Being a native Minnesotan two things that impact this story are true. Target is mine (started in Minnesota 1962 by the Dayton Corporation) and Canada is in my backyard (no I cannot see Russia from here). So it made perfect sense to me when Target Corporation opened 100+ stores in Canada in 2013. *

Target is a large, well respected company, with over 360,000 * team members, layers of executives and management. The business owners I work with are often solo entrepreneurs, sometimes have a team of 2-20 and occasionally have up to 100 people employed.  How does their decision to pull out of Canada relate to entrepreneurs running small businesses?

DISCLAIMER, I do not have inside information or details of how, why, when Target Corporation makes it decisions.  I do understand the pattern of business growth and this pattern is consistent whether you have a team of 500,000 or you are a team of 1.

12 Simple, Not Easy, Steps for Business Growth:

  1. Is your business ready for growth?
  2. TARGET GRAPHICS 2Evaluate the growth options, what is possible
  3. Make a plan – Set Expectations
  4. TAKE A LEAP
  5. Test & Measure (T&M) results
  6. Learn something
  7. Make Adjustments
  8. Set Expectations
  9. T & M
  10. Learn something
  11. Make Adjustments
  12. Move in or Move on

Repeat #5 – #9 as long as it makes sense to do so.

Target appears to have done this and they determined that it makes sense to cut their losses, substantial as they are, make a clean cut from a growth attempt that did not work, and regroup for future expansion.  They watched their numbers and made decisions based on those numbers; not based on what others will think, the fear of failure or embarrassment, or personal stubbornness.

Why didn’t it work?

Again (see disclaimer above) I can only surmise from the outside that more information was needed on Canadian loyalties and buying habits as well as what seems to have been a challenge with supply chain.

There is ALWAYS something that will not work when you make big changes in your business. Therefore the need for steps #5-#9 above.

From a business growth perspective, what Target did right:

  • Took a leap, if it was going to work they had all their marbles in the game with 124 opens in 10 months
  • Made adjustments along the way. New leaders with a fresh perspective
  • Clean break, no slow bleed. Take the hit and get out so they can regroup and move forward again

What makes this corporate learning experience (often called failure) different from small business learning experiences?

  • Deeper pockets, they can withstand more lose. Consider it from a percentage point of view
  • The whole world really does know that it did not work, entrepreneurs just think the whole world is watching
  • No Entrepreneur is going to walk away from this kind of lose with $134 million like Gregg Steinhafel former CEO of Target.+

Handled right, this business will be stronger in the long term for what they have learned and the changes they have made.

Growth is necessary for every business.  It is not a straight line.

Thanks to the following Sources:

+   http://tcbmag.com/News/Recent-News/2015/January/Target-Leaving-Canada-What-It-Means-What-It-Will-C

*  http://pressroom.target.com/corporate