2002 marks the one-decade point in my career in the professional nail industry. At the beginning of 2001, I looked over my career thus far and realized that 1 was not very happy with how things had been turning out.
I know of techs who are fully hooked within six months to a year after receiving their license. Yet there I was after nine years and I wasn't making enough money to afford both my own business and my own apartment—let alone a house. And I was 30 years old.
I knew that I had developed a bad record for moving to a new location every two years, and that had a lot to do with my not having built a full book. But I also knew that I lacked true business skills. I never learned any. I had to admit to myself that, despite feeling confident in my abilities as a nail technician, as a businesswoman I just plain fell short.
I knew from the first week in nail school that this was going to be my career, and not just the interim, work-my-way-through-college job that I originally expected it to be. So, after nine years of not bringing in enough income to support myself and live like a grownup, something had to change.
I sat down and had a heart to heart with myself and decided that if I couldn't turn my work habits around by the end of the year, I would get out of the nail industry and look for a "real" job.
The thought of leaving nails behind was all it took to kick me into high gear. I love my job, I can't imagine any other job that I would rather do or that would bring me half the satisfaction, and I know there is good money to be made in this industry—I just needed more discipline.
So I set a schedule for myself and stuck to it. I believe that this in itself has been the number one thing that turned my business around. Within two months I had doubled my clientele.
I also stopped treating every client like they were my best friend come for tea. I love my clients and I want them to feel welcome, but this IS a business. I cannot let them walk all over me. I need to charge for my services, not give away nail art that takes an hour to do for $2. (Yes, I have actually done that.) When they are late, they need to reschedule, and pay me for the lost time. I have to work on a schedule, not let them dawdle 15 minutes into the next client's time. So I set policies and I enforce them.
I also started taking my schedule more seriously. I spend less time yakking and more time filing. I can book clients on the hour now. No one has complained, no one has said they feel rushed or less appreciated. In fact, I still get complimented constantly about how friendly my salon is.
At the end of 2001 I took a look at the results and I'm pleased. I am so proud of what I've been able to accomplish with just a little discipline and commitment. I grossed enough income in the last year to support both my business and myself. And I'm in no danger of having to leave my passion for a "real" job.
Now, I just have to stick to my budget so I can save up for the house I am planning on buying next year!