May 10, 2021

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The 20k Mistake That Became My Greatest Lesson


Text overlay reads "what every salon suite owner needs to know" over an image of brown salon chairs and salon sinks. The wall in the background is painted with a colorful rainbow

“Everything I teach has come from a place of completely failing at it first”

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Well holy freakin’ cow, this is our 100th episode! To be completely transparent with ya, before recording this episode I was overthinking a TON. I had so many ideas of how this episode “should” be and finally, I decided to just hit record and get into it. 

I’m so excited that you’re here for this episode! We’re gonna talk about a few different things but the main topic I wanna focus on in this extra special episode is a really big mistake I made in my business that turned into one of the greatest lessons I ever learned.

I couldn’t think of anything better I’d want to share with you in this 100th episode of The Anxious Creative. Buckle up, friend and let’s dive in. 

Overshared in the Salon Chair

I started this podcast almost 3 years ago, without a single plan. It started off as “Overshared in the Salon Chair” and the concept was interviewing my clients during their appointments. 

Overshared in the Salon Chair didn’t last for very long, after about 9 episodes I rebranded to The Anxious Creative. It’s turned into a beautiful and amazing thing and I’m so thankful that you come here and listen to this podcast.

This 100th episode has made me reflect on my personal and professional life over the past 3 years and holy, so much has happened and changed!

I wouldn’t be able to make this happen without you. 

Great Failures Lead to Great Lessons

Almost 11 years to the day was when I first went self-employed. 

I was thinking about the greatest lessons that I’ve learned and I realized that my greatest failures have resulted in the greatest lessons. 

Things like my $20k mistakes that turned into my greatest lesson, I will admit, was not a very fun lesson to learn, but a necessary one for sure. 

Let’s travel back in time to 2010, I was heading out on my own, married at the time and I dove deep into my work. Going from being a commission stylist to self-employed was a wild transition, particularly when it came to my bank account. 

I saw all the money that my business was making and I assumed it was all mine. I was looking at my business bank account as though it was my personal account. 

And I spent the money in the same way. Truly living our best life. We travelled to England, did some other fun things, and even bought a house together. 

Unfortunately, our marriage ended in July of 2011 and that’s when I really started to rely on retail therapy. My world had just crashed and I didn’t know who I was or where I wanted to go anymore. 

Shortly after that, I bought my own house and pretty soon after that, my first tax season was upon me. 

Although I knew that my taxes weren’t being automatically deducted from my paycheques anymore, I wasn’t really taking it into consideration. I had all this money coming in, I loved seeing it and thinking how wealthy I was. I was basically spending all the money I was making each month. 

You might be able to see where this story is heading…

Fast forward to income tax and the government told me I owed them $20k that I didn’t have. Cue the panic. 

I had just bought a house, I was living on my own with my pup, Leroy and it was intense. I cried a lot. I was so embarrassed. I had prided myself on how good of a business owner I was. I had prided myself on how busy I was. Everyone was telling me how great I was doing and I lapped it up. 

Then I got hit with a $20k tax bill and I had no idea where I was going to get that money. 


I’ve always hated debt, it makes me feel really uncomfortable and I hate having it sit there. So I knew I wasn’t going to let $20k sit around, judging me for the next year. I also knew I wasn’t going to fall behind on next year’s taxes just because I had fallen behind on this year’s. 

So I lived frugally that year. I busted my butt to earn $20k to pay back the government, I stopped retail therapy and saved up the money. It took me about 6 months to get that $20k together and the following 6 months were spent saving up for the next tax year. 

Getting ahead of my taxes has eased a whole lot of anxiety in my business. 

It took getting embarrassed, hitting a hard place and feeling like a fraud that triggered me to be more business savvy. 

It’s failing (a lot) that created a passion to help other stylists and creatives learn the business things that I had to learn the hard way. I don’t want you to have to get hit with a $20k tax bill. 

If you’re in a similar situation, if you’re in the thick of it, I want you to know that I understand, I’ve been there. I don’t want to tell you that “things will get better”, “keep pushing through”, “chin up!” – I want to tell you to feel your feels. I shed a LOT of tears when I got that bill. 

But I also know that you’re going to learn something great some this not-so-great moment. 

Helping Others

I gotta be honest, I was trying to remember why I started this podcast and I couldn’t tell ya. 

3 years ago I was working full-time behind the chair and I had the wild idea to start bringing my business online, for the consumer though. Things like having an online store for clients, educating them on how to style hair and it’s morphed and evolved into what it is now. 

I dove into this podcast without a real plan in mind, and for an over-thinker and over-complicator like me, that’s a huge deal. 

So whatever it is for you, whether you’re sitting in fear of starting something new, terrified of your big dreams or you’re super embarrassed by the mistake or failure you just went through – know that I’ve been right where you are. 

The things I help people with are the things I utterly failed at. It wasn’t that I had some superpower that made those things come easy for me, it’s that I completely sucked and messed it up and then decided to ask myself “how can I do this better next time?”

I don’t want you to feel alone and for many of the last 11 years, I’ve felt alone. I felt like I didn’t fit into this industry, I felt misunderstood and was too embarrassed about the struggles I was having. I was scared of what people would think of me because I wanted to present myself as this confident, successful, know-what-I’m-doing business owner and I thought if anyone knew what I was actually feeling on the inside, no one would trust me or want to work with me. And that’s just not true. 

So I wanted to shine a light on that huge 20k mistake that actually helped my business out a ton. And the cool thing is that I actually just overpaid my sales tax this year in my business! (Talk about getting ahead on my taxes!)

It’s doable. Whatever your struggle is right now, there’s always something we can learn and grow from and I wanted to encourage you that it’s possible. 

3 years ago I was behind the chair, I was educating on technique but not on business at all. In the last 3 years I’ve completely shifted my entire business to online education for hairstylists and creative entrepreneurs to help them take the stress out of having a successful 6 figure business. 

So I wanted to celebrate with you. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, celebrating with me! Here’s to the next 100 episodes, friend. 

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

Get to know me! :-)

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