Heads Up small business case studies: David’s story

Urban Man is my business, which are barbershops
in Melbourne. This is one of four scattered through Hawthorn,
Malvern, Brunswick and here in Richmond. We’ve been established for about six years
in the barber industry. I started off, I was heading more into aircraft
engineering to begin with. Just sitting in a cousin’s salon, liked the
idea of running your own business, and yeah about two weeks after getting my hair cut
I was in an apprenticeship at 18, and been in it since. I don’t know if you’d call it a light bulb
moment but it was just like it just seemed like something that I would enjoy, so yeah
I was really fortunate. I had really no idea on how to run a business. I learned very quickly that it’s more than
just cutting hair. I think I was doing more with hours than the
standard nine to five. It felt like I was doing a six til midnight. That was a real tough time, not making any
money for probably closer to almost four years, and it was mismanagement, and making costly
mistakes like overcapitalising. It took me a long time to sort of get my head
around that you know the financial side. I sort of fell back on advice like bigger
salons, looked at some of their strategies, people who knew more about the industry. Then spoke to some friends who put me on to
a good accountant. It was almost a time when I almost gave up,
back then, but I think I was just stubborn to power through this ’cause I could see this
was my field. It’s like anything, you need some sort of
passion. Sometimes with small business you try and
handle everything yourself, but you need outsourcing. So I think part of growing the business is
letting go. The way we seem to address any sort of mental
health issues in the workplace, generally is having that one on one with the staff member,
trying to figure out what we can do sometimes in providing flexibility, and just having
a general honest conversation. Like there is an issue, is there something
we can do to resolve it. I think staff respond well to being appreciated
for their hard work, and small things like even just, you know like our busy days on
Saturdays, guys are flat strap cutting hair for me, sometimes I like to supply coffees
or juices, just a little gesture. That is a difficult part sometimes, is learning
to just switch off. You’re kind of at reach 24/7, it’s important
to not be thinking about the business all the time. Generally I’m trying to use Sundays as a
day now where that’s my day and I think what’s the worst case scenario? What’s going to happen if I’m not contactable
for that moment? Nothing really. Or even if it’s just a weekend away and just
locking it in, and saying “I’m just not around.” I might go to the Gili Islands for like three,
four days. I’ve got a couple of mentors that have been
in the industry for a long time, just to bounce ideas. Sometimes it’s even just encouragement. I find having close friends really good for
my wellbeing, just to offload ideas or stress, just gives me, I think reassurance. Definitely seek help through friends or professionals. I like running my own business. The idea of being in control. It is more about customer experience in store,
and how to build that interpersonal skill. You shouldn’t be a barber if you don’t have
interpersonal skills, definitely not.

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