This is the first post in the series, “The Business Life Cycle,” about my experience opening and closing a bicycle shop.
On July 15th, 2012, the West County Revolution Bike Shop closed its doors for the last time. My business partners and I made a go for five years, but with our lease up for renewal and a business that, well, wasn’t quite worth it, we decided to lock the doors.
In this series of posts, I will reflect on my experience as a small business owner. So often you read about what it takes to make a successful small business, but sometimes we learn more from failure. Whether you have an established venture or intend to start your own business, I hope my retrospective is useful to you.
We interviewed many fellow business owners before we opened, but we did not have any specific sales numbers from which to make educated projections from. I will share some of our sales reports, and though the numbers come from a bicycle store, the lessons from our business apply to any retail business owner.
Before picking apart the West County Revolution, let’s look at the retail sector as a whole. Using data from the Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics, I’ve plotted the probability of survival for retail firms established in 2005. (They presently don’t have data beyond 2010, so I chose the first time at which I could see a 5-year trend).
Relative to the rest of the retail sector reaching the 5-year point defies the odds, but surviving does not mean thriving. For the most part, we were trying to keep the business alive.
In the next installments, I talk about turning our dream of owning a business into reality and what that looked like for us.