Tabatha Coffey of the hit Bravo show "Tabatha Takes Over" (and formerly of "Shear Genius") is blunt, and we're not talking about her haircut. The celebrity hairstylist is known for her brutal honesty and tough love attitude, and now she has written down her no-nonsense advice in "Own It!"
We caught up with Coffey to get some tips on running a successful business.
What’s the advice people really need that they don’t want to hear?
People really need to take responsibility. I get every excuse in the book, but the thing I keep telling them is you need to own it. If the staff isn’t doing what they need to do, then it’s your responsibility to make sure they do. You need to take responsibility with that and own it and make sure they’re giving a better quality of service. It really starts and ends with the owner. You’re truly responsible for everything you own in your business, and a lot of people really don’t want to hear that.
What can people learn from their mistakes?
Mistakes are something we all make. It’s fine. It should be a learning process. We have to be really honest with ourselves on how it happened, why it happened and what can I do to not let it happen again. Then put it away and stop dwelling on the fact that you made a mistake. Put it away because as soon as you start dwelling on it, it’s not going to move you forward.
You’re known for dispensing tough love.
Yes. I was brought up by a mother who approached things with tough love in her business and in her parenting; it was about being honest. If you’re honest about something, then you can face it and work through it and change what you need to change. That’s how I’ve always been with myself and how I’ve been with the staff and dealing with other people. You have to be honest with other people, especially with the hard questions. People don’t want to hear it but it’s always in the vein of helping them move forward. I always appreciate the honesty, so I know what to do differently and [how] to get out of my own way.
What’s the biggest mistake you see business owners make?
They really don’t plan. I find a lot of business owners have opened a business, and sometimes they’re not executing to their full potential because they have no plan and they’re really just winging it. You can’t afford to do that in business. Have a plan: It’s a great thing to be able to refer to and look at how many staff members and how much money do you need to be able to sustain your business and make a profit. “Who am I going to market to?” “Who is my ideal market?” That plan or road map is really crucial to the success of the business.
But you also need to be flexible. A lot of business owners are resistant to change. They’d prefer to do the same thing, even if it’s not working for them, even if their business is failing, as opposed to doing something different and really making a change. Implement change so you can get back on track and make it a success.
You mentioned your mother earlier. Was she a major role model for you?
My mother taught me to always stand up for myself. She was a very good cheerleader. Even as a child, getting picked on at school because I was severely overweight and shy, she always taught me that it was OK and to believe in myself.
Do you think that’s helped you succeed as an entrepreneur?
I think it’s really helped me to trust my gut and trust my own instinct and trust my own voice that we all have inside ourselves – that voice can be incredibly diluted. We can undermine ourselves more than anyone else. We often give other people far too much power over us and listen to what they think we should do instead of listening to ourselves.
What’s one mistake that taught you how to be a better businesswoman?
For me, delegating is a really difficult thing. As a new business owner, I like to control things and be in charge, but part of the success of a business is the people you have working for you and really delegating for them and letting them shine through, and trusting that they will. Early in my business, that was a thing I learned to do. I wanted to do it all myself because I thought I could do it quicker and better, and I realized very quickly that you burn yourself out when you do that.
Is that still a challenge for you?
Absolutely. I still struggle with it today. Often, for me, it’s much easier to jump in and take care of things myself as opposed to asking for help. I struggle with it in different ways because I am independent and self-sufficient, and that’s not always a good thing. In business, it was easier, because I saw that my staff really wanted to help and rose to the occasion. They may not do it the way I would do it, and that’s OK, because they did it and they were successful. When you see how happy they are and that they’ve done a good job and want to take on more responsibility, it makes delegation and giving up some of the control much easier, for sure.