Online Business is Doing a Lot of Harm to Retail Business Like Mine – Says Amit Shah, Owner of Optical Shops in Mumbai

Amit Shah (Retail Business Owner of "Vintrex Optics", Mumbai)

Insights

  1. Unlike what is commonly thought, running a retail business can provide good work-life balance and excitement. It all depends on your attitude.
  2. It is easy to start in this profession if you are from a business family or taking over a family-run business. However, if you’re establishing something of your own, I strongly recommend that you work for another business for some time.
  3. If you want a challenge in the retail business, establish two very different businesses (shops). That will help you diversify your risks as well as keep you challenged.
  4. The online business is killing businesses like ours by undercutting prices. This is not sustainable for them; however, they have got millions of dollars to spend, somewhere!
  5. I’m not overburdened by my work even though I run 5 businesses. I handle those businesses during my time at the shop itself.

Personal Details

Name – Amit Shah

Profession – Owner of “Vintrex Optics”, Mumbai

Gender – Male

Age – 52 years

City – Mumbai

Industry – Retail Business (Optical)

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Mumbai. I completed my schooling, pursued higher education and established a career in this city itself. I was born into a joint family. My father was a chartered accountant and my mother, a homemaker.

Who would you say, had a remarkable influence on you growing up and how?

Growing up, I’d say my mother had a pre-eminent influence on me. She helped me realize my dreams and pushed me to strive for them. She always saw me as a businessman, and here I am, now!

Please give us a summary of your career.

I’ve always been self-employed. About 33 years ago, I established a business called “Vintrex Optics”, a spectacle shop. This retail business now serves as a foundation for the other business that I’ve started up in the recent years.

Even though this is my principal focus, I’ve set-up 4–5 companies that each specializes in umpteen things like construction, reinsurance, exports & imports, etc.

Which institutes, according to you, are the best for pursuing this career?

So, opticians/ businessmen don’t really have to study anything in particular.

I pursued B.Com., a three-year course, and set up this business consequently. You can also pursue your B.B.A/B.M.S since these courses familiarise you with the basics of business.

What is the expenditure associated with the education/training of this profession, approximately?

If you’re pursuing your B.Com/B.BA/B.M.S, you’ll incur an expenditure of about 1–3 lakhs INR collectively, depending on the college you’re attending and the course you’re opting for.

How does one manage to enter this field?

Honestly, if you come from a family that has its roots in this business, it becomes easy to start working in this field.

However, if you’re establishing something of your own, it’s imperative to start working with another business, at least for a while. This is an important learning process that helps you understand the business. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can go ahead and set up something of your own.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out his own retail business?

When starting out, one can expect to earn INR 30,000–40,000 per month. That is approximately INR 3–4 lakhs per annum.

As time goes by, one should be able to increase their income by 10–15% every year. That is, by 50% every five years. This should be their goal.

Describe your work, please.

I reach my shop at about 10 in the morning. I supervise the working of the business, check if my employees are doing what’s expected of them, handle customers, etc.

Like I mentioned before, I’ve set up different businesses, so I usually attend to that work in the office, too.

I spend about 10–12 hours at my shop and work from Monday to Saturday.

This sums up my everyday regime.

In your opinion, what are some benefits that would encourage an individual to start a retail business?

  1. Family time isn’t an issue. I spend quality time with them on weekends.
  2. I’m not overburdened by my work even though I’ve got 4–5 businesses to look after. So, it’s really a person’s attitude towards their work, you could say.
  3. I sort out a lot of my other responsibilities during my time at the shop itself.
  4. The optical business of mine is a base for other business opportunities, hence the existence of my other companies.

Can you mention a few challenges that you would want someone to be aware of if they’re considering to start a retail business?

  1. Today, the online market is doing a lot of harm to our retail business because their reach and prices are very competitive. They have a wider reach which puts businesses like ours in a difficult position.
  2. You need to come up with innovative ideas to compete and attract customers, especially if you are just starting out.
  3. You need to keep your equipment (optician) updated and constantly be on the lookout for better marketing opportunities.

What are some relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?

You ought to possess marketing and communication skills in a business like this. Your customers should be your priority. They determine the success of your business at the end of the day.

Your skills are within you. Manifest it.

What kind of a person, do you think, would be content in this field?

I think you should be able to understand your temperament, as I implied above. It’s all about your communication skills, really. Be patient, persistent and don’t lose your temper. It’ll scare away and disappoint potential clients and customers.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

No, I’m extremely content with my professional selections. I’m passionate about my business. Also, I have my other businesses, each specializing in different fields; hence, life never gets monotonous.

I plan on continuing this business of mine for a long time.

What advice would you offer to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

Where there’s honesty, there’s success. If you start indulging in unethical ways of making money, you might not only harm your business but yourself as a whole. Hence, be honest, have faith and remain transparent. You will surely thrive.

Liked this article? You may also like to check out our conversation with Prakash Patel (Owner of a garment shop in Mumbai)