Lessons from a 30-Year Spa Entrepreneur

Leslie Lyon, president of Spas2b, shares 30 spa business tips from her 30 years as a spa industry entrepreneur.I started my first business in 1985/1986; a Spa Development company I called Lyonshare Consulting. I had worked in the spa industry at that point, for all of a few short years. But I was sure I knew everything there was to know.  After all, I spent those very few short years as a cosmetician, esthetician, traveling and researching spas, opening a large hydrotherapy resort spa, and being employed as a spa director with a staff of 30. Yes, I was a naive 28 year old; short on experience and high in tenacity, but as it turned out, that tenacity was going to serve me very well. Little did I know that the learning had just begun and the curve was going to be steep! Here’s just a small fraction of what I’ve learned (so far):

  1. Never ask the advice of someone who doesn’t care about your future.
  2. Make sure your personal finances are in order first.
  3. Firmly establish your brand and philosophy before you throw something out there.
  4. Don’t spend more than a minute on a prospect who is only interested in how popular or well-known you are.
  5. If the conversation is only about what you can do for them, its time to turn that around.
  6. Strategic alliances and industry relationships are everything.
  7. Don’t be afraid of not having the answer or of not knowing everything upfront.
  8. Choose to speak publicly or write candidly, but ideally, both.
  9. Don’t be afraid to show your sense of humor.
  10. It’s OK to do some gratis work in the early stages, but it’s not OK to allow anyone to undervalue or dis-credit your services.
  11. Scale your risk-taking down as you and your business mature.
  12. Sometimes you just know there is a demand for something. Investigate the feasibility before involving anyone, especially your loved ones.
  13. Success isn’t luck, it’s more work than you will ever imagine.
  14. Never underestimate the power of personality; yours and theirs.
  15. Smile alot, but not TOO much.
  16. If you have a nervous laugh or habit, get it under control fast.
  17. Let them see your passion and excitement.
  18. Be careful of over-promising when you are excited.
  19. If you are blamed for something (serious) that you know you didn’t do, walk away and never look back; you are not the ‘fall-guy’.
  20. Don’t waste time thinking stupid thoughts that can sabotage an otherwise positive outcome.
  21. Remember that those uncomfortable butterflies mean growth is underway.
  22. Everything can be fixed, it is never as serious as you think.
  23. If you view everything as an emergency, so will they.
  24. Don’t be ashamed of your small office, it can be a hub for great big things.
  25. Know your minimum and maximum thresholds and honor them whenever possible.
  26. Learning how to smile rather than frown when you are interrupted, is very honorable.
  27. Don’t be afraid to be absolutely outstanding at what you do, and to let people know it.
  28. Don’t wait for certain things to happen, before other things can.
  29. Help everyone you possibly can, in every way you are able.
  30. Above all, when you love and respect yourself, all else will fall into it’s place.