Fran Coy provided me with an internship to learn more about being a salon owner. She has been a true mentor. My Dad owned a full-service gas station for 18 years. We kids all worked there. I learned about people—how to treat customers, vendors, suppliers, and employees. My Mom did all the accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll so I learned all aspects of small and family-owned business operations.
I set out to go to Eastern Michigan University after high school to study accounting. I loved accounting, but I didn’t like sitting! As I thought about the kind of career I wanted, I saw that I had lots of hands-on and life experience from growing up and helping with my Dad’s gas station and working with my Mom with all the “numbers side” of the company. If Dad would have encouraged me, I’d probably be a mechanic! I was always into my brother’s toolbox and wanting to learn about engines and repairs. As a child, I loved to wear a carpenter’s belt and put tools and things in it all the time. I realized long ago I am an energetic and hands-on person. I love people. I love to lead and organize and provide services for others. It seemed a natural fit for me to be an entrepreneur and to venture out on my own with my sister to start our first hair salon. I also had lots of people to go to for help and expertise.
Interacting with clients, helping them relax a while and to leave our salon feeling good about themselves and “lifted up.” I also am grateful that I can provide jobs for the women who work for me. Overall, the best part of every day is the people I work with and meet!
Volunteer at nursing homes to care for the elderly. See if you can get a part-time job working at a salon or spa. I often hire teens to be managers to oversee the reception area, scheduling, mailings, and internet marketing strategies.
Keeping up with technology is a huge challenge, in many ways. The spa equipment is ever-changing. Computer systems for accounting, billing, payroll, scheduling. Use of the internet for marketing generally and offering spa packages or other targeted client specials.
A couple of interesting challenges are related to finding and keeping skillful and dedicated employees and adjusting to the expectations of the baby boomers! It often is hard to find employees with a good work ethic and who will want to grow and keep their jobs. Their interpersonal skills and ways of interacting with clients are always a direct reflection on me, the business owner. And Baby Boomers are often dedicated to looking their best, and they have high expectations about hair styles, coloring or highlighting, and spa services. With many salons and spas to choose from, we have to strive to offer them the very best experience every time they come in, if we want to keep their patronage.
Communication and “people skills” are a must. Cosmetologists, pedicurists, massage therapists, manicurists, and skin care specialists all have specialized training and licensure requirements to meet. Owning a business opens up many educational and training needs as well as opportunities. An associate or bachelor’s degree in business is helpful, but we have to remember that many small-to-medium company owners in America do not have “formal degrees” but rather learned from mentoring, being in a family business while growing up, or teaming up with someone with business know-how. Courses and seminars are available on line and from area colleges and business schools in employee management and training, accounting, information technology, sales, marketing. A small business owner must ever be learning and going back to school or seminars to get new information, technology skills, and information to stay competitive.
Any small-to-medium-sized service or retail-related company.
Owning a small business is a 24-hour commitment. You are solely responsible for all aspects of your company. You truly must love your work. You are the “boss” and make the decisions—and one decision you have to remember is to carve out time for yourself! In my work, I talk and listen to other people all day. So when I go home, I like my quiet and peaceful time!