Few Things Are Certain

I know no one who's slow right now wants to hear this, but the thing about a slow economy is that it really tends to weed out the weaker businesses.


When things are really singing along and money is flowing fast and easy, it's easy for small businesses to pop up everywhere. When the real estate market was hot, I saw a LOT of people become real estate agents and contractors, or take up decorating, landscaping, painting, you name it. If it was a product or service you could buy for a home or property, there were at least 20 businesses open to provide it.


Of course, now the real estate market has slowed considerably and there are a lot of tender new businesses struggling to make it because there's considerably less demand to fuel the supply.


The nail biz is no different really. Supply and demand. If the number of consumers wanting their nails done starts to dwindle, then the number of nail techs will be affected shortly after.


Now, we work in the beauty industry, and the beauty industry has historically done a weird thing when the economy slows down — we get busier. I think women seek solace in beauty products and services (sort of an "if I have to stand in the bread line at least I'm gonna look good doing it" mentality).


Of course, that's fine with me. Seeing as how even as I'm typing I have had to let three calls go to voicemail because I'm just plain frazzled from trying to find space in my schedule to get people in!


Everywhere I go these days people ask me, in a hushed and concerned tone, how my business is going. Well it's feakin’ great. So great, in fact, that I am two months behind on that e-newsletter I promised I was going to start doing, and I don't even want to think about how many photos I need to get printed out for my nail art album. I think the last time I logged in to Myspace I was still 38. (Which changed back in April, btw.)


But I also know some colleagues who might fall by the wayside soon, finding more secure jobs as cashiers and receptionists as their phones ring less and less.


The sad, and sometimes hard-to-swallow truth is: Just because you love something, doesn't mean you're good at it. Other factors that I see affecting some of us is an unwillingness to compromise.


Motivational speakers have done American entrepreneurs the disservice over the last few decades of convincing us that "compromise" is a dirty word. So when times call for it, we're aren't willing. And that, my friends, is why palm trees grow in hurricane country instead of oaks.


If you really want to stay in the nail biz through tough times, you might have to take a long hard look at what's going to be required to do that. People are still getting their nails done. If they aren't getting them done by you, you need to find out why. Do they want nails but can't budget for your prices? Are clients who've been laid off now working part-time or temp jobs with uncertain schedules that make it hard for them to keep a standing appointment?


Is it possible that your skills aren't quite sharp enough to command your share of a shrinking market? What can you do to overcome that? Tradeshow? Workshop? Competition? Networking?


Economic Darwinism strikes superfluous businesses down based on more than just skill level. You're bound to see older, stable businesses closing their doors around town — in the salon business as well as other industries — because they may be secure enough financially that they just decide to retire, or because they have rested on their laurels too long and haven't remained fresh and innovative so now find their market share wondering off.


Some talented techs will find other work because they don't have the marketing skills to command the attention they need to build their clientele. And many of us will simply opt out out of fear, choosing to find "secure" jobs so we can sleep at night without worrying about next month's rent.


I'm eager to see how the nail industry will be affected by the current economy. I'm interested in seeing how it will affect me. Hopefully, when all is said and done, I'll be one of the ones still sitting behind the nail desk, not at it, talking about how "I used to do nails." But if it's not meant to be, I guess I can always do taxes. I'm pretty sure those aren't going anywhere!

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