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Perhaps you’ve found this post because you’ve followed a link in an email or social media…or you’ve been searching on Google for “Salon Business Plans”
Excellent – it shows you’re at least interested in the business the hair and beauty industry.
But I have some bad news for you – laboriously mapping out a detailed business plan for your salon is largely a waste of time, unless you’re clear on how you’re going to get customers.
So, you’re all excited about starting your new salon. Or starting the New Year. Excellent. Excitement is good and necessary. You’ve talked to everybody you can think of for advice. Bank managers, accountants, business coaches, the uncle of the guy who mows your lawn, and the lady next door who once owned a florist shop and retired 17 years ago.
And they all say ‘write a business plan for your salon‘.
You sit down at your computer, bring up a blank Word document on the screen, and carefully type My Salon Business Plan at the top of the page. You lean back, lean forward again, highlight the text, and make it all in CAPITALS, so it looks more official and important. And, for a little extra flourish, you make it RED. And you make it BOLD for an added touch of gravitas.
And you sit back and stare at the rest of the page, which obstinately remains blank.
“What the hell does a ‘business plan’ for a salon look like?’ you mutter to yourself. Well, here’s the somewhat disturbing answer, in two parts:
Dirty little secret 1: It doesn’t really matter what it looks like. The only people who are going to look at it are you (once!) and the bank manager you go to when – and if – you seek a loan. (And even then, it’ll have precious little impact on your ability to actually get a loan.)
Dirty little secret 2: three weeks down the track – or three months, six months down the track – your carefully-written business plan will bear absolutely no relationship with what has actually happened in your business.
The problem with most business plans – the ones you learn to write at business schools, or worse, via templates you download from the internet – is that they’re more about wish lists than reality. And the reality comes down to this:
a) What step-by-step, calculated systems and processes are you going to use to get customers into the salon, and make sales?
b) Exactly how are you going to get these things done in a timely, consistent, persistent manner?
Because in effect, a real salon business plan is a marketing plan.
Some of the world’s greatest and most widely acclaimed entrepreneurs of recent times – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell – started their businesses with nothing that even resembled a written business plan. BUT…. they were very clear and focused on how they were going to market their products. Sure, those plans would change dramatically, frequently, but they were never in any doubt that marketing was the business.
According to on-going research at Babson College in the US state of Massachusetts, regarded as having one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the world, there is no correlation between a start-up business’s ultimate revenue or profits and the existence or otherwise of a written business plan.
The problem with writing a detailed business plan is that invites ‘paralysis by analysis’. The very act of writing a business plan consumes valuable time making wild guesses, instead of doing actual market research, test marketing, study of real, available sales information, not to mention actually learning and implementing the most important thing – getting prospective customers excited about your soon-to-open business, ready to queue up at your door.
According to Entrepreneur magazine’s Kate Lister, “It distracts the entrepreneur from slaying dragons and thinking big thoughts. And it’s largely a waste of time. The result usually is a long-winded missive that’s out of date almost the moment the ink dries.”
By all means, spend a little time writing a SINGLE PAGE, bullet-pointed list of what you’re going to do to get customers through the door. But a detailed, 30-page document to impress your bank manager? Forget it.
Says Julian Lange, co-author of the Babson College Study, “Your time would be better spent out on the street, learning all you can from potential customers.”
Couldn’t agree more.
Now that you understand all that, it’s still a good idea to have a business plan – IF it’s all about marketing and sales!