Article Published in Stylist Magazine, December 2013

It’s likely that you’ve already read many articles about having passion for the beauty industry. This won’t be one of those articles. No amount of desire or enthusiasm can compete with the reality of actually doing something. You may want to improve your business, but what does that really mean, and are you capable of making the appropriate changes?

As the holiday season approaches, many salon owners and nail professionals convince themselves that it’s too late in the year to make any changes to their business. No matter how frustrated or desperate they may be, they worry that any change would be too disruptive, especially to their clients. Instead, they’ll continue to struggle and wait for a better time to resolve their problems. That’s ridiculous; there truly is no better time than the present. Stop worrying about everyone else and consider yourself first, not your business, but you as a person. If you’re abusing your body, that’s a problem. If you can’t pay your bills, that’s a problem. If you’re neglecting your family, that’s a problem. If you dread being at work, that’s a problem. More important, they are your problems to solve, sooner rather than later. Why wait until the new year to make resolutions when you can change now?

Change in itself won’t solve your problems unless you understand your contribution to them. Taking responsibility and owning your mistakes can very difficult when it’s so easy and very tempting to blame others. If someone were truly a victim, I could sympathize, but would still expect some decisive action. Failing to act only reinforces a sense of powerlessness. It’s in those moments that you may become a victim of your own learned helplessness. Being passive is not the way to do your best work or operate a successful business.

It’s not possible to control everything, but positive changes/improvements/progress can result if you act according to your priorities. Some specific examples come to mind when I reflect on what’s happened in my life during the last year. I entered this year planning for the possibility of one major professional change (moving my salon), but was quickly faced with the reality of an even greater change: my sister’s decision to move her family back to Clovis, three hours away. This impacted me both personally and professionally, but not in a negative way. We no longer share a household (I’ve since moved to a new residence) and she’s reverted to her “every other week” schedule at the salon. This was a big change, especially for the clients whose standing appointments had to be rearranged starting in August. To their credit, her clients were very flexible, understanding that family was her priority.

In the meanwhile, I had to consider the future of my salon business and my own priorities. Professionally speaking, working directly with clients remains my greatest source of satisfaction and income, but changes were necessary to make it more convenient and enjoyable. Confident that I’d want to provide nail services for years to come, I was willing to commit to a long-term lease (7 to 10 years). While I employed 2 other manicurists who work hard, I was no longer willing to staff a salon 6 days a week, or work more hours myself to meet the terms of a retail lease. That was neither reasonable nor necessary given the “by appointment only” nature of my business. When it became apparent that modifying my lease and the interior of my existing space wasn’t viable, the search for the ideal space intensified.

Having viewed more than a dozen options, many of which could have worked had I compromised, I discovered my current space and negotiated a ten-year lease. Needless to say, I won’t have to change salon locations for a while. Moving the salon to this larger, more accessible space required an investment of money and labor, but I purposefully avoided many of the costs associated with my previous space, such as installing flooring and painting walls. The new space already had beautiful hardwood flooring and walls painted in my color scheme. For the most part, the electrical work involved changing light bulbs to eco-friendly and cost-effective LED lighting. I did invest in new power leather recliners and the latest version of the Mitsubishi Jet Towel hand dryer, which have made the salon seem even more luxurious.

Other then a few minor hiccups, the transition to the new location has been relatively smooth. For example, a few clients have arrived late having first visited the old location. Overall, the reaction has been incredibly positive. Clients tend to be very amenable to change when it’s viewed as progress. Even the change in salon hours (from Monday thru Saturday, to Tuesday thru Friday) hasn’t been a problem because it doesn’t affect standing appointments, the core of my business. My salon business has evolved as I have, and how it currently functions has eliminated the problems I once perceived. Instead of making new year’s resolutions, I can set goals for the future based on what’s working and enjoy the benefits of changes already made.

By Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.