In our industry we thrive on being creative and while I love being an image maker, I haven’t always found being a business risk taker easy. But, here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
Imposter syndromeI’d be lying if I said I haven’t experienced a crisis of confidence at points in my career, and when it came to setting up my business, it really came to the fore. I was led out of my comfort zone into admin, staff contracts, managing people and projects, and when you’re a perfectionist this can be hard. What I’ve learnt is that often, what we perceive as a dip in our creative standards will usually far exceed our client’s expectations. So always focus on the bigger picture. Think about customer care, training, your team and why you set up in the first place… and the rest will follow.
One and lonelyIt’s hard taking the step from creative to salon owner, and loneliness can be a huge by-product of this transition as you struggle to make big decisions and lead. What I have learnt is that connecting with like-minded business owners gives you an insight into how others run their businesses and the challenges they have faced along the way. This has helped me feel part of a bigger picture, rather than being alone.
For better or worseTo be brutally honest I have thought about giving it all up at times. I’m not a defeatist, but recent events definitely made us all look at what we do and why we’re doing it. Everyone I know has re-evaluated their lives in one way or another. Luckily, after a lot of soul searching I know that at the core of everything is the fact that I enjoy what I do. I have always loved hairdressing and making people feel good, and I love running a business that offers creative opportunities to others, too.
THOMAS’ GOLD NUGGETS
1 PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS When I first set up I struggled and juggled! But I soon realised that to be successful, agile and resilient you need to acknowledge your weaknesses, and outsource or delegate. No-one is good at everything.
2 COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE, COLLABORATECollaboration is king! It allows us to add strength to our businesses, whether it’s bringing in creatives to inspire your team, or collaborating with like-minded business owners to develop ideas and tactics.
3 MIND OVER MATTERI’ve learnt that it’s not always what happens, but how you react to it that matters. A great deal of our time as business owners over the last 18 months has been spent planning for an uncertain future. I’m learning to embrace business change and finding solutions to problems.
Thomas Hills is director of TH1 Hair in Oxted, Surrey. He is the current holder of the Southern Hairdresser of the Year Award at HJ's British Hairdressing Awards, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional. He was a finalist in this category from 2015 - 2019.