Should you go into business with a friend?

When I first looked into opening my own salon, I decided I wanted to share it with a friend and business partner. The idea was that they could run the hair side of the business and I could run the beauty department. This way, I thought, the running costs would stay low and the responsibilities would be shared.

The first 10 months of business was good for me and my clientele was growing slowly. I was lucky that I had already built up a client base in the area over the previous 11 years. However, my business partner started to show a lack of interest in their side of the salon.

I tried to help but they had just given up. I started to realise that my dream of salon life wasn’t going to happen in the way I’d planned. I started to think that I should have done it alone because the salon was gradually getting a bad name, due to the hair side being neglected.

I knew I had to focus on my side of the business but I was aware that the hair side had started to affect my clients’ experience, so I had to act on the situation fast. I realised that I could run the whole salon alone if I had the opportunity. Ultimately, I suppose I wasn’t willing to share my dream anymore either.

So, at a really tough time in my life, I had big decisions to make: do I move my beauty business somewhere else or do I stick with my business partner and try to make them change? Eventually my partner decided they would leave but unfortunately that meant I was left with big bills and a shop that needed to be revamped.

At the same time, I was told that I needed three major operations, which was bad timing for my business as it needed my full attention. But I didn't give up; I still had a vision of my own little salon. Fast-forward three years and I’ve recovered from my operations, revamped the salon, changed the name and feel ready for a new adventure. 

I’ve also built an amazing team to work alongside me and my next adventure is to launch an accredited academy so I can transfer my skills to the next generation.

Launching a salon with a business partner was a massive learning curve for me and I know many other people will have had far more positive experience. My advice to anyone launching their first salon is never give up. If your dreams are shattered along the way persevere and stick with your gut feelings. Any business owner has to overcome obstacles, and mine have made me even more passionate about succeeding.

Sarah Jane Honeysett Lewis is owner of Sarah Jane’s Hair and Beauty in Nuxley village, Kent.

If you're finding it stressful running a salon business on your own, be sure to check out Pure Spa owner Becky Woodhouse's column on "6 ways to find the perfect work-life balance".