Learn More from Your Failures, than Your Successes

By Danielle R. Burke, stylist in conjunction with John M. Burke, financial planner

I have been licensed in the hair care industry for ten years and worked in California, Japan and Florida as a commissioned stylist, a rental stylist and a business owner. If I knew then what I know now and could look back and tell myself ten things to watch out for, here is what I would say to myself:

1. Save the income from one haircut per week. Put money away for necessities like retirement planning and health care. Working for yourself means you are responsible for retirement savings and ensuring you have adequate health care. For example, in the last ten years, if I had saved one haircut a week ($50), multiplied by 52 weeks ($2600) per year for 10 years at 6 percent growth, I would have accumulated over $37,000. Imagine what that money could grow into over my working years. Identify specific financial goals and stick to them because you are responsible for watching out for yourself.

2. The power of retailing. Realize that income comes from many sources. Make appropriate product recommendations. When you enhance the clients' condition by recommending products which they need and can afford, you build a clientèle that is happy, loyal and refer you.

3. Client recognition. Remember that happy clients refer, so build long-term relationships with them, partly by providing continued great service and partly by remembering their key dates and recognizing them personally (I send a personal note signed and hand stamped by me). An email is not adequate if you are trying to build a long-term relationship. You may consider using an electronic system as a reminder and then send the personal message.

4. Time management and preparedness. Manage your time or it will manage you. What I mean by this is that it is better to be early than late. Always estimate your time needs very conservatively and ask questions if need be. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. In other words, time is money. Nobody likes someone who is constantly late, no matter how talented they are. When you waste the time of others, it is the same as saying that your time is more important than theirs. Success is achieved when preparedness meets opportunity. Be a good scout and remember to "Be Prepared."

5. Create a work / life balance. All the success you attain is meaningless if you are stressed out because you do not have a life other than your business. Take the time to exercise, meet and enjoy your friends, hobbies and travel.

6. Keep track of your business or get someone who can. How well do you understand Marketing? Database Management? Taxes? What is a business plan? If these topics are foreign to you, get help. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Build your business team with professionals and make sure they are helping you to guide your business on the right track.

7. Success. Most people are unsuccessful because they are procrastinators. Have a vision, have a plan, then commit your plan to writing. Review your plan periodically with an independent party and revise your goals upward as you attain them. You will be rewarded when you are both patient and disciplined.

8. Dress and act for the business you want. Any questions? If your clientèle is (you name it), then you need to dress the part. Birds of a feather…

9. Education, education, education. Always strive to advance yourself and your business by improving professional styling skills and techniques. Monitoring and anticipating future business trends in your core and specialty areas is critical, along with improving your business owner skills, knowledge and abilities. Finally, vitally important is building an ever-expanding network of business, professional and client contacts.

10. Have courage and don't be afraid to "Go for it." Find the work atmosphere which fits you, and in which you are happy. Do not, I repeat, Do not pressure yourself into taking work because it is the "third interview you have gone on and you don't have a job yet," or if the atmosphere is "kind of all right." You may be spending more time at work than you do with your family, so do not settle for working in an environment that you are not happy in.

In closing, I have found that I have learned more from my failures than my successes. I hope some of my advice helps you avoid a few of the obstacles I have encountered in my life thus far.

Danielle Burke is a professional hairstylist in San Anselmo, California. She can be contacted by email at daniellerburke@gmail.com. John Burke is a financial planner. To contact John, email burkejohn1@gmail.com.

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