“Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail”- Starting a Small Business

by Emily Steers on 08/07/2012

Hi, Everyone! I recently re-connected with my friend Heather thanks to the wonder of Facebook. After learning what she’s been up to for the past few years, I asked her to write a guest post for the blog about her amazing path to becoming a small business owner. If you live near Fairfield County, Connecticut you’ll really want to read this!

My name is Heather. I’m 26, and three quarters of a year old. In February of 2010 I opened my own small business.

Many people expected me to fail, and I considered failure to be an option, but I was at least going to try.

At the age of 24, I was already able to look at my life and regret chances that I hadn’t taken. I was not going to be in my sixties and look back at things, wondering if I could have run my own salon. I had been working at the same up-scale salon for almost six years, had a steady clientele and loved what I did- but hated my job. I always had this pipe dream of having my own salon some day but couldn’t grasp the idea of making it a reality.

I came across this up and coming “turn-key salon” in my area; it was a little office building of studio salons. I made an appointment to see the space with little expectation.

As soon as I left, I called my mother with tears in my eyes. I knew this space– and owning my own salon– was what I wanted, and more than just want– it was what I needed. The economy was smack in the middle of nose-diving and I knew I was taking a chance, but like I said, I was more willing to find out that it wasn’t going to work than have the what ifs for the rest of my life.

I was 24, living at home, responsible only for myself– not changing diapers and buying formula and taking care of a family. This was the time in my life to take a chance and chase my dream. A week later, I brought my mom with me, picked my studio, signed my lease and walked out with a set of keys.

Immediately I got to work painting, decorating and making what was simply a white box with a sink into my own little private salon. In the salon industry there is rarely such a thing as the two-week notice… you tell them you’re leaving and they tell you you’re done, so within another week I went in and quit my job of the past six years.

I thought I had a safety net, in that I could count on retaining about a half to a third of my current clientele. Over the course of my first year in business, I was discouraged to see that, in reality, only about a quarter of my regular clients followed me to my independent salon.

Over the course of my second year in business, I was definitely struggling and basically working just to pay the rent and buy supplies with little to no money left over to pay myself. At this point, I was strongly considering packing it up. But I didn’t. A neighboring salon, owned by two ladies that do all avenues of skin care and waxing had shared with me that they signed up with Groupon and had a deal featured. They sold around one hundred offers half way through the 72 hour feature.

I immediately got on the phone, got the ball rolling and this past December my first deal went live. When all was said and done, I had sold 98 offers, 76 which have been redeemed. I had an excruciatingly busy month and subsequently had plenty of business through January and February which are THE SLOWEST months of the year. When things quieted down again, I put in another offer and sold close to 70 in April 2012, half of which have currently been redeemed.

I felt so lucky that a remarkable portion of these clients were not just coupon shoppers looking for bargains, but were clients actually looking for a new steady hairdresser and took advantage of my deal to try something new. I have retained many more of these people as new regular clients than I could have ever imagined. My biggest mistake in all this was not actually creating any sort of business of plan; I’ve been floating until now.

The light bulb went off in my head that weekly I would need X number of dollars to run this business, being able to cut myself a weekly check instead of perioically looking at the account, scratching my head thinking, “I guess I can have a little money today.” Running your own small business is not for everyone, it’s not all roses.

The struggling isn’t over and probably never will be, but with hard work comes great pleasure in knowing that you created something good. My best advice to anyone is that nothing will make you happier than knowing you chased a dream. I can’t necessarily say that I caught my dream, I’m still running behind it, but I can see it getting closer and closer every day– so much better than five years ago when I couldn’t see it at all. And before you start, make a plan. Nothing ever goes according to that plan, but as my fabulous therapist says (and, by the way, I think everyone should have one) “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Inner Beauty Creative Hairstyling is located in Style Studios, Studio #3; 47 Stony Hill Road in Bethel, CT 06801. Be sure to email InnerBeautyStyling@gmail.com for more information! 

If you’re interested in guest posting, click here to contact me!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ada August 8, 2012 at 5:54 AM

This is so interesting and inspiring. I wish you all the best of luck with your business venture, Heather. Thanks for the business advice!

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Deborah LaHaela August 8, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Fabulously inspiring! Thank you for this incredible post!

~ Deborah

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emily August 8, 2012 at 11:09 AM

thanks for reading, deborah!

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Katelyn Benton August 9, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Love it! From entrepreneur to another – WAY TO GO!

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Sarah August 12, 2012 at 11:36 PM

I love this! So inspiring to hear how women are making their dreams a reality. Maybe this will be a series?

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emily August 14, 2012 at 10:43 AM

i hope so! we need to hear more of these stories. would you like to be next with A&O? :-)

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Sarah August 28, 2012 at 5:46 AM

I would love to! Thanks. I go on maternity leave at the end of September-maybe then?

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