Thirteen years ago this month, I started coaching and supplying marketing resources to the salon industry. I guess I must have spoken to literally thousands of salon & spa owners all over the world in that time.

Many things have changed. When I started Worldwide Salon Marketing in February 2004, smart phones hadn’t been invented. Apple had only recently launched the first iPod. Facebook was only launched the same month. Google wasn’t even a listed company, let alone the giant it is today. Instagram was still 6 years away from birth.

Most salons & spas didn’t even have a website back then. Many were still using paper and ink to book appointments.

The phone, mailbox flyers, and newspapers were their primary marketing media, along with word of mouth.

Much has changed, and changed rapidly. And it won’t ever stop. But one thing has never changed, and I’m guessing it never will.

It is this: 90% of people who start, or buy their own salon or spa business should never have gone into business in the first place. It sounds brutal, and it is; but in my 13 years of providing all sorts of marketing & business support for salons & spas, it’s been clear from the very start.

Very, very few people in the hair & beauty industry go into business with a clear idea of what they want to achieve. Almost none has read a business book, studied a business course, subscribed to any kind of business or marketing publication, or taken the trouble to seek out specialist help or advice.

It’s a sad fact that most come from a purely technical background – they’re merely good at what they do – and suffer under the delusion that simply being good at what you do is sufficient foundation on which to build a business.

And yet – silly me – I’ve spent the past 13 years attempting, and often failing, to turn many of these hair stylists and beauty therapists into entrepreneurs and business owners. In many cases though, spectacular success.

When Amy Farley came to me ten years ago, she was a struggling massage therapist, breaking her back for 60 hours a week. Today, she’s a successful entrepreneur and marketer with thriving days spas on both coasts of Australia. When Tracey Orr bought our first Essential Salon Owner’s Marketing Toolkit in 2004, she was operating as a nail technician in a single room at the back of a hair salon. Tracey went on to build Launceston’s biggest and most successful salon.

There are many more such cases. The successful ones possess some common attributes.

·       They were relentless about educating themselves on what works.

·       They took advice, and hired professionals to do the jobs they were either unqualified to do themselves, or didn’t want to do.

·       They ALL took massive action.

·       They recognised the difference between working ON the business, and working IN it. And did everything in their power to do the former.

·       They understood that their JOB, as owner, was to market the business, bring in the customers, and pay others to do the technical work.

·       They started their business with the end in mind.

These are the people I call the ‘ten percenters.’ The ten percent of salon & spa owners – hell, it’s probably less, but I’m generous – who I really should have concentrated on helping further their success, rather than attempting to drag some of the other 90% to the water trough and forcing them to drink.

(Yeah, I know, it’s strange. I’m constantly nagging our Member salons to forget about trying to get recalcitrant, lazy, unproductive staff to do their jobs properly, and instead concentrate their efforts on their winners.)

The vast majority of owners in the hair & beauty business conduct their lives in a constant state of quiet desperation. Too afraid to make the changes necessary for improvement, they struggle from year to same-same year, hoping that perhaps by some miracle, things will get better.

Without changing anything. It’s a common definition of insanity.