I once had a wart on my finger, and a good natural products retailer friend of mine suggested liquid selenium, which cleared it up within days. My business has warts, too. My desk can be messy, I am behind on my reading and there are many more opportunities to take advantage of than time or resources allow, to name just a few.

My point—and yes, there is one—is that our businesses all have warts because, well, they are run by humans.

Fact is, you could probably come into my office and make a few recommendations for how I could run my business better. You’d have what we call the benefit of being the “unadapted” party. I don’t notice that my desk is a mess because I see it every day. I’ve “adapted” to it, so I don’t really “see” it anymore. To ask someone to come in and take a look at my business and make recommendations would potentially be embarrassing because of these warts.

But, if I overcome my self-consciousness, chances are someone could provide me with a useful idea or two.

So, I understand when an independent natural products retailer invites me to provide guidance to them that it is a very personal thing. Let’s say you only keep an approximate inventory. Or, you are a bit loose with your books, or you’ve given your brother-in-law or son a job that, well, could be done better by someone else. These things are fairly common, so you have lots of company.

The important thing is to focus on what’s possible, what you can accomplish to better compete, survive and even prosper as our industry becomes more competitive by the day. It’s OK if your desk is a bit messy. So is mine. WF

Jay Jacobowitz is president and founder of Retail Insights®, a professional consulting service for natural products retailers established in 1998, and creator of Natural Insights for Well Being®, a comprehensive marketing service designed especially for independent natural products retailers. With 36 years of wholesale and retail industry experience, Jay has assisted in developing over 1,000 successful natural products retail stores in the U.S. and abroad. Jay is a popular author, educator, and speaker, and is the merchandising editor of WholeFoods Magazine, for which he writes Merchandising Insights and Tip of the Month. Jay also serves the Natural Products Association in several capacities. He can be reached at (800)328-0855 or via e-mail at jay@retailinsights.com. Jay will be speaking at SOHO Expo in Orlando, FL on Thursday, December 6, 7:30 p.m., about "The Latest Natural Industry Data." He will be available at booth 406.

Publsihed in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2013