She is a doctor and lecturer with a master degree, but that’s not all, beautiful businesswoman Phạm Thị Bích Na is also renowned in the business field for her distinct acuity and flexibility. Everyone can do business, but when a doctor does so, what’s there for us to learn from?
Greetings Mrs. Bích Na! Now that all the relentless efforts have born the fruit of success and reputation, do you recall any moment that you found yourself lacking and wanted to start over again?
The business, in its very own name – BichNa Beauty Clinic & Spa, bears great personal values to me, being founded upon the reputation of “Dr. Bích Na” that I’ve established for a long time. My expertise as a doctor has given me a competitive edge in the beauty industry, with a deep understanding of the trade’s professional aspects that might not be perceptible for those standing only on business ground. With this strength in mind, I had the confidence to temporarily “lay low” for the past year, giving birth and taking care of my little family instead of pushing business growth after nearly 3 years of smooth operation. And now that I’m back to the grind, it does come to my mind at times, that if I had channeled my focus on the business during such a booming period, my brand would be much popular now, perhaps? But I am genuinely content with my current life with my two cute little angels, and even my business seems to be growing faster than I expected. For me, this “pause” has also opened up a new business path for me with the launching of GNG International Beauty Salon in collaboration with a team of Korean experts. And I hope that co-founding this new brand will be a new and challenge milestone that marks the next stage of my career, especially now that the market’s demand for beauty-making grows ever higher, leading to an expansion in the diversity of services. Thus, I believe that everything has its pros and cons, so we need only do our best, and if there’s a problem, we’ll just fix it, and even discover something new along the way, which might turn out to be more suitable than what we have in mind. Then there’s no need to start over again, right?
With all the years of experience in the beauty industry and two popular brands in the market, what do you recognize as the biggest challenge for businesses in this area?
Based on the experience with my own brands, I’d say marketing and HR are the two most troublesome aspects of business in this area. The market itself is becoming saturated as businesses of all sizes, even individually-run ones, are springing up like mushrooms after the rain, thus allowing low quality services to mingle with high quality ones. As a result, consumers are hit with a myriad of advertisements that are confusing and, in many cases, overly exaggerated. Beauty-making is not only about the outer appearance, but also inextricably linked to the inner health, and hence calls for great patience, and even medical ethics when practicing it. A business will not last long if it cannot deliver what it promises, but the reality is that many in this field are fixated on reeling in large, short-term profits at the cost of customer’s confidence, a selfish act that imposes an adverse effect on those trying to run an honest business.
Then comes the next challenge, staff loyalty. A booming market means a highly volatile staff structure, as workers can easily hop from one job to another with all the choices and invitations at the ready, thus deriving businesses of the much needed stability. Despite accepting the inevitable, I still cannot help but feel disappointed every time an employee that I’ve spent so much time and effort to train decides to leave. Therefore, I believe that maintaining a stable body of staff for a beauty business should be regarded as the top priority when it comes to maintaining service quality.
So, among these challenges that you just mentioned, which one put the most pressure on Bích Na? And how did you manage or how do you plan to overcome it?
Business has always come hand in hand with pressure, and for me, HR-related issues have always had the most far-reaching and easily discernible impact. Back when we were just a start-up with only a few founding members and core staff, personnel management was not too much of a problem, since everyone could just overlook employee standards and protocols, and treat each other in a more intimate way. But when the headcount grows bigger and bigger as business thrives on, the owner must also change their way of thinking and adjust their operation method to be more professional by establishing standardized personnel policies and, in turn, building what is called “corporate culture”. Honestly speaking, as a doctor, Bích Na have little to zero knowledge in personnel management, and my solution for this is to observe and learn from the reality. My strategy is to find talented staff with expertise that will be able to compensate for my areas of weakness, while establishing a concise but professional protocol that aims to coordinate everyone’s work in a smooth and optimal way performance-wise.
Finding a competent employee is not an easy task, let alone earning their loyalty. What kind of policy do you employ to strengthen the staff – corporate bond?
Bích Na totally agree that in the current labor market, finding a competent recruit is a difficult task, and for a committed one, even more so. There is no doubt that, a person can only devote fully to a company or a brand when they’ve reached a certain level of understanding and accord with the company’s business philosophy as well as the brand’s distinctive traits. Another important factor is whether the business can guarantee their personal interests and rightful benefits. For senior personnel, it also comes down to the respect for competency and career development opportunity in the long run, especially the team of medical experts in my case, whom I always make sure to give personal training and knowledge update, so that they can accompany me in the future. Upon recruiting, I always leave the first week for the new staff to observe and acknowledge the brand’s nature, before making a decision to commit from both sides. I’d like to think of this as a “test run” in the recruiting process, which will not only save time for both parties, but allow us more chances to find the right person for each other.
With several years of experience in the beauty industry, both as an expert and a business owner, what type of administration principle and management direction have you chosen for yourself?
My principle is to always focus on true values. And I always demonstrate it by “doing” rather than “saying”. Bích Na always try to put a plan into practice, realize it before talking too much about it. This principle is applied to every business operation I’ve ever run, pursuing service quality instead of figures and fame, so that everyone, from the customers to my own staff, can see the result of my work and have a solid reason, not just some sugar-coated words, to put their faith in it.
Along with the brand’s operation and development, and as mentioned before, I’m particularly concerned about personnel management, thus making the improvement of the internal training protocol a part of my business management direction. There will be a point in the business progress where there will be too many things for me to handle alone, and the next generation needs to be ready by then. Therefore, every department will receive specific instructions and constant training, all with a view to ensure that each individual discovers their value and maximizes its potential. That is also how you help them feel their talent is not being “wasted” as well as getting evaluation for their effort and deserving rewards for their contribution.
As of today, are you confident enough to bear the title businesswoman?
If I present myself as a doctor, a master graduate or a lecturer, then yes, I am perfectly confident; but to assert myself as a businesswoman, I find myself still lacking for the title. As a doctor, I understand that no matter how confident I am with my professional knowledge, I still need to refresh and expand it from time to time; so it is out of the question that for business, my secondary profession, I have no other way but to keep on learning if I want to be serious with it. Learn from the books, from my friends, from the lessons of success, and from the actual work that I run every day. Some I had to pay for with failure, but I always told myself to learn from those errors, and eventually everything will fall into place and opportunities will present themselves. Everything I know about business until now has come from self-learning, a process of adaptation rather than a result of proper training. Along this process, I have fortunately discovered the right direction. And with every challenge past, Bích Na become more certain of the way I need to take and begin to “speed up” on it.
You have just mentioned “fortune”, so in your opinion, how big a role does it play in your success?
If we’re talking about numbers, I’d say that about 30% of my achievements today come from good luck. One of the biggest displays of luck was when I first launched my beauty salon, as the market was still in its blooming days and competition had not become too harsh; but still, it was only a head start that got me a few steps ahead. My next important fortune is being able to find the companions who have been by my side through thick and thin and whom I can always depend on. As for the remaining 70%, Bích Na believe it to be the result of personal efforts. The lady luck doesn’t always smile to you, there will be times when you find yourself in a tough spot, and a decision has to be made if you are to escape failure. It is the resolution and flexibility to get yourself out of such unexpected storms that are essential to steering the corporate ship to success.
Honestly speaking, have you ever doubted yourself or felt tired of being the captain of your own corporate ship?
Whenever I’m at a crossroad and have to make a decision, there always comes turbulence. And as a woman, I do get dwindled and overtaken by emotions at times. This becomes even more challenging when the decision being made will affect someone. If a companion can only go with you to that point, sometimes the only thing you can do is accept the fact and pray good luck for their departure. Fortunately, there is one companion who never leaves my side no matter what, my husband, who has always offered me his council and support in times of hardship and uncertainty. In my early days, I often wondered why the unexpected troubles always came to me as they did. But the more I encountered and overcame, my logical sense became sharper and I finally saw things for what they really are. I realized that everything happens for a reason, and instead of looking for that reason, wouldn’t it be better to look for a solution? It might not be the best way to go, but it is a way to go, and that’s good enough.
It is obvious that business is risky in many ways, so are you afraid to take risks?
If I were not such an adventurous and risk-taking person, I would still be just a doctor now (laughs). However, the more experience you have, the more capable you are of anticipating potential risks. There really are an infinite number of unpredictable circumstances in business, but as a business owner, Bích Na have no choice but to face and handle everything that comes my way. The prerequisite of being a businessperson is accepting risks even at the highest level, provided that the value and quality of the product or service is preserved; perhaps that’s the only way to reach your career’s peak.
With what you have achieved today, do you think whether people should put themselves under discipline or remain free and relaxed in order to succeed?
It depends on their field of work. There are professions that highlight creativity, and creativity cannot thrive within strict boundaries. But when it comes to the service industry, there need to be certain standards and disciplines in order to preserve and elevate the brand’s core values. I myself am working in the service industry, so I believe that discipline is a must, and that sometimes you need to be strict to make sure everyone knows how to execute the protocol.
That being said, if the goal is success, I believe that the nourishment of knowledge is at the core. This is even more the case when you are a woman working in such a constantly evolving field as beauty-making, and I’ve realized that only with sufficient knowledge and competency can we handle every situation and achieve the desired goal.
From your point of view as a doctor doing business in the beauty industry, how important a role does appearance play for a woman? And how should beauty-making be done if one’s distinctive traits are to be preserved?
Beauty-making is affected by two factors, age and expectation. Everyone has the right to expect a more beautiful self, but there is a limit to that expectation. Too high an expectation will lead to abuse, and there’ll be no end for that. Next comes age, assessing the conditions that come with one’s age and seeking beauty-making methods that are suitable. Between what you “want” and what you “should”, you need to find that perfect balance to create a unique beauty for yourself.
As someone who seeks to inspire others of beauty-making, I’d like to send my fellow sisters a message, that a pretty face is, no doubt, an advantage, but it is the inner beauty that lies beneath that makes you unforgettable. This truth is not new, but perhaps people have neglected it with the booming of the beauty industry. Moreover, once you’ve decided to do something about your outer appearance, you need to understand that it is for your own sake, and not anyone else. That is the proper motivation for beauty-making, helping you seek your own beauty and be proud of it.
Thank you for sharing!
Text: JENNI VÕ, HỒNG ĐẶNG | Creative Director: HIEPLEDUC | Photo: QUANG KHUÊ | Stylist: ĐỖ ĐĂNG KHOA | Makeup: VIỄN DƯƠNG | Location: MAJESTIC SAIGON HOTEL
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