Life can be messy, but still enjoyable. The expression ‘All that glitters is not gold’, is very true in life. We often look at the public side of someone’s life and feel like they have it all perfectly laid out. It isn’t until you get to experience their life from the inside, that you start to realize that their life isn’t perfect either. No one’s life is picture perfect. We all have plenty of messes to handle. No public persona can ever show the hard lessons learned in business. However, many of us have had to learn them, the very hard way.
How do you prepare for success?
You can be a mom, wife, daughter, working or an entrepreneur all during the same season of life. Fully committing to each role is what brings satisfaction and joy. Recently, I walked a very hard road, and learned many hard lessons from my journey with Camille Albane Master Franchise India. For better or worse, I entered a contract with them to establish a franchise at Camille Albane – Kavuri Hills. I was full of hope and aspirations. Not everything has worked out as I expected, but it has made me stronger and wiser. Business is not always a straight and easy path, it is the difficulty that seems like it will break us that actually prepares us for success.
First Steps in Building a Franchise Business
In March 2019, I experienced a quick introduction to this franchise opportunity. Everything seemed very well laid out and easy to get off the ground. I may have been a novice in business, but I was determined and committed to building a business in India. Also, I was completely dedicated to the hard work it would take to make this succeed . My family and I wanted to build a foundation in India, so that we could travel often, but still be deeply connected to our motherland.
So, I excitedly began this new journey. Slowly things started to come together, we learned everything we could about this exciting opportunity. It seemed so amazing, a truly irresistible offer. I got swept up in the possibilities and didn’t ask all the questions I should have. I should have requested documentation on everything. That was my first lesson learned, do not blindly trust promises that seem too good to be true, get all the facts first!
Fight for the things you care about,
but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Starting a Business with Family
Since we were from the US, we could not be there physically to work, because of distance, we pursued the franchise in the hope that all work would be handled in our absence. Word of our new venture began to spread. My cousin, Mr S found out about the opportunity at a family wedding. He was very interested in being a part of this new business. It seemed that everything was falling into place. We were pleased and excited to welcome Sunny into our new adventure.
Mr S had been working in IT but was struggling with the heavy workload. He was looking for a change. So, he walked away from his job to partner with us on the new Venture. We were thrilled to be supported by family and have the opportunity to work together. S built the business from the ground up. My dad & mom equally lent his support by physically working hard to get the new business ready.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Franchise
We continued our journey believing that the franchise executives had our best interest at heart. However, my dad began to suspect that something was not quite right with the deal. Still, I didn’t see any problems in our plan. Everything seemed to be working well, I was blind to the reality of the situation. We were continually paying for more fees and purchases that the franchise required. The cost from franchise fees, furniture, products, tools, and spa furniture continued to mount. Yet, they kept asking for more money. They seemed to never run out of reasons to charge us one more time. The hard earned money that we had sacrificed to save, quickly disappeared.
That was my second lesson learned, always know exactly what something will cost before committing to a new venture. You have a right to know how much an investment will cost, because you are paying for it. Whenever investing in a new program or venture, always make sure that your hard earned money is well spent. Don’t trust anyone blindly, research who you are investing with. You could even do background checks. Just don’t blindly trust people you just met, because many times they are only interested in their own personal gain. Do some research so you can make a sound decision.
Unethical Business Practices
Through all of this, we pushed on and worked hard. We were focused on our goal and gave all we had to making this dream come true. We continued to believe in the franchise and the promises that were made. Launch day was quickly approaching, and the fees continued to come in. We paid for so many services and merchandise that have never been delivered. It became clear that we were in the midst of unjust and unethical practices. We had to pay up front for everything, and then nothing was delivered. Even still, we trusted the master franchise and paid employees and contractors huge amounts of money.
However, there is always a positive side to every struggle. When God closes all the doors, He opens a window. Our salon location was the one very bright spot in this entire mess. We are so thankful still for this location and for those who helped make it happen. In the entire deal, this was the only aspect that truly benefited us.
How to Launch a New Business Successfully
Despite everything, we had an amazing launch with all the well known people around the area in attendance. Our marketing campaign was not the biggest or most elaborate, however our great reputation quickly spread. Our clientele trickled in and quickly grew. We poured all our energy into building our reputation, connecting with potential new clients, and gaining visibility.
Even though we had paid a significant amount to a PR agency, there was not a single coverage in the papers, TV, or media. We had to make our own publicity and attract customers. Apparently, when you’re not well known and wealthy, you have to struggle to make things work out. The pain is real. It seems everyone around you is trying to hold you back and keep you from succeeding. I know this personally, but I refuse to let it hold me back. I know my worth and will not give up.
Can Anyone Build a Successful Business?
Can common people like us become successful entrepreneurs? Why do we always automatically support celebrities, children of the wealthy or “page 3” families? Why can’t women like me dream to get help or grow? So many questions pounded in my head as I attempted to process everything that had happened.
I wanted to grow organically the way celebrities and wealthy entrepreneurs did. Their ventures grow easily because they have name recognition and social clout. However, people like me need to toil an extra mile to reach true success on the road of life. I don’t blame them or anyone this situation. However, Everyone deserves to get the same support, love and compassion as the elite. That is not reality in life, though. Regardless, we cannot give up! We can have success even with hard lessons in business.
Building a Business during a Pandemic
Despite everything we had dealt with, there was still more struggle ahead. Exactly 15 days after launching, we faced lockdown due to the pandemic. We never imagined this would extend for 3-4 months. Our business was in turmoil because I had no idea what to do. Covid had turned everything upside down. It seemed the hard lessons in business just kept coming.
However, in every difficult lesson there is opportunity to improve. So, Sunny and I invested in business coaching during the lockdown. We began to understand the intricacies of business. Our coach helped us learn about operating our salon, marketing, sales, accounting, and HR. So, we worked out a plan to successfully grow our business step by step. It was so interesting to know and understand how we could increase our sales.
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
Robert H. Schuller
We got to understand our business, our employees, our investments over the coming months. We finally understood in great detail what had to be done and how to do it. Additionally, I got to spend genuine time with family, in my native place, including my cousins. This was an amazing time to spend with cousins. Despite all the hardship and uncertainty, I am thankful for this precious time.
We were almost ready to start back up our business once lockdown was lifted. However, to our great surprise, my entire team of hairdressers had left Hyd and moved to Delhi. I was shocked that they had decided to leave. This was another hard lesson learned in business. Always make sure you have a good collection of contacts to help you get the right people. Thanks to my amazing client, who felt like a God sent, I was introduced to a new hairdresser. This man turned out to be a gem of a person. He has become the biggest strength of my salon.
Hard Lessons Learned in Business through Struggle
Our discussions with Camille Albane Paris continued in vain. We wanted very much to work with them as a brand partner, but could not get any support. The promises were never fulfilled. We were left to figure it all out alone, despite having invested heavily into this franchise. The disputes in emails grew into legal notices and showed no hope of resolution. Finally, I got to the point of giving up on them as a brand. When you’re genuine and want to really grow in life, you need support and genuine opportunity. Eventually,Mr S exited the Venture on board. We had to build on it day by day. With one side of no support from business and other hand exit deal from partner, left us dangling in the air. We had one strong support from the Almighty all along. This is what I have learned – however hard you’re pushed down, bounce back stronger. Bounce back & resilience are my words, ingrained in my DNA for a lifetime.
Why Invest in a Franchise?
Can you grow with someone who puts their own profit above your success and growth? The fees and constant requirements were crushing any chance of growth for the salon. We had pursued this franchise because of their promises to help build our business, meet our needs, and support our efforts. Why would anyone take on the burden of a franchise? Usually, it is just because most people don’t have the time and effort to do it all. However, without true support, there is no advantage in the immense expense of a franchise. But again, I learned my life’s biggest lesson in this mess. Make the effort to do it all yourself as much as you can. I have learned my lesson and will not approach any new franchises to brand my salon. Now, I’m going to run it all by myself with the help of my team.
Empowering Women in Business and Life
This is a ridiculous world we are in! We supposedly fight to support women entrepreneurs, however they are the ones that have to struggle the most. Why do women have to work so hard just to succeed? Where are the support and tools we need to grow? Why do we still have to fight so hard to get ahead? I have been fighting this battle emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Being a mom of 2 kids, maintaining an entire household, investing my entire savings into the franchise and salon, I have given all I have to this venture. In addition, I worked to get back to my roots and help my fellow Indians. I have learned another lesson, though, build your business where people love you, respect your words, and work authentically with you.
Hard Lessons Will not Define Me!
There are many hard lessons in business to learn. However, the biggest is that you must never give up! These lessons will boost my future success. However, that does not mean everyone should have to learn lessons the hard way. We must do more to empower, truly empower women in their businesses. It is time to give them a boost and not hold them back continually.
I am not broken! My salon will grow and prosper because of my hard work and my amazing team. However, I want more for every woman, especially the next generation. I look forward to seeing my daughter thrive in a world with truly open doors and equal power for women. That will only happen, though, when corporations, franchises, and society as a whole follow through on their promises and give all they have to open wide the path to success for every women– no matter who she is.