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When Working Solo Isn’t Enough


The enticement of working solo in a salon/spa booth or suite certainly has its appeal.

For many long-time owners, working solo can be a refuge from the stress of managing employees and finances, to just focus on their clients and do the work they love.

Busy service providers see working solo as a means to control their schedule, work when they want, charge what they want, and hopefully make more money.

The flexibility of working solo has its limitations. That’s why, for a growing number of solo service providers, working solo isn’t enough.

FACT 1: A service provider’s two hands can only generate so much revenue.

FACT 2: Revenue stops when those two hands stop working.

At Strategies, we’ve been receiving a steadily increasing flow of inquiries from solo workers asking for training and coaching on growing a company and a team.

Here’s what they’re telling us: “I’ve been working by myself. I’m ready to hire a team and grow my own company. But I want to do it right.”

In fact, that statement now reflects the most requested talking points during free strategy sessions booked through our website.

Unfortunately, like many owners before them, these aspiring owners are jumping into the deep end of the ownership pool severely lacking the necessary business and leadership skills to succeed.

FACT: Being a successful service provider doesn’t make you a successful business owner and leader.

Michael Gerber’s best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About it (, explains in detail why “technicians” are great at doing the work of the business, but as owners, they struggle with leadership, finances, operating systems, culture building, and darn near everything else it takes to succeed in business.

For well over 28 years, Strategies has been training and coaching owners on the skills and disciplines of business success. Because we’re experts at what existing salon/spa owners need to succeed, we understand the hurdles that solo workers face when building a company.

The most brutal challenge every busy service provider turned salon/spa owner quickly encounters is: How do I build the company of my dreams when I’m so busy behind the chair or in the treatment room?

FACT: Once the salon/spa doors open, owners are quickly time-starved and overwhelmed by how ill-prepared they are to lead and grow their new company.

Here are just some of the major challenges that busy solo workers must overcome when starting their own companies:

  • How to create a cash-flow plan and manage cash: Bringing money in is one thing — managing expenses and creating profit is tough to master when you’re busy doing clients in your new business. KEY: Every salon/spa business must have a cash-flow plan to project revenues, expenses and manage cash flow. Why? Because a cash-flow crisis can already be happening by the time you recognize it.

  • How to hire right: The ability to attract and hire the right talent has always been a challenge for owners. And it’s massively tougher in today’s insanely tight labor market. KEY: Hiring right is a skill. It takes planning. It takes creating the right buzz to attract the right candidates. It takes interviewing skills and a system. It takes a thoroughly planned indoctrination and skill certification program to properly onboard new employees. You can’t build all of this when you’re busy doing clients and are under pressure to hire.

  • How to build a compensation system: A compensation system is a heck of a lot more than coming up with a commission rate, sliding scale and multi-level pricing. KEY: A well-designed compensation system is designed to reward the right thinking, behavior, skills, performance, and contribution to the team and company. If there is one critical flaw of building a salon/spa it’s the overly simplistic commission systems. You know, the very commission system you didn’t like when you went solo.

  • How to build a team-based culture: The single most important responsibility of an owner is to build a team-based culture that defines the vision, brand, and character of the company. KEY: Culture building doesn’t happen by accident. Cultures are planned, nurtured, and perpetually refined. You can’t build the culture of your dreams when you’re busy as heck working on clients.

  • How to build an information flow system: The one big challenge most owners have is, “How do you get everyone on the same page?” KEY: Information flow is critical to the success of any business — especially a high-touch service business like salons/spas. KEY: Every team member must know the daily score (percent to monthly goal). Every team member must know the company’s prebook, productivity rate, and other key data. Every team member must know what, why, and how so they can focus on what’s important. You can’t create information flow when you’re busy as heck behind the chair or in the treatment room.

  • And then there’s LEADERSHIP: Wow!! There’s nothing straightforward about leadership. KEY: Leading in the moment. Leading the team to hit monthly goal. Leading through adversity. Making tough decisions and having fierce conversations. Taking time to praise and show appreciation. You can’t lead when you’re busy as heck behind the chair or in the treatment room.

Here’s my challenge to every solo worker that wants to build a company: Don’t assume you know what it takes to lead a team and build a company.

You may have bits and pieces — but you’re not even close to being prepared and ready. Why? Because when the doors to your new business open, you’re going to be swamped by one reality check after another.

The good news is that there’s a resource to prepare you. Strategies has built a three-day training called Solo to Team. This is your chance to build a company that doesn’t depend on your two hands to be financially successful. Do it!



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