Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care service but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Steve Tallis, owner of Starks Barber Company, located in Greater Toronto Area.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Starks Barber Company is a modern take on the traditional barbershop. Our patrons enjoy things like online booking via a mobile app, annual memberships, and an overall elevated customer experience.

Tell us about yourself

I was a corporate sales guy for almost ten years, but I was starting to feel overworked and under-appreciated. I also felt that the only way to achieve true wealth and independence was to become an entrepreneur. I started my journey with a friend of mine who felt the same way, and we built Starks from the ground up.

We didn't like the places we were getting our haircut. It wasn't so much the cut as the experience (or lack thereof), so we started building the type of business we wanted as consumers. Today our stores span across the GTA, and we have entered a new challenge in franchising. I'm excited every morning when I wake up to figure out ways to build our brand, find new entrepreneurs that are a good fit for our system. And work with my partner to support our existing franchisees.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is the growing tally of jobs we've created. When you start your journey as an entrepreneur, you're only thinking about yourself. What are the risks, what business is right for you, how much money can you make, and can you have a more flexible lifestyle, etc.? I wasn't thinking about how many jobs we would create and how many lives we would change. That has been the most rewarding aspect of the journey.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The biggest challenge is the discipline required to get things done and stay on top of everything. You have to be a self-starter, and you have to embrace the responsibility. People who are confident and dedicated are the winners in entrepreneurship.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

The most important tip is "find a business that is a good fit for your skillset." A famous Harvard professor said that every business's profit model is just a list of criteria in priority order. Some businesses might be more people-oriented and require good soft skills. Others might require more organization and financial acumen. Find a business where your skills line up at the top of that list.

Secondly, make sure you trust the people you're getting into business with. A franchisor or business partner should be someone you can trust to be transparent and pull their weight.

Lastly, think a year ahead. Make sure you're moving in the right direction and make sure you're ready for what's coming. A great example would be something like being understaffed, and the business growth is outpacing you. Don't let things like that happen. Look ahead and plan accordingly.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Most people think franchising is a safe way to get into business for yourself. Others think they can just do it on their own and save the royalty money for themselves. The truth is that franchising is safe if you make the right decision and there is work involved. Too many people ask us how much money they can make, and my answer is always, "why would you trust what I tell you anyway? We just met." People need to do the work.

As far as the second point goes, you can do it independently, but it is more challenging and less of a team environment. So just think again about what is the right fit for you. Would you rather have the support of a franchisor and a network of business owners just like you, sharing best practices and working as a team? Or would you rather get rid of all the noise and attack something yourself. Again, it all depends on what type of person you are, which is often overlooked when people buy a business. They get stuck thinking about money.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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