stay ahead business michael van clarke

How to Stay Ahead in Business by Michael van Clarke

by charlottegw / last updated August 12, 2019

British Hairdressing Business Awards finalist Michael van Clarke recently spoke about the 10 principles of business success at a conference in Russia. Here he shares some of the content with HJ.

Leading Russian supplier Estel invited Michael van Clarke to speak at its annual conference in Sochi, Russia in May. Michael spoke on the topic ‘How to Stay Ahead in Business’ and he offered ten key principles, which he shares with us below.

1. Invest in yourself

What you have you can lose, but what you become no one can take away from you. Who you become by achieving your goals is more important than what you get. If you suddenly win a lot of money it doesn’t change who you are, it just amplifies it – for good or bad.

2. Know your positioning

Decide on your place in the market. What does your salon stand for? The most competition in any business is always in the middle and this level always suffers most when economies turn down. Are you quicker, cheaper, or better? You have to be at least one of those to survive.

3. Everything has to get better

Sometimes when we are training apprentices they can find the progress slow. They don’t understand the power of winning one new client in their first month then turning that into two in their second month and then four in the third. They don’t understand that the same rate of growth will give them 2048 clients in a year. That is the power of exponential growth. Most people do not get to the top because they find this period at the bottom too slow, so they keep moving sideways in their career or starting again.

4. Have clear goals

Put simply – if your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

5. What gets measured gets done

However this only applies if the information has more value than the time it takes to measure it.

6. Get Comfortable with Discomfort

Only through discomfort are we motivated to change. Learn to embrace discomfort because you cannot grow in your comfort zone.

7. Understand the Sino-Japanese principle of ‘Kaizen’

Kaizen means making lasting change but through small, but powerful increments. I love the simplicity of that. In comparison to innovation where you make big steps as quick as possible, but which often end in failure and despair, Kaizen is a realistic and stable way to change.

8. Practice, practice, practice

The Ferrari team show how important practice is. For example Ferrari rehearse over 1300 pit stop practices. On average they train three times, carrying out around thirty simulations per day and can do a pit stop in 3.4 seconds. In comparison, once a stylist is qualified they avoid further practice and training. If you’re not getting better, the chances are you’re getting worse.

9. Stay inspired

Very few businesses fail in a sudden crash. Most die a slow death. A slow decline becomes a quicker decline and all effort is put into trying to hang on to business rather than to grow it. Eventually life throws a problem that the business can’t deal with and it closes. Of course the reason given for closure is usually the latest problem, whether that’s the economy, the rent rise, the crooked partner or the staff. But track it back and it most probably points to a leader who failed to stay inspired. It’s our responsibility as bosses or managers to change, innovate and stay excited.

10. Tick many boxes

We all have only 24 hours in our day and we must manage our time effectively. I structure my life so that my efforts tick as many of my important boxes (see below) as possible.

  • Enjoyable for me
  • Good for others
  • Healthy both physically and psychologically
  • Makes money now and / or creates an income stream for later

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