When I was 19, I started a hair salon with a good friend and heaps of community support.
We were total frauds.
We didn’t know a thing about business (really? We have to collect sales tax? We shouldn’t just randomly close when we want to? We should mark up our retail products so that we make money off them? Promising topless hair cuts to cute boys at the bar is wholly inappropriate? Even if we’re kidding?)
We didn’t have hairdressing licences yet, both having lost our apprenticeships when the salon we were at went bankrupt.
We had ambitions. We had heart. We were hungry for a new culture for beauty. One of celebration, inclusion, acceptance. We were so young and gutsy, it didn’t occur to us to feel inferior or self-conscious- or we were working too hard to notice we did feel that way. We knew we didn’t know what the hell we were doing and we knew everyone else must know that too. We weren’t a real business. We wanted to be. But it didn’t feel like we were.
But then something happened…we started to get busy.
We started to become successful.
Then it became real. Suddenly all the gaps became apparent. Canada Revenue Agency seized our account, demanding that 20K we should have been charging in GST. A client who found out we weren’t licensed threatened to sue. The Cosmotology Association almost shut us down. The pipes that held our sinks together (that we paid a guy a case of beer to install!) blew and flooded the whole salon.
We didn’t have a clue how to deal with it…But we woke up every day. We showed up. We dealt with it. We effed up. Then we cleaned it up.
I had all of these milestones in my head…when I would feel legit…When we start accepting forms of payment besides cash…When our website is up…When I actually get my licence…When my schedule is full…When I have a waiting list…When I can stop doing hair and just run the business…When I have more than ten staff…When the salon earns over $500,000 in a year…When the spa extension is added…When the renovations are done…When we’ve been in business for 2 years..4 years..8years…
In the 8 years that salon was open, we employed dozens of people, served thousands of clients, deeply touched people, contributed greatly to our community, made a good living and got a better education in success, failure, relationship, growth, longing and passion than I could ever imagine an MBA would offer.
I don’t remember when I stopped feeling like a fraud. It wasn’t any milestone that was reached. It wasn’t any permission that was granted. It wasn’t any particular knowledge attained or admiration earned.
Looking back, I’d say it was in facing that I didn’t know what I was doing and that there’s no shame in that. Sometimes we’ve got it, sometimes we don’t. When we’re leaning into the mystery of our future, there will be glimmers of feeling fraudulent, if not total surges. And there’s no shame in that.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY YOUR RIGHT TO PURSUE THAT WHICH YOU LOVE.
It is not only your right, but your obligation to this changing world to pursue that which calls you, that which you ache to make your life’s work. Even when you don’t know how, even when there’s no evidence that you can succeed, even when the odds are someone else will do better than you. Even when you’re shaking scared.
So maybe you feel like a fraud stumbling towards your dreams. Fine. But as a fraud, I offered beauty, jobs, support, security, money, inspiration, mentorship, education, and a whole lot that I may never even know about. I made a TON of mistakes too…but that’s how this works…
What are you going to offer? We want it. We want your emerging work, your art, your heart, your dreams and ideas and mission. We want you. All of you. Even the part who fears you have nothing to offer. We want that too.