Friday, October 26, 2007

Taking That First Big Step...

About 4 years ago I was working as a CPA in the finance department of a large corporation. While corporate life was very good to me, over time the work became less satisfying and I knew it was time for a change. My husband and I decided to take the plunge into business ownership. What business? We had no idea.

We started checking listings on business broker websites and found a business that caught our eye--an upscale salon & spa owned by an absentee owner. Perfect! We wanted to take the plunge without either of us having to quit our jobs right away and this business was already run by a manager. Never having worked retail, I liked the idea of a service business and felt like customer service was something I already understood. With my accounting background, surely I could handle the financial aspects of the business. So we put together a business plan, took out an SBA loan and became entrepreneurs!

And that's where the fun begins...

Of course, all of you who are salon owners already know how naive we were! We've owned the salon for almost 3 years now and I left my corporate job about 18 months ago to work in the salon full-time. It's incredibly challenging, but far more rewarding than my old job. We've made a lot of mistakes, but we've done a lot right, too. That's what this blog is about...the trials and tribulations of owning a salon.


  1. I too am coming out of a corporate background and am opening my first salon in just a few months-- for many of the reasons you express here. While much of the marketing, branding, etc. stuff is my core competency I am not a stylist and will have employees. There is much to learn, and I appreciate your willingness to share learnings. I am especially interested in how you would have implemented the TBP compensation model if you had started the salon instead of purchasing an existing business.

  2. Sometimes I dream of starting from scratch! Conversions are difficult and it takes a long time to truly change the culture. I think you are wise to consider TBP from the start.

    The best way to learn about this is to attend a Strategies Salon Incubator. Strategies is the consulting company that walked us through this. We still utilize their coaching. I'm sending two people to Connecticut for a Front Desk course this weekend.

    You can learn more by visiting It will be very important for you to have a technician who is on-board with this system. As a non-hairdresser, you may lack credibility with your new employees. It will help if you have "one of them" on board. Incubator tuition is actually for two attendees so you may want to recruit a lead technician to attend with you.

  3. If you were "starting from scratch" how would you begin? My husband and I want to open a business and I am considering a salon (not necessarily a spa but hair or hair/nails). I have no experience with this industry. My background is marketing and my husband has a retail management background. He is an extremely talented business person and would be involved but I would be the day to day "hands on" person while he continued to work and "pay the bills" until we were up and running. f you were starting from scratch where would you begin?

  4. Hi cindy!
    I have a bit of a dilemma and I just had a question for you and am seeking some advice...I have been working at my current salon for 9+ years. I am very happy they are great. I am a head stylist and was promoted to assistant manager then to salon/spa manager and still work behind the chair as well. I work 5-6 days a week full 8 hr shifts and sometimes more I do not work on a hourly or salary base dinto he fact that I make way more on comission due to my size of clientel.. I'm currently at the highest comission offered (50%) plus a bonus of 3 pecent if as a salon/spa(as a whole) raise our sales numbers a certain percent and then 5% more if we more than that. however given that there is now a employee who was offered 50% as well to keep her from accepting another position elsewhere(which is fair I understand that) however, I feel it's unfair that someone who is a stylist is getting paid the same percentage of comission that I as a stylist/salon manager is due to the fact that I do a lot more being a manager as well. I do understand that indo get that bonus, however, regardless if we do a certain percentage better my duties still remain the same. Is there another way to add to what I currently make and a way to ask my boss without sounding greedy? I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his business... he has been nothing but amazing but I feel almost like it was a bit of a slal in the face.

  5. Please excuse my spelling phone sometimes has a mind of its own!! What I was trying to say about my current pay is I am paid is that I don’t get paid hourly or salary due to the fact that I make way more comission based due to the size of my clientel:)