A Cut Above

Salon owner offers more than jobs
3 min read

This story appears in the July 1996 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When they come to work in the morning, Charlene Carroll's employees know they can expect more than the daily grind. They can also expect a philosophy on life and business the 46-year-old Bostonian has developed over 19 years of owning a hair salon.

It's a philosophy that prompts her to hire neighborhood youth to do odd jobs in her shop-and to find out just what her employees expect from life.

"When a person comes to me [for a job], I try to be upfront. I want to know what they're going to do with their lives and what their goals are. I need to know if they're motivated or if I need to motivate them," says Carroll from her salon, Charlene's Hair Salon, in Boston's predominantly black Roxbury neighborhood.

For the truly motivated-and more advanced-Carroll's help can include free continuing education classes to learn new hair-care techniques, the chance to demonstrate hair products at shows around the nation, and training in the skills needed to operate a salon.

"About five salons in the area are owned by former employees of mine," boasts Carroll. "I try to get my people to the point where, if they leave here, they can go out and open their own businesses."

Opening a salon wasn't her goal in the beginning. "I was perfectly happy working for someone else," remembers Carroll, who started her business so she could get a pension plan. "But I always wanted to be the best at whatever I did."

Sometimes, Carroll discovered, being the best means striking out on your own. Now she's teaching others to do the same. -C.E.G.

Peer Review

Getting a little help from your friends

Hi, my name is Karen, and I'm an entrepreneur." Although you may never hear these exact words at an Entrepreneurs' Edge meeting, the San Diego-based peer group has a lot in common with other problem-solving organizations.

For starters, the primary goal of Entrepreneurs' Edge is to encourage the growth of small businesses and enhance entrepreneurs' management and leadership skills. Second, members air their problems at monthly meetings where heavy feedback is part and parcel of the program. "They help each other make the tough decisions that go with running a business," says Faith Maybury, Entrepreneurs' Edge's national director.

Formed in 1994, the group meets monthly for four hours; four times a year, members also hear speakers address topics they choose.

Membership in Entrepreneurs' Edge is by invitation only. To qualify, businesses must have gross revenues of at least $750,000, have been in business three years, employ five to 25 people and be growth-oriented. In addition, says Maybury, "We expect [small-business owners] to be open about their financials and about their businesses because they're not going to get honest feedback if they're not putting honest information on the table."

On The Move

Where will you be in 2020?

Westward ho! The Western region of the country is hot-and we're not talking about temperatures. According to Washington, DC-based research firm NPA Data Services Inc., a select number of Western states rank among the spots expected to experience the greatest percentage of population growth from now to the year 2020. Nevada-with a whopping growth rate of 70.5 percent-finished at the head of the class.

In terms of the actual number of people, California led the pack in population growth, with a projected 11,299,100 additional residents by 2020. Other strong finishers: Texas (8,464,100), Florida (8,197,800), Arizona (2,891,700) and Georgia (2,872,800). -D.P.

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