Jodi Ellingson and Jill Krahn are the owners of Hair Success Salon & Spa in Fargo, North Dakota,...
Jodi Ellingson and Jill Krahn are the owners of Hair Success Salon & Spa in Fargo, North Dakota, and founder of the Salon Professional Education Company.

What could you accomplish if fear was not holding you back?

I am not talking the kind of crippling fear that keeps some people from leaving their homes. I am not talking the sort of fear you get when you watch a scary movie and the hairs on your neck stand up. I am talking about the fear we have in our business lives – the fear of failure we all have in our gut. Some of us listen to that voice more than others – but, it is there to some degree in all of us.

So, what could you accomplish if you were able to conquer fear? What chances would you take in your business? Where would you be if just one of those big ideas you had – you know, the idea that you knew would be a hit, but some voice of fear kept you from seeing it through – paid off?

In his first inaugural address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Though he spoke those words in 1933, they apply today. Anxiety, stress and unhappiness – all byproducts of fear – drive too many decisions we make in our personal lives and in our businesses. Which brings me back to the core question: what would you be able to achieve if you were able to set your fear aside?

The future belongs to risk takers, not to those of us who sit on the sideline, too afraid to take chance, while hoping things stay the same will be good enough.

Take a look at Millennial and Generation Z students who are enrolled in or about to enroll in beauty school. This new crop of future salon professionals is fearless and bold; they are ready to seize opportunities and run with them. This next generation hopes success lies at the end of the path, but they seemingly do not know that they should be afraid of failing.

True, there is a difference between being a fearless (even brash) young professional with little responsibility and being the owner of a salon with the responsibilities of payroll, rent, utilities, guest and vendor relationships, not to mention your own career hanging over your head. That said, you can (and should) take inspiration from the courage displayed by these new beauty professionals.

By developing courage as a habit and by making unshakable self-confidence part of your personality and your actions, a new world of possibilities opens for you. As you develop this habit, you will find more success, as well as increased satisfaction in your interactions with guests. Your business will grow as your actions and attitudes inspire your employees and coworkers; and you will grow as a coach and mentor to those same fresh-faced Millennial and Generation Z employees who inspired your own transformation.

But how do you develop courage as a habit? Simple! You do it just like any other habit, good or bad: practice and repetition. As we face and conquer our fears, we build our courage, which allows us to face bigger fears and take on larger risks and challenges. When we overcome them, we become stronger for it and can now take even bigger leaps, tackle tougher obstacles and grow stronger still. It is a cycle that keeps repeating. Whether we succeed or fall short of our expectations when we take on a task, constantly facing our fears forces us to be bold and brave and learn from each experience. This carves out the road to success, verses sit and dream about it.

There are several types of fear, but in our profession, we deal with two primary fears: the fear of failure and the fear of rejection.

The fear of failure is the voice that tells us, “I can’t. This is not my thing. I’ll never be able to do this.” The fear of failure keeps us paralyzed in a way it makes us doubt our knowledge, skills and abilities and fills our heads with the vision of the worst-case scenario. This fear is a financial fear, full of the what if’s. Do not give in to the fear of failure!

The fear of rejection is the voice that whispers, “I’m not good enough. I know I have to do this but I’m not good enough.” If we listen to the fear of rejection, if we give in to it, we stay still, we refuse to take risks, we play it safe because safe is comfortable. This fear is based on your self esteem and confidence in who you are. With training you can do what ever you set your mind to achieve.

Many factors from our personal histories go into shaping our unique fears of failure and rejection. However, at the root of each basic type of fear lies one thing: ignorance. We are ignorant about the potential of our successes because we cannot visualize it clearly enough; We do not grasp the upside that comes from simply trying (whether we succeed or fail); we do not understand how to move forward in confidence, even if we have to fake that confidence at first in order to get used to it!

When we operate in ignorance, we enable our doubts to dominate us. We fear change and only see failure in the unknown. Picture the areas in your business or in your personal life where you operate with complete confidence because you have tested your skills or proven your abilities. Nothing rattles you in those areas of your life, and every obstacle is simply a challenge to overcome, not a wall blocking your way.

Conquering ignorance and fear is, in part, a matter of practice - of developing the habit of being brave or confident or (even) bold - but also a matter of education. Think of your first months in beauty school: how nervous were you to make that first cut of a live person’s hair? Think of your first year as the owner or manager of a salon: how many decisions did you make that caused your palms to sweat? But with a little knowledge, a little encouragement from a mentor and just enough bravery to get you moving, you were successful.

Which brings us back to those Millennials and Generation Z new hires, new graduates, and beauty school students. Think about how we are inspired by the brash, I-can-do-anything attitude they use to face the world? And while we need an injection of their fearlessness, they need to learn patience, work ethics, and measured risk taking from industry veterans like us.

Earlier I said that as you grow in bravery and push fear aside, you would find more opportunities to coach and mentor those around you. That should include these newbies in the beauty industry for several reasons. First, because you or someone in your salon has a relationship with your local beauty schools, where they can identify and recruit students with the skills and attitude that fit your salon (and finding these potential hires is critical for the long-term success of your salon!).

Second, because as you are identifying these potential hires, you are strengthening the relationship you have with these local beauty schools, making it easier to build a pipeline of your next rock star employees.

Third, you can own your own school to minimize the cost of your training program and really build your relationship with the students (while having another stream of income and growing your own culture).

Finally, because as you coach and mentor these new professionals, you can mold their client skills and help them adapt to your corporate culture in ways that prepare them to be productive behind the chair, as a long-term part of your team, and as a successful individual.

In helping them channel their brashness and fearless energy, you will impart the importance of guest care, some of the wisdom you have gained from your years in the industry, and a bit of caution they can use to guide their decision making as they start their career.

While all have fears, and not all of us display our courage. Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” We can fortify our courage, and become more resistant to fear, with practice, but also by learning from those around us, whether they are Generation Z interns or professional coaches hired to come in and reshape a salon’s culture. Likewise, we can act as mentors, imparting the lessons we have learned about caution and calculated risk taking to new hires, to recent beauty school graduates, and even to current beauty school students. YOU can “Grow Salon Leaders One Student at A Time”. By doing this you can future proof your business. By having two business’s that support each other.

The salon industry has taken on a big change in the last few years, with booth rental on the rise. We the salon owners are struggling to make and old business model work. Some owners refuse to think out of the box and they make it personal. With the new generation we the “baby boomers “need to get ourselves out of our own way. We need to listen, adapt and strategize how to make our salons about your team and the stage of life they are in. With that being said we need to focus on our guest and not let the 5-star guest service dye. It is proven when
people are stressed the one thing they need is to get away from it all. The 5-star salon experience is just that, it is a place where they can go to rejuvenate, rest, and unwind. A place where they can pamper themselves and care for themselves with beauty and wellness. Having the Salon and spa experience is just what they need.

So how can we the salon owners adapt to these changing times? What if we change our thinking and just focused on our team and our guests and throw everything else out the window and started with a clean slate.

We need to analyze what is working and what is not. For Example, one pain point with booth rental is they are short lived, due to many factors. One not being prepared for the costs of having their own business, so education and marketing tends to get cut. The guests get tired of having to wait in a hallway and not have the 5-star guest experience. The guests get tired of talking to their voice messaging verse talking to a real person. Let’s admit when you study the pain points of renting, you can see why it is hard to do this on your own.

What if you created a plan that could help that service provider? And what if you had a plan to give the guest the 5-star experience of a Salon and Spa with all of the team members working together to focus on the guest experience.

Can you imagine what that could look like with everyone helping each other to achieve more.

We as salon owners that are trying to make our older model work need to change our mindset. We need to adapt to our teams lives and listen to where they are at in their lives. Verses trying to make them to conform to our model. These are some of the struggles my twin sister and I had with our salons. We knew we had to change our model and strategize ways to make it cash flow and work for the entire team. Because to us it is truly about “Growing Salon Leaders One Student at a Time.” We wanted our team to feel respected and valued., at every stage of their career. Our first step was to throw out the old model, and designed a new model called “Lifestyle Salon”. We can help a team member with their financial goals at every stage of their lives. For Example, we have our own beauty school, so we can cut down our training time with the new generation, so they can learn more, earn more (Faster) and Live BEST!

The new generation needs it faster, they are goal orientated. As much as we hate to admit it they have the technology that has leaped them into learning more at a fast pace. Which is fantastic, so let’s work with that. We are able to integrate the information in our schools to what is needed in todays world to be the best service provider. Then we hire the team that fits our salon Team Work culture. We start our new hires in a short training program that only they can graduate themselves from. We coach and teach them how to accomplish the next step into commission base pay. We have many levels they can accomplish based on the data, so they don’t hurt themselves in the process with guest loss. We also noticed a need for a program designed for young working moms. We also respect the new generation desire to have independence to their career. We are able to create options for them, and we meet with them to make sure it is working based on the data. In essence we offer 4 types of pay. Hourly, Commission, Mom Shifting and Rental. Our team still works together to give the guest the best experience. We have a ‘Code of Honor” of how we want to function for our guest and ourselves. But still abiding by the state laws. This way everyone wins, with the expectations and communication being clear in the set up. Together Everyone Achieves More, this is what team work is all about. We can educate, market and do more for our guests than ever before. We created a central dispense kind of like a car leadership with parts and labor. We needed to shift our thinking, this is a beautiful business with real hard costs that are needed to support the team.

We needed to give them an environment that sets them up for a successful guest experience. We wanted the new Generation to Thrive not just survive. We owe it to our guests and our industry to better our best.

We now have a “Lifestyle” Salon and full Spa with a 22,500 sq feet of luxury. With a guest focused private cutting and consultation area, luxury nail, pedicure area and manicure bar and more. It has a full spa ranging from med spa to luxury wellness facials massage, float tubs, infrared saunas, Doctors and nurse working with our guest for hormonal needs and wellness / nutritional needs as well. We have a boutique with fun fashion and gift ideas for a one stop shop for the busy lifestyle people lead.

To top off the 5-star service it has a full restaurant and bar. So, your guests can have a “girls’ day out” or some family time, or just some relaxation and fun! We have a beautiful patio overlooking BLU Water Creek with fire pits for those chilly North Dakota evenings. This area is also great to give back to your community and host events for Charities, Events to raise money for animal shelters and much more. Pay it forward!

This article is all about what you can do if you set aside your fear, believe in yourself and your team. Put together a plan with systems and processes in place. If we can do it in Fargo North Dakota so can YOU.

Celebrate and embellish your salons future!

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