We live in the fast track generation. Everyone wants the end goal and they want it today. The long game, the hard work, the dedication, it all seems too easy to just skip these chapters and read the final page. Why tighten up your diet and hit the gym six days a week when you can jag your ass and be beach ready in eight weeks right? Watching so many people going into business for themselves and taking hold of their own reigns is great but I also see so many fall into the trap of not really grasping the world of business first. Just because you know how to cut hair doesn’t mean you know anything about running and operating a business.
Now I’m certainly not going to sit here and say I know all the ins and outs. I did almost a decade of managerial and business roles before Hard Grind launched and I am still learning every single day. It’s a minefield with ever changing goal posts and not something to be taken lightly. Instagram and social media platforms are great at presenting a filtered lifestyle. Why would you want to post about the hard times or the stressful times when you can just play the highlight reel? One thing I was taught in business many years ago was “never lose face”. Even if times are hard you never let it show and you never show weakness. Let me tell you, I took that in and cast it to one side just as quickly. Maybe that was how business was handled in years gone by but it certainly wouldn’t be how I handled mine. I’ve always been transparent and true to my work. Real recognises real and I don’t need to put a 'face' on for anyone.
Business is hard. It’s a constant in your life you can never shut off from. Days off don’t exist like they used to and your mind will find a new realm of overdrive. The basic stress of VAT and corporation tax, utility bills and accounts etc... is only one small area to worry about. You still have to focus on building a reputable name for yourself or your brand. You have to focus on your customers, your marketing, bookkeeping and annual returns. Oh and you’ll still have to stand back to back behind the chair cutting of course to actually make money! So, these things listed usually require some “after hours” attention along with answering all your emails, ordering all your stock and replying to the many social media comments and messages you get at 10pm asking “are you guys open tomorrow?” Just because the doors close doesn’t mean you can then clock off yourself.
The list could literally go on and on but one thing to trump it all is if you add staff to the mix. Employing others into your business adds wages to pay, rotas to do and with things like auto enrollment pensions coming you can quickly see your list growing even longer. Again, those are just standard issues you would know about and be ready to deal with long before even contemplating the idea of business though right?
The real cherry is managing those you bring into your business. I don’t mean cracking the whip but simply just being there for them. It's about dealing with umpteen personalities all of whom will probably have different personal goals as well. You have to take the time to nurture their craft and career too. It's about leading by example and building something far more special than just a job for them. You’ll be told in business “You can never please everyone” but when it’s your own team in question surely you’d want to bend over backwards trying? No one will hand you a book on how to do things and you will probably make a few mistakes. You'll be praising people and applauding their efforts but very rarely will you be told you're actually doing a good job yourself. You're simply left trusting your own vision and ethics and it can be a very lonely place if you let it. A little reassurance and pat on the back can make the world of difference.
My biggest difficulty comes from how I view success. Right or wrong I don’t look at what assets the company has or what money is in the bank. I pitch success on happiness, not just my own but my team. How are they doing? How are they living? How are they enjoying the company? How are their families feeling? All these issues and more are on my head. If I take my eyes off our goals, half ass things or stop caring and our customers stop coming in the door, it’s not just my livelihood on the line, it’s theirs too. Learning how to switch off from that isn’t easy. Feeling that pressure can floor some people and honestly some days, regardless of how seasoned I am to it, it can still floor me. It can alter my mood and my personal life which then directly effects my own family. I may be busy holding this weight but my family is on the back line trying to stop me from buckling under the pressure. The cycle is endless.
We built this company as a family so I care about it like it’s my family. As slippery a slope it is for my own mental wellbeing its not one I can get off if I still want to operate a successful business.
Would I change it? Would I hell. Would I ever moan about being busy or take it for granted? Of course not, but I am not afraid to speak openly about it either.
This era of owning your own business through a rose tinted filter on social media isn’t a game. Taking jabs at peoples shops or talking trash about others in the industry isn’t a game. That’s someone’s livelihood. That’s how they feed their kids, pay their bills and keep a roof over their head. If you are serious about opening your own shop and building something for yourself then have the respect for the industry and others already dealing with it all to do your homework and play it the right way. Earn your stripes, do your time and go fucking HARD. Just remember, it's not always glamorous and the weight of the baggage you’ll need to learn to carry on your own shoulders isn’t for the fainthearted.
I am forever humbled and blessed to be where we are as Hard Grind and as a business owner but believe me, I am tired and stressed almost 24/7.
Our Humble & Blessed T-Shirt is released next week along with 6 other new designs.