Retail Business Owners


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A high school diploma is important in order to understand the basics of business ownership, though there are no specific educational or experiential requirements for this position. Course work in business administration is helpful, as is previous experience in the retail trade. Hard work, constant analysis, innovation, and evaluation, and sufficient capital are important elements of a successful business venture.

If you are interested in owning a business, you should take courses in mathematics, business management, and in business-related subjects, such as accounting, typing, and computer science. In addition, pursue English and other courses that enhance your communications skills. Specific skill areas also should be developed. For example, if you want to open an electronics repair shop, you should learn as much about electronics as possible.

Owners of small retail businesses often manage the store and work behind the counter. In such a case, the owner of a meat market is the butcher as well.

Postsecondary Training

As the business environment gets more and more competitive, many people are opting for an academic degree in order to get more training. A bachelor's program emphasizing business communications, marketing, business law, business management, and accounting should be pursued. Some people choose to get a master's in business administration or another related graduate degree. There are also special business schools that offer a one- or two-year program in business management. Some correspondence schools also offer courses on how to plan and run a business.

Other Education or Training

The National Retail Federation offers classes and other continuing education opportunities. Topics include customer service, management issues, sales training, buying, store operations, merchandising, and marketing. The Retail Design Institute provides workshops and seminars that educate participants about industry trends and developments in retail store design. The International Franchise Association offers continuing education classes, webinars, and workshops such as "Marketplace Fundamentals," "Cash Flow: How to Prevent Your Cash Flow From Going South," and "How to Text with Customers Effectively." The U.S. Small Business Administration provides online classes in starting, funding, and managing a business at its online Small Business Learning Center ( It also offers in-person seminars and workshops at locations throughout the United States. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The National Retail Federation Foundation offers the following voluntary designations to retail workers who successfully pass an assessment and meet other requirements: retail industry fundamentals, customer service & sales, and the business of retail: operations & profit. Contact the foundation for more information.

Some franchisers have their own certification process and require their franchisees to go through training. You may also want to receive the certified franchise executive designation offered by the Institute of Certified Franchise Executives, an organization affiliated with the International Franchise Association. This certification involves completing a certain number of courses in topics such as economics and franchise law, participating in events such as seminars or conventions, and work experience. 

A business license may be a requirement in some states. Individual states or communities may have zoning codes or other regulations specifying what type of business can be located in a particular area. Check with your state's chamber of commerce or department of revenue for more information on obtaining a license.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Previous experience as a sales clerk or manager or in another retail position is generally required for aspiring retail business owners. 

Whatever the experience and training, a retail business owner needs a lot of energy, patience, and fortitude to overcome the slow times and other difficulties involved in running a business. Other important personal characteristics include maturity, creativity, and good business judgment. Retail business owners should also be able to motivate employees and delegate authority.