When I started my new spa, Inspire Skin & Body, in July of 2008, I thought I had a foolproof business plan and model in place. Even though the economy was in a bit of a rut, I felt confident that my target market – Baby Boomer consumers with high disposable incomes – would still happy to pay for facials and massages in my upscale, service-focused business. And with all of my past experience as a spa owner and spa consultant, I felt like I’d done enough research and fieldwork over the years to be able to skip past many of the hard knocks small business owners face.
I was wrong. Although the business was up and running without much of a hitch, I ran into a lot of unexpected surprises and hidden expenses. And as each month in 2008 passed, clients became more and more careful with the dollars they spent, especially on things deemed “optional” or “pampering.” So despite a loyal staff with tons of experience and regular clients, my business has been anything but profitable thus far. In fact, I’ve had to put a lot more of my own resources (i.e. cash) in since we opened just to keep things afloat.
So in 2009, my biggest goal (I really don’t like the word “resolution” too much) has been to make my spa not only self-supporting but also profitable. That may seem like a tall order in our ever-changing marketplace, but I wanted to share what I have been doing to make it happen. And as we enter our third month of the year, I am even more convinced that these steps are key in my ultimate success.
Focus on gratitude for all of my blessings. This is absolutely imperative to our success as well as maintaining our positive attitude. When you really stop and appreciate all of the things we have in this life – especially in the United States – it is hard to do anything but smile. A few that I’m aware of right now…my wonderful husband and family, four extremely loving yet comical dogs and cat, an amazing staff, and the most supportive, caring group of clients that a business could ever ask for.
Envision and write down a specific goal or outcome for my resolution. It is a great thing to declare your goal(s) and to tell people about them. But without a really clear vision of that goal – that is one that is specific and measureable – it could all be for naught. I have written and re-written a detailed description of what my goals really are (i.e. how much money we need to make to pay our bills and be profitable) so that I know what steps we should take to get there.
Share my vision with my staff and other business allies. The more people know about your goal the more they can do to help you achieve it. So I communicated my goal to the staff in January and keep them posted about our progress each week and month so they know if what we are doing as a team (and how they are performing as individuals) is working well. Each month we are setting specific goals for them to work towards and for the spa as a whole to achieve. Together we have monitored our progress and determined the steps needed to keep us on track toward the ultimate goal of being profitable.
Solicit and accept suggestions, feedback and help from others. I tend to be something of a loner, often feeling like I have to do it all myself or that I cannot ask others for help. I also tend to think I know what is best for the business and forget that the people around me are a wealth of energy, ideas and information that I need to rely on more than I do. This particular step may be my biggest challenge in achieving the goal, but I am motivated more than ever before to let go of the need for control in order to take the company where it needs to go. One thing I have done recently is a client survey that has produced a great amount of feedback and suggestions about what our clients like and dislike about the spa. Although it is not always easy to look at the “helpful suggestions” people offer, more than anything the survey has affirmed that we do a lot of things well already.
Maintain a positive attitude and outlook no matter what. This can be challenging to do amid all the media reports of failing businesses and high unemployment. But I feel the biggest key to the success of my business and achievement of my goal is to shut out the negativity around me and keep myself and my staff looking at the bright side of life. I have all but shunned the newspaper and evening news in order to stay focused on what needs to be done in my business. As we are able to keep ourselves motivated and “inspired,” we in turn have a greater impact on our clients and the world around us. And this, I think, is what will really make the difference in whether we succeed or not.
Whatever your goals or resolutions were in January, I think that these steps can help you get what you want in your spa and life. Start with having gratitude and a clear vision that you share with others. Then be willing to ask for help in getting what you want. In the end, your positive attitude (and of course the achievement of your goal) will inspire you (and possibly others) on to greater challenges and achievements.
Felicia Brown, LMBT
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