Five entrepreneurs on starting a business

Alex Davies-Parmenter
Product Marketing at Timely
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When you start a beauty or wellbeing business, you are an entrepreneur. Which means on top of providing amazing service, you have a business to run. We collected some advice from five entrepreneurs to give you a bit of a leg up, because we love helping in every way we can.

What great advice did they get when they were starting out? What do they wish they’d known? What would they tell other people?

Everyone has their personal favourite piece of wisdom, but we see certain themes cropping up again and again. Here are the four key things I’ve learned from some of the best in the business.

It’s all your responsibility

So, you’re the best in the world at unicorn ombré? Great! But there’s a lot more to owning a business than being highly skilled. After opening her own small fitness business Barre Base, Rosa Anderson-Jones said: “As a small business owner, you are the accountant, the administrator, the marketer and the instructor.”

Transitioning from stylist to salon owner means putting on a lot more hats.

Finding the balance between working in your business versus working on your business can be difficult at first. One of our long-time clients Ashleigh Scott of The Facialist in Auckland encountered that problem when she first started.

“When you work with clients and are in the treatment room all day every day, it’s really hard to work on a business and grow a business,” she said.

Five entrepreneurs on starting a business

The better your admin systems, the more you’ll free yourself up to keep working with clients – or work on growing your business.

It’s about passion, not money

While starting your own business can absolutely lead to financial success, something I often hear is how dangerous it is to have that as your only goal. Not because you shouldn’t be interested in money! But because the money isn’t always going to show up right away.

I visited the beautiful Salon Fifty-Three in Auckland and chatted to Rachel and Jese Qiolevu about opening their salon. “If you are planning to get into business, definitely be passionate about what you want to do,” said Jese. “You will find that if you are driven by money, it’s a bit harder.”

If you do it because you love it, money will come.

If money is the only way you measure success, how will you get through the slow months? What is it that’s keeping you going? Being in love with your work gives you something to feel good about even when the money hasn’t quite started flowing.

Five entrepreneurs on starting a business

Do your research

Although about 1/3 of Timely’s customers come from good word of mouth (thanks, everyone!), a lot of people find us because they did their research, read the reviews, and chose us as the best. There certainly are a lot of options out there for appointment software, accounting software, POS software, and more.

So how do you choose? You start researching!

Jack Harris opened his food truck Burger Blue while he was still at University, and said that the things he was most worried about turned out to be easy.

“A lot of people who start businesses, whether they’re tattoo studios, salons or food trucks, are intimidated by the idea of all the admin,” Jack said. “Don’t let that stop you. You can find all that information online, at your local council, or by talking to people in your community.”

Hundreds of thousands of people have opened their own salons, signed up for software, and figured out payroll and taxes.

Read the reviews, have a look at your local government’s website for compliance laws, and talk to other business owners. No need to reinvent the wheel!

Stay true to yourself

In the haze of a new business, it can be easy to start second-guessing your decisions. Several people I’ve talked to have mentioned how daunting it can feel to go against the grain, and how important it is to give yourself a chance.

If you decide to specialise your offerings, or increase your prices, or change your hours, don’t be intimidated by the initial reactions. Clients who appreciate your work will find you.

We dropped by Mario Pereira’s funky, charming salon More Personal Care hair in Sydney and fell in love. He feels strongly about prioritising his clients’ experience over everything else, and was tired of having to sacrifice his art to the clock. Mario decided to open MPC hair so he could spend as long as he wanted with clients.

“I know time is money, but I prefer spending more time delivering a more quality service. And nobody else understood this. They wanted more people through the doors, in less time. It was the opposite of all of my training. And so far this new approach is going really well for me.”

Five entrepreneurs on starting a business

Once you’ve made a decision, stick with it long enough to see if it’s working. It’s the only way to really test your instincts, and the only way to stay happy and fulfilled in your work.

Be the boss you want to see in the world

Ultimately, there’s no teacher like experience. But if you keep the wisdom of these entrepreneurs in the back of your mind, you’ll find the path to business owning that much less intimidating.

This was originally written for InStyle Hair Magazine’s November 2016 issue.

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