January 2011

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Breathe Life into Your Business Plan

Do you remember when you first sat down and created your business plan?

You may have been a bit apprehensive. After all, this was a new business, and this was your first time creating this type of document. Considering "what ifs" that may crop up with any long-term commitment can be stressful.

Owning a business is like any other long-term commitment and you should be both nervous and excited about embarking on this journey. If you have not re-evaluated your business plan in the last few years – it is time.

Your business plans should be a living, breathing, workable document that you refer to often to keep you centered about decisions you make for your business.

We all know other things end up taking precedence over pulling out paperwork and making sure to correct a plan when we are not sure we can adhere to it. In order to lead our businesses, we must be in charge of what the desired outcome of success is.

If we leave our businesses to be run by day-to-day circumstances, we are doomed to become volunteer firefighters instead of business owners. We would continually only find time or the leadership capability to respond in crisis mode. Do you make your best choices when you are in crisis mode?

True leadership occurs when you see yourself straying off track, but are able to adjust and stay on track. Achieve this by preparing and training yourself and your team to react to challenges correctly.

Here are the key areas to evaluate to resuscitate your business plan:

1. What changes in the marketplace have affected you? If you wrote your plan five years ago, most likely everything is different now than it was then. Most small businesses ran on credit that suddenly dried up. Some of your customers are no longer able to purchase the services they would like to, or perhaps you find yourself having to work harder for less. All of these contribute to your ability to run an effective business and make a profit. Write a detailed list of the financial items that have contributed to you not having the success you desire. Until you get them on paper, they may not seem relevant.

2. What do you know now that you did not know then? Give yourself some credit and pat yourself on the back for this one. We all go into relationships with an optimistic outlook, and the relationship between you and your business is no exception. The experience of weathering adversity in a tough economic climate is not the lesson any of us wanted to go through. However, the lessons you have to learn sometimes only become relevant when you have experienced adversity firsthand. Pull out that profit projection from your business plan, correct the items that were created when you had the "rose colored glasses" on, and see what has been occurring so you can make appropriate adjustments.

3. Where can you be more effective? If you are a salon owner and continue to produce the majority of sales from your chair, something needs to be changed. Does Bill Gates still make computers in his garage? NO. He effectively automated his operation and you can too. Effective leaders manage their teams and create standards for them, while giving them the tools to be successful. You cannot do everything yourself, and if you currently are, you are holding your business back. What happens if you or someone close to you has an illness that forces you to be less involved than you currently are? Illness and care giving to family members are two very common scenarios that will take you away from being the top operator very quickly. Critically important is designing your business plan to account for the proper amount of training and evaluation for your team to succeed.

4. Get the help you need. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, right? If you are not sure where to begin reworking your business plan, spend some time with a professional salon consultant or coach who will push you past your comfort zone. We all like to be comfortable, but success does not occur unless you try something new. Getting down to the basics of the numbers with a consultant you trust, and who knows what does work, can and will breathe new life into your relationship with your business plan. Seeking the answers you need from someone who is prepared to help you is something successful salon owners should always be doing.

5. What can I change easily to affect my bottom line? There are many opportunities to save on costs by using technology. Are you taking advantage of them? There is a lot of free education now offered via the internet for business as well as technical skills for salons. Training that may have cost hundreds can now be downloaded for use for much less. Cut your printing costs for marketing drastically by using email blasts and social networking. Clients can book online, cutting some of your labor cost, etc. Try several different strategies and see what works for your business.

Getting to know and adapt your business plan is an ongoing process. We did not get into the beauty industry to write business plans, but adjusting yours to a changing world can help you flourish.

Charlene Abretske is an independent business advisor. To reach her email charleneabretske@gmail.com or call (760)453-1882.