Never have I considered myself an entrepreneur. It’s a privilege associated with famous business operators like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. But when I read today the “About Us” section of Mr. Sam Barber Shop on the internet I was instantly smitten with interest. It’s the newest business in Town and something tells me it’s the beginning of a marvellous adventure. Almonte is curiously known for its successful and singular businesses, enterprisers who attract those seeking quality in a rural environment.
Sam has been a successful hairstylist and barber for more than 15 years serving both female and male clients. He has always enjoyed hairstyling and we are confident you will be pleased with the services you will get.
Sam has finally achieved his lifetime dream of opening his own salon.
Learning that the opening of a business represents the fulfillment of a lifetime dream is itself cheering. Add to this the assertion of experience, the pleasure of the work and the confidence in the services provided, it is altogether an inspiring invitation. The ambition screams of gusto and devotion! Neither can one resist the contemplation of the commercial interest and business opportunity behind the aspiration. By coincidence my work in Almonte as a lawyer involved me with two former owners of hair salons, Nicholas Magus and Wayne Lockhart. They both ran successful businesses with enduring clientele. My interest in Sam Barber Shop is however not collateral to my erstwhile salon acquaintances; rather, my interest more particularly arises from the reminiscences which as a result of Mr. Sam’s current venture have percolated to the surface regarding my own decision to open a solo law practice in 1978. I’ll spare my dear reader the tedium of personal account and dwell instead upon the global themes affecting the decision to open one’s own business with a view to capturing the enthusiasm it portrays for me. It may seem odd that a barber and a lawyer have much in common on a business level but I rather think the similarity is close and that the differences if any are a matter only of casual detail not meaningful substance. As the French are wont to say when alluding to the variance between people, “Quelle est votre perspective?” which I think nicely captures the only real difference between us.
It must first be acknowledged that running your own business – like living in the country – is not for everyone. Nor naturally should it be. I have known many qualified and flourishing people in business who have easily borne the deprivation. Likewise I am happy to have been spared the necessity of alliance with a firm in the city. Underlying this flavourless comment is however another truth about the man or woman who chooses to run his or her own shop; namely, it isn’t simply a matter of calculated choice and decision rather it is usually a necessity. To put it more bluntly, the entrepreneur is normally one who firmly believes in his or her paramount correctness concerning the way to do things. It’s not always a pretty admission but it reveals the deeper conviction of the entrepreneur regarding not only what is being done but how it is being done; and seldom is there much room for antithesis. This is not to suggest that the individual – as opposed to the corporation – is right; it just expresses the stubbornness and assiduity of the self-described entrepreneur.
After almost forty years of running my own business I can’t but feel there is a stigma of obsessiveness related to the project. The niggling attention to detail is not an element which necessarily favours the flow of business. Yet again and again it was my experience that the constituents of not only the substantive legal work but also the cosmetic environment in which it was fulfilled mattered equally. I know for a fact that I routinely drove myself and my assistants berserk with attention to scrupulousness. Nor do I deceive myself to imagine it was a neurosis confined to my office; it extended to the contamination of lawyers and legal assistants with whom I dealt from time to time. I prefer to interpret – as Mr. Sam seemingly has done – the preoccupation as evidence of enjoyment and confidence.
There is at least one ingredient which I suppose is shared by both the corporate entrepreneur and the sole practitioner; and that is what one often hears, “It means everything to him” or “It’s his life blood“. Statements like that indicate the overwhelming commitment certain business people – and primarily the sole practitioners in my opinion – have to their employment duties. It not unsurprisingly arises from the axiomatic and exceedingly close connection between the sole practitioner and his or her business, an alliance from which the corporate member is more readily distanced by token of the obverse lack of attachment.
Though it is not always readily apparent, a feature which separates the sole practitioner from the herd is that in the corporate environment there is an overriding jargon and behaviour (often characterized as rules of operation) which enable the larger organizations to rise above the individuality of a smaller more intimate association. There are unwritten codes of conduct in large organizations which can insinuate the close acquaintance with clients, whether demanding something or prohibiting another, sometimes to the discredit of the client. The sole practitioner on the other hand has the advantage of preserving his or her own guidance without feeling the impediment of external sources.
Whether one is running the Ford Motor Company or a local barber shop, the secret to success will inevitably relate to the achievement of relationships with others. No one is too big to escape the significance of human interaction. We were all born, and we shall all die, in the same way. When looking back on a lifetime of employment the man or woman who runs his or her own business will have done so in answer to ingredients within. It is by definition a singular process; and often one with unique and memorable experiences.