Small business owner spotlight: Kristen Wood, CEO and founder, The Ten Spot
A recent survey conducted by American Express found that Canadians SMEs are feeling confident about their future business performance. What are some things that you see as an advantage for SMEs over larger companies and competitors?
We used to be able to make decisions in an afternoon and restructure our business the next day; it was so fast and there weren’t a bunch of bureaucracies. As your business grows, you arrive at this area where the internal buy-in is almost more important than the external buy-in. When you're a small business, there is no internal buy-in because it's just you making the decisions and running with it. When you're making mistakes, it's not as big and impactful. It's like making a turn on a jet ski versus trying to turn the Titanic. You can make decisions quickly and implement things so much faster.
Despite feeling confident, Canadians SMEs have identified some challenges in terms of business growth this year. What have you learned about growing a business that you wish you knew when you started out?
I think that one of the greatest things about being an entrepreneur is that you are obviously an optimistic person that is able to take a risk. Not knowing what you don't know is probably a good thing because if you actually knew how hard it would be and how many times you would cry in the shower, you would probably be like, "ah, never mind.”
I would say, solidify your purpose and core values a lot earlier in the game. If you do so, then it's easier to make decisions and go back to them as a guideline.
When you make a hire is also crucial. You don't want your hires to be too early because it's usually your biggest cost. So where do you figure out how you can do it on your own versus bringing someone in? There will always be different challenges no matter where you are as a business, big or small.
More than 60 percent of Canadian SMEs agree that digital technology provides new business opportunities for their company. You have a great social media presence—do you have any advice on how to build a community online and translate that into business sales?
We engage in a lot of digital strategies. We utilize Facebook and Instagram ads to advertise our services and get our brand awareness out there, and we also do it for the franchising side of [the business]. We’re a unique concept in the franchising world; you don’t see a lot of beauty bars that are franchising. To find different ways of reaching those franchise partners, we've found the best way is through our digital platforms and webinars. And then we create our community by engaging with our customers on Instagram, as well as our newsletter.
Your website states that you exist to make everyone feel like a ten. In that same vein, what do you think are the hallmarks of a ten-out-of-ten business?
We invest in personal connections, and generally that’s through the people. We know that it's not going to go right all the time but we do everything we can to fix our mistakes and own up to them, and end up getting people who are so much more loyal because we've had that connection with them.