7 steps to become a successful retail entrepreneur

Setting up your own KBB business can be daunting. Benoit Mahé, founder of international retail coaching company CapKelenn, has some useful tips to put you in the right mind-set for success.

Taking the important step to start, manage and grow your own kitchen, bedroom or bathroom business is a massive leap of faith. You may have a strong background in finance, sales, marketing, design, construction or installation. But heading up your own company requires an enormous breadth and depth of talents.
Our experience of coaching leading retail professionals in the UK and across Europe, sometimes as franchisees, has shown that it’s not all about your knowledge and skills. Far from it. To be a successful entrepreneur requires a series of thought processes to unlock barriers to success, clarify vision and help you move towards your goals.
When we coach men and women who want to manage their own retail showroom, we often use analytical tools. For instance, the seven neurological levels of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) promoted by Robert Dilts, which identify certain questions that help new businesses see where there’s untapped potential.
Only 7% of our neuro[-logical, ie nervous] reactions are conscious. The rest are below the line of consciousness yet key to ensuring success in any entrepreneurial retail project. Out of seven neuro reactions, the first two levels are conscious (behaviour and environment). For example, “I am preparing a kitchen project in a showroom”. The five deeper levels are unconscious. Part of the coaching session consists of letting those levels emerge, to identify and address elements that can hold people back.

Look at the environment that your new business will inhabit. Ask yourself, how does my environment affect my goals? What are the opportunities or constraints?
It may be that a new business involves a change – in lifestyle, geographical location, or surroundings. For example, from rural to urban or vice versa. Opening a showroom and spending more time in this space might be a big change for a salesperson who has been out on the road visiting customers. Is this a change that you are comfortable with? And what support might you need to adapt?

In all of the activities that you will be undertaking in your new showroom, consider what aspects you like or don’t like. Which activities are you good at and which are you less good at?
It may be that you are strong on the creative side, designing stunning kitchens and bathrooms for your customers. But do you need support with administration? You might love interacting with customers, but the idea of managing staff fills you with dread.
Is it something you are prepared to do in exchange for the benefits of running your own business?


Discovering more about yourself can be an incredibly positive experience. And starting your own business is a great way of finding out where your skills lie. This is also important in relation to the skills of anyone who is joining your new venture – for example a business partner or family member.
In husband-and-wife teams, for example, we often find that one has more vision and the other is more focused on reality. Is one of you an excellent planner and organiser, while the other is great at bringing in the sales?

Beliefs can be both strengthening and limiting. They tend to be automatic and are frequently irrational or based on minimal evidence. Often, we don’t know that we have certain beliefs or recognise the impact they are having on us. NLP can help to overcome beliefs that are limiting our capacity for success and replace them with others that are more positive.
When asked what their profit margin was last month, many business owners I work with will reply, “I don’t know, you’d need to ask my accountant”.On further questioning, it’s common to get a response “money’s not my thing”. This limiting belief does not help to achieve business success. Agreeing this means that limiting beliefs can be replaced with other strengthening beliefs, such as, “money allows me to ensure the viability of my showroom”.

If you want to take your business to the next level, you need to identify your own values. And make sure that these values are known to everyone you work with. Ask yourself whether how you run your business lives up to these values in how you treat your customers, suppliers and staff.
For example, are your key values around the quality of the products you supply? Is it around getting the best value for money for your customers for their budget? Is it about providing a seamless service with minimal hassle and disruption?

Identity can be defined with the verb ‘to be’. Deciding to set up your own kitchen and bathroom showroom has an effect on your identity. You may be deciding to abandon the security offered by a regular salary to open your own business. This increased sense of risk can set your neurological levels on high alert.
NLP allows you to examine this change of identity and confidently declare, ‘now I am an entrepreneur,’ or ‘now I am a business owner’. As k yourself if you are happy with this new identity.

The transpersonal
This refers to the most spiritual aspect of someone’s life. It seeks to offer answers to big questions such as, ‘what for?’ or ‘what am I contributing?’
Coaching sessions often highlight what a business owner is bringing to their staff, customers or community.
Whether it’s employment, training or contributing to a local chamber of commerce. Your ‘why’ might be to create beautiful kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms that allow people to love their homes and live their lives in spaces that are perfectly suited to their needs.
These seven levels of NLP happen in succession and, when combined with coaching, can help you make important decisions. Decisions around where you are headed – future priorities for you and your business. And decisions that will unlock your potential for success in the KBB industry.

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