The Solo Entrepreneur Experience Victoria Gasparro, owner of The Party Nail, shares what it means to not only own a business but to also be the business.

By Emily Washcovick

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Yannes Kiefer
Behind the Review host and Yelp's Small Business Expert, Emily Washcovick, shares a look at this week's episode of the podcast.

Being a true solo entrepreneur is not an easy job because, in essence, it's all of the jobs. It's never simple to start or run a business, but there is an added element of responsibility and often stress that comes with being the sole proprietor. There's also the upside of being your own boss and only employee with no one to answer to but yourself. Victoria Gasparro, owner of The Party Nail, shares what it means to not only own a business but to also be the business.

Victoria created The Party Nail for a number of reasons. First, she's wanted to open a nail salon for as long as she can remember. But second, she wanted to fill a hole that she saw in the industry—something she had wanted as a consumer but couldn't find. "The business model itself is to provide a safe space. My clients can sit in utter silence, or they can request a movie or television show of their choice. It is quiet, so if they need to work remotely, or if they need to bring their child in, they are more than welcome to."

The salon is a curated experience, with each consumer having their own needs that Victoria works to meet. She also wants to make each and every client feel special. Our Yelp reviewer, Naomi Y., experienced that herself: " The best thing about walking in there was being greeted by my name. She knew that my appointment was coming up. She knew that I was the one coming in. And after being greeted, she continued to make me feel welcome, asking, "Can I get you a glass of wine?', "Can I get a cup of tea, coffee?' You name it. She wanted to know how she could make the experience great for you from the moment you walk in."

Something as simple as greeting people by their name can heighten their experience incredibly. It makes them feel special and valued. While not every business model is set up for this, try to make your interactions with your customers as personalized as possible. It will stick with them.

Making your customers feel valued or making sure that you are giving them something of value is essential. For certain experiences, such as an appointment-only nail appointment, the price point might be a bit higher, but if someone believes they are getting value for the money they are spending, they are much more likely to make the spend. Naomi sums it up nicely, "We want to feel valued—no matter how much money we have—we want to feel value. So for me, I felt that value immediately. I honestly didn't even care what the final cost was. And for me, it's rare not to think about that. But the experience was so above my expectations, I felt prepared to give her whatever she asked for."

As a business, that an incredibly unique position to be in—to provide a service that is of such high quality that customers aren't concerned with the price. It means that the experience was so special and made the customer feel so valued that any amount is worth it.

Here are a few other learnings from our first solo entrepreneur on the podcast:

  • Not every business goal is the same. Victoria loves that her business is just her. It's not her goal to move to a larger space with more employees. Don't assume that you have to follow what you think is the standardized model for growth—there are many ways to measure success.

  • Find an opportunity to help those who come after you. It can be difficult to break into the industry you are seeking out. For Victoria, she found it incredibly difficult to break into the nail space, so she wants to be sure to offer training moving forward to help those who want an opportunity to own their own nail salon. If you're lucky enough to find success, think about how you can pay it forward.

  • Check in with your customers. When you offer a personalized service or experience, don't wait until the end to ask the customer how they liked it or if it met their expectations. Check in along the way. It's one of the most impactful ways to ensure that the customer is going to leave happy.

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Victoria and Naomi, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Emily Washcovick

Small Business Expert at Yelp

As Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow. Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and well-being of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, where each episode features conversations with a business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.

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