Owners are responsible for the success or failure of their own business

Tesco has issued another profit warning, and it seems the CEO has taken the blame as a new man has been appointed to the post. Here, Mark Fletcher looks at who was responsible for the death of an Australian newsagency.

newsagentsIn Launceston Monday night I noticed that Quadrant News & Cards had closed. The empty shop with a “To Let” sign is a sad sight.

It is easy to see this as a sign of the times, the decaying Aussie newsagency. But that would be wrong.

Quadrant News & Cards closed due to poor management. Plain and simple. All we owe the death of any business is the truth.

The truth is that this business was not well run. I will not go into details but I do know them.

I have heard a few newsagents who have presided over newsagency business closures recently blame others: the landlord, their bank, staff, publishers. In most cases, the retailer is to blame.

All of us need to own our situation. We need to be responsible for the decisions we have made and the decisions we make.

  1. Your landlord is charging the rent you agreed to.
  2. Your bank will chase you for debt you took on at your own free will.
  3. Your reliance on newspapers and magazines as a percentage of your overall revenue is up to you and the business decisions you have made.
  4. Any decline in magazine sales is, primarily, your fault given how you range, display, promote and engage with magazines.
  5. Your staff are hired, trained, motivated and fired by you.
  6. The relevance of your business in a rapidly changing world is up to you.
  7. Your situation in relation delivery of newspapers is one you agreed to.
  8. The new traffic you attract to your shop is up to you.
  9. Your buying, pricing policies, merchandising … it’s all up to you.
  10. The relevance of your business to your local community … it’s up to you
  11. Yes, this is your business.

Quadrant News & Cards in Launceston would be open today if the business had strong and committed management. It would be thriving if the owners had decided to stand for something rather than being an agent for what others told them to do.

There are too many shops like Quadrant that have closed and too often the owners point the finger. The UK market has had plenty of retail failures over the past 5 or 6 years, so this is not just an Australian problem.

If you are contemplating closing your shop, or if your debtors are threatening action, then consider taking ownership of your situation and developing a radical plan to lead your business out of the mess. It’s hard work, but that’s what being a retailer (and not an agent) is all about.

If you are not contemplating closing and if your creditors are not chasing, you still need a radical plan to lead your business. We all do.

The plan starts with you looking at the business from the perspective of what is needed from today on and not from the perspective of what was done in the past.

The old way of running a newsagents is dead, just as the old traditional newsagents focussing just on papers, magazines, cards, stationery and lotto is dead.

The story about the future of your business is one you alone write.


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