What advice would you give start-ups about how to run a small business?
As an entrepreneur with a small staff and limited resources you have to know what kind of work you can handle. I advise others to partner with another small business that is strong in the areas where you are weak. Together you can meet the needs of a client.
What were some of the mistakes that you made when starting Skool Boye?
I did not seek advice and counseling from a financial adviser. Even though I started Skool Boye Agency with just $500 and grossed $35,000 the first year, I only profited $2,500. I didn’t have a clear idea on how to manage my accounts receivable and accounts payable. Additionally, I didn’t know when to make a person an employee versus an independent contractor.
What challenges did you face running both businesses at the same time?
I couldn’t find a suitable manager to run the salon so I had to wear way too many hats. As a result I couldn’t focus on marketing and promotions. Then a lot of times I would have to be on the road with Skool Boye clients for weekends and sometimes a week at a time. After a while I was really burnt out and I couldn’t do both.
When did you make the decision to close the salon?
When the recession began in December 2007 clients became scarce. To dig the salon out of a hole, the Skool Boye Agency loaned the salon $5,500 over a year and a half. I shut the doors of the salon in August 2008. I knew that I couldn’t continue to throw good money after a bad investment. I liked the salon, but I loved The Skool Boye Agency more. Luckily after selling off all of the assets–including my database of 600 customers for $5 per name–I paid the agency back with interest.
What did the experience teach you?
First, I should have picked a place with higher foot traffic. Also, I should have hired a cosmetologist to be the manager, because I had no experience in the industry. Overall, I learned that I am a business person and I am in love with business, but that doesn’t mean I can run and open any kind of business and not diligently research the industry.