On Connected Africa’s Break-Out series, we speak to entrepreneurs, innovators, change makers and founders of start-ups and businesses that are exponentially making inroads in several sectors and industries in Africa.
This week, our Break Out series throws the spotlight on Eric Frimpong, an entrepreneur and founder of Silver Hair Unisex Grooming and Spa. Eric speaks about the need for intellectuals and specialists in the beauty industry, the challenges most entrepreneurs face with their workforce in the informal sector and the significance of marketing to the progress of every enterprise.
On a sunny Saturday morning, I find the stout entrepreneur interacting with a male customer on the staircase of the beauty parlour. They both exchange smiles and the customer promises to return in a week’s time, after flashing his thumb up in a sign of approval for the faded haircut. Eric Frimpong runs Silver Hair Unisex Grooming and Spa in Madina, a suburb of Accra.
Eric is passionate about entrepreneurship and the liberty it provides to be creative and strategic. “There is nothing fulfilling than gaining your freedom to generate and carry out ideas to grow your personal business,” he says. “You are not in a rush to do anything anyhow because of deadlines, hence you can read more and refine your leadership skills as you engineer the business”
Eric established Silver Hair Unisex Grooming and Spa two years ago, together with his wife. With a workforce of eight, the beauty shop provides a range of beauty services including personal grooming, haircut, spa services, bridal make-over, and manicure-pedicure treatment. “Since I’m not a trained beautician, I employed people with training and experience in this field to provide the quality and top-notch service for customers,” he says.
Dispelling the pervasive notion that the beauty sector does not need specialists, Eric stresses that the industry needs more intellectuals and university graduates with medical knowledge. “Most of the people who are in the beauty industry don’t have medical knowledge so are not able to understand the make-up of chemicals in products they use,” he explains. “They don’t mind the quantity or measure of creams they apply, leading to some customers getting sores, dandruff and other skin problems.”
Beauty and wellness firms deal with our muscles, skin, hair and neural system therefore, training practitioners in these areas regularly is very necessary. Aside training, Eric believes constant reading can help solve a lot of issues which have got to do with ignorance. “You don’t know the amazing idea that lies in the book next you, unless you open and read,” he adds.
The outspoken entrepreneur does not agree with people who do not embrace marketing and branding as important components of their business. He says, such entrepreneurs are not interested in spending on marketing because they fail to understand its importance in the long-term. “Doing business without marketing is like winking at a lady in the dark, no one see except you,” he explains. “You can get the best hair stylist in here but you have to get people to experience it and stay with your company.”
Eric advises young people who are money-conscious to rather impress with their productivity and efforts in order to find wealth. “You cannot begin working and expect profits to come in immediately. It takes a lot of sacrifice, toil and investment.”
Many young people are full of ideas and concepts but complain bitterly of capital or investment to realize these ideas. For most of them, savings is a non-starter. Eric believes that no matter the amount of money, saving must be consistent. “Get some money down to show to an investor to help you. Don’t walk to anyone with your dreams and without a cedi in your pocket. It means that you are not ready to commit yourself to realizing your dream,” he says. “Saving is key to bringing your dream into reality. Emptiness shows non-commitment.”
Eric bemoans the bad work ethics of some employees in the informal sector. The problem with the informal workforce is that most employees find excuses to report to work late and are not totally committed to the overall success of the sector.
“What employees in the informal sector must know is that, they are working to be paid at the end of the month and not doing their employer a favour. People find excuses to be late, absent or take long breaks during work hours because they feel it is not an office space so rules are relaxed.”
In a message to aspiring entrepreneurs, Eric highlights the importance of finding the uniqueness of your business and building a brand around it. “People will choose you because of your quality of service or unique experience that you bring to them,” he says. “Be internally motivated, believe in your dream, read extensively around that area and concentrate on what you are doing.”