Just a hairstylist? I think not: Juggling the craft, business ownership, and the unexpected


I was recently cutting a long-time guest’s hair when she asked me how I became a hairstylist. I replied by saying "Which version would you like? Why do you ask?” She replied, “You are not the typical hairstylist.” My response was, “I know!”

I think there is a great opportunity here to reflect on this observation. What is a hairstylist and what does a successful one look like? What does any successful business/salon owner look like?

When I stop and think about it, I have always been an outlier and an early adopter. I became a hairstylist and business owner because I wanted to do my own thing. I am also very picky as to who I will follow.

All that being said, I didn't have any real idea of what either journey would be like or have in store for me. One thing that has become clear is that I have had the auspicious journey of a lifetime. In the beginning, I had no idea what I would have to learn and execute to be successful in the marketplace. The role of a stylist is to help guests look and feel their best. The role of a business owner is to quickly adapt to changing market conditions. All of this is where it gets exciting because one has to constantly learn new things and skills. I think this is misunderstood in small and medium-sized businesses: the constant growth adaptation and implementation.

Something for parents and students considering hairstyling as a profession—or anyone considering owning their own small to medium-sized enterprise—to know is that the journey will probably not go how you imagine it will. It is a journey of growth, challenge, success, and yes, even failure.

Just a hairstylist? I think not!

Holding scissors and brushPhoto by Tá Focando on Unslash

The marketing side to hairstyling & business ownership

Now let me give you an example of constant learning and growth. One of the marketing concepts that I learned a few years back is the difference between a sales funnel and a sales flywheel.

A sales funnel is, simply put, when you dump a whole bunch of prospective customers into the top of the funnel and along the way you and the prospective customers sort out whether you are a good fit or not. 

A flywheel is something very different. It's a mechanical part of an engine that takes a bit of effort to get going but once it is moving it takes much less energy to keep going.

This is much like a reference system. One satisfied customer tells another and so on. It's as if you help people identify a problem, then you solve it. By the way, that is the very nature of business—problem-solving. No problems, no business.

All that being said, now you have to build the systems, the culture, technology, technical and artistic skills, branding, marketing, and retailing, and culminate it all into a customer experience. Customer experience is everything. This is where being a small business owner gets exciting—at least it does for me.

Remember, just a hairstylist? I think not!

Student learningPhoto by Green Chameleon on Unsplash