Money & Me: ‘Running a business has taught me financial responsibility’

Rachel Roberts, owner of Always On Show hair salon in Dubai, says her biggest milestone has been recovering the initial investment in her business

Rachel Roberts, owner of Always On Show hair salon in Dubai, says she is risk-averse. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Rachel Roberts has been a hair stylist for two decades but managing her own salon in Dubai was a whole new challenge.

After becoming a mother, she freelanced privately but finally opened Always On Show in Jumeirah Village Circle 12 months ago after living in Dubai for 14 years.

The mother-of-three has found the experience to be a profound lesson in the importance of family time, which she says is priceless.

How has owning a business changed the way you manage finances?

Unlike working for a company where you have a regular monthly salary, running a successful hair salon has introduced a new level of financial responsibility.

I have to think more strategically when it comes to reinvesting in the salon and be more precise with budgeting as I need to balance my personal expenses with the demands of the business.

What are your biggest financial lessons as a business owner?

Having a plan and sticking to it. I have learnt that the minute you get distracted with other ideas or opportunities, things can become very expensive.

There were lessons learnt during the fit-out of the salon, in relation to interior design and contractor deviations.

However, I used the setbacks as learning points, which helped me become more aware when the business opened.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I was taught the value of money from a very young age. My parents were separated, and I lived with my mother.

I remember times (most of the time) my mum not having money, but she always found a way to put food on the table and made sure we never went without.

As soon as my mum got money, it would go so quickly. I think that really helped shape me when it comes to saving and putting money away for a rainy day.

My father, on the other hand, had his own business from a young age and I just remember how hard he worked. He was the true definition of a workaholic.

Now, having my own business, I understand why he worked so hard and had such a strong work ethic, which has definitely been passed down to me.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I got paid around £380 (Dh1,773) per month in my first proper job in 2003. This was when I was doing my apprenticeship and training to become a hairdresser.

I started doing people’s hair when I was 10 and they used to pay me around £40, which to a 10 year old was a lot of money, even if it did take me the whole day.

I always wanted to earn money by doing jobs where I could. I would work on farms picking potatoes in the school holidays and weekends.

I remember the pay being good at the time, about £400 a week, which back then was a lot of money.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I have always been a saver, even from a young age. I will spend for my family but when it comes to myself, I tend to hold back.

I will not buy something unless I really need it, not just because I want it.

When my husband and I go shopping, he is the one who throws in the items without checking the price and I am the one always lifting them back out.

What is your most cherished purchase?

I have a couple of things that hold a great sentimental value, one being a personalised gold ring that I bought in my grandmother’s home country of Guyana when she took me there as a child.

But I think my most cherished purchase has to be my children’s first Babygrows, which I still have.

Where do you save?

If you had asked me this question before Covid-19, I would have said the UK.

However, due to the massive boom in Dubai’s economy recently and investment opportunities combined with me opening my salon, I am pretty balanced now between Dubai and the UK.

What is your biggest financial milestone?

Recovering the initial financial investment in Always On Show.

Unlike in my youth, today I am very cautious in my decision making. This and being mum to three beautiful children makes me naturally risk-averse.

I held back too long before taking the plunge into business or maybe it was perfect timing, who knows.

Combining business life with personal life and winning for me has been the biggest milestone achievement.

What has been your best investment?

My best investment is, and will always be, time with my children.

Being there for my kids is priority number one and it took meticulous calculation to open a business without jeopardising this time.

I think I am doing a great job. I genuinely believe that personal investment, whether family or self-care, can only add value to your life and everything in it.

Have you ever had a month where you couldn't pay the bills?

No, not yet! My husband and I are very strategic with planning, personally and professionally, so we have been fortunate to not have any issues just yet.

Do you use a financial adviser?

No, not now, I believe once a certain goal or threshold is met, I would consider getting some professional financial advice.

Do you have any financial regrets?

The only regret is not investing sooner in myself. However, I believe everything happens at the right time.

Do you plan for the future?

Yes, absolutely. I always try to think of different scenarios or outcomes for the business and align my plans and ideas accordingly.

Not everything goes the way you want it to, but it is about having the versatility to change in the event things do not go your way.

My main goal is for me and my family to live a comfortable life without any financial stress
Rachel Roberts

Always On Show has organic growth plans and I love what I do but each move I make comes with strategic thinking and careful planning.

What luxuries are important to you?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not materialistic at all and am a very simple person.

The luxury of having my family around me is more than enough. My main goal is for me and my family to live a comfortable life without any financial stress.

However, if I had to mention the material luxuries I invest in, it would be the highest-quality products for my clients.

How much do you have in your wallet right now?

Zero. I literally never carry cash any more.

What car do you drive?

A Range Rover Sport

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Invest in yourself – personally and professionally.

Invest in the things that are going to help upskill your career but also remember to look after your physical and mental health.

What would you raid your savings account for?

A holiday with the family to Bora Bora.

Updated: February 02, 2024, 6:22 PM