Sunday, January 29, 2017


tips for small business by Jana Elston

Not everyone is cut out to run a small business. Some people are followers, some are leaders and some are entrepreneurs.

It's my experience that most people who own and operate a small business, have never had any formal training or experience in the business. They just decide that because they are really good at what they do, they are qualified to open or buy and operate their own business. They do not realize that it takes far more than being good at that they do, to operate their own business. This is why it becomes so stressful for them when they eventually venture out, and most new businesses (or new owners of businesses) fail, close shop and lose their money in the first year of operating a business.

They don't understand what it takes to own and operate a small business. To own and operate a small business, you may or may not have the skills in the services you provide (such as a beauty therapist) but you certainly have to be educated and qualified in running a small business (such as investors, I know of a few beauty salon owners that are not from the industry, but have extensive knowledge and experience in running a business).

Skills required to own and operate a small business include:

financial skills by Jana Elston

- Financial management such as bookkeeping, payroll, tax obligations, ability to read and understand financial reports and financial planning. Most people in the beauty business are weakest in this area. They simply do not understand the financial figures of a successful beauty business. They take money out of the register for coffee, incidentals, meals etc. not realizing they are out of control in their finances.

- Marketing: most beauty business owners are reluctant to do any marketing for their business, fearing it will cost "a lot of money". They make this assumption on the cost of advertising, not doing the numbers on what the advertising will bring to them. Most small business owners make this HUGE mistake. That marketing is expensive. Most marketing costs nothing at all. Let me repeat that. Most of the marketing will cost you no extra cash. Just your creativity, your mind and your time. It takes knowledge to do that. There are many ways you can grow your business without spending a single dollar.

- Retail sales: Most small business owners, especially in the beauty industry, have no control of retail sales or significant skills in sales. They assume I build a salon, open the doors and they will come. I will be fully booked from the very beginning. Most assume I do not have to do anything to sell the products, people will buy,  it will happen on its own. Most are disappointed when they open their doors, there are no customers in sight. Then they panic because they have not set any funds aside to live off while the business is established and grows. Smart and experienced business owners accept that they have to have other income to support them for 1-2 year while the new baby gets off the ground.

- Customer service: Sadly, many people that set up their own business do not understand or possess the necessary skills of good customer service. They have little experience and knowledge on how to grow their business through business networking, marketing, retail sales, managing inventory, dealing with customers and solving problems.
-  Business communication and negotiation are a whole new ball game. It takes patience, tact, experience and business intelligence to deal with insurance brokers, banks, suppliers, vendors, clients, and employees.

- Team Leadership is probably the most important part of owning your own business. Your staff is your business. When they are unhappy, customers will be unhappy. If your staff does not support you in your vision, your business will fail. If your staff is treated like your friends, your business will suffer. If your staff is poorly trained, badly supervised, not encouraged, not motivated or supported, your business will fail. The delegation, time management, recruitment & staff training, staff appraisals and staff motivation are essential to running a successful small business. Staff needs strong leaders, they need direction, they need to be inspired and motivated.

Most staff are only in it for a job. These are the hard facts. Their main priority is themselves and their family. It’s up to you, as an employer, to make their job enjoyable for them, otherwise, they will not perform, or worse, give up and leave.

busines planning by Jana Elston

- Project management and planning. If you want to succeed long-term in business, you need to have a vision and a plan. You need to know where your business is going for the short-term and the long-term. You need to have the skills, financial resources, and support to be able to effectively manage business resources, keep the business looking fresh, modern, safe and competitive, and continue to grow your business offer with new products and treatments.

It really takes a lot more to run a beauty business that basic services. It takes knowledge, skills and experience in running a small business.

Here is an excellent book I recommend people read before they contemplate buying or setting up a new business. It's an eye opener.

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Enjoy a successful and prosperous day!
Jana x

Sunday, January 1, 2017


How visible is your beauty business online? Can people find you easily and what do people do when they visit your website? Do your prospective customers engage with you on social media? What impressions do people get when they try to learn more about your business?

search engine optimization SEO beauty business salon spa

My husband and I are planning a short getaway. I researched the area where we will stay to book a day spa experience for myself and a facial for my husband. I found the whole process quite revealing which is why I decided to write this article. 

Here is what I learned from the perspective of a consumer when looking for a beauty business online, and my suggestions for you to help your beauty business stand out.
  • Get professional photos of your business and proudly display them on your website, Facebook, Instagram, Google places, and True Local business listing.
  • Make sure your website is up to date. It has to look fresh, clean and must be easy to navigate. Fancy slideshows, music, and graphics are not necessary, they can slow down the website and frustrate the user experience. It's easier to just hit the back button if the website is too slow.
  • Have social links clearly displayed so people can connect with you on social. Your social posts should be about you and your business. Make it fun, engaging, relevant, interesting, educational and informative. Give value and be generous with your information, for every promotional or sales post you do, you need to give four info-valuable posts. 
  • The blog on your website is essential for SEO (search engine optimization) and to keep your clients engaged, informed and educated. SEO means how high up does your business display in Google search results. Top search results give the impression of the business being more popular. When you are competing with dozens of beauty businesses online, first impressions make a huge difference. Make sure your blog has weekly updates to keep Google happy.
  • Include personalized posts on social media and on your blog. People would like to get to know you and your staff, to make that connection. It’s a great way to break the ice and to build rapport so when your new clients come to see you, there is already an element of trust and connection. 
  • Your website’s home page is the front window of your business online. Make it easy to read, uncluttered, beautiful, fast, and tell a story of why customers should choose your business. 
  • Share great content on your blog and social media, useful information, interesting tips, and more information about treatments. Your social media needs to be updated at least twice a week and your blog weekly. Google loves content and displays websites with fresh and engaging content higher in search results. 
  • There is nothing worse than trying to read information on mobile devices that is designed for a large screen. Your website must be mobile-friendly. Google gives preference to mobile friendly websites and "punishes" those that and not optimized for mobile by displaying that website further down in search results. 
When was the last time you tested how your business visibility rates online?

During my research, I googled “beauty salons” and the area where we plan to stay. Over 100 beauty businesses were listed near the area I was looking at. Pages and pages of search results. So I refined the search results to “spas” and of the 100, only 9 came up on Google. Eventually, I refined my search to 7 spas who had a website, and I looked at these to determine where I would like to go.

Of the 7 websites I have visited, 3 look tired with old information, poor quality images or no images of the salon whatsoever. Only two websites had interior and exterior images of the salon/spa and both were blurry and of poor quality. Other websites I looked at had fresh and bright stock images which made the website look attractive, but it's clear they were stock images which tell me nothing of the beauty business itself.

I was looking for something I felt I had a connection with, so displaying a gallery of salon images on your website is essential. I wanted to see the reception and the rooms as well. I was looking for an example of where I and my husband would be relaxing and enjoying our treatments.

Next, I checked out the location of each spa on Google. I wanted to see where the spa was located and how the salon/spa appeared from the outside on Google and if any of the spas had customer reviews. Out of the 7 places I was researching only one had excellent images on Google. Images of the spa interior, and exterior and also had some customer reviews. The rest of the spas were not listed on Google business.

I then looked at the salons' social media pages, most were on Facebook and some on Instagram which was great. It helped me get to know the business a little better to help me decide where I would like to go and visit. The social pages had nice images of motivational quotes, and some products, but no images of treatments or interesting beauty related content. Nothing to tell me about what the spa offers, except specials which were now irrelevant as they were posted before Christmas.

Social media management and managing your online presence in this competitive market is essential to make sure your business rate highly on Google. Promote your business online and let people know what you offer and where customers can find you. Long-gone are the days when all you needed was to place a single listing every year in the Yellow Pages for people to find you. Today, people search online and on their mobile devices so it is important that your business is highly visible online with fresh, new and interesting content.  

Let me help you with creating an engaging online presence to boost your Google ranking. Email me for a price list.

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Enjoy a successful and prosperous day!
Jana x

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