Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Susan Speck Webster, Owner of Image Maker, Inc., located in Hendersonville, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is a boutique beauty school located in Hendersonville, TN. We train students for a career in Cosmetology. Students attend 1500 clock hours before taking a state exam to obtain their TN Cosmetology license. Our school also offers services to the public. All services are performed by students at discounted prices.
Tell us about yourself
I worked for a lady that owned several schools. I learned so much from her, and in 2011, I decided to open my own school. Changing young people's lives by ensuring their financial independence is the most rewarding part of this entire business experience.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is different than most. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome. I was told that I was going blind and deaf. Most people have 180 degrees of vision. I was down to less than 10 degrees when diagnosed. I have severe tunnel vision, and it is very hard to navigate the way I used to. I had to stop driving, and my life totally changed. I had to find a new way of doing things. Thank goodness to my adaptable staff; we made it work. I now work from home. I communicate with staff and students through text, messenger, phone calls, emails, etc. I have cameras in the school so that I can see what is going on. So, I would say surviving that diagnosis has been one of my biggest accomplishments. Where there is a will, there is a way! I will continue to work as long as possible. My next step is mobility training, using a blind cane, etc. I will prove that people with disabilities can run and own businesses.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding good people to work for you. I have been blessed with a team of wonderful women that are responsible, loyal, educated, and good to our students. This is the hardest thing to find, and when it clicks, it is wonderful, but when it is off, it can destroy your business. Take care of the good ones when you find them because they, in turn, take care of you!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be flexible! Roll with the punches because there will be plenty. Be able to move on to plan B, C, D, and beyond if necessary!
- Don't listen to everyone that has no idea about your business. Everyone suddenly becomes an expert about something they haven't done.
- Don't compare your business to other businesses. Be unique! I was a small school going up against big chain schools. The fact that we were small and not the typical large trade school ended up being what made us desirable.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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