“Becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business is not for the faint of heart. We all start out with the best intentions and soon realize the magnitude of work and hustle it takes. It’s one of the hardest things to do, yet don’t give up … for some it can be the most rewarding!” says Wendy Bélanger @wendyabelanger, Sam Villa ambassador, international Redken artist, and owner of Influence. The Salon and Identity. The Express Bar.
Bélanger owns two salons and offers these five important tips to those considering opening a business/salon:
1. Just because you’re a good cook doesn’t mean you should own a restaurant.
This is true in so many different industries. We do something for long enough, get really good at it, and the next thing people ask is, When are you opening your own?” It’s kind of like the second you get married and people start to ask when you’re going to have children. Owning a salon is not just about doing hair—it’s a full-time job and commitment. Just because you’re good at the craft doesn’t mean you should take on the business side. Don’t lose sight of why you love what you do. We are creatives; the business end is a whole other animal, and it’s ok to say, “It isn’t for me.”
2. It’s never about how. It’s more about who.
When making a big decision like starting a company or taking a deeper plunge into business, it’s easy to get caught up in how to make it happen and where to go for more education and information. But often, the things we’re looking for are already things someone has done before us. We just need to stop and ask who we need to get in front of. Who can I ask for support? There are resources and people out there that already have the answers and we can learn from them. Just ask for guidance!
3. To be a great leader, you need to get people to follow you.
Often, when you ask somebody why they opened their own business or salon, they say it was because they were tired of working for someone else who “didn’t get it.” They feel like they put in their time and now they want to be the leader. That isn’t always the entrepreneurial spirit. Just because you are the owner doesn’t mean that people will follow or respect you. “People don’t leave jobs, they leave people,” as the saying goes. Make sure if you are asking people to invest their career and future with you that you have thoroughly thought out what kind of culture and environment you want to create so they can decide if it’s the right fit for them.
4. You won’t always get it right, give yourself some grace.
No one ever gets inspired by those who get it 100 percent right all the time. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. It’s OK to admit at times that you didn’t nail it … just be accountable, humble, and authentic—that makes you relatable.
5. Find like-minded people and don’t hold your cards so close to the chest.
There are many entrepreneurial groups where you will find other people in the same boat as you. If you feel like you have to hold your trade secrets to yourself, you’ll find yourself on an island and end up alone. A true leader doesn’t mind sharing their secrets and knowledge, and learning from others.
“These are some of my biggest lessons in my 20-plus years as a salon owner, and ones I will stand by and am happy to share. Take time to think about what’s missing in your career and what you wish you had more of and create that for yourself,” says Bélanger. “Be a trailblazer who is not afraid to build a culture or vision that could change the beauty industry. We are waiting for people like you!”