Small Business Owners are Entrepreneurs
How many Electrologists think of themselves as an entrepreneur? How many think of themselves as a small business owner? Do you?
Most Electrologists that I’ve met over the years have their own clinic, whether in their own home or elsewhere, and see clients regularly, and think of themselves as ‘an Electrologist’ only. But every single one of you is also an entrepreneur and small business owner.
Part1. Entrepreneurship and Electrolysis
Entrepreneurship is about starting a business. When entrepreneurs are asked to put together a business plan, they are asked a series of questions to determine if their idea has merit.
Figure out your arena
First you want to figure out the world you’ll be working in, a great analogy here for those of you who play sports, is the “playing field”. This includes you as the company, your customers, your competitors and collaborators (people who might help a company be successful). For electrologists, the company is the Electrologist herself. Is she qualified? Where did she train? Can she do the job properly and safely? Since you are starting a new Electrology clinic, you clearly believe the answer is yes. For the customers, you as the Electrologist need to decide who your customers could be in order to decide who you will choose to target. Your competitors will matter as well. First of all, who are they? Other Electrologists? Laser hair removal clinics? Most likely before starting your clinic you checked to see where or if other electrologists are around. Setting up an Electrologist clinic right next to another Electrologist would likely not be as successful as setting up somewhere with a dearth of electrologists. As you set up your clinic, you also need to think about people or businesses that can help you grow your business, such as the local community group, or a salon that can refer clients to your clinic.
Before you started your Electrology services you thought about all these questions to ensure you would be successful in your business. Welcome to entrepreneurship!
Find your audience
Once you decided where to start the clinic, and what type of clinic you would have, you had to think about how to target your selected customer base. In order to decide which customer base to target, you had to segment all possible electrolysis customers into groups and decide who to go after as customers. Did you want to focus on female clients? Clients going through the transgender process? Male clients? Young or old? Local to your town or wider? People from your own community/culture or from all cultures? These decisions are made by electrologists whether actively or subconsciously as these decisions determine the positioning you decide for your clinic. Do you show images of young or older people in the advertisements? Do you show flags supporting clients going through the transgender process in your clinic? Do you have images as part of your marketing that are broadly welcoming or only welcoming to a subset of the community?
Once you have decide who to target out of the segments you have divided potential clients into, and have decided how to position or clinic within the selected segments, then you have to decide what services to offer (ie what products or services), how to price them, where to advertise, and how to promote services via advertising, promotions and branding.
Pricing is a key aspect of developing a new business. For an electrologist, the hourly rate is the first pricing decision you make. The second pricing decision is how to break up pricing for shorter or longer chunks. If one hour is $100, is a half hour $50? Or is it $60? Is 15 minutes, $25 or $40? The pricing strategy can help guide the length of clients sessions. Pricing and positioning also play a role in what add ons are sold in the store. Is the client base able to afford a $30 product? Or a $60 product? Finally, as an electrologist, you have to decide how and where to advertise. On instagram? Facebook? The local newspaper, whether digital or in paper. Flyers? Are the flyers sent to a mailbox or posted on the windows of local businesses. Are they shared in a business group such as a chamber of commerce.
All of these decisions went into your decision on where and how to open your clinic. Did you consciously think through the above details? Maybe not, but all of these questions affected your choices in starting your business, and the decisions you made still affect you today. As you move forward with your business, as an entrepreneur, remember to periodically check to see if the assumptions and determinations you made when you first started your business may have changed.
Part 2: On Being a Small Business Owner - Hiring Help to Make Life Easier
Do you purchase your own equipment, supplies, pay rent, do the books, clean the clinic, organize the schedule, greet clients as they enter and leave, and wash the toilets? Well, that means you are not only an Electrologist, but also a scheduler, a bookkeeper, a receptionist, and a custodian, among other roles. How much time do each of these take weekly?
Being a small business owner is all about understanding the entire business. Not just the part that you were originally trained in, but also all the ancillary aspects of your business as well.
Let’s consider an example to understand the true impact of outsourcing parts of your business in the following case studies:
First, some assumptions:
- You charge $100 per hour for your time. This may be slightly higher or lower depending on your location but it's a decent average based on what I’ve heard from many electrologists, and it makes the math easier.
- A bookkeeper charges $100 per hour for their time. In reality of course they range from $35 per hour - $200 per hour depending on the person.
- Scheduling software charges $100 per month which we will average, for the sake of easy math, to $25 per week
- A cleaner charges $40 per hour
A few more assumptions:
- The bookkeeper will generally be able to do the bookkeeping at least twice as fast as you since that is their job professionally, and they enjoy doing it. I know I always hated doing the books, so I always put off until the last minute then was endlessly worried about it. So what a bookkeeper did in an hour, it took me 4-6 hours of time plus endless hours of stress. For this example, we will imagine that bookkeeping is easier for you than it was for me, and it only takes you 4 hours per week. This includes putting in and paying bills, making sure customers pay the right amounts and on time, balancing the books, and prepping for tax season. So a bookkeeper would only need 1 hr.
- Cleaning takes approximately 30 minutes every evening mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning toilets
- Scheduling clients: Until recently, electrologists scheduled most appointments via phone or text only. You miss every call that comes in while you are with a client. You also have to do some back and forth to find times that will work for you and the client. Perhaps scheduling a client takes 20 minutes of back and forth. Most likely you get a few folks reaching out each week to learn more or get information. So you spend 1 hour per week talking to potential clients or scheduling current ones.
Now lets talk through some specific case studies.
Case 1: No outside help
If you want to work 30 hours per week, but still need to accomplish these other things this means you have to work 10 of those 30 hours on the other stuff, bookkeeping, cleaning and scheduling. That means you can only do electrolysis for 20 hours, and before taxes earn 20 x 100 = $2,000 per week income from electrolysis.
Case 2: Hire a bookkeeper only
If you hire a bookkeeper for 2 hours per week, which saves you 4 hours, now you can work 26 hours per week which results in $2600/week since the bookkeeper can work while you work. If you subtract the $200 for the cost of the bookkeeper, the net is $2,400. You earn $600 extra and pay $200 for the bookkeeping so a net of $400 increase.
Case 3: Hire a bookkeeper and cleaner
If you take 30 minutes cleaning every evening then of your 30 hours, 2.5 are lost to cleaning time, or $250. If you find a cleaner, the cost will be $100/week, so you end up ahead $150 in addition to the joy of not having to clean toilets. After working a long day, cleaning toilets is definitely last on my list of fun things to do in the evening.
Now, you spend 29 hours doing what you are passionate about, pay someone to clean 2.5 hours per week, and pay someone to do the bookkeeping for 2 hours per week. Electrolysis earnings are 29 hrs x $100/hr = $2900, and after subtracting $200 for bookkeeping and $100 for cleaning, you net is $2600 take home pay before taxes. After hiring two subcontractors/service providers that make your life easier, you have INCREASED your net take home pay by almost 30%! And you get to spend almost 50% more time doing what you enjoy doing.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this thought exercise, being a successful small business owner is about understanding your entire business, beyond electrolysis. Learning to outsource some of your tasks can not only end up saving you money, but can also increase the time you can spend on the work you love.
These many aspects of starting and running a business are all part of the work you do as an electrologist. Thinking through these details will help you organize your business effectively so that you can focus on the work you love.