5 Ways Stylists Can Work Smarter, Not Harder

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Most of us have a strong desire to prove ourselves in our industry.

Unfortunately, sometimes this desire makes us feel like we have to work like crazy and let everyone know how insanely busy we are. We feel like we have to work harder and work longer than everyone else and wear our exhaustion as a badge of honor.

But why do we admire busy-ness?

Shouldn't we be admired by the balance we are able to create in our lives? Our ability to work smarter, not harder? To make a living while keeping within those 40 hours?

Come on, when did it become a honorable thing to work yourself into the ground and be so exhausted that you self-care suffers? Why is it honorable to be running on coffee and a bag a chips because that’s all you had time to shove into your mouth during the day?

That's the not the life I want to live, but I lived it. Oh boy, did I live it.  

Learning the hard way

At the time, I was so excited by the demand I had in my business. But my ego got involved.

It felt good to be sought after as a stylist, so I never said no, even if it meant working late, on my days off, or when I was exhausted.

I was excited that I so many people wanted to see me. That was amazing, and of course I should have felt good, but I also forgot that I was running a business.

There’s more to running a business than just getting clients and making money. You also need to take care of the structure of the business so the whole thing doesn’t collapse.

And my structure wasn’t doing so hot. I would try to forget about bookkeeping because the thought of tackling that was too overwhelming. I also wouldn't hire it out because I was embarrassed of my disorganization and didn't want a professional in my field to know I didn't have my shit together.

But eventually, thankfully, I hit a breaking point when I entered my 30’s. I realized I wasn’t working sustainably and that if I wanted to stay in business, I’d have to learn to work smarter, not harder.

How I Broke Out of the Trap

Things really started to change when I realized I could be more strategic and actually make more money, work less, and stop stretching myself so thin.

I experimented to find out what worked and finally got into a good flow with my life and business. There was a lot of trial and error, but these are the five things that made all the difference:

1. I raised my prices. I had a lightbulb moment when I realized I wasn't charging enough if I was fully booked so far in advance. If I didn’t value myself and my work, my clients wouldn’t either!

2. 30 minute paid consultations. I decided to get more strategic about who I wanted in my chair. I wanted to make sure I was attracting the right clients that aligned with my vision, style, and the way I do hair, business, and life. These consultations worked perfectly!

Want to get the exact form and intake questions I use? You can get those here!

3. No more people pleasing. I let go of wanting to be the stylist for everyone. That was hard! I had to let go of my pride and realize that I simply didn’t have the time, energy, or desire to win someone over who just wasn’t into the way I do things. It's just not worth the stress and anxiety.

4. I started to specialize. Instead of being the stylist who could do everything, I became THE stylist who could do one thing really well.

A lot of people fear this will hurt their business, but let me tell you, it did only the opposite. Do I miss doing certain things? Yes, and you know what? I still make room for them. I did two weddings this summer, because I still love doing hair for formal events.

But by niching down and becoming the go-to person for a certain service, I made way more money and worked less because clients were willing to pay for my expertise.

5. I put myself first. Go figure, eh? I had forgotten that I own the business, so that means I say what goes. Isn’t it weird how easily we give our power away? I stopped trying to run the business for everyone else, and a funny thing happened: I started enjoying my days more and got back to loving what I do.

If you’re feeling burned out and overworked in your business, try implementing one of these steps at a time. When you’ve mastered that step, add another. You’ll be amazed how quickly things can change!


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