Newsagents provide many of life’s daily essentials, offering up a massive market to budding entrepreneurs looking to turn a profit.
Why start a newsagent?
Newsagent businesses have recession-proof markets; everyone wants a daily newspaper and a pint of milk. Opening a newsagents is an attractive way to get started in business in a local way. With less emphasis on expansion there’s more time to get used to the subtleties of running a business and building a base of loyal customers. Running a newsagent is also a popular choice for couples and families. Younger children can help out with paper rounds and stocking which can help keep costs down.
What skills will I need?
Discipline is essential; you’ll need to be up around sunrise to take delivery of fresh goods and daily newspapers. Customers will slowly start to trickle in around this time so you’ll need to be optimistic and friendly, and because newsagents typically build loyal customer bases over long periods of time, it’s important to be friendly to everyone who comes in. You’ll also need a good eye for figures to ensure your profits are sustainable. If you’re running the business with a partner or family, you’ll need to ensure it doesn’t spill too heavily into your private lives.
Practical experience is very useful when setting up a newsagent so seek employment before you go it alone. If you can work in a management level position in a newsagent then this will help you the most but bear in mind that many newsagent owners retain day-to-day control. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) do run a self-study training scheme (although you have to be a member to partake). This gets you up-to-speed with essential skills for running a newsagent including security, controlling stock levels and promotion.
Start-up costs will vary considerably depending on whether you’re buying an existing newsagent or starting from scratch; expect something between £5000 and £100,000 depending on the location. If you start from scratch, bear in mind you’ll need to buy ample stock and put money towards marketing and promotion in order to bring in new customers.
Insurance and compliance
Public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance should be purchased to protect against professional negligence and damage to third parties. If you have staff, you’ll want employer’s liability insurance too. Bear in mind employment legislation when hiring youngsters to do paper rounds, and don’t forget to issue all employees working in the dark with high visibility jackets, particularly if they will be riding bikes. For more information on compliance issues, please contact your local council or the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRA).
Your first step
If you’ve got practical experience of working in a newsagent and are ready to start up then market research is your first step. Opening up a newsagent in an already saturated market will require a far larger marketing budget as you attempt to win over customers that may already be loyal to another business. However, if you open in an empty market you may find it difficult to attract any customers; finding a middle ground is essential. If you don’t have any experience, then either pursuing a training course or volunteering/working in an established newsagent will work well.