Keeping End Users in Mind

Over some banana infused alcohol (don’t know the name but it was amazing) and Japanese food with my friend and hair stylist Jacob, I asked him how he knew what hairstyle to give each person. His answer: it’s all about the client.

When he cuts hair, he asks himself a number of questions:

  • Is this low-maintenance?
    If it’s high-maintenance, the client will be upset once they leave and realize how much work it is to take care of their hair with this new style.
  • Is this right for the season?
    Jacob thinks about each season – the weather, the clothes a user will wear, etc. – and then cuts and styles accordingly.
  • Is this trendy and modern, but not editorial?
    People often show him images in magazines. The problem with these hairstyles is that they aren’t good for everyday use. Jacob thinks about how to get the essence of these hairstyles while maintaining its practicality.
  • Is this wearable?
    Does this haircut fit the person’s face and bone structure?

Retaining Clients in a Service Business

 

If you prefer video, you can watch the video above. Otherwise, read below. But the content is largely the same.

Last month Jacob was cutting my hair (with the help of his little pink razor) and I decided to record the conversation. The past few times I’ve gotten my hair cut we’ve talked about business. Specifically, we’ve been talking about ways for him to grow his client base. I thought maybe some other people might find this conversation useful as well, so decided to release both a video and blog summary.

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Quick backstory on Jacob. I love this guy. He came to the U.S. six years ago from Seoul, South Korea, not knowing a word of English. He took classes and practiced by talking to people. What’s so impressive to me is that he did this all while working as a hair stylist. He proves that if you actually want to do something, you have no excuse. When I first met him five years ago we couldn’t communicate that much. But I knew how good he was and how much he cared about his craft.

Be Preventative vs. Reactive

A good entrepreneur must be able to react when fires come up.

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Any successful entrepreneur has had to make a decision that, if dealt with incorrectly, could leave their company in a very bad position. It’s a very fine line. How you react can be the difference between success and failure in a given situation. You may think I’m over exaggerating but it’s true. Anyone who has started their own company will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now, it’s typically not one single moment that makes or break something, but rather a culmination of moments. And along those moments, some are more vital than others. The decisions you make along the course of those moments, especially the larger ones, is what can and will really make the difference between success and failure. Great entrepreneurs are the best at reacting. You have to be able to flip a switch when a problem comes up and deal with it when no one else can.

As the head of a company, you are the last person in the line of defense.

Scaling a Service Business Is HARD

Originally written in October 2015 on the Jakt blog.

Starting a business is hard. Then you realize that getting started was easy, compared to step two: scaling.

My company, Jakt, is a service business. This makes scaling even harder; scaling a service business is much different than a company that sells physical products. Rather than revenue being tied directly to product sales, a service business has it’s revenue tied to the services you provide. These services are then connected to the people on your team providing the service. It seems like a simple equation: the more people you have = the more revenue your company can generate. Unfortunately, that simplicity is also where the challenge arises. This creates a cyclical chicken before the egg situation.

  • More People = More Overhead
  • More Overhead = More Work Needed
  • More Work = More $

At this stage, if there is a slower month with less work, we have potentially large losses. It’s a high risk, high reward type business. Service businesses do not typically have the high reward that a product company can have with an IPO (unless you are Shake Shack,

How I Deal with Uncertainty

For the first 2 years of my business I had a partner. At the end of 2014, he left and I had a very difficult decision to make: should I keep the business or move on to something else? I was so used to running the business with someone else that I honestly wasn’t sure if I could do it on my own.

For those of you that know me, you know that I can pretty much power through anything with hard work and grit. I’m absolutely convinced that if you don’t stop, you can’t fail. However, this was the first time in my life when my confidence in that belief was really questioned. I wasn’t sure if I could do it on my own. And I was scared that if I tried and failed, that meant I wasn’t good enough and I couldn’t lead and run a business. It was a very trying and emotional time for me.

Among all the uncertainty, I just kept running the business. And while I was “still deciding” whether to keep it or not, 4 months ended up going by. And then I was like,