Real Talk: Being An Entrepreneur Is No Picnic
This column is an MN Business special by hair expert and entrepreneur Syreeta Scott.
This wayward economy has sparked lots of budding entrepreneurs. And let’s be clear: you don’t know what hard work is until you work for yourself! The sacrifices, risks, and pure dedication that’s required, not to mention the staffing issues, and hours of work at times without pay… These ongoing challenges persist. And while all of this is happening, there’s a good chance you don’t know who to talk to about the many ups and downs you’re experiencing. It’s inevitable that losing the passion for your business happens.
I’ve experienced it over the 10 years I’ve owned Duafe Holistic Hair Care, a natural hair salon. Our clientele list ranges from Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, and Marsha Ambrosius to Bill Cosby and Smokey Robinson. Our work has been featured in countless magazines like Vogue, Essence, O magazine and Ebony. We’ve been fortunate to do the hair for every awards show you can name. Even with these accomplishments, I went through stints of losing the passion for my business and fought to regain it.
How did I lose the passion you ask? Years of not eating well, ignoring myself, not following my gut, being a complete workaholic that was so goal orientated that I never took time to enjoy the journey. I isolated myself and did not having a trusted sounding board. Staffing was a significant issue. I had a stylist compromise my database and cut deals with other stylists for a higher percentage with a competing business. At one point, half of my stylists left. I felt so betrayed and had the same number of bills with less income. It wasn’t long after that I lost my steam and passion, which negatively affected everything in my personal and business lives. I created unhealthy interpersonal relationships; I felt horrible and treated people likewise. This quickly affected my finances. I couldn’t sleep without drowning out voices of self-doubt and soothed myself with food, wine, and sex. (Boy did the pounds pile on.)
I knew that if I didn’t change, I would lose everything I worked so hard to obtain. I had to come to grips and do some soul searching. First I got back into my body. I stopped medicating myself with wine, men and food and started exercising. I got back into church, morning meditation, and journaling. For the business, I invested in a coach, improved my brand, paid myself, built business core values and used them in my hiring practices. I tapped back into my gut and started trusting myself again.
A cost analysis was essential! Some entrepreneurs think undercutting their competitors can help sustain growth, but that’s not always true. If you don’t know your P&Ls, how can you price your service? I suggest building relationships with similar businesses in different markets to learn their pitfalls and how they overcame them. If a cancer develops in your staff don’t allow it to spread. Fire, dismiss, do whatever you need to protect your brand, whether friend or family. Lastly, have an open line of communication with your clients and build your infrastructure.
Please join MN Business and Syreeta Scott this Thursday at 2pm ET for a Twitter chat about the rigors of being an entrepreneur and the hair salon business. You can read more about Scott and her business in the profile story we published here. And join us @MadameNoireBiz, #MNBizchats.