How to Build a Successful Business

SuccessMany businesses have made a huge recovery since the economic crash in 2008 and that’s good news for small spa owners. Since small businesses account for 63 percent of new jobs, success puts people back to work. That, in turn, helps spa business owners even more—people with paychecks buy stuff. And here’s more good news: Women are launching more businesses than ever—1,288 a day, according to a recent analysis by American Express. That’s up from 602 in 2011 to 2012. Since 1997, women-owned businesses rose by 68 percent. As a female entrepreneur who will soon celebrate my company’s 25th anniversary, I’m well aware of the challenges these brave new CEOs face. I’m not exaggerating when I use the word “brave.” My experiences have taught me that courage is essential to launching and growing a successful business—particularly if you’re a woman. Why? Because they tend to be more risk adverse than men. They worry more about financial security and losing it all. Making the right decisionsrequires overcoming those fears. Courage is one of what I call my 5 C’s for building a business. They’re the guiding principles I’ve learned through the ups and downs and all the mistakes. If I rely on the C’s as a sort of compass, I find I can always guide us back to smoother waters. What are the C’s?

  • Caring It starts with caring enough about yourself and your dreams to stay committed to achieving your goals. (Giving up is never a good option!) You have to care enough about yourself to firmly believe that you deserve success and the good things that come with it. Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them. Protect their sanity from the clients who want to chew them up and from new hires who don’t fit in and hurt morale. Be supportive when stressful situations arise in their lives outside of work. And ensure everyone has the knowledge and tools they need to be successful. None of us gets far at all if we don’t care about our customers. Give them the best exchange possible for their money, and define expectations so that they understand the end product you are delivering and for which they are paying. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.
  • Courage Thirty years ago, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but without it, you’ll fail. There are dragons and quicksand and dark woods all around. You’ll find them in the day-to-day problems, the obstacles you didn’t see lying in wait, the risks you must take, and the stresses involved with honoring yourobligations to everyone working with and for you. Your courage will grow every time you push your fear behind you and deal with what frightens you, which will also help you build confidence.
  • Confidence Think of the many challenges you’ve faced in your life, and the many times you’ve overcome them. Bring that confidence to your business. Believing that you canreach for and achieve your short- and long-term goals is essential to getting you there.
  • Competence Competence comes from knowledge and experience. Hone it by staying up-to-date on the trends and disruptions in the industry. One of the most important roles a CEO plays is as the visionary for his or her company. That means you can’t, and shouldn’t, take on jobs within your company for which you’re not qualified. You’ll make yourself miserable and your business will suffer. Hire an accountant to handle the financials. Getmarketing help if that’s not your thing. As for employees, take the time to hire competent people who you’ll trust in their jobs–and then trust them.
  • Commitment Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes. That may mean taking painful measures, as it did for me after the 9/11 terrorist attacks put the brakes on the economy. There came a point for my business when all hope looked lost. I had to makedrastic cuts, including letting go beloved employees. For more than a year, I ramped up marketing efforts, diversified our services, and took other steps to get the business out of the red. In 2005, I succeeded—and it has been upward and onward ever since.

If you’ve recently launched a new spa business, know that you’ll encounter challenges. Don’t panic! Remember the 5 C’s and forge ahead with caring, courage, confidence, competence, and commitment.