On this episode of The Female Founder, host Bridget Fitzpatrick sits down with Nicole Leinbach. Leinbach is the founder of both RetailMinded, a new, education and support platform for business owners in the retail industry, and The Independent Retailer Conference, an event offering entrepreneurs expert advice in the day-to-day challenges of running a successful store. In addition to being a successful businesswoman and inspirational leader, she is also a mother, an author and a professor in retail and marketing. Here are some key highlights from the interview.
Leinbach is an expert in retail technology, a rapidly evolving field which has become essential for business owners to pay attention to. Small stores are increasingly threatened not only by larger chains, but also by digital retail platforms, like Amazon, which do offer some convenient advantages but often at the cost of the companies who choose to work with them. “Technology is really a huge driver of commerce,” she explains. Pairing tools to make the consumer experience easier or more enjoyable with solutions which make business operations more efficient can help level the playing field for entrepreneurs.
For those looking to take their first steps towards starting a business, Leinbach encourages them to pursue their dreams, but recommends that they do extensive research before taking any other step. By analyzing the players in their market, entrepreneurs can develop business roadmaps which help them to carve out their own niche and achieve success. Unfortunately, those who fail to study their industry before launching their company will have a much more difficult time. “As much as we want to put forth our best effort, sometimes we are also not recognizing the challenges of the marketplace,” she explains. “Look for the competition of who might be your competition, and understand them so that you can both compete [and] learn from them.”
As a mother, Leinbach firmly believes that children should receive real-word experience in leadership and creativity. Recently, she published a book with her daughter called “Shadow Siblings.” The two worked on the piece together after Leinbach noticed the special role her daughter played in supporting her younger brother through alopecia, a non-life threatening condition which causes the body to shed all of its hair. “Together we wrote this book…and she has since spoken at schools, and camps…and student organizations,” Leinbach explains. “It’s just been such a great experience to both work on the book and talk about marketing, and business, and margin and markup…”