Donna Strachan
Beauty Salon Owner

Donna Strachan

My name is Donna Strachan. I own Primarily Hair in La Habra, California. I have been in business now for 21 years. I was asked to come up with some of the worst things that have ever happened to me in business.

I don't think in terms of the everyday little things that happen in business because they go on every single day and are taken in stride. The real problems for me are matters that are emotionally or financially draining over a long period of time.

When starting out in business, I wish I had taken more time to contact people who knew more about what I wanted to do than I did.

I realize now that when leasing space, you must be clear about who takes care of what. Because it was not stated whose job it was to replace my air conditioner, only to maintain my air conditioner, I found myself with some major expenses. Never underestimate the expenses of repair and renovation.

One other giant mistake I made was trying to diversify. I've learned from that: do what you do best, don't try to be all things to all people. I lost sizable chunk of money when I opened a satellite business with a partner. Sometimes you can't really guarantee the mindset of the person with whom you've gone in business. So, that was a very bad thing, which I got out of and recovered from, but it left me emotionally and financially drained.

I wish I would have learned more about the laws of hiring and firing. A worker's comp case ruled against me ended up costing me a bunch of money, and I realized two or three of those in one year could kill a person financially. Also, the costs of unemployment claims can start to limit how competitive you can be. Safety has always been a big issue with me, and I have made my employees aware of the effects of worker's comp cases on our economic well being.