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The things I have learned running a small business….

After twenty years of running McAra with Ian, we’ve experienced the ups and downs that virtually every business owner has at one time or another, through booms, recessions, technology developments, and now global pandemics!!  

It certainly keeps you on your toes and ensures that no two weeks are ever the same. However for me, the two constants of running a successful business are the people and relationships that make it work, and I have distilled into my latest blog the things that I have learned leading McAra, and the advice that I would give to a new business owner starting today.

It covers a range of different areas, some areas really personal to me, but from talking to other business owners’ they are also things that they too have faced and overcome on the rollercoaster ride of starting and building a business!  I hope you enjoy reading them, and more importantly, find them beneficial. 

Trust, slowly!

Trust comes in all shapes and sizes and is full of surprises. I have learned to listen be patient and gauge the emotion. Words of trust are easy. An action earns trust. The same action creates consistency and builds trust. So, this has taught me the need to be patient and with patience comes trust. 

Plug Your Own Weaknesses

Oh my. I had (and still have) loads of weaknesses when I started out at McAra. I never questioned many of whom I came into contact with. I felt uneducated and was impressed by their ‘success’. I was weak and afraid to have an opinion. I was intimidated by those whom I thought were strong and had no weaknesses. I listened. I watched. I realised, over a period of a few years, those whom I could trust with my weaknesses, and I started to gain confidence and ask questions of those I was once intimidated by. I have learned to plug my weaknesses with people who know their craft and TRUST their advice. 

I have learned not to fear any weakness but to embrace them. PLUG THEM. I have brought these skilled people into McAra now and will continue to listen and learn. 

Training, part of the journey.

Back in the day, I trained to be a hairdresser and was extremely lucky to do my apprenticeship in a high-end salon in Mayfair. Royalty, celebrities, and film stars were amongst our client base and that’s where my Customer Service training began. This training has never left me. I am now the ‘teacher’ and the knowledge I gained is ingrained within me and something that will never leave me. Watching my team develop and grow through their talent and using the lessons I learned, all those years ago, has given me a huge sense of pride and I am enormously grateful for the training I received. 

Where you start is not where you finish!

If someone had told me I would be running my own business 20 years ago I would have laughed in their face. Me? a wife, the mum of two girls, hairdresser! Give your head a shake! But when the chips go down within your husband’s business, needs must! I now understand that the skills of a mum, wife, hairdresser are transferable. Commitment & responsibility, love & care, teacher & advisor, professional & organised. Everything you need to be a good leader with a little bit of empathy & sympathy thrown in for good measure!! 

Make friends not enemies

Over the last twenty years, I have met and worked with some amazing people, I call them ‘my toolbox!’. These people are now my friends and a network of people whom I can call on to assist me on any project that I am asked to put together, source & supply. These requests often come out of the blue and sometimes in the middle of already planned projects. Some projects change at the last minute and can throw a spanner into carefully planned timelines. I have learned not to panic, just take stock for a moment and think outside the box. 

This has taken years of practice, and sometimes I panic but pop into my large ‘toolbox’ and I find the solution with ease now. My ‘toolbox’ is something that I hold very close to my heart and I am truly thankful for all the contents!

These are the things that I have learned in two decades of running a successful business, but I would love to also hear what advice you would give to someone starting out today.  

What nuggets of knowledge could you give that might help a new business owner?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.