Hair business, is this something you want to get into?
Well let me share with you a story, because getting into the hair industry does not always involve a pair of scissors and a saturday person sweeping up hair off the floor.
Sometimes your way into an industry is through a product you either buy and sell or develop the idea yourself.
This story is about a hairdryer with a diffuser, but it is not just any ordinary diffuser as you will learn.
Sean and Clare from North West England have kindly sent me their brilliant start up story, fresh from winning a Beauty Shortlist Award 2020 for the Editors Choice and a second overall commended award.
So great news for a new hair business and what a great acknowledgement of how good their product is.
As one of the best hairdryers on the market, they are now also garnering some great praise from some very influential national beauty bloggers too.
Here is their full story.
My name is Sean Burns and along with my wife Clare I run our product hair business called Untamed.
It helps answer that age old problem of does a hairdryer damage hair. Well the answer was yes, until ours came along.
I have been very kindly asked to talk about our journey but instead of this I thought it may be more useful to talk you through what I have learnt alongside Clare, from forming and running our little start-up business, you never know it may be useful.
In the background we have both always wanted to run our own business. It was important not to leave the what would have happened if question unanswered.
There was no Eureka moment when we both jumped up from our collective bathtubs and ran around the neighbourhood.
The decision to go on our own and start a business came gradually.
It crystallised following a visit to the Far East.
Whilst we toured various factories looking for that perfect product we hit upon an idea for nourishing and moisturising hair, I say we but it was mostly Clare!
So Juno beauty and our brand Untamed was conceived on a 12 hour flight back from the far east which leads me perfectly onto my first question:
What is the first thing you should do?
Well in our case it was quite a bit of research
So we were quite lucky in that Clare had the experience necessary to say if a product would work or not.
A useful and relatively cost effective method is to try out an online survey before investing in your idea.
They can be further useful in pointing out potential flaws or changes which may be needed.
Once you are happy with your idea and think ok how do I do this, there are some fundamentals which you must put into place.
1. Forming a company.
This is a very simple and straight forward process. Companies house has all the information you will need to set up your own company -https://www.gov.uk/topic/company-registration-filing/starting-company For the princely sum of just £12 you can register your company and you are all set.
2. Get a good accountant
I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a good accountant.
If like us and I am guessing as a entrepreneur you are an ideas person, we sometime lose sight of the small details.
Not only will your accountant keep you on track in terms of VAT filings, company accounts and payroll, they will also give advice on the best way to conduct your business and keep it afloat.
3. Quality control
There is no point investing your life into a product only for it to fall apart after production.
We found very early on in our hair business that in order to navigate all the certification required and the production processes involved that it was better hiring a quality person who knows what they are doing and could guide us through everything.
Whilst this can be a costly venture whatever you pay it is well worth it.
4. Hair business product imports
This is a sore lesson and one that took us completely by surprise (It should not have!)
When you import product from the Far East or outside the European Union there is usually both VAT and duty due.
This is payable before your product passes through customs.
Depending upon your cost of goods this can be a large number!
Whilst this is reclaimable it may be up to three months after receipt of goods. As such your money is effectively in aspic until the VAT is repaid.
This could have a detrimental effect on your cashflow.
Hence getting an accountant is my second fundamental!
In order to import a product from China, the amount of insurance a business needs is mind blowing.
Do not try to do this yourself via separate policies, always go through an insurance broker who does this on a day to day basis, this will save you time and money.
In the beginning we went around a lot of warehouses, over-estimating the amount of space needed and generally wasting our time worrying about paying rates etc.
In the end we settled on a storage unit to house our hair business products
The advantages of this are you pay by 100sq foot cubicles, you do not pay rates and most of the time they will have all the equipment such as pallet trucks and forklifts on site free of use.
7. Trademarks and Patents
If you have a new brand or a new idea which has an inventive step then it is important that you protect it, be it via a trademark or via a patent.
Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.
Its an easy thing to say but be very careful.
Some customers can offer you the earth but you end up sinking money into set up fees, logistics and promotions for little or no real return.
The money within a small business is your money, do not feel pressure to invest in customers , online advertising etc unless it makes sense to do so.
Its an easy thing to say but when you are chasing sales, volume fever can set in and denude your profitability.
This ties up your cash and possibly means that concentration is elsewhere when it should be on your business.
Whilst I am on this theme always get three quotes for every service to ensure you are getting the best possible rate.
If your supplier has a minimum order quantity (MOQ) then ask for a further reduction you never know they may say yes!
Another mistake we made was to over value the amount of sales that we would make in our launch period.
Thus we expended more than we should have on transport, stock and warehousing again tying up badly needed cash!
Is there a theme developing here?
So there are many more fundamentals than I have set out above but they give you a good idea of some of the pitfalls and things to look out for when you first launch your new business start-up.
Things will be very hard in the beginning, you must prepare yourself to get down and dirty.
A new business cannot afford employees and as such you will most probably have to do everything from dispatching stock to handling your online marketing.
A life outside of what you do is unlikely but if you are prepared for this then it becomes second nature.
As a business owner you are very talented but you dont know everything. Its not a crime to say I dont know and ask for help, there are people out there on social media who are more than happy to help a small business out with some wise words and expertise.
Be happy in what you do. It's tough starting and maintaining a small business but always take time to step back , admire your achievements and push forward.
Remember you are one of the few people in this world who have the ambition and the drive to move away from the norm and literally put yourself and your business out there.
For that I congratulate you.
Work hard, watch your cashflow and you will be a success.
And here is the final product after jumping through all the hoops, just click below for our product video...
You can find out more about Clare and Sean here...