Hellen Ward's 5 tips for business success

If you missed the recent Professional Beauty London show at ExCeL, then you missed a treat. It’s always my must-attend event of the year. 

Networking, sourcing new products, seeing innovations, meeting people, checking out industry bodies, looking at brand developments, catching up with suppliers – all of these things are at your fingertips. I’ve long used our best and brightest industry trade show to find new equipment, follow up with potential partners, and, above all, to see what’s new – and all under one roof. 

The best part of the show for me is attending the Business Skills seminars. Not being a therapist myself (my team often attend the practical workshops), I love sharing ideas and find networking with other salon owners particularly inspiring. In fact, this year, I shared my own story in a workshop that had a rather tongue-in-cheek name, “25 years to Overnight Success”. 

Bouncing back

Listening to other entrepreneurs who are willing to share their failures is always inspiring – to hear that their journey to success, which from the outside looks seamless and hassle-free, is rarely that. In fact, the only thing that every successful business has in common is that the path is never straightforward; there are always countless twists and turns. Learning how to navigate those and develop failings into successful outcomes is what sets leaders and pioneers apart.

So, what did I share in my seminar as the key learnings we trod on our survival path? 

1. To get strongly rooted oak trees, you have to start with acorns. Trying to uproot someone else and fit them into your team may be a fast track to turnover and work out OK, but if it doesn’t, it can poison a great team very quickly. The best, but slowest, approach is always to grow your own staff, to have five people who want to work with or for you rather than 20 who are indifferent. “Bad apple” culls can be scary, but immediately transformative. Sometimes, atmosphere has to trump turnover. 

2. Be your truth. It’s tempting to get sidetracked by what other brands are doing and try to be something you’re not. But if you’re not living your truth you won’t be happy, and neither will your team – or your clients. Have the courage of your convictions and stay true to your brand. 

3. Every disappointment leads you closer to success. But only if you listen, tweak and learn from the failure.

4. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. And as Einstein said this, it must be right. 

5. Being happy is important – ever walked through your salon and felt uncomfortable? Stop and figure out who or what is making you feel like that and deal with it ASAP. We spend a third of our lives at work so it has to feel right.

Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London, one of the most profitable independent salons in the UK. She is beauty ambassador for The National Beauty Federation (NBF). Send your feedback to hellen@professionalbeauty.co.uk

For more advice from Hellen Ward, read her columns on Why the therapist doesn't alwys know best and How to sell your salon or spa business