Wow. Virtue Salon has been in business for six years already. Six years! So much has changed since we first opened. We grew from a team of one to a team of 14 (and counting), and of course, we moved into our new home at 3282 North High Street. Much has stayed the same, too. We still love furnishing our space with vintage items and providing vegan and environmentally-friendly services to our community. I’ve learned a lot as a business owner since we opened our door. Each year, we set our sights higher and implemented more structure into our vision. I’ve highlighted a lesson for each year Virtue has been open, and want to share this knowledge with anyone who needs it.
2010 - Be nimble and allow yourself to learn.
I have always been a sponge for ideas and knowledge. This trait has been the key to Virtue’s growth in many ways--though at first, it was hard for me to be open to advice or guidance. For example, we learned some of our branding was slightly off, and we needed to change some of the things we were doing in the first year. Truthfully, it was hard to admit I hadn’t done something perfectly. However, when I accepted the feedback and realigned our brand, it helped Virtue thrive. As a business owner still learning, I recommend allowing people to give you ideas about your business and to allow yourself to see things more objectively. Don’t take everyone’s ideas, as this is still your business, but be open to change and be nimble. The business landscape is forever changing and the birds eye view from your friends and your consumers can help you. You can learn from every business you set foot in and there is always someone setting the bar higher for businesses and it is so important to be aware of this bar, and to be positively challenged by it.
2011 - Boundaries produce freedom.
The summer of 2011 is when I started to create and execute the procedures that keeps Virtue moving forward. We wrote down guidelines for the workplace, which included processes, procedures and policies for everything. For example, we created a checklist of steps that a team member needs to take when completing tasks like opening the salon, answering the phone, speaking with a guest about a problem, and more. Almost immediately, life became easier in the salon when we implemented these changes. Using a written structure grants both employee and employers alike much more freedom than there would be if a written structure is not used. That’s why every chance I am able to tell a new business owner about having a written structure, I go for it.
2012 - Communicate with your people.
Many business owners and leaders live in fear of their employees and are afraid to ask them what could be improved. As our team grew, I started to remember what it was like to be an employee and how the breaches in communication impacted my happiness at work. Instead, I wanted to have open and constant contact with my Team. We began meeting monthly as a team and every six months individually. With more and more growth, eventually the structure became a weekly meeting every Friday morning. We catch up on dates, numbers and events. We also have a quarterly meeting about larger topics, like salon initiatives and goals. I meet with individuals each quarter to hear how things are going for each Team Member. At this time we talk about what is going well, what isn’t going well, and find ways to work better together. This has been invaluable for our Team and for our business. Don’t be afraid to talk to your people and see how you can make them fall more in love with your business. Remember, without them, you don’t even have a business.
2013 - A written culture transforms any entity.
Virtue has had a strong culture from the beginning, and we’re fortunate for that. In 2013, we finally structured our Core Values and defined why Virtue is different. With input from the team (who was excited to help), we clarified the “How” and the “Why” in what we do. I recommend that any business. No matter how big or how small, every business should have a written culture and value system. When culture and values are solid, it empowers and unites a group of people, while also helping to make decisions about the business.You can also check your value system to see if your new ideas and decisions are in line with what you want your business to be about.
2014 - If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
I’ve learned that planning ahead and mapping out the calendar for months (or a year) in advance is the only way to survive in the business world.Previously, I would forget to block the calendar for Team Meetings or neglect to write down my Team Member’s birthdays. This doesn’t feel good for anyone.Now I plot out salon life approximately a year in advance. Seriously. I literally write it down on a paper calendar. I personally am not a digital calendar type, but however you do it, plan ahead so you don’t miss opportunities. For instance, every week, I set aside time to plan and stay on top of things so I’m not constantly spinning and clawing my way through the days. It can be hard to take time away from being a “technician” in your business, but it is essential. Your Team will thank you for the new ideas and opportunities you have created for them.We are even going on a camping trip with the entire Virtue Team this summer because we planned it months ahead of time!
2015 - Hire experts for areas you are not an expert in.
After hours of trying to write a Team Member Handbook, I finally gave up and hired an amazing HR consulting company to help me. My mind was blown.It was at that moment, I started to look at owning a business in a different way. I realized I was working harder than I needed to.Yes, it was an investment. But think about it this way--your time is valuable. If you’re chipping away at something that’s not your strength, it costs the business more than if you invested anyway.
My journey in 2016 to is find ways to delegate, to elevate. I plan to empower my Team to do more things that excite them and lessen the load that I carry in the business. It really does make people more excited about their career when they have new dynamics added to their position (as long as they do not overload a Team Member). I know when tasks get delegated, I will be able to do what I do best.
Whether it is communicating with your Team, creating guidelines to cultivate a better atmosphere, or planning out your life, there are so many different ways to learn and better your business. Take it from me, I’m six years in, and happily still learning. It all goes back to that piece of information I learned year one, always be nimble and allow yourself to learn; you’ll be thankful as you watch your business grow. Six years go by fast--don’t forget to blink once in awhile.
Post By Melanie!