Billions of pounds are spent each year across the hair and beauty industry in the UK, meaning there’s a lot of competition amongst salon owners. But William Wheelwright, who set up his own hairdressers in Oakham with help from the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, doesn’t see this as a bad thing – just an opportunity to try different things to set his business apart from the rest.
He has developed a variety of innovative offers to help attract new custom, including the opportunity for men to pay an upfront annual cost for their haircuts, and says that getting people through the door is one of the most daunting parts of starting a business.
“It’s scary when you first open, because you wonder if people will even come through the door. There are quite a few other salons in Oakham, which all seem to be doing quite well, so you have to work hard to attract people to yours,” says William, although he believes that this spurs him on: “It pushes me to try new things though, and each morning I’m excited to go to work because I know I’ll get to try something different.”
When he was starting William needed to purchase more equipment for his shop, and was struggling with getting the final bit of funding to get in the position to fully launch. One of his clients was the wife of Sir Thomas White Loan Charity Chair of Trustees Hugh Stevenson, who recommended that he get in touch with the Charity for support.
In addition to the financial support he received, William says that the business advice which the trustees gave him has also been invaluable. After working for Toni & Guy for nearly 20 years, he felt wholly comfortable at plying his trade – but the ins and outs of self-employment were out of his comfort zone. But he’s now developed in this area, and takes pride in developing his entrepreneurial acumen.
“When I first started I wasn’t very good at business planning or that side of things, my wife helped me a lot with my application,” William explained, “But when I went for my interview, the trustees were great. They could see the areas where I was struggling and really helped.”
Now William finds himself focussing a lot on the business and relishes in putting plans in place which help him make the business grow. He’s now more open to new opportunities, and actively seeks out ways to improve the marketability of his company. Despite being open for less than a year, he already dreams of branching out and sees himself opening a second salon in the future.
“If a door opens, you’ve got to go through it. I’ve gotten further now than I ever thought I would have, by being open to other options and going in the ways it felt natural to.”
So what would William say to any budding entrepreneurs with business ideas they want to launch? His advice is simple – not to worry so much about getting started: “Treat it as an experience and enjoy it. Don’t let it scare you to death and don’t be so worried. Take advice on board, go with the flow of things and be open to your options.”
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