Something Sassy Beauty Salon owner Stephanie Stokes was the featured speaker at last week's Central Missouri Business Leaders meeting.
Stokes explained the history of her business, which celebrated its 14th anniversary last week, to the group gathered in attendance Jan. 15. She said 14 years ago, she purchased her shop for $5,000 and the rest is history, as Something Sassy thrives today.
"I have a passion for what I do," Stokes said. "I love what I do. I still have a flame burning for what I do."
Stokes spoke about some of the struggles her business has faced over the years, from staffing to building a base of clientele to juggling pregnancy with keeping things running smoothly. Stokes said she's happy that today, she has a shop staffed with dedicated employees, after cycling through some unreliable and less dedicated individuals over the years.
Through one particularly challenging anecdote, Stokes said there are times as a business owner where you have to make decisions that are in your business' best interest, rather than prioritizing making one or a few people happy.
"When you have a business to run, you're going to lose money or you're going to be somebody's friend, and I was not going to lose money," Stokes said. "That's how I pay my bills — that's my life."
Stokes said other struggles she's faced over the years as a business owner include not having time she thought she had, and having had to learn to say "no" more often.
Stokes said customers can come with their own set of challenges. As she inferred, it's hard to make everyone happy all the time, and keeping a healthy base of clientele without taking on too many is a balancing act itself.
"You focus on the people that come to your salon, that care about your salon, that pay your bills — those are your clients," Stokes said. "Don't try to take 30 new people a week, because you won't be able to take care of the people you (already) have."
Stokes said despite the challenges, being her own boss and being able to create jobs that help people make their own livelihood has been a gratifying experience. She said she's made it a point, especially more recently, to build bonds with her staff by hosting monthly team meetings to set goals and discuss how things are going.
Stokes said these meetings are especially valuable, since she thinks taking the opinion of her staff into account is important when considering things like upcoming promotions.
In the second half of the morning, Moniteau County Regional Economic Development Council President Mike Kelley talked to the group about how to tackle juggling multiple projects. Kelley said his personal strategy often involves estimating the time he anticipates putting into a project and adding a cushion for safety.
Kelley said it's important not to overtax yourself when it comes to your creative output. With that in mind, he encouraged attendees to only take on one "heavy-duty" task each day, even if it's hard to limit yourself to that.
Kelley said, similar to some of the advice Stokes discussed, it's important to consider your available time before agreeing to do anything, and saying "no" when necessary.
"I can't do everything everybody wants me to do," Kelley said.
Finally, Kelley said it's important to recognize that projects will often take more effort than anticipated, circling back to his advice to add a safety cushion of estimated time when considering a project.
"Everything takes longer than you think it will," Kelley said.
The next Central Missouri Business Leaders meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 19.