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by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

My daughter recently opened her own hair salon.  She will be a total success.  I know this for sure – no, not because she is my daughter, but because she has the three skills that can virtually guarantee the success of any business owner.

Success Skill # 1:  Relationship skills.  Angie is charming and pleasant.  When customers sit in her chair, she does not talk their ears off about herself.  Instead, she asks questions and talks about them.  Plus, she listens when they talk.  Bonus:  She remembers the names of spouses and children, and brings them up during the customer’s chair time.

This is not manipulative.  Angie loves people; she cares about them.  Plus, she is in the glamour business, and that’s a people business.  People do not come to her just for a haircut or perm; they come to her for a pleasant break from their hectic days.  (It has been said that she provides the best scalp massage in the Madison, Wisconsin area … and she throws it in at no charge.)

As a result, her small, one-chair business is growing steadily, with a solid amount of repeat business.  She is a natural at relationship skills.

(BTW, if you are a bit of a social cripple, here is a simple way to build your own relationship skills in your business:  Do NOT talk about you and your business.  DO ask questions about your customers’ lives … and then listen to the answers.  Not only will it help your customers appreciate you more, but it will also give you keen insight into their needs and concerns, which you just may be able to address with your products and services.)

Success Skill # 2:  Applied knowledge.  A pretty face and charming personality will only get you so far.  You must know your stuff.  My daughter, who has been “doing” hair for nearly a decade, is good at what she does.  She does not so much cut hair as she shapes it creatively.  She does good work.

Remember, anyone may give you a shot once.  However, that person will only return if you do a good job.  You want repeat business.  Fortunately, applied knowledge is one of those things most people can acquire.  All it takes is time, dedication, and practice.  My daughter goes to seminars, keeps up on the latest hair styles, and is never satisfied that good enough is good enough.

Never stop learning.  Quit building your knowledge and improving your skills and you will first plateau.  Then your abilities will begin to deteriorate, perhaps slowly, but eventually you will be a creaky old dinosaur with rusted out skills.  Instead, keep building up your knowledge.  That way, you will continue to grow as a business owner.

Success Skill # 3:  Business skills.  You must be organized and focused and think like a business person.  That means ongoing prospecting for new clients, keeping good records, tracking expenses, mapping out goals and strategies, scrupulously managing your time, and more.

Angie realizes that she needs continually to market herself (so visit Bella by Angela, and I will remain her favorite Dad), offer coupon specials, strategic discounts, keep good records, share her business card with people she meets, and follow up on customers who have not showed up in a month or so.

She also understands time management, the need to control her time and activities, to work hard when she works, and to play easy with her husband and two daughters when she plays.  She knows, every day, what she needs to do to achieve her goals.  Most of all, she has learned to think like a business person, solely and totally responsible for the success of her business.

The bottom line:  Apply, practice and master these three skills.  Keep practicing them day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.  Do this and, like my daughter, you will not only become a success in your business, but you will stay a success.

The bottom line:  Work hard, make money, have fun … and achieve it all by applying the three success skills.  — JR

John R. Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

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