Retail Business Owners


Employment Prospects


Retail is the largest private sector employer in the United States, employing more than 52 million Americans, according to the National Retail Federation. Nearly 99 percent of all U.S. retailers have fewer than 50 employees.

Starting Out

Few people start their career as an owner. Many start as a manager or in some other position within a retail business. While developing managerial skills or while pursuing a college degree or other relevant training, you should decide what type of business you would like to own. Many people decide to buy an existing business because it already has a proven track record and because banks and other lending institutions often are more likely to loan money to an existing facility. A retail business owner should anticipate having at least 50 percent of the money needed to start or buy a business. Some people find it helpful to have one or more partners in a business venture.

Owning a franchise is another way of starting a business without a large capital investment, as franchise agreements often involve some assistance in planning and start-up costs. Franchise operations, however, are not necessarily less expensive to run than a totally independent business.

Advancement Prospects

Because an owner is by definition the boss, there are limited opportunities for advancement. Advancement often takes the form of expansion of an existing business, leading to increased earnings and prestige. Expanding a business can also entail added risk, as it involves increasing operational costs. A successful franchise owner may be offered an additional franchise location or an executive position at the corporate headquarters.

A small number of successful independent business owners choose to franchise their business operations in different areas. Some owners become part-time consultants, while others teach a course at a college or university or in an adult education program. This teaching is often done not only for the financial rewards but as a way of helping others investigate the option of retail ownership.

Tips for Entry

Participate in retail-oriented internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your high school or college’s career services office.

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers comprehensive information about starting and funding a business at https://www.sba.gov/business-guide.

Read Entrepreneur (https://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine) and to learn more about the retail industry and starting a business, and stay on top of retail insights and trends by accessing the NRF’s blog, podcast, and research at https://nrf.com/retail-insights-and-trends.

Visit https://www.franchise.org to read about franchising news and events.