The Savvy Spa Boss
Spa business

You’ve been pouring your heart and soul for years into working as an aesthetician, but you’re in a place where you’re constantly asking yourself why you have so little to show for it.

You feel undervalued, underpaid, and that you have very little control in your professional life.

I’ve been there and I completely understand how you’re feeling.

Once upon a time, I was in the same exact position that you’re in right now. It was right before I decided to take the leap and to start my own business as a spa owner.

I’d like to share my thoughts with you about my experience as a former spa owner, the pain and heartache of it all.

Truthfully, it took about 6 years for me to realize that owning a spa wasn’t going to turn out the way I pictured it in my head.

Ultimately, owning my own spa was an incredible experience. But, it ended up being a lot harder and more stressful than I ever would’ve imagined.

My goal here is not to deter you from following your dreams.

Instead, I’d like to be very honest with you about the challenges I faced, so you’re not going into it with unrealistic expectations (like I did).

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t start your own business. But in the spa industry, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as it seems and there are a number of ways to gain more control over your professional life before taking this huge leap!

What to consider before opening up your own spa

Here are 10 reasons why owning a spa isn’t as much fun as you’d think:

1. You’re going to have expensive and unpredictable overhead costs!

I was incredibly excited when I decided to run my own spa.

I planned it all out! The estimated costs for rent, utilities, wages, marketing, and tax (yes, I like to plan ahead).

But, these are all things I knew I’d be paying for.

What I didn’t anticipate was flooding from rainfall, plumbing issues, basically being told to leave (and relocate) in 4 days flat (a totally shady you know what move that I will tell you about another time) which basically put us behind another $10,000 unexpectedly, skyrocketing reno fees, the burden of high staffing costs and a whole lot of other “crazy” that popped up when I least expected it.

The point here is, there’s going to be a lot of things that don’t go as planned and you must be prepared to pay for them.

Whether or not you’ve got a solid insurance plan in place, don’t bank on it covering the entirety of your bill when you intend to make a claim.

That said, make sure you put money away into an emergency fund!

2. You’re going to stress about staff

There’s going to be those seasons where you can’t even find the time to step out for a quick bite and those where you’re praying for ANYONE to walk through your door.

The issue here is that you’re either going to be completely understaffed during a hectic season or overstaffed when the place is dead!

It’s a tough situation.

Hiring more staff to account for those busy seasons means you won’t have enough business to cover their wages when the place is dead.

The simple solution here is to make good use of aestheticians that offer their services periodically.

SpaTemps is a great way to connect with professionals in the spa industry that will provide their services for you as needed.

3. You’re going to spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to pull in new clients

We all love to be pampered. As a professional in the spa industry, the services you offer will always be in demand.

But, there’s a huge shift in responsibility when you go from being an aesthetician to a spa owner.

As an aesthetician, you work on your list of clients and you call it a day. As a spa owner, provided that you do have the manpower, your brain doesn’t take a break from thinking about ways to pull in more business.

 

It’s not about making more money.

Rather, it’s your responsibility to make sure there’s never a deficit in the amount of clients you have walking through your door. Because, you don’t want to have trouble covering your employees’ wages when a few regulars stop coming in.

There are a number of reasons you can lose your regular clients: there’s a new spa around the corner, they move to a different region, they want to support their friend that’s a newly trained aesthetician.

The takeaway here is: don’t bank on your regulars being regular.

As a spa owner, your brain is constantly at work trying to think of new ways to market your business and to stand out from the rest of your competitors.

4. You’ll work longer hours as a spa owner than you did as an aesthetician

Working long hours is a given when you embark on the entrepreneur life. But, to be a successful leader you’ll have to truly embody the entrepreneurial spirit.

In other words, be prepared to hold down the fort.

What does that mean?

Well, be prepared to be the only person responsible for picking up the slack.

As a business owner, you’re essentially the only person responsible for issues with staffing.

If a member of your staff calls in sick (for whatever reason), you’re either going to have to get their clients covered by someone else or step in and do it yourself!

Otherwise, you risk losing a client or jeopardizing your spa’s reputation.

Luckily, platforms such as SpaTemps are incredibly helpful for spa owners that need staff on demand and who need to be taken out of a bind stat!

5. You’ll have to do all the technical stuff

As an aesthetician, your main priority is to provide your clients with the service they come to you for. Piece of cake.

As a spa owner, you’re adding a lot of the technical (boring) stuff onto your list of job responsibilities.

Be prepared for a lot of administrative tasks, bookkeeping, inventory, ordering, and managing staff members!

You will have to play the role of Marketing Guru, IT Guy, Motivational Speaker, Bookkeeper, Salesman, Cleaning Lady… just to name a few. You won’t ever get to focus only on your clients again when becoming a spa owner. Again – not necessarily a bad thing however if you aren’t expecting it… it can come at you like a proverbial bitchslap that comes out of nowhere. Yeah not fun.

6. The weight of the world is on your shoulders

 

It’s in our genetic coding to look after ourselves.

But, when you have your own business, you’re looking after a team of staff, every single client that walks in through your door, and the wellbeing of your facility.

Frankly, as a spa owner you’re going to have to prioritize the needs of the business, your employees, and your clients over your own. It’s just the brutal reality most spa owners face.

7. It could take some time for you to make a profit (like a lot of time)

Truthfully, it might take a bit of time until you break even with what you invested into your business and see a return on your investment.

Money will be coming out of your pocket left, right, and centre to build the foundation for your business!

Any money you make in the beginning is used to cover what you’ve already spent, your bills, wages, and the rest should be placed aside into your emergency fund.

A great way to cut your expenses is to consider temporary staffing! SpaTemps will connect you with service providers in the spa industry to ensure you always have the right amount of staff to meet your business’ needs.

8. Your income as a spa owner isn’t going to be as stable as it was when you were an aesthetician

Whether you’re employed or you work on a freelance basis, your earnings as an aesthetician tend to be quite stable: you have a good sense of the hours you’re putting in and the amount of clients you’re working on.

Time In = Money Out and other than building up and nurturing your own clients, you get to go home (for the most part) stress and worry free.

Generally, there aren’t many expenses as an aesthetician unless you’re working from home and need to invest in your own tools.

But, the title as a spa owner comes with a pretty long list of expenses.

From equipment and wages to bills and insurance, all of it is coming from your pocket!

Before you can think about your return on investment, there’s going to be a lot of investing.

9. Very little support for spa owners compared to employees

As an employee, there’s not much for you to stress about because your employer has everything taken care of.

As a spa owner, every single issue (minor and large-scale) is going to be your responsibility.

You’re going to need to have your phone on you 24/7!

As a business owner you don’t get maternity leave, unemployment insurance, don’t get me started on all the other ways that the government doesn’t have your back.

10. You might fail

Now, I’m definitely not trying to be pessimistic or to talk you out of starting your own business.

I want to offer you as much information as possible from what I’ve learnt through my own successes and failures, to help you make a more informed decision about which direction to take with your career.

Before taking that leap, understand that failure is a possibility. Understand that it’s a possibility that you’ll face a number of small failures along the way. But, anyone that’s accomplished anything great in life has failed at some point.

A true entrepreneur doesn’t expect to succeed. They take action. They aim high and take that leap. If they fall, they pick themselves right back up and keep at it. It can be so grueling at times that you will likely flirt with the idea of giving up all together. I did a number of times.

Becoming a successful spa owner takes time, effort, grit, and embodying an entrepreneur’s mindset.

It’s not enough to just love what you do and to be willing to put in the hours, but you have to understand there’s going to be many challenging circumstances along the way!

If it’s freedom you are after and the ability to set your own hours, set your own rates – basically be the one calling the shots. Consider spatemps.ca as the solution you’ve been dreaming of because it is the only online platform that will allow you to do JUST THAT without the headache and financial burden of actual spa ownership! It’s free to join.

What to keep in mind before opening up your own spa

To sum it all up, opening up your own spa is definitely NOT as much fun as you think!

But, if you’re set on taking this leap and you’re committed to giving it all that you’ve got, then go for it!

As a former spa owner, I truly hope that sharing my experiences with you will give you some sort of heads up in the obstacles that may come your way.

Being an entrepreneur means that you need to know exactly what it is that you want out of life and out of this business.

Take advantage of the information that’s at your fingertips! Do your research, become familiar with the numbers, figure out your target market, and know your unique value proposition.

And, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Hiring a coach or a mentor is always an option if you need guidance. In fact we HIGHLY recommend it to eliminate unnecessary pain and frustration.

Once you’ve gone through all these steps, make a plan and TAKE ACTION!

  1. Know exactly what it is that you want out of life and out of this business.
  2. Know Your Numbers back and forth.
  3. Do your research.
  4. Know WHO your ideal client is.
  5. Know your unique value proposition (what you will have to offer that is unique and unlike any other spa)
  6. Make an action plan and take action.
  7. Hire a Coach or Mentor (that has opened up a spa and has been through the ringer and wound up on the other side unscathed a time or two) before you start anything! You will need someone you can talk to, run things by. Someone to play devils advocate when you are blinded by glitz and glamour of… well it could be anything. Bad decisions often come wrapped up in amazing ideas and false promises.

About the Author: Susan O'Sullivan

Susan is a spa owner and a self proclaimed serial entrepreneur. She chases dreams full time and aims to empower the people around her to do the same. She has been through all of the highs and lows that this crazy spa industry has to offer and it is her mission to smooth the path for other spa owners and pro’s on a similar  journey.

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