The past few months have been a slow slide into feeling “meh” about my business…and it peaked on Instagram on Tuesday with a personal share I’ll title “I F*@king Hate My Business.”
Two years after I sold my 3 room, 7 staffed spa, I moved to tiny little sea-side town on Vancouver Island and opened my third esthetic business as a single owner/operator model. By the time I completed my first year in business in 2007, I had a full, happy clientele and a booming bank account. However, I quickly became a victim of my success three months later.
I was so good at generating new clients that nobody could get in for an appointment for three months.
Now…you may be thinking, “I wish I had that problem!” but I want to explain why having such rapid growth came at a price and how you can avoid my growing pains.
1. I was overworked with admin and non-billable duties.
You need time to develop business systems that will ease your workload. The systems you use right now may not be scalable when you are fully booked. For future ease, plan for bringing on digital systems that can handle the mundane administrative work you shouldn’t be wasting your time on. Or start researching companies that you can contract the work to.
I finally hired a laundry service to relieve my workload, signed up for a new booking/POS system that was more efficient and did a trade for my bookkeeping needs. This allowed me true down time outside of salon hours.
2. I hit a ceiling with my earning potential.
As you are slowly growing, that is the best time to think about how you will increase your earning potential....and then Make. A. Plan.
Will you build a larger location? Are you budgeting for that? Will you hire staff? Don’t be that salon owners who throws new hires on the floor with very little training and wonder why you have high client and staff turnover. Unsexy but essential business strategies and systems will need drafting: business plans, policy and procedure manuals, training protocols, and salon systems. All of that development takes a huge amount of time to prepare for successful growth. Why not start those now?
If you don’t want to hire staff and choose to keep it small, how are you going to leverage your time? Will you raise your rates? Become specialized? Working longer hours won’t be an option at that point, or you’ll quickly burn out.
I chose to drop the services that were not popular, hard on my body, took too much time to set up & clean up or were just not enjoyable to me anymore. By removing them, I opened up my schedule for the treatments truly I loved doing (waxing) and were much more lucrative per hour.
My advice? Consciously decide how you are going to work smarter, not harder.
3. I was completely exhausted.
At the beginning stages of building my clientele I could be much more flexible with my schedule. But as I got busier I had to learn how to say ‘no.’ By then I was also a single mom, and it was important for me to be physically, mentally & emotionally present for my son and I was not willing to comprise that part of my life. Saying 'no' to the extra booking requests was really hard, but I needed to stick to my hours so I could have longevity in my career.
When I realized clients couldn’t get on the books for three months, I stopped taking any new clients and waited for attrition to happen in my business. It took approximately one year for my schedule to get to a place in which I felt more balanced. And when the recession hit here in 2009/2010, I simply stepped up my client attraction tactics to begin the building process again.
The bottom line is; use the extra time you have while your business is growing to design it in a conscious way. And if your business does happen to explode with 10x the clients, you are prepared to handle the scale with grace and professionalism.
No one can predict the future, but if you can embrace your slower growth periods to make plans for a scalable business, you will be able to protect your energy, keep your passion and still allow for higher earning potential for when rapid growth hits!