether you shut down, speed up or do both in the next few weeks, mixing up your business running routine can help you get ready for the run to the end of another retail year.

-Kelly Sharp

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