Our Most Wanted Business Thinker and It List The Business Builder finalists have serious business brains, but what do they wish they’d known before they started out?
Take the time for you
As a business owner, it’s so easy to prioritise the needs of the team and clients over your own. In doing so, you neglect your time to switch off and truly enjoy life running your own space. “There’s so much you need to cover off when running a business, so don’t be afraid to take a step back from day-to-day salon life,” says Brooke Evans of BE Ironbridge. “Sometimes there’s not enough hours in the day and you can end up feeling burnt out. It’s ok to take a step back. If you over work yourself, you’ll end up hating what you do,” she adds.
The importance of switching off is a sentiment echoed by fellow finalists for The Business Builder, Emma-Louise Cantwell and Christopher Laird. “Self-care isn’t selfish,” they state. “Don’t be a superhero who ignores the signs of burnout – a healthy you is essential for a healthy business.” As the brains behind November Collective in Edinburgh, the duo have learnt many business lessons along the way, another of which is the value of team power. “You know what’s even a better felling than being the most in-demand stylist in town? Making your whole team shine,” they say. “Invest time in them, and you’ll find it way easier to step back when needed.”
Emma-Louise Cantwell and Christopher Laird
Nuala Morey with team
The right team is everything
As well as showcasing a talented team, it’s paramount to ensuring you’ve crafted the right one also. “Opening a hair salon is like crafting a stunning hairstyle – it requires vision, skill, and the right elements coming together seamlessly. Yet, beneath the glamour, lies the secret truth, the rollercoaster ride of finding and guiding a team,” explains Most Wanted’s Business Thinker finalist, Nuala Morey. “As any stylist knows, every hair type demands unique care; similarly, each team member brings distinct strengths and challenges. I’ve learned that nurturing a team is the key to success. Just as a flawless haircut requires attention to detail, so does the art of assembling and guiding a team, ultimately shaping the success of your salon,” she adds.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
While many of us are hugely self-critical, as a business owner it is okay to make mistakes, and is actively encouraged when starting out. “Mistakes are good,” states Rob White, one half of the Nashwhite duo who have also finalised for Business Thinker. “If you have realised you have made one, it means you know that it is not right and what should be done differently,” he adds. “The fear of making mistakes can hold you back, can stop you progressing. Leave ego at the door, keep developing those ideas and never stand still.”
Lee Nash-Jones and Rob White
Accepting mistakes and learning from them is all part of the process as a business owner, which is why it’s important to move on and embrace the process. Working with business partner Johnny Othona, Pedro Inchecko has taken Ena Salon from strength to strength. Having finalised for Business Thinker, Pedro advises anyone looking to launch their own space to enjoy the ride. “Move fast, be patient and get ready for the beautiful ride,” he says. “Keep moving forward, and make time to work on yourself. The stronger you are, the more you can achieve your goals of supporting others.”
It’s a lifestyle not a job
While an incredible team can seriously lighten the load, ultimately as a business owner there is a much higher level of responsibility, and one you can’t walk away from. “Before opening Crate Cheshire, I wish I had known that being a business owner is a lifestyle and not a nine to five job,” says It List The Business Builder finalist, Charles Rose. “You are always on. However, being a salon owner does not mean you are immune to feeling scared and vulnerable. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s harder than it looks, and you experience a rollercoaster of emotions.”
Don’t compare yourself with others
One of the many emotions owners will face is imposter syndrome. They say comparison is the thief of joy, so never look to others as the benchmark. As fellow finalist for The Business Builder award, Exaucè Imbo of EXSTUDIO has an important pearl of wisdom to share. “We are all on our own journey,” he states. “I used my own uniqueness to captivate and create a brand that is true to myself. From that you can separate yourself from others and focus on your lane and flourish,” he adds.
“We are now living in a time where people are addicted to their phones and scrolling social media apps which share everything, so it is very easy to get carried away. Always look at others as inspiration rather than comparison, because we all have our own identity – be true to your brand and yourself.”
The price is right
In a world of comparison, the price point of your services is bound to come up. Everyone is guilty of comparing prices of other salons or barber shops in the area, but you need to remain steadfast in what you offer and be confident in your sauce. As one half of Jack & the Wolfe, Jack Mead has built a super popular space in Lymington. However, he admits to not being strict enough about the services he wanted to offer when opening. “When you first open, you just want and need to getting money in the till so you do everything,” he explains. “That makes it hard to change when you become more established. So be sure on how much you want to charge and what services you want to offer before you start,” he adds.
Plan your space
Another aspect of pricing, which is sometimes overlooked, is the space in which you operate. “The one thing I wish I’d known 10 years ago (when I opened the first Allertons location) was how to plan your space, and the profitability of that space,” shares Business Thinker finalist, Nicholas Nicola. “Even though it’s important, I focused too much on the look and feel of the space, rather than the sales that could be generated vs. the cost of each square foot. Turns out, as I found out the hard way, it couldn’t realistically turn a profit. So my advice now? Numbers first,” he adds.
Jack & the Wolfe salon
Allertons in John Lewis
Final food for thought
There’s no one right way to open a salon or barber shop – it’s what works best for you. It’s an exciting time, so to help you on your way, Colin McAndrew from Medusa has some final thoughts to set you up for success…
Masterful blueprint: “Nail a killer business plan. That’s your secret weapon for nailing success.”
Digital swagger: “Rock the social scene with sizzling content and a website that screams your own brand.”
Cash Flow confidence: “Boss up your financial game, so your salon is as financially fab as it looks. Turnover really is vanity, and profit is sanity.”
Squad goals: “Amp up teamwork through slick communication, empowerment, and vibes that make your salon the ultimate hangout.”