Bob Adams: So I’m talking here with Rob Harris, co-owner, with his wife Eva, of Disappearing Inc., a really interesting business. So how did you get started in this?
Rob Harris: So I got started this because I got laid off from a job. I always wanted to start my own business. I went to talk to my brother-in-law, and we were just brainstorming ideas, and and he and I are both rock climbers. When we go to the rock climbing gym we see lots of tattoos on very young people in places that they may not want them in the future – wrists, necks, places where maybe for a later career it might be an issue. So I said, I wonder if there’s anything about this tattoo removal business, and I found a medical director, who is one of our partners, and we we went into business. And now we started three years ago in March.
BA: So obviously you’ve given this a tremendous amount of deep thought. Did you have a plan; I have to ask?
RH: Did I have a plan? Of course. I had a business plan, I mean there was a basic business plan, actually it was a 70-page basic business plan if you want to call that a basic business plan, but yes we had a plan. It went through the finances and it went through how much money were to make and it had all that basics of the business plan, and then again we added on top of that all of what we thought would make us successful.
BA: So, we talk about your brand and how important that is, how it’s like the essence of your business, do have a bumper sticker strategy or brand, or just a few words that summarize in a more concise way what your brand is about?
RH: We hired a copywriter very early on to say what can represent this brand. It ended up being more of a tagline under your tattoo, looking at the tattoo removal business as a business, as opposed to medical procedure, was one of the breakthroughs that we made. To say this is a medical procedure per se, but it’s more a bit more than that, and it can be more than that. There was a phrase she came up with very early on, which was ‘we know that the reason you are taking off your tattoo is as unique as the reason you got in the first place’. So trying to say to people this business has always been about regret people get tattoos they regret them, and we said you know it’s not about regret it’s about turning the page, changing what you have, doing something and looking toward the future as opposed to regretting your past.
BA: I just get a feeling of warmth and fun going through here.
RH: Well fun is a huge part of it. And, I think when you have a procedure that is uncomfortable, again not unbearable but it’s it’s uncomfortable, tattoo removal is not the most comfortable thing, as is getting a tattoo not the most optimal thing in the world, but when you have a procedure that’s uncomfortable, and it takes a long time and there’s a cost associated with it, how do you mitigate those factors and make people happier to be here? I have a lot of clients who come in here and say Rob I love seeing you I love coming in, not so happy when were doing the removal itself, but they come in and they do it because they know they’re getting great results, and this environment makes it better for them.
BA: Seeing the beautiful environment is just awesome. Earlier we were talking about how you love talking with the clients, so you generally develop a great rapport which I’m sure is even more important part of the brand.
RH: It’s huge, and again you know some people are taking off tattoos because they say I don’t like it, or it just never really fit me, it just wasn’t the right composition, and there are other people who need to have their tattoos removed.
BA: Tell us about the woman with the ring.
RH: Sure, there was a woman who came in and she had two tattoos. One of them was a wedding ring, and she was not with her ex anymore, obviously. She felt that she couldn’t go out and date because she had this mark of her past on her that was very obvious. So we got the ring off her finger, she ended up dating again, and she said she met the love of her life. As cliché as it sounds, getting to those endpoints with these clients who needed their tattoos off is by far the most satisfying part of the business. Passion is such an integral part of having your own business, if you’re not passionate about your own business, then really you shouldn’t be running your own business. I get up every morning and I look forward to going to work. And I know that sounds an odd thing, but it shouldn’t be. I love going to work because I love seeing my clients, I love doing what I do. And they see that.
BA: There are so many great things here. So I see so many other entrepreneurs struggle, often I see them shooting themselves in the foot the self before they begin – they go into a business that’s difficult, the competition is ruthless, they usually don’t differentiate themselves as much as you do. What words of hope would you give to these people?
RH: I’d say just power on. Power on through those really rough, long days when everything seems to be going wrong, and your competitors have scooped you on something, and you feel like crap.
BA: So you’ve had plenty of those days?
RH: Absolutely, absolutely. You think, how am I going to pull this back? I think the initial response is ‘oh my God I’m doomed’, and I’ve had that happen so many times, it’s an awful feeling. But if you keep doing the right stuff, and keep working hard, and focusing on what’s important to your business – you’re going to make mistakes you’re going to have those days where you feel like everything is doomed, but you know what a week later and a client comes in and says ‘boy you know what you changed my life, you made me a different person’, all of a sudden it all seems like alright that day is gone it’s in the past tomorrow is another day, what can I do that’s really cool and fun that will benefit my business? It’s not about the short term in any sort of entrepreneurial business. You can’t be looking at what happened yesterday or last week or last month, but how does that change how can I change the business how can I adapt how can I do different things to make myself and the business more successful going forward.
There are certain business lessons that are universal. Sure, your situation may be a little different than that of a company within a different industry, but cash flow and employee performance issues are universal. In Business Spotlight, successful entrepreneur Bob Adams travels to various businesses to learn about their successes, struggles, and how their unique situation applies to all business owners. In doing so, he also gives us an inside look into some truly innovative and spectacular companies.