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I tend to think that all stylists got in to this industry to be successful, yet so many are unknowingly self-sabotaging themselves.

There are 7 big, fat excuses I hear circulating around our industry on a daily basis that are completely holding stylists and salon owners back in their growth.  It’s human nature to naturally make excuses instead of making action plans, but we’re going to get over that today as we uncover and debunk each big, fat excuse.

Excuse #1 I would totally market myself and use your suggestions but I just can't afford it

The day you got your cosmetology license you chose to be an entrepreneur. You live and die by your marketing decisions. It doesn't matter if you're a booth renter, a commissioned stylist or an assistant, there's an expectation for you to build that clientele which means you're an entrepreneur and it is your job to fill that chair.

We are so lucky that with a budget of five hundred dollars a year, which is what I require if you're going to build as a stylist, you can fully build a marketing system. I don't know of any industry where you can build a business for yourself and five hundred dollars a year that doesn't even exist. That marketing cost is exceptionally low.

If I told you that  if you did invest that $500 in marketing your business this year you would get that back within 90 days and go on to maybe even double your income, would you do it?  Of course you would, so saying “I don’t have the money” is a big, fat excuse.

Excuse #2 I just don't have the hours to dedicate to things like social media or marketing.

The most successful people in the world still only have 24 hours a day, they are just choosing to spend those hours differently than you are.  They also have all the things you have; the kids, the commutes, multiple businesses, multiple jobs. They got all of that. So you're not the only person with a full plate.

You are just choosing not to spend your time doing social media putting in time for marketing. That is your choice. Maybe you're choosing to watch real housewives maybe you're working a second job. Maybe you are with your family. I get it. All those things are important. But at some point you have to make a choice and really prioritize growing your business.

That doesn’t mean you don’t still spend time with your family and do fun things with your friends, it just means you skip a few episodes of RHOC so that you can make an extra $10K this year.  Sounds like a decent trade off!

So, “I don't have time” isn't going to work anymore. You make a choice. It’s time for you to prioritize and make sure you're spending your time wisely.

Excuse #3 I'm not seeing the results as quickly as I wanted so I'm just going take a break

You will never get the results you're looking for by taking breaks

I know the vicious cycle; you get excited you do some for a while, it doesn’t come together as quickly or easily as you hope, so you decide to take a little break and come back to it when you have more time or more energy or more money, blah, blah, blah.   

Marketing is all about momentum. Successful marketers had plenty of misses before they had any hits and their success secret it that they kept pushing forward.

When something doesn’t come together quickly or it doesn't end up looking like you thought it would, it just means you need to pivot your strategy or maybe work a little harder.  Maybe you need to educate yourself or try a new technique, but you never take a break.

You need to stay persistent be consistent to achieve the results you're looking for.

Excuse #4 I would do all of the social media & marketing, but I would just prefer that my business grew more organically on referrals

Wanting to grow your business only by referral doesn’t make you special, it makes you normal.

We all wish that our business would grow more organically through referrals and there was a time when word of mouth was king.  There was no Instagram, no Facebook, websites weren’t even that common so your local reputation and personal referrals was the #1 growth strategy.

That's not the world we live in today.

I realize it does take a lot of time, energy and effort to do social media, but we have no choice, that is the business marketing world we live in today.  If you’re one of those stylists thinking “I'm going to just wait for the referrals to pour in” or “maybe another stylist will leave and then I’ll get some of her clients”, don’t hold your breath  because that is the slowest possible path to success.

I want you to quit making the excuse of “I'm more of a stylist who builds organically”. Take your business seriously and put in the system and structure that works in today's industry.

Excuse #5 I'd be seeing more referrals except I have one of those clienteles that just doesn't really send referrals.  

Do this…. Fill in the blank:

I am the best stylist for new clients to see because______________________

What you fill in the blank with can’t be due to cutting or coloring skills, how caring you are, how many years of experience you have.  Hundreds of thousands of stylists have all of that so that doesn’t make you special, it makes you qualified.

When we want our clients to be sending referrals, I always say “let’s give them something to talk about”.  You have to bring something to the table that NOBODY else in your area is bringing.

You need to fill in that blank with something exceptional and worth gushing about if you want to see referrals

Excuse #6 My clientele just doesn't use social media, so today's marketing doesn't work for me.

Nope you're wrong.

I am looking at statistics as we speak and as reported by Adweek 79 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 49 are on one social media platform at least. So my guess is most of your target market clients the people you're trying to attract your chair are somewhere between the ages of 18 to 49.

You're trying to attract new clients and the vast majority of the country is on social media right now. So then let's get back to it because maybe your excuse is valid.

If social media isn’t working for you, it’s not because your clients aren’t on it.  It’s because the content you’re sharing is low quality, inconsistent or just wrong.

I want you to learn to use social media properly. Figure out what platform you should be focused on and how to use the platforms.  If you need more guidance, check out my program Thrivers Society by clicking here.

Excuse #7 My salon location isn't good and the owners make it hard for me to build and market myself

You have two choices: talk to the owner and find a compromise or quit.  There is no third option.

You can’t become the victim of your environment.  If you truly can’t build because your salon is so terrible, why are you still working there?  You need to set yourself up for success and if you’re working for people or in a place that doesn’t support that, the next step is obvious, start looking for a new salon.

Excuse # 8 I just don't know where to start.

Just freakin start. Do something. Start somewhere.

I'm a firm believer that there is an order of operations and there's a smooth way to get your startup in running. You can head to my coaching program www.thriverssociety.com to check out more on that, but the most important thing that you do is you just do something different.

If you want to change something in your life or in business, something has to change.

To hear more on this topic, tune in to The Thriving Stylist Podcast episode 10.  Click here to listen now


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Are you ready to stop thinking about doing awesome things in your business and actually start doing them?

For so long was my head was spinning with all of these incredible ideas and I knew that I had so much potential but it was like nothing was being executed. It all just stayed up there in my brain and then I get frustrated with myself that nothing was actually happening.  Great ideas are worthless without action being made to push them forward, but who has the time to execute everything they dream possible?

For us as hairstylists it's the laundry list of things we know we should be doing.  Things like:

  • Get organized with Instagram
  •  Finally figure out how to use Facebook
  • Improve my guest experience
  • Take more classes
  • Maybe become an educator yourself or even a salon owner
  • Maybe you are a salon owner and you want to level up.

Plus, the constant struggle of trying to find time for your friends, family and yourself.

Today I'm going to reveal my 6 step process to maximum productivity plus at the bottom of this post there is a multi-page PDF planner that you can download so that you can start maximizing your productivity today too.

I want to remind you before you start completing this plan that the most successful people aren't the ones who do the most work. They're the ones who prioritize the work that needs to be done. Quit trying to do it all and start trying to do what matters the most.

Step 1: Choose your focus from only one of these categories:

The to do list is endless but it's all about prioritizing what's actually most important. We're going to create a 90 day action plan with weekly and daily to-dos and set goals so that you can celebrate finally making progress in your business. 

  1. Attracting more clients
  2. Making more money while seeing the same amount of clients
  3. Having more free time
  4. Being more organized
  5. Having more awareness around your business and brands (meaning more people who know that you even exist as a stylist or an educator or whatever that may be)
  6. More work on my special projects (Move in to a salon suite, become a salon owner, create your brand as an educator, grow as a bridal stylist, etc.

I challenge you to pick from one of those six categories. And listen, I know it's hard because we want all of those things, but the only way to make real progress is to work on just one thing at a time.

2. Brainstorm growth strategies

We're going to start by just kind of clearing your mind of all the possibilities. So let's say you chose "I want to see more clients" as your goal above. Great. So what you're going to do is list out all of the possible ways you can possibly think of to get more clients through the door.

I want you to do this in a very open minded way. I want you to write down even the techniques you hate or you think are stupid or you would never do if you're like somebody told me I can do this but I would never do that write it down anyway. You're not making a checklist right now. I'm not going to force you to do any of these things, I just want you to clear your mind and be open to the possibilities. 

Often when you do a brain dump like this ideas will actually come up from your subconscious that you didn't even realize were there. Maybe somebody suggested something to you in a class three years ago that you completely forgot. But once you do this brain dump and you kind of allow your mind to just travel back in time and dig a little deeper. Those things start to resurface. It's an amazing process that happens. 

(if you want to hear an example of this brain dump process, click here to listen to the podcast episode associated with this article where I walk you through the process in full)

3.  Choose 3-5 projects from that list to work on over the next 90 days

Now once you're done with that list you might look at that and say oh my gosh how am I ever going to get this all done. You're not.  That wasn't the point.

Instead, you're going to take a look at that list. And from there pick and choose just 3-5 projects you're going to work on over the next 90 days. I want you to really pick and choose the three to five that are going to give you the most progress.

I don't want you to say "oh my gosh I would choose this project, but I don't really know how to do it or it scares me" or "I don't know if I'm qualified for it". Don't let those negative thoughts creep into your head of the I'm not good enough. Just look at this list strategically and say:

"if anything was possible and if I could do all of these things, which of these things would push that needle forward and help me to make the most progress in my category".

So now that we're thinking that way. I want you to list three to five projects that you're going to commit to working on over the next three months.

While you're making that commitment I want to remind you that when we make a commitment like this we also have to know that we're going to have to sacrifice in other areas. There are only 24 hours in a day, so if we're going to spend our time strategically we may not be able to spend endless hours scrolling Instagram or watching funny videos, but the trade-off your business will experience will be well worth it.  

(if you want to hear an example of this task generating process, click here to listen to the podcast episode associated with this article where I walk you through the process in full)

4.  Break down those 3-5 projects into smaller, manageable tasks

Are you starting to get excited yet?

Okay, from that list of 3-5 projects, think of a list of 5-7 tasks that need to be completed in order to make that project happen.

For example, let's say you decided you're going to work on guest retention, getting consistent on social media and taking great photos of all of your guests.

With retention, I want you to think about all the little things that are going to need change in your business if you're going to actually retain more guests. I know this is hard, but I want you to dig deep and think about the areas you really and truly could shift and change to retain in a big way.  Today's top stylists are giving their clients a whole heck of a lot, so we might need to raise the bar a little bit. 

You also said get consistent on social media. Maybe you need to kind of like have an instagram bio makeover and you're going to start there. Maybe you want to create a schedule for yourself so create a social media schedule, that can be task number two. Maybe you want to learn how to use Instagram, but I don't know how to do it. So a task may be to educate yourself on how to use the platform correctly.

Continue to break down these bigger projects into a smaller tasks and from there we can make our final plan. 

5. Create your 90 day action plan

So now you're going to take a look at your projects your tasks and you're going to make a plan and a calendar for yourself that are going to stick to. I like doing it this way because then these big huge projects become bite sized chunks and suddenly you're actually making progress and not just dreaming hoping and wishing.

 If you've already downloaded the workbook, you'll see I only gave you space for three tasks a week in this section. If you do three things to push your business forward every single week, oh my gosh you'll be making insane amounts of progress in no time at all. 

(if you want to hear an example of creating the plan, click here to listen to the podcast episode associated with this article where I walk you through the process in full)

6.  Set aggressive goals

I want you to create goals for yourself around these tasks, but let's skip the slam dunk goals.  Push yourself because you'll be amazed at what happens when you do.

Whenever I'm coaching a stylist and he or she lists a goal, I always say "add 15% to that".  They always cringe and get super nervous, and then I wait anxiously for the email that I know is coming a few months down the line when they thank me for pushing.

You can set a weak goal and hit that, or set a glorious goal and hit that instead.  What do you want to do?

That's it! If you've been following along you now have a 90 day action plan that will produce big results in the next 3 months.  

If you haven't already done so head click here to download your copy of the Hair Stylists Productivity Planner PDF (it's free!).  This tool is going to show you how to get the most of this experience and will serve as a reference in the months to come.

Happy Business Building Love!



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If you’ve been hanging with me for a while you’ve probably heard me say that there are a ton of benefits to owning your own salon and big, fat profit margins aren’t generally one of them.

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of salon owners out there doing really well for themselves, but there are easily 10x as many who are barely getting by and wondering why the heck they put it all on the line to run this thing anyway.

So what is it that makes the difference between healthy profit margins and scraping by month after month?

Here are 8 strategies that successful salon owners are following today to keep their head above water and turn profits:


I remember when I was about to open my salon I spent hours on Pintrest picking out cute coffee mugs for our beverage station and researching salon stations.  What a waste of time that was in the end.

Trust me, I know that when you decide to open a salon the most fun part is looking at paint colors and choosing cute accent pillows, but I challenge you to set that all aside and create a real business plan.

I used the SBA Business Plan Builder Tool (click here to access it) to create my business plan and it was the best thing I could have ever done.  I realized my break even point was way further down the line than I had anticipated, that I would have had to secure $200K in financing just to keep the doors open and take home a modest paycheck myself and that all of my cute furnishing ideas were the least of my concerns because paying the bills was going to be tight.

If you’re thinking about opening even a small salon, take the time to work out your business plan so that you know what you’re getting yourself in to.


Does dropping $10,000 on new stations and chairs make you want to throw up a little bit?  I know, it's a ton of money.  Want to know what's awesome, there is actually a better way.

When you buy the salon equipment outright, you'll be entitled to a depreciation tax deduction, meaning you'll get to write off a little bit each year for the lifespan of the furnishings (here is an official article from the IRS on that and here is one that is a bit more simple to understand).   In our industry the lifespan is almost always considered to be 7 years.

There are some major tax benefits to leasing your chairs, stations, shampoo bowls, dispensary equipment, retail shelves and more instead of purchasing them upfront.  The IRS will allow you to fully deduct the payments you throughout each year as equipment rental which could be a pretty sweet annual deduction for you instead of a fairly small depreciation deduction depending on what your payments look like. (Here is an article from the IRS on that).  

For example, if you purchase $2,000 worth of salon furnishings upfront, on an accelerated depreciation schedule your annual deduction could only be $286 (no, you can't deduct the full $2,000).  If you had leased the same furnishings let's say using a 3 year lease with interest and you paid $686 in payments through the year, the entire $686 could be the deduction instead**.

This is a popular company offering salon equipment leases, however I've never worked for them nor am I affiliated with them.  I can't vouch for their services personally, but they do know our industry and I know they are a common choice for leasing.


It takes an average of 1,000 days for a new small business to turn a profit*.  That means that for 3 years you’ll either just be earning the income you produce behind the chair or even less than that because you’ll likely be needing to put more of your hard earned money back in to the business.

Remember, you’re in this for the long haul so while the first few years might be tough, you did this for a long term gain.  Like any investment, results will take time.

Don’t be tempted to just throw in the towel.  Success is reserved for those who are willing to fight through the tough years to achieve greatness.  If salon ownership was an instant slam dunk, everybody would have done it already.


Your business plan will help with this for sure, but it’s really important that you’re well aware of the money coming in and money going out every month.

It is still shocking to me when I hear how many small business owners are just depositing money in the bank through the week, paying their bills (hopefully on time) and praying that there is enough money in the account each month for everything to clear.

I know every month EXACTLY how much money I’ll be paying out, projections of how much I’ll be bringing in and what my budget will be.  You should know this too and it hardly takes any extra effort on your part.

Using my favorite tool (click here to check it out) you can see exactly where your money is going every month, where you’re overspending, how much you’re projecting to take home, a daily update on your estimated quarterly taxes and more without any extra work on your part.

The awesome part is that it syncs right to your bank account AND you can screen shot receipts in to the app so that when it’s time to file your taxes you can just send a quick report from the system to your CPA and there is zero extra work on your part.


What you’ll find once you start watching your finances is that you’re likely spending way more than you should be, or even than you really need to be.  

Most salons run on a stock to fill system meaning if I use one tube of 5N color today, I buy one tube of 5N tomorrow or if I sell one bottle of shampoo, I buy one bottle of shampoo to restock my shelf.  Yeah, that actually isn’t an effective model and here’s why:

Let’s say you sell a bottle of shampoo for $30 and it cost you $15 to buy it initially.  When you sell it, you’ve made $15 profit.  Awesome! Except for that you take that profit and use it to buy another $15 bottle of shampoo, so there goes your profit and now you’re back at zero.  

Same with the color, if you’re doing a stock to fill system but you’re already over stocked, you could have hundreds or even thousands of dollars tied up in inventory expiring or going to waste on your shelf.

We talk about a more effective way in my Thrivers Society system, but I challenge you to start thinking about ordering based on budget vs stock to fill.


I often hear salon owners complaining that finding good people is hard, but I just can't agree.  I mean, even just looking at Instagram, there are thousands of insanely talented stylists in small towns and big cities across the world who would make amazing team members.

So then the real issue is that you aren't attracting these awesome stylists doing big things to your business, right?

Stylists today want to be a part of something and if you create a true salon culture (beyond we are happy people who do good hair.  That worked ten years ago, not anymore) great stylists will be lining up outside your door begging for the chance to work for you.

Remember, culture isn't fancy furnishings or high priced services.  It is the common cause and belief system that your entire team is working within.


This is the big one and it’s generally where most salons go broke.

Having commission or hourly stylists really freaking expensive.  You’ve got to pay half of their taxes, stock their color, support them with an hourly wage whether they seeing a single guest or not (click here to read the FLSA guidelines on this), bonuses to keep them motivated, some salons like to offer benefits like vacation pay and insurance.  This adds up quick!  

I see most salons today starting their new stylists off at 35% commission and most commissions topping out at 45%-50% maximum for top performers where a bit more margin exists due to higher price points.

I remember one of the first salons I ever coached was paying 60% commission to “motivate their staff” yet their staff was MISERABLE, demanding and the salon owner was losing about $5,000 a month.  

I could share dozens of studies about how employees today aren’t motivated by money, but for now I just want you to know that it’s crucial you watch your bottom line and only payout what you can afford.  Back to the business plan, spend some time looking at what your breakeven is for each employee and be sure you aren’t overpaying.  

I was coaching a salon owner before the holidays who knew it was time to raise the rent she charged to her team, but she was nervous.  She's in Thrivers and knew that her salon was unique for her area, she offered top amenities and that working in her salon was basically like hitting the lottery, yet by raising the rent she'd be charging more than all other salon owners in her city.  I told her that for all of us the cost of business increases and if she knew it was time, she had to pull the trigger.  Guess what, she explained to her team that the rent was going up January 1, they all knew that she was an exceptional salon owner to work for, she retained her whole team and nobody complained even a bit.  

Note: In California a bill was passed in 2015 making commission pay for stylists EXTREMELY difficult to do legally, so most salons in California running their business legally are paying stylists an hourly wage or salary with bonuses instead of traditional commission.  Stay tuned to my podcast for an upcoming episode about this.


Having a small business costs two things: time and money.  It takes money to make money and if you’re saying “I don’t even have the money to market myself” you’re essentially cutting off any hope of survival.  You don’t have to spend a lot.  A solid budget of $500 a year if you’re willing to put in the time to learn to leverage online marketing is all you’ll need.

Marketing is your lifeline.   It makes me crazy when I see advice like “don’t worry, word of mouth will start to kick in”.  No, it won’t, that isn’t how business works anymore thanks to the internet.  You need to put yourself out there if you’re going to survive.  We are living in a fast paced world where your online presence isn’t important, it’s crucial.

You need to be networking locally, using social media correctly and not discounting to get guests through the door.  We cover all of this in Thrivers Society, but in the meantime, skip the magazine ads (waste of money), passing out brochures (waste of time and money) and flyers (when is the last time you did anything you learned about on a flyer) and get strategic with your efforts.


The most successful salon owners I know today aren’t money hungry at all.  They are inspired, passionate, focused on staying current and fighting to be cutting edge.  Their passion and drive push them to do incredible things and then the money comes as a result of the way they do things differently than the rest.

The best part of being is a salon owner is that you get to shape a new direction of the future of the industry.  Today’s stylists don’t want just any chair to cut hair behind and today’s clients don’t want to go to just any salon.  Click here to read my article on what makes today’s hottest salons as successful as they are.


Happy business building salon owners.  You’ve got this.   If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hopeless or defeated, please know that every business is savable and has the potential to be successful.  It’s up to you how hard you’re willing to work to make it happen.


*source: Entrepreneur.com

**note: I am not a CPA nor am I offering any legal or financial advice.  I suggest you do your own research to find the laws and best practices for your business by speaking directly to a certified tax professional, lawyer or other professional service provider.