After working at a quick-service salon and a day spa, hair colorist Kimberly Lukas decided to strike out on her own. She now rents a room at Master Salons in Woodbridge, Va., where she enjoys the flexibility of setting her own hours without managing employees or reporting to a boss.
Lukas recently chatted with the GoPayment Blog about bringing in new clients, seeking out business advice, and transitioning into solopreneurship.
GoPayment: When and why did you decide to go solo?
Lukas: I decided a couple of years ago that I was tired of working for other people. The salon I worked at had made a lot of changes, so I figured it was a good time to leave. I had a lot of the skills necessary to do it on my own. I’d started researching opening a salon, but then I decided I didn’t want to be somebody else’s boss.
By renting a studio at Master Salons, I could do everything an owner could do, but with more flexibility. I have income and the benefits of being an owner of a salon without the hassle of having employees.
Who are your target customers, and how do you reach them?
Mostly, I have female clients.
The salon where I rent space does a little bit of advertising. That’s one way [I get clients], but mostly it’s word of mouth. I do a referral program: If I get a referral, I give the referring client 10 percent off. It’s a soft sell, because I don’t have to push someone to give out 10 business cards. I like that approach. That’s how I’ve gotten most of my clientele.
What are your biggest business challenges, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest business challenge was getting my financials set up and making sure I was doing my taxes properly. When you work for somebody else, you don’t need to think about accounting. Finding a good accountant and making sure you’re doing the books correctly can be daunting, but once you have somebody you can trust taking care of that end, it’s a lot easier than you think it’s going to be.
What advice would you offer to other small-business owners?
Ask questions of other people who’ve been in business: Most people are [forthcoming] with information. And don’t be afraid to hire people. Hire a good accountant and whoever you need to get the business advice that you need. Pick people’s brains. So many people were excited about my change and wanted to help. I have a lot of very successful clients, and they weren’t afraid to follow their dreams, so they helped me.
How has using GoPayment impacted your business?
I’ve been using GoPayment pretty much the whole time. I’ve really enjoyed it because my little room is pretty small, and I don’t need to have a printer or buy toner and ink. I like the convenience of having my money deposited for me. It’s easy. It’s definitely helpful to clients. I’ve delivered products, too. A lady in my neighborhood buys products from me, so I drop them off at her door and swipe her credit card. It’s just so easy.