22 Jul Where your Business Begins-Five Tips When Starting Out
If you’re reading this, you’ve most likely started or are contemplating starting your own business. Or you know my history with my business and are interested in how I got started!
Here are just Five Tips to consider when starting your business. These became my road map when I first launched LS Hair & Makeup Design, long before I had ever given any thought to writing a blog post about “my business” and sharing it all over social media!
Who is your Target Client?
This may change as your business grows, but when you first start out knowing who you want to attract is so important. My core clientele is somewhat conservative in their appearance, 20’s-40’s, entrepreneurs or professionals. I chose to give some focus to this demographic specifically when I was looking for a salon to start building my clientele. I knew these clients would be reliable and grow with me. Some of my first men to come in for their first haircuts were in their mid 20’s just starting out with their first real jobs after college. I’ve cut their hair for 8 years now, and as they’ve grown professionally, so have I. With my women, I’ve been there for engagement photo shoots and on their wedding day. Now I even cut some of their babies hair. I love that my clientele has grown with me, and it all started by choosing the right location for these clients.
Location Location Location
Whether you’re in a big city or a small town, your business needs to be where your potential clients will be. Where do they live, work, or shop? Be there. Is parking or public transportation available? Make sure the location will be the right location for years to come, even if your storefront changes. I’ve been within four train stops on the same train line since I took my first client in Chicago. I wanted to be in the Lakeview neighborhood because I knew this neighborhood was full of my Target Clients. And when I’ve moved locations I’ve never even considered a different neighborhood because I know the importance of my central, convenient location.
I am a firm believer in staying far away from deals and excessive discounts. I offer a small discount to any new client willing to give me a try. I also offer a few smaller discounts to existing clients. My entire business is referral based, by word of mouth or reviews online. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It may take a bit longer to build your full clientele, but your clients will love you and value what you do. They don’t come to see you because you’re the cheapest (who wants to be known as the cheapest!?) and they send new clients to you because they talk about how much they love you. How cool is that? I’ve heard others argue that offering major deals or affiliating with deal websites may bring in new clients who you have the opportunity to “win over”. I disagree. There may be a client or two who recognizes you’re value, but the majority will move on to the next deal.
Be a sponge. Say yes to literally every single opportunity to learn. In 2010 I said yes to attending education in New York on naturally curly hair at the Devachan Salon. I have straight hair, and at the time not many clients refused an amazing blowout. Now, years later, 60% of my clients have curly hair. They are some of my absolute favorite clients to work with because they value my education and experience and they seek me out specifically for this. I would have never guessed my career would have taken off in this direction, but it is because I was the stylist who said yes when the opportunity came. I love attending education because it opens creativity and new ways of thinking. There is always more to learn and you never know what doors will open when you say yes to learning something new.
Set Yourself Apart
In almost any industry, you are 30% skill and 70% personality. In a world full of immediate access to almost anything, people will remember you before they remember what you do, because there are many others who do the exact same thing. I’m a stylist and I know that there are thousands just as great as I’d like to hope I am. What sets me apart? I do the extras. I send Thank You cards. I remember details of past conversations. I’m on time. I stand by my work and would never settle on subpar. If I’m having a bad day, I leave it at the door. These consistent extras matter, and my clients comment on their appreciation for each of them. I keep their business because I offer my best work and I strive to be the person they want to come back and see.
These five tips are the foundation of my business. When I’m feeling off track, I come back to these and find what’s missing. If you’re just starting out in your own business, or hoping to take the leap, contact me! And stay tuned, more to come!