"I had a Princess Day for little girls, ages 2-16…77 clients later, we realized it was a horrible idea."
Cindy Li
Solace Salon & Spa, Bloomington, Ill

"I tried having a contest. I would ask a nail-related question and whoever answered correctly would get a free full set of nails. It was a big mistake because the free sets ended up being won by the most hateful and hard-to-deal with clients. The ones who paid were easier to please and handle."
Alicia Leighann Taylor
Beauty Box, Pikeville, Ky.

"I tried to manage my massive clientele by myself over the last year. As a result, I ended up working almost 70 hours a week. In addition to performing the services, I also had to make my own products, manage my own retail inventory, book my appointments, run my monthly newsletter, manage my blog, and handle all of the other business operations. After eight months, I realized that nobody can manage a business and a clientele that size by themselves, so I found a partner, divided my book down the middle, and stopped taking new clients. It’s super important to know your limitations if you don’t want to get burnt out."
Tina Alberino
Alerissa, Tampa, Fla.

"To increase my Shellac clientele I did a Facebook ad, which I would definitely do again. What I would not repeat is extremely discounting my Shellac manicure service. I was booked solid that day, but many people came to me from the discount salons with whatever gel-polish they use already on, which is extremely difficult to remove. It ended up taking me longer than scheduled for many clients, and I was behind and frustrated all day. I have never discounted my services since, and I get the clientele I want."
Wendy Shelton
Essex Hair Design, East Lansing, Mich.

"Groupon. It may work great for other businesses and services but not for me. I went against my own advice on this one. I think these discount services are saturated now. You may get repeat clients that are looking for a “home” for services but the percentage is low. Many are only looking for a big discount and are not loyal. They are only loyal to the coupons. I am better off discounting 50% myself and not having to split the already discounted service again. But as a new business I will take advantage of whatever opportunities there are to market myself and if I get one new client it is still better than zero."
Annette Calvillo
Fill 413 Nail Studio, Waukesha, Wis.

"I ran an auction on my Facebook page without terms and conditions. The winning set was $13! Never again."
Susan Thomas
Top Coat Nail Bar, Dedham, Mass.

"Purchased names and addresses and sent mailers. I spent $100 and didn’t get one inquiry."
Heather McDaniel
Fierce Fingers by Heather, Pensacola, Fla.

"I have always tracked every ad placed for the amount of return versus cost. When I was a newbie, I purchased ads on chain store grocery baskets. In a six-month period, I received one phone call and did not make one single penny from a very large investment. I still track any ads I do, but I can say that was the worst business move I have ever made. Live and learn." 
Vickie Meador
European Body Wraps, Olive Branch, Mo.

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