What’s Holding Your Retail Business Back?

Every CEO who starts a company aspires to greatness. But greatness is a long road full of messy obstacles, especially in retail. As a business grows and develops, the work involved becomes more complicated and challenging. Eventually, every business owner hits a roadblock that stands between them and the greatness they imagine. What’s holding your retail company back from being everything you’d hoped?

Unclear Goals

What are the core values of your business? What does your company stand for? What message do you send your customers, your stakeholders, your business partners? A company that doesn’t define clear values and goals risks floundering. If your team didn’t sit down with your team and decide on these goals when your company started, now is the time. If you’ve already defined your values, maybe it’s time you looked again and see if they need to develop and evolve, so you can set your company apart from the rest.

Lack of Communication

When surveyed, employees often list a failure to communicate as one of their biggest frustrations with management. Poor communication can manifest as:

  • A failure to listen to team members, or value their opinions
  • Letting one’s ego interfere with effective communication
  • Confusion or lack of clarity in assigning or managing projects
  • Lack of feedback from management

Open and honest communication can be an ongoing challenge as your company grows. Fortunately, this is one of the easier problems to fix. Make communication a core value. Place a priority on transparency, openness, and feedback. Give your team the retail communication tools they need to work together and to achieve store execution. A concerted effort at better communication helps everyone.

Issues of Scale

Many retail companies have fallen victim to their own success. With growth and success comes a whole new set of scaling issues. Companies that fail to build a long-term market, or don’t change up their structure as they grow, can end up sinking beneath the waves before they know they’re in trouble. Retail companies face particular challenges when scaling, from supply chain problems to brand dilution and unexpected expenditures. Successful CEOs must expand the scope of their company, from choosing the right teams to managing their time effectively to re-evaluating the way they do business.


Eventually, a CEO must learn to delegate. Even the best CEO can’t manage every aspect of a company, especially as that company grows. Successful delegation doesn’t just mean assigning a team member to a role. It means trusting that team member will lead effectively and stepping back to concentrate on the bigger picture. A CEO who tries to be a project manager, data analyst, and sole decision maker will only frustrate others (and themselves) and reduce efficiency. In order for a retail company to thrive, a leader must share leadership.

Creative Stagnation

Do you feel you’ve done everything right, and your business still isn’t making the progress it should? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your assumptions. This can be trickier than the more concrete solutions to stagnating growth because it’s both subjective and abstract. Is your company leading the way, or just following the model of another, more successful company? Are you making trends, or chasing them? Are you breaking new ground, or just following a status quo set by others? Sometimes the best way to advance is to do some brainstorming and throw away the established play book.

Failure to Develop

As a business grows, so must its CEO. Continued success means constantly developing, learning, and finding new ways to improve. If your business has stopped developing the way you’d like it to, perhaps it’s because your leadership stopped developing. Attend a conference, take a course, or just pick up that business book you’ve left unattended on your nightstand for months. You’ve learned a lot on your way to becoming a retail CEO, and you’ve made good use of that knowledge. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room left for growing, learning, and adapting to a changing world.



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