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Entrepreneur’s Top Five Lessons Learned

In the beginning, I couldn’t exactly tell you why I wanted to own a salon and day spa. I only knew that I was ready for a change. My background had been in sales and relationship management for large Fortune 500 companies. While I was successful and well regarded in the industry, I found the environment restrictive, and I was frustrated with the slow pace of large corporations, so I decided to relocate to San Diego and make it on my own as a salon and day spa owner. Over the next eight years, I learned a great deal about myself, the industry and what it takes to run a successful business.

My salon and day spa was awarded Best of San Diego in three categories for five consecutive years, won multiple other community awards, and was honored as a Salon Today Top 200 Salon for management, leadership and our use of technology. I found tremendous satisfaction in creating something that not only provided a living for me and others, but also garnered personal satisfaction for me from being a recognized leader in the industry. Here are the top five lessons I learned that helped me be a successful and motivated entrepreneur:

Define your company culture and values. Be clear and clearly communicate your business WHY. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” If you are clear about why you do what you do, it will be easier to hire employees and to find and retain your clients. People want to belong, and they want to know how they contribute to the larger vision of the company. Your best employees and clients will be people who believe what you believe.

Understand what motivates each member of your team. Make sure you understand the why of the people who work for you. This is not always the same or perhaps even what you expect. You may not always be able to just ask, although that is a good place to start. For instance, I discovered that many of my employees and the people I was recruiting craved praise and respect for their profession and industry as much as for themselves. Our business provided that.

Create value for your clients. We weren’t selling root touchups, facials, waxing and massages, we were selling AN EXPERIENCE. Clients can get basic services anywhere (and probably significantly cheaper!). Our client EXPERIENCE started with our brand (website, social media, etc.) and continued with the first phone call or online interaction and ended with the follow up phone call or email to get feedback on their service with us and to ask for a referral. We took nothing for granted and wanted every client to know how much we appreciated them.

Understand and manage your finances. The team would jokingly say “Michele knows where every dime in this business is spent,” and they were right. We used a daily cash flow plan, tracking all revenue and expenses which fed into our monthly P&L. We established ROI by service to create a menu that worked for the clients as well as the business and created individual department budgets.

Be the person who knows the most about your business and be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked in your life. While I personally didn’t cut/color hair or do facials, waxing or massages, I understood and could explain all the benefits of our services and how each one made or lost me money. I knew my business inside and out. That took time, perseverance, love of our company, and focus on what we were accomplishing every day.

I encourage you to spend some time thinking about your WHY and then your HOW and then reach for the awards … I mean stars.

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