From old school to top of the class with the SBDC
Received $13,000 in grants; created 1 job.
Originally published by the Virginia SBDC, February 1, 2023.
Diane Madden began her career as a hair stylist going door-to-door with a portable hair dryer.
“I was laughed at, but I was determined,” she recalls.
However, those early difficulties helped Diane strengthen her resolve, and in 1995 she opened her hair and barber salon, Dinamic Cuts, with little more than word-of-mouth advertising and determination.
“I was old school,” says Diane, who recalled that her salon didn’t even have a phone when she first launched.
Diane’s relationship-driven business model survived for decades through personal grit, but in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to close. However, that setback proved temporary, as Diane tapped into her personal fortitude and took steps to reopen, including advising from the Shenandoah Valley SBDC.
“That’s when I met Business Advisor Diane McCarthy,” Diane Madden relates. “I needed to connect with someone who saw my vision; Diane [McCarthy] really did.”
With updated business tools and techniques, McCarthy took Diane’s business from old school to top of the class in two years. First, McCarthy helped Diane acquire a small local grant to purchase touchless soap, sanitizer and towel dispensers. Next, the SBDC offered Diane support to apply for a Comcast RISE grant.
“The RISE grant gave me $10,000 that provided a desktop computer, a year of internet service, two phone lines, a fax line and iPad,” Diane says. “I also got a Square POS system to take card payments and manage sales, inventory and appointments.”
The SBDC offered more ideas on updating the salon, including lighting and a new sign. Diane procured another local grant – for $3,000, awarded in September 2022 – that she will use for the new outdoor sign.
With help from McCarthy and the SBDC’s webinars, Diane learned how to build a website and market on social media. McCarthy also helped restructure Dinamic Cuts into an LLC.
“When I got my computer, Diane [McCarthy] sat down with me and showed me how to use it,” Diane relates. “I keep all the webinars so I can review them. If you take the knowledge presented and apply it, things will happen for your business.”
Previously the sole employee at Dinamic Cuts, Diane recently added a barber. Her optimism, paired with the SBDC’s expertise, point toward the hiring of new employees in the near future.
“I’m living testimony to what the SBDC can do,” Diane concludes. “Help is there at the SBDC. All you have to do is listen — and not give up!”