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Identify Your Type of Business

Find the business category listed below that most closely matches your business. You’ll use the description that follows as a reference when you describe your own business. Each of the business categories requires different skills to run efficiently. Many small businesses involve one or two types of business in the same endeavor.

But if your idea will involve you in several types of business, it may be too complicated for you to run efficiently. As a general rule, small businesses work best when their owners know exactly what they are about and strive for simplicity.

  • Retail.

Retail businesses buy merchandise from a variety of wholesalers and sell it directly to consumers. Some retailers provide service and repair facilities, while most do not. Most retailers just take in the goods and mark up the price, sometimes doubling their purchase price to arrive at a sales price. Supermarkets, mail order catalogue merchants, online stores (e-tailers), computer stores, dress shops, department stores, and convenience marts are retailers.

  • Wholesale.

Wholesalers buy merchandise from manufacturers or brokers and resell the goods to retailers. Normally, a wholesaler maintains an inventory of a number of lines. A wholesaler normally does not sell to consumers, in order to avoid competing with his retailer customers. Wholesalers usually offer delivery service and credit to customers. This type of business is characterized by low gross profit margins (sometimes varying between 15% and 33% of the wholesaler’s selling price) and high inventory investment.

  • Manufacturing.

Manufacturers assemble components or process raw materials into products usable by consumers or other businesses. This type of business ranges from an artisan who makes craft items to Toyota. The most difficult part of the manufacturing business is to find a product, or even better, a series of products, that have acceptance in the marketplace and generate a steady sales volume. Or, as one businessperson put it: “Production without sales is scrap.”

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