The 3 best things I did for my nail business in 2017…& the worst thing

Coming into 2017, my salon suite nail business seemed in pretty good shape.

I was booked 2+ weeks in advance with a short waitlist. My schedule was jam-packed with respectful, punctual & generous clients I #inreallife L-O-V-E. And I was in the top 25th percentile for Nail Pro income according to the NAILS Magazine Big Book (2016-17).

Twelve months later, a lot of things look the same, but the details are different:

  • I've reduced my hours in the salon by 25%, leaving my weekends free to spend with my family.
  • I know which services generate most of my business's income (like, to the tenth of a percent).
  • I axed services I hate & beefed up my retail game.
  • Prices increased by 20% & I retained my clientele.
  • I lost about 10% of my clientele from ill health, relocation & time conflicts but my average weekly income is the same or higher than a year before.

And, the piece de resistance: I have an easy-like-Sunday-morning accounting system, complete with profit distributions, paid vacation & retirement savings, all working with the same amount of income.

My beloved nail business is no longer a duct-taped-together social calendar that I dragged around all areas of my life. She's a grown up business now.

Here's what I did that made the biggest impact on my biz in 2017:

1. I invested in business classes instead of skills classes.

Nail art boot camps are sexy. Classes that offer advanced skill certifications make us feel important. CE certificates are brag-worthy. Nail art photos can industry-peer boasts & marketing for new clients. And in many states, continuing education is required for license renewal.

Business classes, on the other hand, can feel way UN-sexy.

They can feel slow. They often require a lot of work. They might even be straight up uncomfortable, forcing you to look at the facts of what's actually happening in your business instead of dwelling in blissful ignorance. (That's where I was a year ago!)

Marie Forleo's B-School, the internet's best online business school, delivers all of it & you'll keep asking for more. I stalked B-School for 3 years before taking the's basically the Ice Bucket Challenge of Small Business.

Remember when I said I thought my business was in good shape? Well, it was. Kinda. But I was wasting a lot of time on BS that wasn't making money. Marie helped me figure out how to leverage allll the nail art classes & get an actual return on it.

As in, real money.


After the 8-week course, my business felt like a real business--not just a thrown-together-figure-it-out-as-I-go booth rental. That small change in mindset does wonders for your confidence, never mind your bottom line.

Overall outcome:

My business truly became my own & more profitable because of it.

2. I joined a mastermind.

Sometimes called a peer advisory board, a mastermind is high-level support group for entrepreneurs. If you're not careful, it can turn into an expensive leads networking group, but when you find the right one, you'll get advice & accountability to solve all kinds of challenges.

(Full disclosure: In all honesty, I joined the board to learn how to become a better facilitator in my own classes. But the world has a funny way of showing us what we need to learn when we least expect it.)

Each month, I took half a day off for a 3-hour meeting with up to 8 other business owners & 2 facilitators. We shared the month's wins, challenges & the lessons we learned from them. Then we each had a turn in the hot seat, where the rest of the group gave unfiltered support with the hot-seater's "Topic A".

It's a fast-paced, creative experience! An adrenaline rush, a lot like being on a roller coaster.

Sometimes I left burning with optimism & clarity. Other times I wanted to run away from the truths I learned. But every time, I was inspired & ready to tackle next month's goals.

Seeing the parallels of running a business in different industries helped broaden my vision for my little salon suite. If someone else could create a business to suit their lifestyle NOW, I could, too! I could stop waiting for "that one thing" to change before I had the business of my dreams.

Together with the razor-sharp skills I got from B-School, the mastermind's accountability checks helped me turn my business into a dream machine faster than I would've ever thought possible.

Overall outcome:

A year ago, I didn't even know I was a prisoner to my booth rental. Thanks to this mastermind, my business has started to give me freedom I thought I had to get somewhere else.

3. I wore nail enhancements myself.

Believe it or not, it took 11 years for me to commit to wearing Liquid & Powder nails on a consistent basis. My biggest resistance was the time factor; I didn't want to spend hours sculpting & filing with my "wrong" hand only to have my work wear away from acetone exposure.

Now, rebalancing my own enhancements is just a part of my routine. (Wish I could figure that out for an exercise program.)

Not only did wearing enhancements make upselling nail art a piece of ($10,000) cake, but I got to release a lot of guilt about it.

I learned about wear & tear: My right index & middle fingers lift more than any others because of how I hold my brush, pen & cotton pads.

And thanks to some private coaching from the brilliant Tanya Sisson aka Island Nail Girl, I learned how to better troubleshoot rebalances, which saved time & developed stronger client loyalty.

This year was the first time I heard from a client, "My nails never used to last this long." #cloud9

Overall outcome:

Job security! My bread-and-butter service are stronger, sleeker & longer wearing. This adds perceived value to my services, which clients happily pay more for.

And for good measure, the worst thing I did in my business in 2017:

I overcommitted my schedule.

I didn't want to miss out on all the learning opportunities. Nor did I want to say no to the clients (or the income).

Too often, I went into the salon on my days off & extended my Saturday hours. What I really did was say "no" to quality family time, hobbies & much needed R-E-S-T.

My #rideordie man is a frickin' saint for putting up with my weak af scheduling boundaries. And my cheeks are burning to admit this.

Overall outcome:

Burnout. And I was literally sick to my stomach--like, emergency room sick--for five weeks because of it.

If you wanna know where you're going, it helps to know where you're starting from.

A year ago, I was a prisoner to my salon suite & didn't even realize it. Actually, I kept asking for more. Stockholm Syndrome, for sure. 

I'm starting 2018 with more time, more money, more creative freedom, a greater sense of community & deeply rooting ease & gratitude. I'm also pretty scared: I pee a little when I think about keeping time & pricing boundaries.

At least there's some excitement to keep the game interesting, too. 

What's the best thing you did for your business last year?

I'd love to know! What did you do that most positively impacted your biz & why? And do you have a business-based resolution for this year? Leave a comment below!

Heyyy Nailfriend! Want to boldly sell your nail art even if you aren't an artist?

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Comments 2

  1. My resolution is more education this year. Especially business related classes because I really don’t have a CLUE what I’m doing! 🙂
    I also want to take a plunge and focus more on my mobile business. This means leaving the guaranteed paycheck and taking another leap of faith.
    Thank you for this blog. Obviously it was just what I needed.

    1. Post

      Thanks, Andrea! Isn’t it crazy how we can go through this business & not even think about the “business” part of it? Somehow it just works out! But when we get intentional, we can extend our impact so much with very little extra effort. Excited to see what you create!

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