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But Seriously ... Are You a Professional?

By: Monica Villar
Posted: August 27, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

It is a wonderful plan … attend esthetic school, get your license and open your own business. Who wouldn’t want a job where you can choose your own hours and make a lot of money doing something you love? Unfortunately, this method of opening a business doesn’t always work in reality, and many estheticians find themselves ill-equipped to take on the task. Although most schools are good at teaching the basic skin care knowledge required to pass the state test, fewer provide the skills needed for building relationships with clients and even fewer provide the business training necessary to open a spa. After all, the business of skin care consists of much more than simply caring for the skin.

The successful esthetician who has a lucrative income and a high client retention rate did not achieve these by luck. It is difficult enough to reach this pivotal point in an esthetic career, but now, with the challenge of a difficult economy, it can be even worse. If you are a single esthetician or run a small business that is not experiencing the successes you anticipated at the onset of your career, there is a chance that your problems are not related to the economy. Before you sell your equipment and start looking for a new job, however, now may be the time for you to do an analysis of your business to determine what you need to change. Evaluate your commitment to success, and decide if you are willing and able to make the necessary adjustments to treat your business like a business. You can start this examination by considering the following common sense tips for building a serious spa.

1. Take yourself seriously

How can anyone else take your business seriously if you don’t? Have you obtained all of your necessary city and state licenses? Have you established a business plan on paper that includes your vision? Are the decisions you are making—from the name of your business to its décor and marketing—reflecting your vision? Have you established a separate bank account for your business? It is also important that you have the capability to accept credit cards. With more and more clients choosing not to use personal checks, credit and debit cards have become the top method of payment, so without this ability, you could lose sales. Speak with a representative at your bank who can help you find the most efficient way to make this part of your business.

It is also important to meet with a certified public accountant (CPA) when starting a new business or reviewing your existing one. This simple step will go a long way when claiming on your taxes that yours is a legitimate business instead of a hobby. In addition, a CPA will help you understand matters such as sales tax, employee tax, quarterly returns and appropriate deductions.

It is also important to decide the type of business you want to be and the clients you want to attract. One of the worst things you can do when opening or re-evaluating a current business is to spread yourself too thin. As you grow, you can expand, but you have to start somewhere. Do you want to focus on teens with acne, men’s skin care or aging skin? Making this determination early will not only help you target your marketing dollars in one direction, but also will allow you to eliminate the need to have excessive inventory.