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6 key lessons from a successful small business owner

Running a successful small business for 5 years isn’t easy—but Ashley at blow-dry bar Posh KC has done it. See her six keys to success.

Posh KC is a blow-dry bar in Kansas City that opened in 2014. They specialize in hair styling and make-up, often seeing businesswomen during the week and doing bridal parties on weekends.

Ashley Patton, Posh’s founder, went to law school and had no experience in the hair, make-up and beauty world, but thought Kansas City needed a place like Posh KC. 

So she did something only an entrepreneur would do—she decided to open one herself.

We spoke to Ashley about what she’s learned as a small business owner and what’s helped her business grow and thrive for five years.

These were her six big lessons.

1. Find your niche

When Posh KC started out, bridal parties were only a small part of their business. And if they were doing it off site at the wedding venue (which was 70% of bridal parties) that usually meant closing the shop while they were out.

As bridal parties became a greater part of the business, Ashley adapted her model to fit that change and became adept at handling larger groups. Now, even if they are doing four bridal parties in a weekend—which is perfectly possible with 175 weddings a year—they still don’t have to close the shop.

Part of that is down to hiring more staff. Ashley originally had four full-time staff (now six) as well as several more who work part-time. 

But it’s also because bridal parties became an integral revenue stream. Each one would be 7 women on average, some of whom would have their own weddings coming up. 

So Ashley embraced the bridal party business as her main niche, without having to sacrifice the shop. 

2. Don’t underestimate word of mouth

If you’re doing hair and make-up for a seven-person bridal party, that’s a lot of potential future business. Not only from the bridesmaids, but also any of their cousins, sisters or friends who may be looking for hair and make-up for a wedding.

Ashley stressed how much work Posh KC has got from this exact situation. Providing great hair and make-up service at one wedding can lead to several more through word of mouth alone (as the 175-a-year figure suggests).

And that principle applies whatever your company does: whether it’s retail, automotive or food and drink, a strong word-of-mouth reputation can work wonders for a small business.

No advertising costs. No risky publicity stunts. Just providing a reliably great service that people will remember and come back for in the future.

3. Never sacrifice customer service

As the business grew in the early years, Ashley said she felt pressure to take on as much work as possible—to squeeze in everyone who called trying to book. 

But in the last two years she accepted that this wasn’t justifiable if it came at the cost of great customer service. If it ever means rushed jobs, stressed-out staff or disappointed customers, it simply isn’t worth taking on the work.

Ultimately, delivering the best possible customer experience to every single person who walks through the door is much more important than taking on as many jobs as possible. If that means you can’t squeeze in every client at the time they want, then so be it. 

That’s how you get a great reputation for customer service.

4. Take social media seriously

Ashley does virtually all of Posh KC’s promotion through social media and online branding. 

Running a business that trades on beauty means it’s well-suited to Instagram—but Ashley (like many small business owners) knows business better than she knows social media, and so uses an outside PR Agency. 

Fortunately, this is someone she knows and trusts and has been working with since day one—someone who understands Ashley, her business and the way she wants it to work. Teaming up with someone who does a great job of representing the brand online has worked brilliantly for Posh KC.

Google reviews can also be make-or-break for a small business. Ashley highlighted the importance of engaging with customers who had a negative experience. Just apologize and get it taken care of ASAP, rather than have a bad review floating around (yes, even if you disagree with your disgruntled customer).

5. Embrace technology…

… but only the technology your business needs. Unsurprisingly, Posh KC doesn’t have a fleet of laptops or a VOIP phone, because the tech needs at a blow-dry bar are fairly limited.

But they do employ Smart Messaging and an AI voice assistant to take calls and correspond with clients when the phone lines are busy (which they often are when you’re talking to a bride with a wedding in two days, or a nervous bride’s mother who is full of questions).

In the past, missing a call may well have meant losing business—or at the very least spending valuable time chasing down potential customers and playing phone tag until one of you picks up. 

Now, not only can Ashley communicate via phone and text to two clients simultaneously, but appointments can be booked by phone or online without having to speak to anyone directly.

6. Build a team you trust—and look after them

This is the most important thing Ashley highlighted about running a successful business. If you don’t work with people you get on with, and who get on with each other, and who you can trust to do a great job working towards the same goal, you’ll struggle. 

And when you find great people to work with—whether they’re on the desk, doing hair and make-up or even managing the place—make sure you look after them and treat them well. Or they’ll leave.

Keeping your staff happy is integral to running a successful business of any size: check in with them, see how they’re feeling personally and professionally and listen to them—especially if, as in Ashley’s case, they know far more than you do about the practicalities of make-up and blow-drying! 

Full speed ahead!

At Posh KC, Ashley has put together a tight-knit, high-functioning team that has seen the company expand, thrive and win repeat business, laying down the foundations for sustainable long-term success. 

Follow her advice and you’ll be well on your way to doing the same!

From mobile devices and plans to AI voice assistants and smart messaging services, Sprint has every solution a small business needs to thrive. Contact us on 1-877-633-1102 for more information—or visit our small business website.