Headshot of Perry Petit Beau, founder of Petit Beau Barber Lounge, standing in front of his storefront.
For Perry Petit Beau, owning a barbershop was his calling. And while entrepreneurship doesn't often come easy, he hopes to offer valuable advice to others just starting out. — Petit Beau Barber Lounge

Sometimes dreams do come true. They did for Perry Petit-Beau. From the time he was a kid, he wanted a barbershop. Last year he opened Petit Beau Barber Lounge in Fort Lauderdale.

A master barber for more than 20 years, he honed his skills working in barbershops. Even when he spent a few years doing technical jobs in the automotive and aviation fields, he cut hair on the side.

“This is my calling. I couldn’t run from it,” said Petit-Beau. The pandemic gave him a sense of urgency. It was time to do his own thing, despite some fears about failing.

From the outset he wanted to be different. He’d seen enough barbershops that weren’t clean, the customer service stunk, and the atmosphere was unfiltered. You’ll get none of that in his spacious, sleek, fashionably designed, light, clean, upscale shop. “We greet people by name, treat them like a guest in our home,” said Petit-Beau, who is also a recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB) 2022 Enhancement Grant.

While he says guys will be guys, you won’t get loud, racy talk. “A mother can sit and wait while her son gets his hair cut and feel comfortable. It’s chill here.”

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Understand rules and regulations

With a year in business behind him, he’s reflecting. “It’s not knowing what you don’t know. I thought you pay the landlord you get your furniture and you’re good. But the city and county have requirements. My opening was delayed nearly five months because of regulations like having a bathroom that is ADA compliant. The door has to open a certain way, the sink must be a certain distance from the toilet. If the bathroom is not accessible, someone can sue me and the city,” said Petit-Beau.

He used the landlord’s handyman who he discovered was not licensed. The city required the work be done by someone licensed, so he had to pay a second person to do what was already an expensive job.

Anticipate the labor shortage

Like many small businesses, finding good help is an issue, particularly now. Have a variety of resources to draw upon when looking to hire the best staff, he said. Petit-Beau continues building his team. “People come and go. You can’t get emotional about it,” said Petit-Beau. He currently has two employees and has room for up to 13 workstations. He looks forward to the day when they are all full.

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Take the person you want to be your mentor out to lunch, ask about the pitfalls and what you should expect — what is it people aren’t telling you that you should know?

Perry Petit-Beau, Founder, Petite Beau Barber Lounge

Get a mentor

Petit-Beau already has advice to share. “Find a mentor. Now I understand the importance of having a mentor, ideally someone in your business. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. Take the person you want to be your mentor out to lunch, ask about the pitfalls and what you should expect — what is it people aren’t telling you that you should know?” he said.

[Read more: 4 Secrets to Business Success At Any Age]

Push through problems and focus on plans

Though Petit-Beau says nothing has come easy, “I had days where I wondered whether I did the right thing by going into business for myself,” he is encouraged: “People tell me they love the experience they have here.”

He’s excited. There are plans to expand his private label grooming products and once he’s established a successful blueprint for his shop, he hopes to duplicate it elsewhere. “I want to be the leading shop in the state, to be a household name.”

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