You hear the saying all the time: Be your own boss. Owning your own business is a dream for so many, but how does one achieve this goal? Isn’t it difficult to go into business for yourself? The difficulty level can certainly depend on your professional industry. But the good news is, as a beauty professional, you have several options for helping yourself achieve that goal, as well as people who can assist you in turning your dream into a reality.
We sat down with Las Vegas-based salon owner Amanda Skvorzov, who told us all about her transition from working as a nail tech to owning two My Salon Suite buildings with her husband, where they now help other beauty professionals achieve the goal of independence. If you’ve been thinking about going independent or opening your own salon or spa (or are already in the process), Skvorzov’s advice may be just the information and inspiration you need.
Ask Yourself “Why?”
Everyone has different reasons for wanting to take the plunge into business ownership. Perhaps you want more earning potential, to make your own schedule, or to simply do things your way. In Skvorzov’s case, she mainly wanted to explore new horizons. “I had been a nail tech for about 14 years, and I had stepped away for a little bit to raise my family,” she explains. “I’ve always been that type of person that pushes myself to be better than before. And as much as I loved being a nail tech (and I still do), I wanted more and to see what else was out there, and I felt like being a salon owner was that next step.”
Knowing your “why” and outlining your goals can be a strong motivator to forge ahead when the going gets tough, and it inevitably will. Write down your reasons and place that list somewhere where you can see it every day to keep yourself moving forward.
Seek Out the Advice of Others
For those looking to rent a salon suite, Skvorzov recommends “asking or talking to current members to see how they feel about the facility and how they like it. Word of mouth recommendations are the best type of referrals.”
The same goes for those looking to own a salon or to be in a landlord-type position with suites. In searching for ownership options, Skvorzov went to a family member who owned her own salon. “I first picked her brain about what it entailed: What should I look for? What are the challenges? She led me toward owning a salon suite instead of a traditional salon because of the differences with not having to have employees.”
Speaking to others who have made the transition can help you get a feel for what might be best for you and your style of business. If leading a team of employees to share in your success sounds rewarding to you, opening a traditional salon may be the way to go. Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with all the overhead that comes with having a traditional salon and prefer to work solo, renting a chair or a suite might be right for you.
Skvorzov, on the other hand, is a people-person and enjoys helping other beauty professionals go independent, so renting out multiple suites as a landlord was the right option for her.
“Being a woman in the industry, we know that it’s harder for us because people don’t take us seriously,” she says. “In our industry, the majority of beauty professionals are female. I take great pleasure and pride in helping fellow women and entrepreneurs climb up that ladder and know that they’re not alone. If they’re willing to put in the hard work, I will be there to push them up that ladder and to help them fulfil their dreams.”
Prepare for Challenges
When taking on a huge project like starting your own business, you have to expect that there will be pitfalls.
“You are going to run into struggles, you’re going to run into challenges, Skvorzov says. “Take those challenges as a learning experience, sit back, reflect on them so that the next time a challenge comes up (because there will be many), you can take a step back and review it first.”
For Skvorzov and her husband, the biggest challenge was securing the funding for their first My Salon Suite franchise.
“Because my husband and I were first time business owners at the time, the biggest challenge for us was getting a loan,” she explains. “Banks don’t like the newness because they say you don’t have experience.” But the franchise was willing to help them secure the funding they needed. “They were able to eliminate all those roadblocks to help us to move our dream forward with their banks and funding.”
When there’s a will, there’s a way, and sometimes that way is through other people who are willing to help you achieve your goals. Learning from her own experiences has helped Skvorzov know how to help others, especially those who may be new to the industry. For beauty professionals looking to rent her suites, Skvorzov tries to make starting their business as easy as possible, from the legal side of things to aspects that take upfront costs down, like providing the furniture.
“I’ve been where they are,” she says. “We wanted to be able to provide a location where the stylist was able to walk in with their product and their client and be ready to go. I want them to come in and feel comfortable knowing that I’m going to provide them with all the information they need. Not only everything they need at the facility, but also with licensing and insurance and everything that they’d need to run their business legally. I have all of that spelled out for them and I’ll hold their hand along the way to make the transition as easy as possible.”
Watch Supply, Demand, and the Economy
Right now, especially late in the pandemic era, beauty and grooming professionals are in high demand; an encouraging sign for those looking to open their own business. Good news for nail techs and barbers in particular: On ZenBusiness’s top-20 list of the most in-demand business types in the U.S., nail salons and barber shops ranked number 8 and 11 respectively. If you market yourself properly, you should see a good chunk of that business come your way.
Unfortunately, the not so good news is that a recession may be on the horizon. Going solo or becoming the boss in your career means that you now pay for your own space and set your own prices, and you will have to account for economic downturns. This doesn’t have to spell doom for your business, but you may have to have some tough or awkward conversations with your clients about pricing.
This is another area in which Skvorzov helps her members. “What we do is we try to coach and mentor as much as we can, because it’s not only affecting them, it’s affecting their clients as well,” she explains. “They have to be able to relay the message to their clients, ’As much as I want to keep your prices the same, I have to increase what you pay for your service so I can offset my cost of the product.’ It’s a hard conversation, but it’s a little bit easier because everybody’s affected and it’s not a surprise.”
Take Care of Yourself
Starting your own business is a huge time commitment. For most business owners, work doesn’t end just because you’ve gone home for the day, and you should be prepared for the mass amounts of time you’ll be putting in. Even so, it’s crucial that you set aside time to care for yourself and make time for loved ones, or you will find yourself burnt out and straining your relationships eventually.
“Sometimes I have a hard time turning it off because I’m trying to make sure that everything is taken care of,” Skvorzov admits, explaining that she has recently made an effort to set more boundaries. “I put my phone on silent at night. I will look at it if it’s blinking or vibrating…If it’s a number I don’t recognize, I’ll let that go until the next day." She always answers calls from her members, but they are very good at respecting her off-hours. "Weekends are the same," she adds. "I don’t take appointments on the weekend, and I don’t take calls on the weekend. I reserve that for my family time and my one-on-one time with myself.”
Being a hard worker is an admirable quality, but you will not be able to do your best work if you’re exhausted all the time. So not only is taking time for yourself good for you, it’s good for your business and clients as well.
The transition to independence is not an easy one. You should expect to face some challenges from time to time, but the journey is so rewarding. Remember to always celebrate your successes along the way.
“If you’re ready to challenge yourself, if you’re ready for hard work and are willing to make mistakes and learn from them, take that scary leap because the rewards that come out of it are tremendous,” Skvorzov encourages. “Not only financially, but emotionally. It’s just rewarding to be able to help other people, to grow their business, and to lead their steps up that ladder. I would love to see more women go into business ownership.”
If you're located in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area and are interested in renting a salon suite, you can contact Amanda Skvorzov at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
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