Written by the amazing Dave Finistauri
Why Lack of Business Literacy Isn’t Specific to the Hair IndustRy, and What You Can Do to Increase Yours
A few months ago, a close friend of mine invited me to an event he had a hand in creating. He works as a recruiter for a tech start-up, and the event was designed to promote networking and provide information about some of the newer tech-based businesses in his city.
There was free beer, so I tagged along.
I ran into another friend who was attending the event, and as I was asking him questions about their industry at large, he said something that struck me as unusual. He told me that as much as he loved working in the technology sector, the most frustrating part of his role was trying to work with founders who had created a great product but lacked any real business sense.
Wait a hot-damn minute!
Here was a guy who’s job it was, to work with some of the most intelligent and creative software engineers, in an industry full of incredibly well-educated people, and the biggest takeaway was that they didn’t understand business. Stop me if you’ve heard this before?
Our conversation sent me down an information-seeking rabbit-hole, looking into other industries that might face a similar challenge. Time after time, I came back with the same answers. Whether it’s health and fitness, food service, finance, fashion and apparel (the list goes on), these were all industries where passionate technicians had decided to take their skillset solo, but the conventional wisdom was that they were struggling because they didn’t understand how to run a business.
Would you look at that?
The same criticism that has been lobbed at salon owners and independent stylists for decades is being echoed in nearly every-single industry in which entrepreneurial small businesses operate. Hairstylists, this is where I break the news to you, that you aren’t the problem! Well, not because you’re a hairstylist, at least.
With that in mind, I think it’s time we started to change the conversation about business literacy in our industry, and stop promoting creativity and artistic ability as an excuse to remain ignorant about how to run a successful salon. With that in mind, here are some things you can focus on today, to level up in your business:
Being the Most Successful Stylist in Your Salon Doesn’t Guarantee Success as an Owner
In fact, it might be the reason you don’t succeed. This is how most salon ownership dreams start. You’re killing it behind the chair. You’re making great money. Your clients love you. But you want to create your own vision, so you take your talents solo, and open up a salon business of your very own.
Except being a great hairstylist and being a great salon owner are two VERY different things.
As a successful stylist, you have to build your book, take care of your clients, add value wherever possible, keep your education and skills training up-to-date, and figure out how to take control of your own income.
As a successful owner, you need to market the business, recruit the best talent, train your team, create a healthy work culture, provide an opportunity for growth, take care of the rent, taxes, utilities, payroll, and inventory. Sounds like two VERY full-time jobs to me, which leads me to my next point:
No One is Good at Everything, So Double-Down on Your Strengths, and Outsource the Rest
I get it. You got into this industry because you have a passion for doing hair, and you love taking care of your clients. But you simply cannot manage all of the responsibilities I just outlined, on your own, and expect to do a good job at all of them.
You need to learn to delegate, and delegation means different things for different people.
Maybe you have a business partner who you can bring on board to handle the day-to-day operations and administrative duties, while you position yourself as the Creative Leader of the salon.
Perhaps that means hiring (but more importantly, EMPOWERING) a manager? Can you trust someone else to manage the elements of your business that you can’t possibly have time to oversee while you’re behind the chair? And can you compensate them reason enough to keep them satisfied and engaged long-term?
If neither of those options are available to you, you need to seriously consider outsourcing certain tasks to a professional. One lesson that MANY salons learn the hard way, is that you do not want to mess around when it comes to paying the government what you owe them.
Hiring an accountant to oversee your books, and keep you compliant is one of the most important investments any small business can make. It wouldn’t hurt to consult with a lawyer and HR company from time-to-time either to ensure you aren’t exposing yourself to any legal issues that could come back and haunt you.
In addition to that, there are countless apps available to salons to help with online booking, payment processing, inventory, cost management, and customer retention. And since I LOVE tying things together in tidy groups of three, my last point is:
Recognize the Signs That Are Telling You Whether or Not Salon Ownership is Right for You
Your boss being an asshole is not a good reason to open up your own salon. Not wanting to “give away half your money” is a TERRIBLE reason to open up your own salon. Wanting to be an entrepreneur, and create your own business is the main reason you should want to open up your own salon.
The reality is, the only way most salon owners actually make any money is from their work behind the chair. The operating costs of a salon are such, that after payroll and expenses, profit is often non-existent. Because of that, it’s really important that you ask yourself why you want to be your own boss?
As we prepare to enter a new decade, the salon owners that are going to succeed are those who are more passionate about building up their team, than they are of building their own book; the owner who is excited to accept the challenge of working less IN their business, and instead choose to focus their energy working ON their business.
While the focus of this article was heavily weighted on salon ownership, I hope it starts to shed light on the fact that business literacy is NOT just a hair industry problem.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world struggle to balance their love of being a technician with the challenges of leading a business. I’m so excited to hear the growing sentiment about elevating our industry, and I truly believe that the sooner we stop using labels as an excuse to not be better in how salon businesses operate, the sooner we can all focus on leveling up.
With little more than youthful ignorance, and yet-to-be substantiated confidence, Dave entered the professional beauty industry in 2012, when he was hired as a Business Consultant for a professional salon distributor.
Despite having no experience behind the chair, he leveraged his experience in branding and marketing as a way to differentiate himself from his competition, and add value to his salon partners by offering a new perspective on how to more effectively manage their businesses.
After experiencing significant growth within this role, he felt it was time to explore new ways to connect with like-minded salon professionals, and in early 2018, mySalonInsider was born. Using Instagram as his platform, he began curating and sharing some of the most innovative leadership and motivational strategies from both inside and outside of the professional beauty industry, and applying them with the help of his salon partners.
You can learn more about Dave, and his philosophies on the salon industry on Instagram @mysaloninsider