Many of you know of Ming Lee from social media, or perhaps you’ve visited her Snob Life Studio hair salon in Atlanta. Maybe you’ve attended one of the many brand building seminars she’s held across the country. Either way you know the name, which speaks volumes about how Ming Lee has been able to successfully brand herself over the years.
Back in November 2012, exactly three years ago today, Ming Lee ‘s interview on how she took her last $500 and invested it into her now million dollar company has inspired so many of our readers that we decided to re-post it. Find out how she did it along with some of the valuable lessons she has learned along the way. Keep reading:
What resources did you use to start your own business? The resources I started with were very few. Believe it or not, I started my business with $500. Not much, but that’s all I had to spare at the time. And that $500 was the money I really was saving to buy a couch, since I had just moved and only had a bed in my apartment. I started small but instead of spending my profit I invested it in the company. In fact, I didn’t even see a profit from my company for the first 4 months! During that time, I only spent enough money to cover rent. Not even food really. I use to share food at the salon with my co-workers and at night I worked as a waitress so I would eat at work. Though I struggled financially in the beginning, it didn’t take long to see progress. I started making smarter investment decisions and did as much research as I possibly could. For example, after talking to one of my friends who runs a small business I decided to read more about square as I wanted to make sure my business could accept credit card payments. Not being able to accept card payments can hold you back in today’s fast-paced world. I also talked to business owners for some advice. I learned how to make sure my business was protected from any drawback but it was only when I got some further business protection advice I realized how important my employees were to my company. I took further steps to ensure they were happy and I was also protected, should anything happen to them. All these tips and advice I got help me improve my business and let it grow to what it is today.
What is the toughest part about running your own business? The toughest part about running your own business is finding good help. That is probably the toughest part because its so hard to find people that care as much as you care about your business. If my business fails, that is on me and a lot of people don’t understand that if you make a mistake I can’t tell somebody that my assistant sent out the wrong thing, they don’t care you know what I mean? My name is on the product. So the toughest part will probably be finding good help and to trying to stay relevant. It’s always somebody gunning for your position, its always somebody younger, somebody more talented, somebody with more drive, somebody with more energy trying to take your place. So that is one of the other hard things about running your business. But I guess that’s the way I stay above water is because I feel like can’t nobody out pray me and can’t nobody out hustle me.
What is the best thing about being a small business owner? The best thing about being a small business owner is actually being your own boss. By being your own boss, you’re actually able to see your dream come into reality in front of your eyes. You’ll be amazed!!! For instance, I started with $500, and then you see your company grow, like when you look at your numbers you’re going from $500 to a thousand dollars, to $3,000 to $10,000 to $20,000 to $90,000 to $100,000 to $200,000 to $300,000 and you’re like oh my goodness I did all of this with $500 and Twitter, Instagram, and Google. That’s crazy!!!
What three adjectives accurately describe your experience as a small business owner? Hustler. Driven. Passionate.
Please share a small business tip that you would like to pass on to other entrepreneurs and small business owners? You can always be better. Play like you’re losing even if you’re winning. And stand behind your product 100 percent. Ask yourself daily, what can I do to make my company better?
During the interview Ming goes on to talk about how she wants her Snob Life brand to be larger than life (November 19, 2012 Celebrity Hairstylist Ming Lee is Beauty, Brains, and Businesswoman). “I’m actually working on a product line, and I kind of just want it to be a household name like Johnson & Johnson or something. I definitely want the snob brand to be an empire and for when you talk about beauty or hair, its definitely in the conversation.” Three years later it’s safe to say that Ming Lee was able to speak that plan into existence.
Ming Lee opened her own hair salon the following year and started a wholesale program for those who are looking to get into the hair extensions business. She also added new products to her hair care line, including styling tools, edge control and other styling products. Ming also just wrapped up her book where she dishes on all of her marketing and branding secrets and has held 15 branding and marketing seminars so far in cities such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Vegas and NYC.
If you’re a business owner, consider the potential of implementing digital solutions that will streamline or automate your business’s processes and allow you to grow. Consult with someone like SDLC Partners.
Keep up with Ming Lee on social media (@iamMingLee)