How to Regain the Freedom You Thought You’d Lost

How to regain the freedom you though you'd lost.

When I first opened my Salon, and also my coaching business for that matter, I remember this feeling of thinking “Ahhh yes, this is why I opened my own business!” I was experiencing this incredible feeling of freedom, autonomy and creativity all in one, that you just cannot get from working for someone else!

I could order and buy what I wanted, come and go as I pleased… If I wanted to take the afternoon off, I could!

But then, something changed…

My business started to become successful!

And, like most success, the success of my business was a double-edged sword. Our book was full, and the Salon was thriving. But, for me, this meant that freedom and autonomy were replaced by stress, pressure and demand. I started to wonder where my dream went… and question whether it as all even worth it!

What I soon realised was that as your business grows, you also need to grow. You need to behave differently, do things differently… be different. It is essential for you to grow into the different roles that your business requires of you throughout its different stages of growth. 

Today I’m going to share with you what those roles are, what they will require of you, and most importantly, how to nail each one.

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The Operator

The role that most Salon Owners start off as is The Operator. 

When you’re an operator, you’re still involved in on-floor operations like serving clients and delivering a great client experience. And you love doing this!

As The Operator, you still really enjoy the on-floor aspect of Salon-life. You probably only have 1 or 2 team members so you are close with them, stick together with them, and still, interact with them on a daily basis.

This role feels comfortable.

For most new Salon Owners, their previous role was solely an Operator- so it’s something you’ll know and love, and feel comfortable doing. 

However, as is the nature of the Salon Industry, it’s all about humans.  We don’t sell products, we sell humans and time, so the people inside of your business become the most important commodity. And what will soon happen will be that as your Salon grows, so will your team, and soon enough you will find yourself knee-deep into the next role… The Manager. 

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The Manager

As a Manager, you will most likely have a team of 4-8 people. Your business has grown to a point where you are forced to start focusing on the humans inside of your business just as much as the clients. 

This means that you actually have to learn how to properly manage people, something which you may have no experience in… yet! 

All of a sudden there are people in your team who you won’t necessarily connect with as much as the first 1 or 2 people, and on top of that, team members who may not gel with each other

The management of humans is sometimes something no one can really prepare you for… and it’s different for everyone!

This is why the Manager role is the most difficult. 

You are wearing all of the hats at once and often feel like you’re stuck on the mouse wheel! I get it, I went through this phase in my business too. 

It feels like there are just so many things to keep on top of… operations, client care, accounts, marketing, opening and closing the business, holidays, leave, hiring, firing…..

And to add insult to injury, this is the phase where I often start to see Salon Owners earning less! What used to work now starts to break and lots of Owners begin to take nothing home, even earning less than when they worked for someone else. 

You work more hours than before you had the growth spurt but feel nothing in return...and start to feel yourself drowning in overwhelm.

This is the stage where you really have to dig deep. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is possible to reach it! I have a few strategic tips which may help you before we investigate the CEO role…

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Make the Move!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to stay in The Manager phase forever!

To get through the hardest phase, it often takes only 1 or 2 strategic moves in order to make a change happen.

That 1 thing is different for everyone, but most of the time people will know what it is, in the back of their heads. It could be hiring another income-generating team member, or even creating a management structure to get that extra support.

Do you know what your ‘thing’ is? I guarantee you do...

So what’s stopping you? 

Fear. Fear is the #1 biggest thing that breaks business owners and halts progress. If you know what you need to do to make that strategic move, but you’re not doing it, then you need to address the fear that’s stopping you. 

Maybe you’re scared to step back and pass on your clients, in case someone leaves and takes those clients with them…whatever your fear may be, it’s only getting in the way of your business picking up the momentum that it needs to get you off that mouse wheel! 

I would suggest you go and listen to my podcast all about fear, it will help you step towards making that 1 big move. 

If you want to regain that freedom to do what you want, when you want, how you want, and not be chained by the ankles, you need to make that move and step into a life of real freedom and profit. 

A great exercise to help with this is to write it down.

Write down:

  1. What is that big move you need to make
  2. What is the fear that’s stopping you?

There’s something magical about writing it down on paper, and I guarantee you this will help your progress. 

Stick at it, be brave and then you can finally move on to being the CEO.

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Once you’ve moved through the hardest role of being The Manager, you can finally begin to feel that freedom and autonomy that you felt at the beginning again.

As the CEO, you will most likely have 8, 9, or more people in your business. What worked when you were the manager also start to break work. Studies have shown that one person can only manage a team of up to 7 people effectively.

If you are attempting to manage your large team all by yourself, that’s when you begin to tap out and lines of communication start to break down.

Instead, you have grown your team to the point where it becomes necessary to hire someone else to become the manager. Your role is to lead that manager. If people are experiencing pain, you feel stressed out and frustrated towards particular people… that is a clear indicator that you haven’t evolved into your new role.

Your role now is to step away from the busyness of being busy...

...of all the daily operations… and start to think monthly and annually… not just from week to week. It’s time to create space to think strategically. 

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This in itself is hard.

Hopping off the wheel almost feels like a ‘come down’ after a big night out. It feels weird not to be ‘in demand’. Not longer be needed to put out fires and emergencies. But this is the goal, right? To have the freedom to work on the things you love, when you want, how you want and most importantly: start to drive the business forward and focus on what is coming next! You can't do that until you have created the space.

When you do this, you will start to feel more fulfilled in your role, and the passion and drive will kick you into a new momentum and everyone else in your team will benefit from this newfound momentum - this is the ultimate goal, right?

No matter which of these 3 main stages you are at in your business, it’s important to remember that there is always room for more growth and progress.

It can be so easy to feel like you’re stuck on the mouse wheel and going through the motions, but all it takes is a little self-awareness grit, and determination to get you where you want to go.

You can do this!

Need some help nailing these 3 key Salon Owner roles?

I'd love to hear from you! Reach out to me in messenger and we can continue the convo!

About the author, Larissa

Business Coach & Marketing Strategist: After 20 years of salon business I worked in online marketing & technology development, Business Development Manager at Timely Salon Software and co-founded HAIRshare app for Stylist.

I love helping stylists & salons with marketing strategies, the latest technology and working smarter, not harder in salon business.

Salon Owners Collective is an online community with the mission of inspiring and empowering Salon Owners from around the globe to grow beyond owner operator. Turn your ideas into a reality, build successful businesses and live with clarity and purpose.