Springfield, MO

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2023 Small Business Outlook: Linda Daugherty

Superintendent, Academy of Hair Design, and 2022 Chair, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council

Posted online

Daugherty’s 2023 Projection
We’ve faced some huge challenges. I don’t see that slowing down, but I feel cautiously optimistic. What we have learned the last three years has made us stronger and better.  I think continuing to create a positive work environment is something we need  and making sure we are planning ahead much further ahead than what we used to.

How have post-pandemic inflation and other economic factors affected small businesses?
Like every other business, we’ve experienced inflation through supply demand. Supplies are not able to come in as quickly as they used to. Overall, for all of us small businesses and large businesses, the increase in minimum wage, although that was a necessary increase, it has caused all salaries to increase. Then you have to rearrange workloads ... [yet] continue to provide the best service sometimes with less employees.

At Academy of Hair Design, you are helping students prepare for becoming small-business owners. What does that teaching look like, especially in this current economic climate?
First, they have to determine what type of business they want to own. Do they want to be a small-business owner or do they want to be an excellent hair stylist within an organization? We have a program we call Business Realities, and it teaches our students the important things they need in order to be successful in the industry.

There’s been a jump in online sales and more business promotions online – be it product demonstrations, special deals or livestreamed insights. How is social media and marketing changing for small-business owners?
When I started for Academy, we ran ads and coupons with Yellow Pages, and that was incredibly successful. Then from there, we put ads in colleges around the city. And we still do that, but now they’re online ads. In our small business, we have 38 employees, and two of those employees are dedicated to communication. We have internal Facebook and Instagram, and we really showcase our students and the work they do and the products. We also have a marketing firm that we work with. In the 12 years that I’ve worked here, our marketing budget has doubled. You have to, because of the online presence that’s needed and the shift in how we market ourselves.

What are some of the keys to run a successful small business today?
Know your purpose; know your why. Set your values as a team and visit those often. From there, it’s really building out a structure where you realize and know how capable people are that come in and work within the company. We have some of the most amazing people that work here that are so much smarter than myself. In this environment, it’s all about company culture. It’s all about how we create an environment for fulfilling work and ongoing opportunities for people to grow.

Any hiring tips?
Lead with your vision, your values and your culture – what they can expect if they come to work for you. Having some of that in your job description, I think, is really important. A simple tip that I got from going to a workshop with the Springfield chamber: When you’re using Indeed or ZipRecruiter, some of the requirements that we are putting on our potential candidates are limiting us. We pulled back some of those real specific requirements – like must have two years of college – unless you have to have it ... and were surprised at the level of applicants that we got. They were actually being blocked within the programs. Just having your job ads more open might bring in a bigger pool of people to choose from. We went from getting five applications to getting 26, and it’s been consistent this year for what we’ve hired.


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