Was it because I have a fetish for cutting men's hair?
I am not even a barber. Was it because I enjoy looking at men all day? No, I much prefer women. The real question is why didn't I purchase a women's hair salon? I am still pondering that one.
I have always had a romance with small businesses.
Couldn't care less about the Apples, the Teslas and the Googles of the world. My heart was captured by the struggling gasket distributor, the small little steak house and the machine shop in the old building on the corner of 5th and Main.
For years I banked them. For even more years I consulted with them. But I never was one. Their problems were my problems and I so respected their struggles. And I so wanted to be one.
On August 16, 2004,
I closed on the purchase of what is now GQ Barber Lounge. It was a dream come true. A chance to make the best barber shop Denver has ever seen. I had become a member of "The League of Extraordinary Small Business Owners." Except I wasn't extraordinary. Anything but. And I am still not extraordinary. But "I are one." I am a small business.
My business friends laughed and continue to wonder why I purchased a barbershop. To me, small is beautiful. I love being a shopkeeper. I love having it all on the line, risking everything, making nothing, all for the remote chance of building something great but small.
I am fond of telling people that I discovered the secret of making a fortune in the barber business. Start with a large one. My "on the job" training cost me a million dollars in blunders, mistakes and bad ideas. A dozen years of 100+ hours a week for no pay. And I wouldn't change a thing. Okay, I would change the million dollar loss thing and a bunch of the blunders and bad ideas, but I have never looked back. I would absolutely do it again.
I learned and continue to learn how incredibly hard it is to build and sustain a great business. I learned that I am not nearly as smart as I thought I was. I learned how difficult it is to lead and to inspire others.
I love the people that commit their careers to our business. The barbers that obsess over the details. The ones that want to be the best barber Denver has to offer. The guest concierges that call you back and tell you they can get you in. The massage therapists that change the way people feel and move. And our amazing support staff that accomplish the "extraordinary" every single day including the image on the top of this article. We have a team like no other Denver barber shops.
If you have the slightest inkling to start a small business, to buy a little business, then do it. You can always go back and get a job. I was wrong about the romantic part. There is nothing romantic about being a shopkeeper or a small business owner. Except that it's yours. You live and die by the sweat on your brow, your willingness to get out of bed every day and wage war with competitors, with the government, with vendors and with all the people that promise you the world and want their money upfront.
Vince Lombardi said it best
I firmly all believe that any man's finest hour--his great fulfillment to all he holds dear--is that moment when he has worked his heart out and lies exhausted on the field of battle--victorious.