Dad-of-two who quit banking job to set up children’s hairdressers now it makes £650k a year

THERE are few things more disappointing than missing a promotion – but for David O’Neal it turned out to be a shortcut to success

The dad-of-two launched his own kids’ hair salon kitted out with mini cars to sit in and PlayStations and it now has a turnover of £650,000 a year.

Shortcuts aims to change the hairdressing experience for children

The 32-year-old told the Sun Online: “I was working in retail banking, it was a very secure job and I was making £32,000 a year.

“But I am ambitious and I always had this dream of launching my own business. This time failure actually gave me a push.

“When I went for a promotion and I didn’t get the job, I knew it was time for me to move on.”

David had his “eureka moment” while cutting his own boys’ hair.

At Shortcuts, children of up to five years in mini motorcar chairs while having their hair done

He said: “My boys always moaned about having a trim.

“I came up with the idea of just giving them a PlayStation or putting on a movie while doing the job and they loved it.”

His kids, now aged 11 and eight, started to fight for the privilege to be the first one in the styling chair and Shortcuts was born.

At the hairdresser’s, children of up to five years sit in mini motorcar chairs when having their hair cut, while older kids can play PlayStation games or watch a cartoon of their choice.

How to get a start-up business loan

IF you need financial support in setting up your business, you can get loans of up to £25,000 to help along the way.

  • Virgin StartUP offers government-backed loans from £500 to £25,000 to help entrepreneurs launching or growing a business that’s under two-years-old in England or Scotland. It has a rate of 6 per cent interest.
  • The Start-Up Loans Company, which lends government subsidised loans up to £25,000 at a rate of 6 per cent.
  • The Princes Trust also offers loans, up to £5,000, at a rate of 6.2 per cent.

The whole concept is to turn a daunting experience into a fun one and make children feel like they can “be themselves”.

David said: “Everything from the colourful atmosphere of the shop to the games is tailored for the children.

“They can relax without their parents worrying that they will disturb other customers.”

The dad-of-two started the company with a loan from the Government-backed Start-Up Loans Company, which offers 6 per cent fixed rate on borrowing up to £25,000.

David O’Neal, owner of Shortcuts children’s hairdressers, gives Oliver Seymour 2, a haircut in one of the car chairs

David set up children’s hairdresser Shortcuts in Milton Keynes after failing to get a promotion

At the same time, he resigned from his job as a banker and trained as a qualified barber.

He said: “Becoming a qualified hairdresser was one of my priorities. But I already had knack for it and used to cut my kids’ hair.

“I also learned a lot by watching the other hairdressers working at Shortcuts.”

Since he set up his first shop in Milton Keynes in 2014, his business has been going from strength to strength.

In its third year of trading, David now has nine salons including Bristol, Leeds and Leicester and the company now employs about 30 people.

This year he is also hoping to expand and open a sister company – a cafeteria with a tailored play area for children.

Any advice for young business owners?

David said: “Leaving a job and taking a risk can be scary, especially when you have young kids.

“My wife Kylie has been absolute rock. ”

“So make you sure you have someone to support and encourage you throughout the process.”

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