Oliver Murungi is an entrepreneur who quit employment due to multiple challenges to start her own business.
Though she had a multiple business ideas, she chose starting a salon as she is quite passionate with the beauty industry.
The Business Administration graduate had no funds to start the salon but was able to get a loan from the bank to open up her salon, known as Hilltop Hotel Executive Lounge as it is located next to a hotel by the same name.
“Anyone can start a salon business provided they do not under look jobs and have the enthusiasm for it. What gives me a peace of mind is not how much I go home with but rather being my own boss and answerable to no one,” she says.
She worked with experts to acquire the necessary equipment necessary to start up the enterprise. With a loan of Rwf 5 million she was able to acquire all necessary equipment from driers, towels to machines among others. Over time, as she got more revenue, she bought more equipment.
“You do not have to be 100 per cent skilled to start a small business on your own, one needs to overcome their fears and be ready to acquire skills as they get on with the job already,” she urges.
She explains that she started with five employees that were trained and mentored by hair experts and beauticians. As her clientele grew, she hired more employees to improve customer service.
She also find ways to increase traffic to her salon including offering discounts and freebies such as offering a free service after every consecutive visits.
“Since we were competing with many salons, we decided to push our closing time to midnight so that even the people who left work a bit late could access our services,” she notes.
“At the beginning we had few customers as people thought that we could be expensive since we were located next to a hotel which wasn’t true. But we kept on pushing and my husband was very supportive, he encouraged and believed in me,” the entrepreneur says.
She explains that there were poor skilled personnel at the beginning since most of the workers had no expertise in the job, but in a period of one month they were good enough as they were trained every day.
The business lady says that the location of an enterprise also matters a lot. By positioning herself next to hotel, she was able to attract customers as she had more visibility from the traffic to the hotel. She also notes that one can also rely on word of mouth to increase traffic to their business.
Murungi now has 10 permanent workers and also has part time workers who mostly come in where they are expecting a lot of clients on occasions such as weddings.
She notes that when her business was still young, she could have like five to ten customers a day, however, she currently gets over fifty customers a day on weekends.
“Through social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, I advertise my business which has seen it grow every day, nonetheless, when customers look good, they sell the image of our salon since they give their friends my number and the directions of the salon, this has increased customers,” she notes.
Having adequate employees ensures that customer service is efficient and clients do not have wait for long to be served.
She also offers internship and training opportunities for those taking courses in the beauty industry in aspects such as hair dressing and styling, waxing, pedicure and manicure among others.
What to consider while starting up a salon?
Murungi gives the following tips if you want to start up a salon; have a business plan that highlights all the inputs required, plan how to attract customers and why they should choose your new salon compared to others.
“Your business plan should for instance highlight how you aim to reduce customers’ waiting hours,” she notes.
In regards to capital which is a huge challenge for most, she advices start-ups to consider loans and other short term sources of capital.
She also notes the need to compare one’s services and prices with competitors’..
Other tips from the entrepreneur:
Find an area that is suitable for your hair salon where you think you would attract customers. Ensure that your rent is not too high.
Do research on the current trends in hairstyles and employ people who are experienced and can deliver the trends. Remember the industry is largely driven by trends.
Have a marketing plan that includes how you intend to advertise and promote your business. Attend hair, beauty and fashion shows to advertise and promote to your business. You can use social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote your business.
Share your business cards to different people around your area and consider using flyers. Also rely on word of mouth marketing and advertising to increase outreach.
Find ways to offer incentives such as discounts to keep your clients coming back to your business. Ensure that this incentives are however, not too costly for you.