Don’t let your attitude be the problem

Browse through the shelves of any bookshop and you’ll see most of the books on management assume you are just ‘the manager’, working in a large business with bosses above you and with colleagues at a similar level working alongside. But it’s not like that in hairdressing. More commonly, the manager is the owner and is actively involved in every aspect of the salon, including earning money on the salon floor.

Typically, there’s been no formal management training, there are no colleagues to turn to, no pre-trod path to follow, no manual on hand and no human resources department to give support. The job is 24/7, 52 weeks of the year and the business and the employees are totally dependent on what that manager does.

Scary, huh? So forget the books that talk as if you are doing an MBA, and instead follow the example of successful (degree-free) entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who had a good idea, the right attitude and the guts to make it happen.

Lead, follow or get out of the way

You want to do it your way? Fair enough, but you need courage, determination and self-belief in bucket loads to stick to your vision or you’ll be the small business equivalent of road-kill. Some people are meant to lead, others to follow. If you are a leader then be a leader. Be bold. Be decisive and do it with conviction. Commit.

Good hair cutting skills alone won’t cut it in business

Recognise from the start that most of the hairdressing skills you’ve acquired won’t help you run your business, so if things aren’t going well, don’t try to solve the problem by working harder at what you do best. Step back and work on your business, not in it. Develop systems that free you up to concentrate on leading your team and growing your business.

Don’t keep it all to yourself

I’ve seen it so many times before: when a business is in its infancy the owner/manager runs the business in his or her head. Everything is dependent on their constant input from stock ordering, cashing up, banking, dealing with complaints, performance assessment and training; it all remains the manager’s responsibility. Well, that has to stop right now. Don’t believe the only way to get anything done is to do it yourself. If the business is to survive and grow, you can’t be an overworked control freak. Identify who in your team can take on some responsibility and develop that person as quickly as you can.

Take what I’ve said as a wake-up call – a gentle tap on the shoulder. Instead of working every hour you have and losing your love for hairdressing, work on how to remain a motivated, vibrant and passionate entrepreneur who is full of energy and enthusiasm. Make that enthusiasm infectious so the whole team is behind you. Above all, work on making your business ‘apart from you’ not ‘a part of you’ by developing systems and people that free you from running your business so you concentrate on ‘growing your business’. After all, isn’t that what you really want to do?

by Antony Whitaker

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