Helen Venables, managing director at House of Colour.
Jane Imrie

“Every situation is an opportunity in an entrepreneur’s eyes”: House of Colour MD Helen Venables on overcoming adversity with ambition

House of Colour managing director Helen Venables has had quite the entrepreneurial journey.

Although now heading up a growing franchise of over 100 personal stylists across the country, Helen’s relationship with the company began in a time of particular personal adversity.

With a professional background in training and HR, Helen discovered House of Colour after suffering with severe post-natal depression after the birth of her third child.

The confidence she regained from ‘having her colours done’ inspired her to get actively involved, and she climbed the ranks within the company before reaching her current position of managing director.

Bdaily spoke to Helen about her journey from customer to leader, the firm’s ambitions for the future and her take on what gives entrepreneurs their spark.

How has the business changed in the last 10 years and what is your vision for the next 10?

“Established in 1985, House of Colour has successfully moved the business from the 1980s image consultant to contemporary, entrepreneurial colour and style consultants in 2020.

“House of Colour recently announced plans to create up to 100 new jobs by increasing their UK franchises to 200 in the next five years. In the last 12 months House of Colour has attracted 18 new franchisees in the UK and 13 in USA alone. UK franchisee revenues are up 12 per cent on last year.

“New products have been launched and a new strategic alliance with Park Lane Jewellery has been secured.

“It is a difficult economic environment for many businesses but luckily we have been growing in tandem with the burgeoning lifestyle and health industries. We offer a potentially high-income business model with several lucrative income streams including colour analysis, styling, make up classes and over 350 make up products.

“We have been attracting new franchisees who want to be ambitious business builders, whilst still maintaining a good work/life balance.”

In your opinion, what qualities do entrepreneurs need to have to be successful?

“The most successful entrepreneurs are often the ones who are both disciplined and diligent, you won’t find them dawdling or putting things off, instead they will prefer to explore new ideas and be proactively looking at the next project or dealing with any issues that arise.

“They like to tackle matters head on with gusto and determination and will be decisive. Entrepreneurs are very energetic in most areas of their lives. Entrepreneurs also generally do best if they have strong people skills.

“Every situation is an opportunity in an entrepreneur’s eyes, even failures are seen as something that can be learnt from and built upon. Most of all they will be passionate about what they do because without passion comes stagnation, which is the bane of any entrepreneur.”

House of Colour has been running for over three decades. How has the digital revolution impacted your company, your vision and the way you work?

“The digital revolution has changed everything – I remember my predecessor saying on the day our first web shop for our products launched ‘Will anyone ever buy anything online?’

“We use social media to promote our services and recruit franchisees. All our franchisees are trained in digital marketing techniques and given freedom to promote themselves locally.

“We use technology to communicate and collaborate and train our consultants right across the globe.

“Embracing technology has given us fabulous opportunities and the next decade will bring many more as we take our services forward to the next generation.”

What about franchising as a business model appealed to you?

“I had suffered from post-natal depression and after some time was persuaded by a friend to have my colours done which I found to be life-changing. I wanted a new career and a change.

“Two years after my initial colour consultation with House of Colour, I became a stylist too. Within four years I had joined the training team, become a regional manager and then Franchise Director and in 2012, I became the Managing Director of House of Colour.

“So why did I choose a franchise? Good franchisors offer extensive training programs to new franchisees, as well as continued support for any concerns that might arise during the day-to-day operations of the business.

“Franchisors usually offer extensive training to ensure complete confidence in running your own franchise. Running your own franchise can offer flexibility, work/life balance, low start-up costs yet big rewards and the opportunity to grow personally.

“Franchising is an exciting, profitable opportunity to develop one’s business but do your research.

“Don’t just go for the cheapest franchise in the sector that you are interested in. Find out what exactly you will be getting for your investment. Ultimately choose a franchise that you know you will enjoy. Trust your instincts and work out where your passions and talents lie.

“Owning a franchise means you can utilise the experience of a working business plan and gain all the goodwill of a strong, recognisable brand. Put your own spin on things but use all the advantages of the franchisor’s experience and expertise.”

What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?

“1. Set clear goals, and make sure they are realistic. Have long term aims for your business as well as short term more modest goals. Don’t go in with the expectation of being an overnight millionaire!

“2. Every so often take a look at your competition to find out what they are offering and offer something different and better!

“3. The sales and marketing of your product can make or break your business. Make sure you analyse the effects of each strategy and see what works well or not so well.

“4. Check and use support from your franchisor if you have one, professional bodies, networking groups and so on. Use your contacts.

“5. Exceptional customer service is essential if you want a successful business. This might mean you must invest money into improving the customer experience and working overtime to ensure you’re satisfying customer’s time demands. You will always reap the benefits.”

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