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Kelley DonahueIt’s hard to believe that summer is nearly over and fall and winter are looming large on the horizon—the two seasons when clients’ calendars are jam-packed with back-to-school activities, homecoming events and holiday parties, and your salon really starts to hum. That being the case, it’s also an ideal time to tune-up your business and enact changes that will help drive it in the direction you want it to go. Entrepreneur Bill McBean, who authored The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t (Wiley, 2012), knows all about that. Here, he shares the key facts of business life that will help you avoid mistakes and breathe life into your salon.

  1. If you don’t lead, no one will follow. Good business leadership begins with defining the destination and direction of your establishment and deciding how the business should look and operate. And it doesn’t stop there. It also involves developing and continuously improving a set of skills in order to move your business from where it is today to where you want it to be tomorrow.
  2. If you don’t control it, you don’t own it. Control is the owner’s management reality. If you don’t control your company by defining key tasks and deciding how they must be handled, and “inspect what you expect,” then you don’t truly “own” the business, because all you are is a spectator watching others play with your money. “First, great procedures and processes need controls, and these in turn create great employees,” McBean says.
  3. You don’t just have to know the business you’re in; you have to know business. Not only do you need to know the inner workings and nuances of the industry you’re involved in but you also need to understand the various aspects of business in more broadly defined terms, including finance, personnel issues, and so on, as well as how these elements affect the decisions you make. “Having tunnel or limited vision when it comes to business knowledge is akin to dropping out of high school,” says McBean. “In doing so, you limit your possibilities for success and how great your success could be.”
  4. Planning is about preparing for the future, not predicting it. Nobody knows what tomorrow, next week, or next year will bring for your business. That said, you can make educated guesses based on the most current, accurate information available as well as your own past experiences, and this should be an ongoing process. “Effective planning is a mix of science—gathering pertinent information—and art—taking that information and turning it into a plan that will move your business from here to there over a specific time period,” McBean asserts.The Facts of Business Life
  5. The marketplace is a war zone. Successful owners know they have to fight to win marketshare, and to retain it. According to McBean, in order to be and stay successful, you have to continually focus on the market, react to it, and fight for what you believe should be yours. If you don’t, your competition will win the war.
  6. If you don’t market your business, you won’t have one. Marketing and advertising may not be your cup of tea—perhaps because you think your beautiful salon should speak for itself. “New business owners are especially nervous about marketing because money is usually tight at this stage,” McBean acknowledges. “If no marketing is done, very little good will happen. You have to make the necessary effort to connect consumers to your company. When you do, you’ll begin to see marketing as the investment it actually is rather than viewing it as an expense.” Sage advice indeed for the upcoming busy salon season. —Kelley Donahue, Editor in Chief, kdonahue@questex.com
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About the Author

Kelley Donahue

As Editor in Chief of American Salon, Kelley Donahue reports on all aspects of the professional beauty industry, including salon business-building strategies, seasonal hair and fashion trends, salon services and techniques, and timely issues impacting manufacturers, schools, salons and distributor principals. In addition to conducting photo shoots--one of which was the recipient of an ABBIES Award for Best Magazine Cover--Donahue also travels extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, sourcing out new trends and representing American Salon at major industry functions and educational events.