This week I had a meeting to pitch my passion to a local beauty supply company. I was invited to discuss what my coaching business was about and what if I could create a series of business courses for their clients. As I was introducing myself and what my experience has been...I shared with this lovely group that I am as passionate about the salon & spa industry as I was when I was a new esthetics graduate from Blanche MacDonald Institute 2 decades ago. But the truth is, after 20 years of living, breathing and developing in the beauty & wellness industry, I'm actually even more passionate about our profession than ever before. In fact, way more. This industry has so much more to offer than just beauty & business. It's healing, personal care, creativity and human connection. It's an intimate connection we know heals the world one appointment at a time. That is incredibly fulfilling.
But I have some sobering news for you. Many of the owners of the salon, spa & wellness business are in big trouble. At best, they're worried about their future because of lack-luster revenues and long hours, but most times they feel flat out hopeless as to how at to turn their business around because it's such a mess. Here's a few comments I hear ALL the time from seasoned entrepreneurs:
"I love what I do, I work extremely hard, and the schedule is fairly busy...but there's not money left at the end of the month. I'm exhausted. I'm frustrated. I don't know how to change it and I feel stuck."
"I've tried so many different ways to market my business. But nothing seems to work consistently. I'm tired of putting energy into something that I can't make work but I need more clients. I'm frustrated & I don't know what information to trust."
This is painful stuff! For those of you dreaming of opening your own business this should be the knock on the head you need to get real about being an entrepreneur. If you are already a business owner, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
The point I want to make here is that all of the entrepreneurs who are in that situation are missing a huge piece of their puzzle: opening your business with only your skill-set IS NOT ENOUGH. And if you want to have any financial success with sharing your hands-on gift...it will NEVER be enough unless you do what's required.
In December 2013, skininc.com posted the Top 10 Professional Skin Care Industry Trends for 2014. And although this article was written for spa professionals, it absolutely applies to salon & wellness owners as well. So what, to my delight, is their #2 trend for 2014?
Business is back.
With the improvement of the economy in general and the spa industry specifically, those skin care professionals who have survived the Great Recession learned a few lessons along the way ... namely, you can’t run a business without knowing about business. These days, crossing your fingers and hoping everything will work out just doesn’t cut it. - Cathy Christensen, Skin Inc., Dec 2013
Now, I'm acutely aware that if you were remotely interested in business you would have spent your $15,000-$25,000 tuition towards B-School rather than your chosen trade institute. But the reality is that if you don't educate yourself in The Business of your industry you will never be successful. You will work too hard, for too little money and feel frustrated and hopeless by the end of it.
I come to this table with painful & relatable experience. In 2002, I had been a spa owner for 5 years was recently married and with a newborn. It was after I had my son that I realized I was in real trouble with my business: the numbers were in the red, I wan't able to pay myself, I was scrapping together payroll every 2 weeks and my staff were driving me nuts with their own agendas. I had bootstrapped the opening of my spa and was seriously strapped for cash and time...and with the birth of my son it became glaringly obvious I didn't have the time or knowledge to take my business any farther. But quite frankly what I came to terms with was that I wanted to sell my business so that I could focus on being a mom...but the business I had so painstakingly & passionately built was worthless.
It was being faced with this very stressful dilemma that finally forced me into action. I found a company in the States, which at the time may have been one of the only companies in North America that was teaching the business skills specific to the salon/spa industry, and signed up for their next business class. Thousands of dollars for the seminar + flights and accommodation to Arizona later, I was neck deep in learning The Business of my business.
As I plugged in my own numbers during the course I was equally shocked and excited at what I was learning: cash flow forecasting, where my client retention, retail percentages and productivity were at (btw...my numbers were dismal) and how to control my company culture with very little stress. After 4 days of intense business training, I walked out of that course with was a strong understanding and a complete list of strategies & systems to turn my spa around.
Fast-forward one year. I sold my spa for a profit and was able to focus my attention to my son and work part-time at a beautiful facility until I moved to Vancouver Island a year later. I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I'm not going to tell you that turning my business around was easy, because it wasn't. I worked extremely hard on applying systems to increase the spa productivity, retail sales, service revenues plus decrease my payroll expenses and staffing issues. But when I committed to putting in the time into create these strategic business systems, it opened up a whole reservoir of energy & passion for the salon/spa industry I thought I had lost. In fact, after I moved to Vancouver Island, I opened up another esthetics business and have been operating as re:fresh skin and body for 7 years now.
But more than anything...learning about The Business of the salon/spa industry gave me the confidence and ease to move through the growth process much quicker than if I had continued on my original 'blind' path.
So my advice to you? Save your self now. Regardless of your position (a new start-up or existing business owner), it is THE time to take control of your dream. Your hands-on skills will never be enough to run a successful shop. Business is simply another skill-set you must learn.
The beauty of your situation is that you don't have to enroll in B-School to get what you need (hey...I have no idea how I passed Math 11 or 12 in high school), but you do need to actively seek sound business training that is specific to your industry.
The truth is, I don't want you to simply make more money....I want you to make it efficiently, strategically and with joy.
If you are an aspiring Start-Up Entrepreneur you'll want to check out this online video tutorial course I created that will give you all the golden business nuggets I've learned along the way in order to fast-track your business.
If you are an existing business owner and you're wondering where all your money is going, how to increase your revenues, what to do with wayward staff and find the passion for your industry again, you'll want to go here to find the best option for you.
You don't have to re-invent the wheel here folks. Just ask me how I did it...I'll gladly share what I know and how it works.