It’s a common struggle for entrepreneurs—working hard to build their dream company but then giving up some control as the business grows and changes. That was the case for Drybar founder Alli Webb, who grew her company from a mobile blowout business to nearly 100 salons and a product line worth $255 million.
Alli started what would become Drybar when she realized there wasn’t a great option for women who wanted a really nice blowout without a really high price tag. To recreate the amazing feeling women get when walking out of the salon, Alli launched a mobile blowout company and serviced customers in their homes. As demand grew, Alli opened her first storefront salon. With excellent service, a relaxing environment for pampering customers, and flat pricing for all types of hair, Drybar quickly took off.
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As the company grew, Alli faced the common struggle of how much to control.
Alli says there is often a negative slant to controlling entrepreneurs, but some of her best and proudest decisions came out of that need for control. All Drybar locations have the same mirrors, décor, tools, and blowdryers to create a cohesive experience that customers know will be amazing no matter what location they visit or what stylist they see. That decision could be seen as controlling, but Alli views it as being intentional about how she wanted the shop to look and feel. Alli had a solid vision for the salon experience and wanted to take the lead.
Where she learned to give up control was in areas that weren’t her strength, including things like payroll and finances. Alli realized that by giving up control in the areas that weren’t her strengths, she could pass the responsibility to someone with a better understanding of what the business needed.
The control shift continued as Drybar grew and Alli hired more leaders and delegated responsibilities. Alli says that once she was able to cede control of things outside her wheelhouse, the business was able to grow in a healthy way.
Alli’s advice to entrepreneurs struggling to give up control is to know and understand your best use and the best use of the people around you. When entrepreneurs can decipher the decisions they have the strengths to make and those where they don’t add value, they can focus their control and efforts on their strengths.
Knowing when and how to give up control can be a big challenge for entrepreneurs. But as Alli shows, taking a step back in certain areas can help a business reach great new heights.
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