Working full or part time as a sales clerk or in some other capacity within a retail business is a good way to learn about the responsibilities of operating and managing a business. Talking with owners of small shops (especially those that specialize in cosmetics) is also helpful, as is reading periodicals, such as Cosmetics (http://cosmeticsmag.com), that cover the cosmetics industry.
Most communities have a chamber of commerce whose members usually will be glad to share their insights into the career of a retail business owner and manager. The Small Business Administration (https://www.sba.gov) is another good source of information.
Cosmetics shop owners and managers are responsible for merchandising and buying, store operations, sales promotion and advertising, bookkeeping and accounting, and personnel supervision. Merchandising and buying determine the type and amount of actual goods to be sold—for example, the number of makeup lines to be featured and the number of units from each line that will be purchased. Store operations involve maintaining the building and providing for the movement of goods and personnel within the building. Sales promotion and advertising are the marketing methods used to inform customers and potential customers about the goods and services that are available—for example, a new line of skin care products or a special in-store appearance by a noted beauty expert. In bookkeeping and accounting, records are kept of payroll, taxes, and money spent and received. Personnel involves staffing the store with people who are trained and qualified to handle all the work that needs to be done.
The cosmetics shop owner must be aware of all aspects of the business operation so that he or she can make informed decisions. Specific duties of an individual owner depend on the size of the store and the number of employees.
In both large and small operations, an owner must keep up to date on product information, as well as on economic and technological conditions that may have an impact on business. This entails reading catalogs about product availability, checking current inventories and prices, and researching and implementing any technological advances that may make the operation more efficient. For example, an owner may decide to purchase data processing equipment to help with accounting functions, as well as to generate a mailing list to inform customers of special sales or new products.
Because of the risks involved in opening a business and the many economic and managerial demands put on individual owners, a desire to open a retail business should be combined with proper management skills, sufficient economic backing, and a good sense of what the public wants. The majority of retail businesses fail because of a lack of managerial experience on the part of owners.
Franchise ownership, whereby an individual owner obtains a license to sell an existing company's goods or services, grew phenomenally during the 1980s. Franchise agreements enable the person who wants to open a business to receive expert advice from the sponsoring company about location, hiring and training of employees, arrangement of merchandise, display of goods, and record keeping. Some entrepreneurs, however, do not want to be limited to the product lines and other restrictions that accompany running a franchise store. Franchise operations also may fail, but their likelihood of success is greater than that of a totally independent retail store.
In larger cosmetics stores, a manager may supervise many of the operational, promotional, and personnel activities. The owner may plan the overall purpose and function of the store and hire a manager to oversee the day-to-day operations. Although cosmetics store managers are responsible for every phase of a store's operation, perhaps the most important responsibility of retail managers is hiring and training qualified employees. Managers then assign duties to employees, monitor their progress, promote high-performing staff members, and increase salaries when appropriate. When an employee's performance is not satisfactory, a manager must find a way to improve the performance or, if necessary, fire him or her.
Cosmetics store managers should be adept at working with all different kinds of people. Differences of opinion and personality clashes among employees are inevitable; therefore the manager must be able to restore good feelings among the staff. Managers often have to deal with upset customers, and must attempt to restore goodwill toward the store when customers are dissatisfied.
Cosmetics store managers keep accurate records of inventory. When new merchandise arrives, the manager ensures items are recorded, priced, and displayed or shelved. They must know when stock is getting low and order new items in a timely manner.
Some managers are responsible for merchandise promotions and advertising. The manager may confer with an advertising agency representative to determine appropriate advertising methods for the store. The manager also may decide what products to put on sale for advertising purposes.
Many cosmetics stores have begun to sell their products and services on the Internet. Internet cosmetics store managers and entrepreneurs manage and sell cosmetic products or services online. They may research the marketability of a product or service, decide on what product or service to sell, organize their business, and set up their storefront on the Web. Numerous small businesses owners who sell a limited number of products or a specific service have found the Internet a great place to begin their business venture because start-up costs may be less than for traditional businesses. Internet entrepreneurs run their own businesses. Internet cosmetics store managers are employed by Internet entrepreneurs and stores.