A question that I get asked a lot by stylists, salon owners--all at different points in their career is “Britt how do I know what’s next?”
I think a lot of us a human beings even beyond our industry are always in search of our life’s purpose. Most of us have some kind of awareness that everybody was placed here on this planet and that we are all here to serve a specific purpose. So, few of us actually discover what that purpose was meant to be. I think a lot of us are looking for our what’s next, our what’s bigger or what’s going to take us to the next level or allow us to live the life the we always dreamed possible. Most of us didn’t join this industry as stylists to be okay with struggling, not paying all our bills and just living okay. Most of us when we decided to become stylists became stylists with the mindset of I am going to be loaded, have tons of cash, work whatever schedule I want, and live this luxury lifestyle you had in your mind. For most of us we thought we were going to live this big huge life and for a lot of us it is not panning out like we thought, or we’ve done that and we’re like man I did it, now what. Many people do not realize that success is a constant moving target. People are always looking for more, there’s always a next level and that can be a personal what’s next or a professional what’s next. People are constantly finding themselves in the state of “now what” and that is how we are wired as humans. I wanted to dedicate this blog to helping you find your what’s next.
What I am going to do is cover the 8 different what’s next options that I see if you want to stay in the industry. Now if you’re what’s next is you want to work for Facebook or Apple, you go do you! What I am going to cover is if you want to find your what’s next in the industry. Even if you are on the fence of not knowing if this industry is part of your what’s next, that’s okay, you are still going to get a ton of value out of this because I am going to go over the different ventures or different paths I think you can look into and the process of figuring out how to determine your what’s next.
Let’s start with the two most common what’s next ideas. Let’s say everybody reading this is a hairstylist or they are a licensed cosmetologist and imagine everyone had already built a clientele that you’re looking to graduate to somebody else. A word of caution to the wise: if you have not yet built a clientele for yourself and you are looking for an out, please don’t do that.
A lot of stylists I have talked to who struggled to build a clientele get to a point where they’re like I am just going to get another job to supplement their income. The reality of this is working in a retail store and getting a paycheck is a whole heck of a lot easier than working to build a clientele, it’s also more boring and way less lucrative. Sometimes we choose that easy default path, but in the end, it typically leads to years down the line you realize you want to get back into the industry. You got into this industry because it was your calling and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is no other industry where the opportunity is in such abundance the way it is in ours. If you are reading this and thinking building a clientele is too hard and thinking about finding what’s next--please don’t. Focus on building your clientele, listen to my podcasts, watch all my Facebook videos or do whatever you need to do to find the inspiration to build a clientele.
What I am going to address next is for those of you who have put in all the work, have a full clientele, are happy with the money that you are making, but are looking for something else. This is what I am talking about what I am talking about find your what’s next. Let’s say you are that stylist and you’ve built that clientele and you are ready for a new challenge. Most of us think there are two avenues we can go down and that is education and salon ownership.
Number 1: Education
In the industry there are two segments to education and then there’s a hybrid in between. We either have branded education or independent education. Branded education is when you have a hair color brand you use in the salon and you decide to become an educator for them. Independent education has been made possible due to social media, the exposure one can get through social media has made independent education boom over the years. What a lot of stylists experienced by this boom is the reality that some stylists are incredibly talented, but don’t make great educators. This was unfortunate because these stylists had amazing skill sets, had built beautiful clienteles and their work was amazing, but being able to teach effectively and communicate something is very different. This has led many educators to return to branded education, but that does not mean independent education isn’t possible, it just is not as easy as it used to be.
If you have never taught or educated before I would suggest going branded first. The amount of education that a distribution company or brand will provide to you is unbelievable. Also, some stylists go into education to find either they don’t like it or they are not good at it, so trying it before you buy it is a great way to go. Something to keep in mind with branded education is that the brand is actually going to expect that you make a financial investment. A lot of people think they are going to become an educator and make a ton of money, but you must first take into consideration the financial aspects to becoming an educator such as travel costs, training costs, and classes. Another aspect to keep in mind about becoming an educator is that you will likely be traveling on your Sundays and Mondays especially when you start. You have to think if this is something that is going to fit into your lifestyle. Going branded first is in a lot of ways how you will build a network for yourself and you will get people in your community to know who you are. Your name will be more common and popular and it will make it much easier to build as independent educator when people already know who you are. Going branded and getting your name out there really does end up making a difference if you’re considering going independent one day, so stick with branded first and build yourself up.
Number 2: Business Ownership
When we are looking at common path’s stylists take when they’re looking to level up business ownership is one of them. Business ownership comes with a lot of different options, you can be a booth rental salon owner, you can be a commission salon owner, you can be a mini salon owner or a studio suite owner. If you are a commissioned stylist or a booth rental stylist going studio suite first is a really nice way to test the waters. It gives you a sense of if you like being in charge. Doing a trial run of this before you are in a heavy lease in a huge space is a really nice way to test the waters, because I know a lot of stylists who have gone into studio suites and realized it was not for them. For those of you who already know you want to become salon owners I want you to ask yourself a couple of things; do you want a team, do you want employees. These are two different questions.
Some of the most successful salons I know are booth rental salons who are 100% a team and there is a company culture, and everybody is on the same page. They are all in on the salon business even though they are booth renters and are technically independent. That team culture does exist in booth rental salons everywhere and those are the most successful salons I know right now. Commission salons can absolutely have that same team environment. They would be employees and the company culture would be a part of it. You can still have that same type of agreement with booth renters.
Now, do you want employees or not? I think everyone is hot to have contractors only or booth renters because having employees feels heavy. It only feels heavy when you’re cutting corners and not doing it right. There are so many companies that make getting employees setup super easy. There are a lot of great resources that you can use if you’re going the employer route to have that team culture, have employees that follow the rules and all that good stuff.
Now a couple of other things I want you to keep in mind if you want to pursue the business ownership route. You will need to supplement employees with an hourly base wage, and will need to do your research on this based on where you live. You cannot simply link having employees as a way to be profitable. Both booth rental salon owners and commission salon owners can either be profitable or in the red. Neither option is a guarantee of profit. What is more important is determining what you see for yourself and what environment you want to have for your salon. After you determine what is right for you, do your research and think about what you can offer your area that doesn’t currently exist. In order to run a successful business, you will need to find the gap. Is there a gap for what you’re thinking about putting it or is it just going to be another salon in a busy area. You want to be that one salon that everybody wants to go to. So, if you’re going to go the business ownership route really think about what you are going to do that’s going to stand out from the crowd.
Number 3: Salon Leadership
Are you part of a salon team where you’re looking around and thinking they could really use a social media coordinator, or we could really benefit from an assistant manager, or maybe a management role. Is there something that you could do within your salon space that is going to give you more responsibility without making you feel like you need to bail out on your current job. There may be opportunities within the walls and space that you are currently in, really take a look at your salon and think about ways that you could level up on the team. Within the salon you can create a lot of different roles that people can grow into, and that people could love. You can have a salon director, retail coordinator, front desk manager, assistant manager, reception team and so on. Growing and expanding roles really help people to feel like they are contributing to the overall growth of the business and help improve team morale. People enjoy that there are roles they can graduate into beyond just doing hair. For those of you who are salon owners reading this, please create those opportunities for those in your salon who are desperate to figure out what is their what’s next. If you see a need within your salon speak up to the salon owner, and you might just be happily surprised with what you find.
Number 4: Step away from the chair / sales positions
This would be a huge game changer for some of you that are really ready to step away from the chair. There are many sales positions within our industry. This can be an amazing opportunity for those of you who maybe want to educate, don’t want to be behind the chair anymore, don’t want to give up their Sunday and Monday to travel, but want a salaried role, consistency, sales, going from salon to salon, meeting different stylists, educating, and uplifting the community. Most hair care brands have these positions, along with color brands and distribution companies. There is a lot of opportunity in this area of our industry and a lot of people that are doing it have been doing it for 20-30 years because they love it so much. So, if you know that being in the salon is just not for you anymore and you want to do something different really take a look at the opportunities that exist within your hair care brands. Reach out and make those connections, because you’d be surprised to see what’s out there and available to you.
Number 5: Corporate Positions within Hair Care Companies
Every brand that you know and love has a corporate level. No matter what the company is they have a corporate team that works in cubicles and offices somewhere. They have sales, marketing, human resources, accounting, executive assistants and so on. It is a business-like structure that you would picture anywhere in corporate America and that exists from most of the brands we all know and love and maybe for some of you, you would like working in an office. For some of you corporate may feel very comfortable and you are a happy camper there. The nice part about that is you can have the best of both worlds. You can have the corporate job with the salary and insurance and all the things that are the appeal of a 9-5, but still be in the industry. For those of you who feel like this is a route worth looking into I urge you to head to the page of some of your favorite brands and check out their careers page to see what opportunities may be a good fit for you.
Number 6: Industry Influencer
It is my belief that an industry influencer is the wave of the future. I believe our industry has a lot of educators, but we don’t have a ton of industry influencers yet. An influencer is someone who elevates our industry by inspiring others. They talk about brands that they love, they become a resource for great information, and in a lot of other industries people refer to these as the bloggers of the industry. There are makeup beauty bloggers on every corner, food and mommy bloggers right behind them, but for our industry--not so much. I think there is a lot of potential here, but this is the type of pursuit that work comes first money will come later. For those who will want to pursue this route that will have to be a sacrifice that you are willing to make.
Those who blog make money through sponsored posts, running ads, and education opportunities that come as well. This is a long game. Industry influencers can make bank, but you can’t go for the quick buck, because that is not how it’s going to work. If you really have something interesting to talk about, you think that you have a unique voice, and unique information to share, that can really be a great path for you. I think it’s a really underdeveloped market, that there is so much potential there.
Okay so now I told you I had eight different career opportunities and wanted you to consider when you're looking to level up. But before I get in into 7 and 8 I want to take a moment for you to reflect, because I think it is important before we move into the last couple of options.
Most of you are like okay where do I even start?
You start by not thinking about the job itself at all. You start by thinking about the lifestyle you want to have.
If you choose to be an educator. Are you down to travel a ton, live life on airplanes and in hotels?
If you choose salon ownership. Are you doing it just because you’re hoping to make more money or do you truly want to uplift others in the industry? Do you really want to create an incredible environment that doesn’t exist anywhere else?
If you choose a sales and corporate position. Are you really ready to step away from your clientele and start serving stylists? Do you enjoy corporate work, are you down to go home and work on your laptop once you get home, are you okay cruising around in your car all day, or do you enjoy working with other stylists and salon owners and educating them.
You have to be able to put your lifestyle first when you are making these kinds of choices because that is a game changer.
Number 7: To become the most amazing most successful hairstylist this industry has ever seen
Some hairstylists are making six figures, like multiple six figures. They are living large, buying houses, taking trips to Europe, living these big beautiful lives taking clients. They never became a salon owner, they didn’t feel the need to educate. Maybe they are not even working full time anymore. They love their clients, their picky about who they take and who they don’t take, and they really do enjoy the work they’re doing. If that lifestyle I just described appealed to you, than just go all in on what you are already doing. We all joined this industry to make a ton of money as hairstylists, that’s what we all initially decided to do. I think many of us get caught up in the idea of missed opportunities. You have to ask yourself if you really want to chase those opportunities or if you want to make a killing be the stylist you already are. You can do that working in a town you’re already in, go home to your family every night, visit Maui every summer living in your beautiful home. You can do all that being a stylist, and that is respectable. Really think about what is it that you’re doing that you feel like you need to level up and what leveling up is to you.
Number 8: To create that solid base and live the fullest life possible, knowing that that’s your what’s next
For me my mind instantly goes to more time with my family. It is not a professional what’s next, and that’s not to say that I don’t have big dreams and ideas for what’s next for my business, but I got into this industry to make a ton of money and be there for my family. So, if those are the two reasons I decided to become a hairstylist I can never lose sight of that.
For some of you I really want you to think about that. Do you need to add to your work plate or is your what’s next man I am amazing. I am going to raise my prices, do more stuff to raise my average ticket, I’m going to be pickier about who I take on as clients, and I’m going to love the fact that I chose the best industry on the planet. That’s a huge what’s next and something that so many human beings never get to experience. They hate their jobs and they hate what they do, they don’t make enough money. You have the ability to make as much money as you want to working whatever schedule you would like. Take that opportunity and enjoy it.
If you feel like you’ve conquered the business, that you aren’t being challenged and you are feeling lost as to what your what’s next is, I want you to make your what’s next a personal one. Take a step back and start thinking about what you want a personal level, maybe it’s moving into a bigger home, or taking a dream trip, scaling back your schedule to be home more. Finding your what’s next doesn’t always have to be job related. Sometimes what’s next is stepping back and enjoying it all. So, what I want you to next is to take a step back and think about your dream lifestyle, how do you want to live out your days, what do you want to look back on forty years from now and think about your life. There are two types of people we will find in old age, those who live in regret and those who live their life to the fullest. So really think about who you want to be and the choices you’re making.
TO HEAR MORE ON THIS TOPIC TUNE INTO THE THRIVING STYLIST PODCAST EPISODE 31. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW.
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