Ask the expert: How do you launch a successful business?

Starting your own business is hard. The process is filled to the brim with millions of question marks and even more uncertainty. But launching a successful business can be exhilarating and more than rewarding when it works.

Don’t get me wrong—being your own boss and putting it all on the line is incredibly scary. When you decide to start your own business, you take a leap of faith. You can’t let the fear of risk, failure, and disappointment stop you.

You might look at my businesses and think I have it all figured out. I don’t. There was so much to learn when we started Drybar 10 years ago. But that’s the fun of launching a new business—experiencing the unknown and excitement of figuring it all out day by day.

While I continue to learn, there are a few tried and true truths I know about starting a business from scratch. Some of these I knew from watching my parents, owners of several clothing stores in Florida. And some of these truths I have learned, as they say, on the job.

Alli Webb standing in front of a Drybar store front

1. Find inspiration in personal necessity

When you decide to start your own business, you better make darn sure you are obsessed with what you’re doing. It takes way more perseverance and drive than you think it will. It’s a 24/7 gig.

I wholeheartedly believe the best businesses are born out of personal necessity. The idea for Drybar was a natural one for me. As far back as I can remember, I longed for a place like Drybar. I was so determined to learn how to smooth out my unruly locks that it became a bit of an obsession for me. I was forever on the hunt for a great blowout at an affordable price in a cool space.

I visited enough salons to know what I worked and what didn’t. My search inspired me to take it a step further. I decided to go to beauty school (much to my parents’ chagrin). Becoming a hairstylist fueled my obsession. Use your obsession, a personal need you’re looking to fill, to inspire you in launching your business.

2. Build lasting relationships

Once you have taken the proverbial leap of starting your own business, start building lasting relationships. Talk to as many people as you can and begin networking. Whether you’re talking to investors or building your customer base, nurture all the relationships you can. There are few things more important than relationships—no matter what industry you’re in.

In nurturing those relationships, be kind to everyone you meet. People make the world go round—the more allies you have in business, the better.

One thing that keeps our customers coming back is how Drybar makes them feel. From the stylists to the brand to the amenities and service, our clients leave Drybar feeling good. People will always remember how you made them feel. Your kindness towards investors and clients will build a foundation of trust as you grow your business.

3. Do your research

In researching your business idea, make sure that your inspirational idea or concept is unique. Your idea may not be the first of its kind, but it can be different and better than anything else out there. I knew in my gut that Drybar would work. I wasn’t the only curly-haired person obsessed with a great blowout. Drybar didn’t invent blowouts, but we created a much better experience. We offered a fantastic blowout option at a better price point—something that didn’t exist before.

Maybe you have the same feeling in your gut about your business. Understanding the current landscape will help you identify if your idea is something that is truly needed. Doing your research is key to launching a business with a unique business model.

4. Give it all you’ve got and then some

Starting a business is just like taking care of a baby. It needs constant attention and nurturing to thrive. You will need to devote yourself to it. I can’t stress this enough: If you want your business to succeed, be prepared to sacrifice a lot.

Make sure that you have buy-in from your loved ones to be a bit of a maniac as you begin to grow your idea into a business. Giving your business all that you’ve got is a beautiful all-encompassing process. Your willingness to be all-in will determine your success.

5. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you

Leaning on others who are smarter than you is a strength, not a weakness. Your willingness to use others’ strengths and smarts will help your business succeed. You want to have people around you who are painfully honest. Avoid sugar-coaters and “yes” folks at all costs. My partners and I were willing to tell each other the truth for the sake of our business.

My brother, Michael Landau, and my ex-husband, Cameron Webb, were my Drybar business partners. They are both brilliant. The three of us all brought very different skill sets to the business. Michael, did the back end—inventory and payroll. Cameron, handled the branding and marketing. Knowing that they were all-in with me made all the difference. Michael, our executive chairman, and Cameron, our creative director, are still a key part of Drybar. I could not be happier to have them on my team.

As we grew, we recognized that we needed smarter, more experienced people to help us scale the business and realize our vision for Drybar. Partnering with those people took our business to the next level of success.

GO again

As you launch your new business, be OK with not having all the answers all the time, because you won’t. Failing and trying again is how we learn and grow. In fact, it’s the most important way to learn. Drybar has grown to over 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada. I have learned countless lessons by making tons of mistakes while expanding our business and developing our product line. Learn those tough lessons and then go again!

Finding inspiration, building relationships, doing your research, surrounding yourself with smart people, and giving it all you’ve got are key to success. Putting these truths into action will help you immensely. They are essential as you continue to face challenges and growth opportunities when launching your new business.

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