Lessons Learned from a Local Business Start-up: By Ossie Ruff

I fulfilled a lifelong dream in September 2016 when I launched Organized Kaeoz, a beauty salon and barber shop in Oswego, with my daughter Kala Hall, who is our head stylist specializing in natural hair.

We are fortunate to have enjoyed considerable success. Our clientele is growing, and we’re currently searching for another stylist. We also plan to open a beauty supply store for the public next to our salon. However, typical of any new business, there have been challenges along the way.

When you’re starting a new business, there’s always going to be growing pains. Below are a few tips I learned from opening my salon and barber shop that may help new entrepreneurs get over these hurdles.

  • Don’t be afraid. Despite having a degree in business management from Aurora University, I was always afraid to start a business because the process seemed overwhelming. Asking for help was the first step to conquering those fears. Business counselors at the Women’s Business Development Center’s Aurora office were so supportive and gave us such positive feedback on our ideas that what started as an information gathering quest quickly became business planning and goal setting sessions.
  • Make sure you have the proper licenses and permits. A business such as ours requires many permits and licenses. Fortunately, my daughter was already a licensed beautician and knew about some of the licenses needed, but the Women’s Business Development Center helped us identify every required license and permit, then guide us to the correct departments to obtain them.
  • Seek financing if you need it. Just because you’re a start-up doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t qualify for a loan. We needed funding to cover start-up costs but had limited personal savings. Instead, we sought and received an SBA-guaranteed loan for $8,500 to help us build-out our space, purchase supplies, advertise our grand opening, and pay for other expenses.
  • Make sure you market your business. Marketing needs to be an ongoing process. It’s been one of our greatest challenges, especially since I still work full-time. Fortunately, word-of-mouth marketing has been excellent, and we also launched a referral program to attract customers. Instead of a website, we saved money by launching a free
  • Facebook business page where we have all our basic information and post photos of styles created by my daughter, another stylist, my cousin Amber Robinson and our barber Jeremy Brannon.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to start my own business. I have a great team to work with, and we’re committed to making the business a success. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to find the right resources to receive the information and encouragement you need.