Where do I start? Well…. A few years back in about 2005 – 06, I had fallen on hard times. I had moved back to Detroit after I had finished my military service and had been living in Germany for a little over 2 years, before that Georgia for 4 years and before that in Kentucky….etc. I had the perception that going back home where I grew up, things would be ok because I thought I still knew how things worked at home and that I was well connected with the people there. This would not be the case. I learned my first lesson that when you’re gone too long…. things change.
Long story short, I had about $20,000 in savings that quickly dried up between having to purchase a vehicle and to start living. Couldn’t find a place of my own for a while because no matter how much money you have, you still have to have an income. I was staying with family and thought that if I chipped in, helped with cleaning and bills I would be ok but as we all know with family, your time is limited. After spending about 14 months looking for work, I decided to try and start my own business.
Being from Detroit I have a random array of skills that I acquired along the way in my ventures of growing up and wanting to make money. One of those would be that I am exceptional at cutting hair. Self-taught and decided to learn when I found out that getting a haircut every 2 weeks would not be enough. My hair grew too fast and I didn’t want to spend that amount of money on just hair. Instead, I went and bought my own set of clippers and began practicing on my own head. Once I got good, people all around the neighborhood would come and get their haircut by me for $7 each. My skillset increased drastically while I made money. Back then, I would make about $400 between Friday – Sunday alone as a pre-teen.
Moving forward about 10 years later, I would now be out of the military. The military only taught me how to be a tanker and how to kill on and off a tank. Without being able to use tanks as a civilian, I would have to figure something new out. It is a useless skill-set outside of the military. I had come up with the idea to be a mobile barber. My plan was to have you make an appointment between certain hours, if you needed a cut outside of my hours it would cost you an extra $10, I would then come to your home and cut your hair, be paid, then leave. I charged only $10 for a cut. I am quick and highly efficient so I didn’t think it would be a problem. Looking back on it now, I can see several problems there. I made some flyers, I drove around the city and posted them in corner stores, beauty supplies, grocery stores and anywhere that made sense. Within a few hours, I had my first client.
In the weeks to come, I suddenly always had clients. I was busy DAILY with haircuts. I was completing 4 – 14 heads per day with ease. My overhead was very low. On cleaning, materials, and blades combined I was spending maybe $200 monthly. Never had any complaints. My repeat customer base was over 100%. Customers would make their next appointment at the end of their current one. I would then show up to appointments and they would have other people there waiting for their turn. Then, things took a sudden turn.
All of a sudden, I had no availability. I couldn’t take on new customers because my time flow was thrown off by extended appointments. I began to be late for appointments because I never factored in travel time, having to stop for fuel, eating and other things of that nature. I could not train someone to work under me because I didn’t have a license of my own 7 when would I have time? I would attempt to keep my initial customer base and soon they would bring more clients to their appointments than I could handle. When I created stipulations for creating appointments and told my clients that I would not be able to see anyone else during their appointments, they would also slowly dwindle away. The appointments slowed down. I still had a firm client base, but it would not be enough to keep me going. The income became shifty and at some point & the money would not be worth it anymore. I had lost and fell victim to becoming another failed business.
Initially, I never thought that I could or would become that successful. When I created the business idea and began to execute, I had limited thinking. I had limited myself to only thinking about making extra money and never though that I may have to scale the business. I had no plans for the future of the business and suddenly was hit with issues that I never thought of. From this, I learned that having a business plan is important. When you are creating a business you have to think of it just like that—as a business! You have to understand that your main objective at the end of the day is to be successful and you must be ready for that success. Have a 5+ year plan in place and imagine that your business can and will expand beyond your reach suddenly. What is your plan for that?
There is a such thing as failure from success. Success usually comes at the least expected time. You ever heard the story that Coca-Cola only sold 1 pop their first year in sales? You’re working hard now to scale on that level. It may not feel that way now, but are you ready for when it does get to that point?