There are some hard truths we entrepreneurs must face in growing our businesses. Whether you are clinic owner with a team of twelve, or a solo aesthetician, the facts remain the same.
A sure path to a quick burnout is the putting time in too many different areas; one thing that helps preserve not only your sanity, but also your energy, is a thing called SYSTEMS.
I KNOW! That is not what you wanted to hear, but there it is. Take a sip from your mug while you let that sink in for just a minute.
So, how did I manage to grow my business by 41% last year, with a baby and a kindergartener in tow?
Yes, good old systems, and here are the top ten that saved me. I am sure that even trying a few will help you!
Learn to say NO. It seems so easy, but if you are people pleaser like I am, this is very hard. But learning to say no is actually in the highest service to yourself, your clients, and other people–you know, family and friends. It is best to say no when you struggle to decide if what you are asked to do is something you can actually fit it. If it is not an easy yes, the answer should be no.
- Example: The client who wants you to squeeze them in on Saturday morning because they are about to head out on a cruise and DESPERATELY need that wax. So you agree to squeeze them in at 8 am Saturday morning, even though it was your day off. To make it worth it, you also open to fit the other lady that mentioned she wanted to have that pedicure. You arrive at 7:30 am to warm that wax realize at 8:30 am that she is not going to show. Your pedicure appointment, of course, shows up fifteen minutes late. When you do the numbers, you know you might as well have paid your clients to have the services done elsewhere–you would have been better off because your husband is also unimpressed about the whole scenario at the moment!
Boundaries. They are a must-have, not only with clients but also with family, primarily related to your business. I can’t even count how many times I get asked about this when I consult for clinic owners. Should I offer a discount for family and friends, and the family and friends of my team? Well, your time is valuable, and opening your doors for business is expensive. So no, really and ideally no. But if you are like me and have a big ole soft heart, you can’t just stick to the hard no when it comes to those special people. That is why it is essential to have a system in place. Depending on the size of your company instate a ‘rule for all’ (that includes you) and stipulate what is allowed.
- Example: In a clinic I worked with consisting of a physician, two nurse assistants, two laser technicians, two aestheticians, and two receptionists we implemented a new system. Staff nominated people, three (for part times) and five (for full-timers) who could get a discount on services and a discount on retail. The service discount can typically be more substantial than that of retail (maybe 15% off services and 5% off retail), and the rule is the same for ALL STAFF. So if “Mary” has four children and three sisters and she worked full time then she has to choose who her five people entitled to this ‘perk’ are and NAME them. We allowed it to change once a year. The beauty is that you don’t have to answer these inquiries all the time. Even if your friend asks, you can blame the ‘system’ and simply say, I’m sorry, we are each allowed only x amount of people for our employee discount rate… and move on.
- Tame your appointment book. Gasp! Yes, as a business owner you MUST make time for running the business as well. If you are running solo, this is especially true. Block time out in your appointment book for personal development, paying bills, ordering supplies and products, follow-up calls with clients, that newsletter you need to send out, and more. Don’t do it in your personal time! The time you lose to activities does not magically reappear! Don’t ask me more unless you want my tearful guilt-riddled explanation of how I know this! Trust me, make time for working ON the business, and time for IN the business. Don’t steal your personal time away from yourself.
- Personal Development. For the longest time, I did not think very highly of this, until I decided to invest a little more in me, and I am so glad I did! No one is going to give you a million-dollar A-HA (not to be confused for Alpha Linoleic Acid) on a silver platter but surrounding yourself with like-minded ambitious people is good for the soul! It opens your eyes to other ways to approach familiar scenarios and helps you elevate yourself to the next level. So yes, attend that training, attend that event. Make sure to take notes, apply what applies to you fast when you get back, and after a few months reflect back and assess the value you gained. It is often not monetary and typically not recognized immediately.
- Ask for help. Simple right? Well, asking is only one half of the equation. I have always been great at asking for what I want. The other half is accepting the help—genuinely ACCEPTING that which you are asking for. A great example involves my mother. She is a fantastic woman, has helped me many times throughout my life, and she has 6 grandchildren as I write this. At the beginning of my business she did my shipping and receiving for me until we grew. Then I moved into a space, hired an assistant to help me with other, oh so important, things, and well, at a point in time I let my ENTIRE team go. My son was on summer vacation, and in the last week of the holidays I had no summer camp organized. She said she’d come and help after a teary phone call to her as I just let my ENTIRE team go and was doing EVERYTHING in my business including shipping and receiving. Well, she flew out for the week, and I packed the kids for a mini getaway, a road trip to grandma’s place (to take her back home and get out of town for a few days) for the long weekend. She came to me and said she wanted to drive back home with me (a 10-hour road trip) and come and help me in the distribution center. She wanted to come and do the shipping and receiving for me for the week so I could focus on wrapping up some projects and prep for a big event I was hosting in a few weeks. AND, on top of all that, she wanted to help me take all the stuff I set aside in my house to donate where I wanted to. Initially, my response was: It’s okay mom, thank you, but I’ve got this, etc. Then it dawned on me that I am being offered amazing help and just throwing back in my mother’s face. How rude of me! She knows how to ship stuff. She is excellent with the kids – heck I gained HOURS because she also filled my car and dropped a room full of things I’ve been meaning to donate for MONTHS and haven’t. I even gained back that room in my house! In hindsight, I was asking her for help, and when she reciprocated with a yes, I nearly declined. So, if you ask for help, learn also to receive it.
- Keeping the team accountable. As you just read, I let my entire team go. Now, I don’t recommend that as a goal at all, but what I do want to highlight is the following: That 90-day probation time in an employment agreement is there for a reason, use it. When an employee shows you that they are not the best fit in that time, let them go. It is selfish to hang on to them for too long if they are not the right fit. I held on to one such employee for 9 months too long because she was a super nice person. I ignored all other signs to the fact the role was just not ideally suited for her. It might manifest for your employees in different ways: ill performance, ignoring your company values, not following through with critical tasks you set out, lousy customer service, and more. For me, in this case, it was consistently not hitting targets despite substantial investments for training in areas where skills needed to be built. Another team member, who I did let go within the 90 days, was just not a great fit, and letting her go fast was good for her too, it allowed her to find a role she could excel in. She was not the best fit for us, and we were not the best fit for her, nothing more, nothing less.
- Serve your clients beyond expectation. When you can’t serve more clients, for whatever reason (your book is full, you have a baby and can’t work more hours, you don’t want to work more hours), recalibrate. My best growth came when I could not go out and gain more clients. I decided to focus on the clients I had instead, and I grew (you guessed it) 41% without one new client on my books!
- Mentors. Find yourself a mentor that helps point out where your true north sits! We can get scattered by all the demands and shiny object syndrome, making it is easy to lose your path! Find a mentor or a business coach who will tell you the things you need to hear even if you don’t want to hear it! In this industry, the latest and greatest fads can be very luring and tempting. Sometimes they are worth it, but I love the mentor that asks if it is in line with my vision and my mission. It steers me back in the right direction very fast. No, a sticky note on your mirror will not have the same impact… although I might’ve done that in the past.
- Know your goal. What is it you want to provide to whom? Is it brow shapes, or lash tints and nails? I love receiving all of those but I learned early in my career that it is not what makes me ‘tick.’ Give me difficult skin conditions, and I am like a kid in a candy store. The answer is different for each, but if you want to stay in this industry for a long time, you need to nurture what you love! So, name it, and claim it! You can be the jack of all trades and the master of none. I like being a MASTER JEDI, even if it is at just one thing: skin.
- Know your numbers. If you don’t know what it costs to operate your business, you have no idea how much you should generate! I challenge my clients to add the cost of their dream lifestyle into the equation, so you KNOW you can bring in the money into your business to live the life you want!
My wish for you, clinic owner or solo aesthetician, is for you to grow YOUR business by 30% or more! Above that, I wish that for you without more hours in your business. I want you to see the value in working smarter, not harder. Doing services you LOVE and blowing the proverbial income ceiling OFF your business! You, my fellow Esti are worth this and MORE! None of us should be struggling from appointment to appointment in an industry that is worth billions! Don’t be the one who’s fire goes out because the struggle is too hard.
If you want help, I’m here to help you grow 30% or more. Reach out anytime, but first get the 10 things you can do today to be a better Aesthetician tomorrow here! It is loaded with great FREE resources to reignite your fire.