Is it still possible to be an entrepreneur in retail?

It may not be as easy as it was to set up a retail business, but retailers who have done it say it’s still possible.

“Retail is the home of entrepreneurship,” says John Lovering, chairman of Maplin and former serial dealmaker, who is also a judge for Retail Week’s upcoming Enterprise Awards. “It is harder at the moment: consumers are spending less freely and competition is more intense. But new businesses can start and thrive – look at Go Outdoors and Hotel Chocolat.”

Lovering says the internet reduces entry barriers for many would-be entrepreneurs, adding: “If you have a product and a point of view, go for it.”

Lovering, an investor in premium maternity retailer Crave, says a great product, hard work, resilience and commitment will create success even in a difficult economy.

He says that there’s always a silver lining: “Operating in a recession means cheaper space and more flexible suppliers.” Lovering says the characteristics of a good entrepreneur include commitment, determination and focus, as well as being realistic about financing needs. He adds: “Plan optimistically but budget with caution. Patience is key. Do not run before you walk.”

Retail Week’s Enterprise Awards celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit in retail. The awards are open for entries now, for any retailer with a turnover of less than £200m.

Lovering says: “A submission for an awards scheme is a good chance to take stock and reassess where you have got to and where you want to be. Setting it out for a stranger is a good way of testing your convictions.”