Running the Circus (Part 1)
  • Maggie Franklin
  • August 25, 2009

When I was little I had a book called "If I Ran the Circus" by Dr. Seuss. Apparently it had quite an impact on me, because as an adult I find myself playing "if I ran the circus" all the time. Pretty much everywhere I go I find myself thinking how I would do things if I was in charge. I think a lot of us do this, I'm just not sure how many of us call it "if I ran the circus."

 

The thing is, it's easy to play the game. It's a whole other ordeal if you find yourself in the ringmaster costume with a whip in your hand staring down some angry lions. Which just happens to be a very good analogy for owning a salon ... angry lions. Yup.

 

Many of us find ourselves at some point in our career utterly convinced that the salon owner we are working under is a complete moron who has no freaking clue what she's doing. And then we get ourselves so worked up we end up packing up our stuff and storming out to open our own salon and show that idiot how it's really done!

 

And maybe we even talk so much talk that half our co-workers storm out with us and follow us blindly right off that cliff.

 

Usually I see it go down like this: First comes the part where you get yourself utterly convinced that your current owner is an idiot. She doesn't "take care" of the salon. It needs to be redecorated, no one has cleaned the blades on the ceiling fan in three years, and you always end up having to empty your own trash can (gasp!). So for whatever reason, you're convinced that the owner isn't stepping up. Then you spend a few months — possibly even a couple of years —seething.

 

Then, you find that you've begun plotting. Playing "if I ran the circus." You start redecorating the salon in your head. You remodel. You add stations. You subtract stations. You build private rooms. You hire a receptionist. You fire the bad apples. You bring in new blood. You change the worker status. You write an employee handbook. You add new services. You change products lines. You start retailing. You start advertising ... all in your head.

 

Then you find yourself utterly convinced that this is doable. YOU could DO this. All you need is money.

 

So you get serious. You talk to some people you know. You get some input. You sit down with a calculator and you start doing the sums. You scour over catalogs and you add up everything you will need and you figure out how much start-up capital you need.

 

And maybe you can get it. Maybe you have it in savings. Maybe you could take out a loan. Maybe you could just use your credit cards. Maybe you have a wealthy relative or good friend who is willing to invest in your dream. But somehow, you manage to get the money.

 

Then it's real. You're really going to do it. Now what you need is a place.

 

Location, location, location.

 

Maybe you want to open your new salon far away from your current one. You want to prove to your current salon owner that she's all wrong about where people want to go for their services. Or maybe you want to open up right across the street from your current salon. You're going to open up right under her nose and rub it in. You're going to make her watch you steal her business.

 

Or maybe you just want a place that you can afford. Or a place that's not too big, or a place that's big enough. Maybe you don't put much thought into local shopping trends at all — you just pick the pretty building. Or you just pick the cheap building. Or you think you know where people want to go because that's the side of town where most of your current clientele live, even though there's no other commercial property on that side of town.

 

Whatever your frame of mind, you find a place.

 

You sign a lease.

 

You give your notice.

 

Now maybe, the salon owner you've been renting a space from for the last several years, really IS an idiot. Maybe she's also a b**** and maybe she hits the ceiling and demands that you pack up and get OUT NOW! Or maybe she's totally shocked. She had no idea you were unhappy. She's hurt that you didn't ask for her opinion and input on opening your own place. She would have been supportive. Maybe she feels betrayed because you aren't giving her notice — and you're taking half her staff with you.

 

But you probably burn that bridge while you're busy not letting the door hit on the @$$ as you walk out.

 

This story will be continued shortly in Part 2

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