Today’s guest blog looks at what lessons entrepreneurs can take from their first year in business…
When starting a business year one is often talked about as a massive obstacle that needs to be overcome to really understand how the business works most effectively. Its intimidating to say the least. August marks the end of year one for Earls & Co. and for me as an entrepreneur. In 12 months there has been a huge amount to learn about the business and its patterns of performance. Now, as we look forward to our first Birthday, it is time to take note of what went well and not so well, in order to improve for year two.
In addition to learning about how the business operates, it is also a time to learn a lot about you as a person. Everyone has someone they look up to in business or aspire to be like. For me it is Richard Branson (obviously), Thea Green – founder of Nails Inc. and Steve Jobs. Each of them inspires me for different reasons.
Richard Branson, because he runs his businesses ethically and with a conscience, he is proof that positivity breeds positivity.
Thea Green(pictured below with the Virgin Founder) because she is an opportunist that sees the gap, fills it, and does it with class and creativity.
And finally Steve Jobs; he created new concepts before we knew we needed them, and sold us his vision of how a product should work possibly more effectively than any other in history.
I set out not really knowing what kind of business person I wanted to be, I just wanted to realise my vision for something new in the beauty industry. Over the year I have realised its more than that; I want to change the industry. I cringe when I hear of the conveyor belt service in Salons and Barbers as they have become boring places, devoid of character. Earls and Co. aims to change that.
So, how are we doing that? I have started by setting the standard high, keeping the prices low and having fun everyday with our customers. Free whisky and shoeshines with every haircut isnt a huge thing for us to do but it makes a task like getting your haircut fun and much more pleasant than anywhere else.
The same goes to Champagne with Manicures; not everyone wants Champagne when they get their nails done or legs waxed but to be offered makes all the difference. Its this extra bit of service that makes Earls and Co. stand out from crowd.
Dont get me wrong, its a huge overhead and there have been times when I have seriously doubted my decisions, for example; we opened during the Olympics and in the height of summer holiday season consequently we had no passers-by and went days without clients. It was desperation that led me to a discount voucher site. They sold our package for 50% the price and then took 35% for themselves. We ended up making next to nothing an hour until all the vouchers were used. It was a disaster and I thought itd mean the end before the beginning. Luckily we kept our heads above the water and survived until Christmas where we were very busy. However when January struck I was at a loss again. This time though I cut out the middle man, I reached out to all our clients on the system and offered them a 50% off package in the same way that site had done. We sold it for 48hrs and made a substantial sum.
Our clients bought it for friends and family and because of that we have a healthy customer base that keeps getting bigger.
To say thank you we are having a huge party for our customers, I have of course taken inspiration from Virgins parties and it is set to be quite a night!
How was year one for the business and for me as an entrepreneur? Was it as scary as they say? Yes, absolutely. But it was fantastic; it was a year of learning and the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. I cannot wait for year two and recommend any budding entrepreneur to give year one a go too!