The prospect of growing a beauty business, whether that be as a salon owner, an independent stylist, or a platform artist or educator, is really exciting. It’s a creative field with a lot of support, resources, and potential clients who already want what you want to sell to them
But it’s still a business.
We want to be really, really clear on that point because it’s something that a lot of beauty pros we’ve met over the years have a hard time accepting. Once you decide to go out on your own, in whatever capacity, you have automatically become a business owner.
And what does every business need? A plan.
It’s a simple but often overlooked fact: you have to know where you are before you know where you can go. It can be really tempting to be constantly focused on realizing your dream, reaching your end goal.
But the reality is that beyond ambition, beyond vision and potential, it takes identifying your current challenges, working with what you’ve got on hand, and crafting a realistic, workable plan around those things to reach that end dream destination.
So here’s what we are going to do. We are going to walk through the main points of your beauty business, one by one, and identify their importance.
So let’s make this fun, useful and relatively painless.
We will cover how you can:
- Look Good = Your Branding
- Get Smart = Your Strategies
- Make Friends = Your Network
- Have Fun = Your Inspiration & Creative Growth
We also need to address your current challenges, which we will tackle at the very end (let’s just put those off as long as possible, shall we?)
After this, if you want to dig REALLY far down and create a solid business plan, we’ve done most of the hard work for you already. Just sign up for our 7 Days to a Better Beauty Business Email Course (totally free) and get started.
First, let’s set the tone…
To make this whole thing a lot simpler and more fun, we are going to look at your business as if it were your child (because if you think about it…it already kind of is). Besides the fact that you have to perform a lot of the same duties as a business owner that you do as a parent, businesses are a lot like people.
Does that sound a little crazy? Well, let’s look at it. Businesses have distinct looks and personalities (branding), they have a family (staff) and friends (peers, clients, mentors, and community). Businesses also need to balance their budgets just people and make sure that they have a sense of passion and meaning if they’re going to be around for the long haul.
Doesn’t sound so crazy now does it? Plus, you work with people all day long. One of the most amazing qualities about beauty professionals is how caring they are towards the people around them. Let’s use that natural inclination and put it to work helping your growing business.
Depending on how long you’ve been on your own, you may be expecting, figuring out how to wrangle a toddler or busy trying to understand where you went so wrong with your unwieldy teenage beauty business. No matter what stage you’re currently in, let’s go through these sections picturing where your business is, right now.
Look Good: Branding & Beyond
Just like there is more to people than how they look, there is more to branding than just a pretty logo. The reason looks are important when we are talking about people is exactly the same as when we are talking about businesses: First Impressions.
The way your business looks should set the stage for what it’s all about. Your growing beauty business deserves to develop its own unique personal style, based on who it authentically is.
Brands can be stodgy, edgy, feminine, artsy, quirky, retro, traditional, eco-conscious, modern…you name it. Just like people, businesses and brands almost always have a defining characteristic that helps to drive their visuals, voice, and personality (hint: branding).
Why does this matter? Because you want to attract like-minded future clients. If your business is all about organic products, sustainable practices, and natural-looks (and most of your products smell like the inside of a spa frequented by groovy angels) you will want to make sure that your look indicates that.
The ultra-hip, asymmetrical, unicorn/mermaid/rainbow client who lives, eats and breathes sodium lauryl sulfate and parabens is probably not a good match for your business. By making sure that your business look reflects your business personality, you are making that very clear right off the bat. So there is no need to turn away a potential client that may not be a good fit—they will have realized that on the upfront.
Everything from your logo to your physical space should be reflective of who your business is—in order to attract the people who it’s for
So take a moment to review your business’s personal style as it is today. Think about what you love about the look of your space, your logo, and the imagery you’re putting out to represent your work. Hell, ask yourself the same questions about how you are presenting yourself as the face of this business.
All of these components should be working together to show the world what your business is all about.
Get Smart: Plan To Work & Work Your Plan
You can’t exactly plan for success (or failure for that matter) but if you truly want your business to grow—whether that be to a new location, broader client base, landing your work in magazine or on the runway—you do need to have at least a rough idea of the steps you’re planning to take to get there.
There are a lot of different types of planning that goes into running a business of any kind, scheduling, budgeting, marketing, networking—even decorating. The key is identifying the right strategies that will help you grow in the right direction.
A lot of parents wish that they could write out a detailed plan for their children, hand it over and that their child will nod their head sagely–trusting in the greater wisdom and experience of their consulting parent.
That child will follow each directive of the plan to the letter, and the result will be a lifetime of success, happiness, and perpetual personal fulfillment.
If only…if only…
While that may not work with an angsty teenager who dreams of running off to join their favorite band for a life on the road, a business is a little more easily guided. As long as you have a clear vision of where you are now and where you would ideally like your business to grow, you can identify a starting point and start to sketch out a rough plan of action.
Keep in mind, however good you are at planning, your carefully considered and plotted out strategies will most likely need to be continuously massaged and re-worked as your business navigates the never-ending chaos of life.
That’s just the way of the world when you are a business owner. You never quite know what to expect, or when, so it’s best to keep things simple and flexible, in order to keep from spinning your wheels
Creating solid strategies for your business is really as simple as asking yourself, where do I want to go and what’s the first step I can take to get there? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then you need to implement Rule 0: How can I learn more?
Oftentimes this requires reaching out to someone for help, which leads us to…
Make Friends: Get In With The Right Crowd
No beauty business is an island. Whether you’re relying on your current clients for feedback and referrals, or an industry veteran for mentorship, it does, in fact, take a village to raise a successful, well-rounded beauty business.
As the saying goes, you are the company that you keep. Surrounding your business with the right crowd can help you reach your goals faster and oftentimes better than you ever imagined.
There is one key word in that paragraph: the RIGHT crowd. Remember how we talked about really knowing and understanding your beauty business’s personality? You need to help it to choose the right friends, people that will challenge you, be honest with you, and those who are on a similar wavelength.
One of the biggest mistakes that we’ve seen in this industry is joining in with the “popular crowd.” Just because someone has a big Instagram following or a celebrity in their clientele doesn’t necessarily make them the right person for your business network.
It’s all about building mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationships. That takes time, and effort, and a lot of “friend editing” but it’s worth it in the long run.
Having a solid current client base, even if it’s only a handful, can help you in ways that you could never imagine. If you take the time to develop strong relationships with those people, connect with them on an authentic level, they will be your biggest business driver. Why? Because they will genuinely want you to succeed.
One of our favorite examples of this in action is Beardsgaard Barbers. It’s a small-town barbershop that opened with just about zero clients, and in three years has blown every other shop in their area out of the water.
They have built really strong relationships with each and every client that sits in their chair AND in their community. Through crafting a strong brand personality (that speaks to a VERY specific clientele), and connecting with their clientele on more than just hair (i.e. rampant nerd-dom) they have built a solid foundation for client loyalty.
Beardsgaard Barbers only worry about attracting the right people, and when they do, they cherish them. As a result, their referral business is off-the-charts.
The moral of the story? Choose your friends wisely and treat them well.
Have Fun: Staying Creative & Inspired
There is a reason you decided to go into the beauty business, right? Beyond the day-to-day drudgery of building a client list, getting your name out there, and the hard work and long hours that it takes to master a skill, being in beauty has one really good thing going for it:
You get to make people feel good, you get to play with great-smelling products, you get to try new things and broaden your horizons in an industry that embraces that sort of thing wholeheartedly.
But, let’s be honest, how much of your time spent behind the chair is really feeding your soul through creative exploration and how much of it is repainting that same natural-looking blonde balayage on a client who never wants to mix up their look?
Creating for other people is a grind. You are being asked on a daily basis to temper your creative vision and abilities with someone else’s expectations. There is no quicker road to creative burnout than to do this day in and day out, with no relief.
Breaking out of our daily routines—trying something new, even if it’s not beauty related—is the best way to consistently flex that creative muscle.
Think of it like a child going to school. If all your business ever does is go to class every day and does homework on its off time, eventually it’s going to get really, really tired of math worksheets and personal response essays. That’s why there are sports, clubs, and hobbies!
Just like growing kids, a growing business needs some downtime. It needs interests outside of what it does, it needs the time and space to explore the other things that it’s interested in. And as the steerer of the ship—so do you!
So while it is important to devote a lot of time and energy into creating a strong foundation for a lasting business, it’s equally as important to remember to loosen the reigns a little bit and play from time to time. This can help release some pressure, and inspire all sorts of new inspirations.
It’s good for you, and that’s good for business.
Tackling Your Challenges
It’s not easy to think about obstacles. In fact, it’s really tempting to just say “I don’t know what the problem is,” shrug it off and go about your daily business. But that’s not going to help you or your business grow.
If we take the time to really look at what is halting our progress, oftentimes it’s not as big or scary as we thought. Once we have a clear handle on our obstacles, it’s much easier to develop a strategy to tackle them or to decide if that challenge is worth tackling at all.
Allow us to elaborate….
Every business faces its fair share of uphill battles. One of the most important things that you can learn while guiding your growing business down its path is to identify what is worth your time, energy and aggravation.
Something that we have been noticing lately in the beauty industry is the constant pressure to do more. Post EVERYTHING on social media! Learn THIS technique! Now learn THIS one! If you’re not hopping on THIS trend, you’re missing out!
When you take the time to really consider the challenges that your business is currently facing, always weigh them against your values and your end goal. If not having a massive social media following is not important to your business, then guess what—it’s not really a challenge, no matter what the magazines and influencers and product companies are telling you.
Not every beauty business wants to be a celebrity or to appeal to everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. The thing that will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and instantly defeated when addressing your business’s challenges is to first know what really matters.
So when you strip away the outside pressure and noise and nail down what’s really standing in your way, you can get smart with how you address it.
No matter if it’s a lack of available resources or the time it would take to learn a new, marketable skill, or even not having any idea what’s halting your progress in the first place.
Each and every one of these challenges is workable; you just have to be really honest with yourself about what you’re facing.
Putting It All Together
Hopefully, this has given you a new perspective on your beauty business. From here, you can start to take an in-depth look at what you immediately need to reach your goals and what possible things are standing in the way of growing your beauty business.
If you’re ready to dig in and really get started, you can sign up for our 7 Days to A Better Beauty Business Email Course and get started making a plan!