business, life lessons

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED AS OF DAY 5

I sat at my computer yesterday looking at my payroll expense account knowing that this would be the last payroll for some time. I took a deep breath and pressed the send button. This was the final major part of my business activity I would be doing since no money is coming in now and this was the last big expense. The action was saying, finally after 5 days of mayhem, holy shit, this is real.

I am a fixer. Chaos and I get along just fine. When things are going right, I get bored easily. I like to solve problems and help people solve problems. This is why I am so active with writing and on social media right now. I am in all hands on deck mode. How can I help? How can I serve? This has always been my driving force of small business owning. I never stop because of my love for small business and its ability to take action on so many levels beyonf the day to day operations. For my little business, I have a big payroll. This one is on the smaller size because to conserve money, I chose to not pay myself. I include the amount so any non business owners out there can see the impact of what just one business closing will be haivng. This is real.

The only thing that is keeping me going is that we are all going through this together.

Continuing on with my day to day of the shut downs, thinking that this would be helpful. Take what you need and leave the rest.

There are lots of “little,” seemingly insignificant charges, we small business owners, who wear every hat imaginable, incur on the day to day month to month operations of our companies.

A two week shut down is a stark difference to a two month shut down, but I was raised as a pragmatist, so I err on the longer shut down of my business then a shorter one. The realist in me says that as much as people may WANT a spa service when we come out on the other side of this, my business may not be their first call. Hair color, Waxing, Haircut, facial, lash extensions maybe not so much, in that order. I am guessing this all, but I am a planner and I am basing my thinking on human nature. I hope I am wrong.

DAY 5

Here is what has happened and my additions to the check list. I am capitalizing the first few since they are of utmost importance.

GET YOURSELF A NOTEBOOK AND BEGIN DOCUMENTING EVERY CALL EVERY DATE, EVERY TIME AND WHO YOU SPOKE TO. Keep the name of the company and the phone number in one place according to the date. You will need good records, this will save you a lot of time later.

CREATE A FILE IN YOUR EMAIL TO MOVE EVERY EMAIL EXCHANGE BETWEEN INSURANCE UNEMPLOYMENT, INTERACTIONS, REFUNDS, CREDITS ETC and as the emails come in just move them to the file to find easily later. When later comes. And later will come.

THIS IS NEW FOR EVERYONE. STAY KIND AND PATIENT. OFFER SUGGESTIONS TO SOME OF THESE COMPANIES WHO ARE NOT ON THE FRONT LINE OF THE BRICK AND MORTAR BUSINESS MODELS LIKE WE ARE. They are open to suggestions. This may surprise you, but this is only week one for them too. My suggestion was to create a checklist for their accounts and send them out to stay ahead of the panic. Don’t freak out- we are all in the same boat. 

THIS IS THE BEST TIME TO ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR PASSWORDS, ACCOUNT NUMBERS, LOGINS IN ONE PLACE. You will be needing them and the more orderly you can keep everything, the calmer you will be the longer this goes on.

CREDIT CARD COMPANIES: If you are trying to cancel those pesky monthly charges that happen with or without business have your MERCHANT ID and your BUSINESS TAX ID handy. Keep it handy because you will be asked for this over and over.

They are on the receiving end of our panicked calls. We are chump change compared to the restaurant businesses that have alcohol instead of haircuts or candles to sell. I called mine and after one hour this is what I learned to ask for. 

Salon Software told me to call Gateway company- in my case it was Salon Biz + PaySimple. I called Paysimple they told me to call the credit card company, WORLD PAY. World Pay told me I needed to call Paysimple. YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS WAS HEADED. Here is what I learned. You can ask for a cancelation or a temporary suspension or a seasonal suspension. In PaySimple’s case, it was a cancelation. I will have 6 months from the date I canceled to reactivate or I will need to close and then reopen the account. I chose this as my option. The fees aren’t a lot but with no money coming in, 15.95 per month per location adds up over time. Right along with Pandora, Apple Music etc. Pick and choose your battles. I am being fiscally ultra conservative so that I have a business when we do reopen. 

This process start to finish took from 9:30am-10:38 am, over an hour. I ope this will save you some time. Many of us small business owners don’t even know how much extra we pay PER MONTH in addition to the fees PER TRANSACTION. Time to rise and shine, my beautiful small business owners!

If you have a separate credit card account for ECOMMERCE like I do, I didn’t cancel this. Just double check what you have and make decisions accordingly. 

SBA DISASTER RELIEF LOAN: Yes, taking out loans sucks. But I still say, fill out the paperwork anyway. Don’t do it on your phone. Sit down with your tax returns from last year or this year and have your debts, company names of mortgages and any other outstanding debt information at your side. It will take some time to fill out the form. You can save it and return to it later if it boots you out like it did me 3 times yesterday. I just turned it off, and am headed back to it today. Here is the website: spa.disasterloan.gov

My thinking is to get in the system so if I need it, I have the paperwork done. I hope I don’t need it. I hope none of us do. 

BUSINESS PHONE+INTERNET+SOFTWARE etc. I am in wait and see mode here. I reached out to them to see what their thoughts are and they are not ready to make decisions yet so I will revisit this next week. 

TEAM: Check in with your team. See if they need anything. Check to see if they received the unemployment confirmation. Send them a checklist that you have found helpful in your personal life. Set up a company zoom meeting so you can stay in touch. Not now, but keep this in mind as this situation progresses. Especially single moms, or moms home with their kids 24/7 for the first time. Work outside the home can be a very important outlet and identity for moms, this is a big shift for them.  A call, an email, a group text, letting them know you care during this craziness. You need them and they need you. The bonding between leaders and their employees shine the brightest in times of turmoil.

LEADERSHIP: Owning a business is easy when everything is going great. When the shit hits the fan like it is globally right now, we must take action. Make difficult decisions. This is not a popularity contest. Leadership is what you do when the going gets tough. It is the hardest job and this is a test of our ability under pressure. Not everyone is going to like your decisions, but this is a great thing too because it separates the people who you want as part of your continued tribe when and if you do reopen. This is a traumatic event. Ration your news feed. Put some music on. Light a candle. Call a neighbor and set the example by staying home. Encourage your team to stay home. Encourage your friend’s kids to stay home. Be a big voice in your business community. This is how we help.

SOCIAL MEDIA: I am in a lot of Business Facebook groups because I enjoy helping people. If the information you are reading is helpful then by all means share it, if it is causing you more worry and fear, then turn off your notifications and take a long bath, or a shower or make brownies with your kids. Don’t get sucked into the vortex. We need to keep our immunity up and strong during this time and health is priority number 1- physical and mental, spiritual too.

EXERCISE AND MENTAL HEALTH: Health is of utmost importance. If you are a gym person, and you don’t have access to it, you already know there is a plethora of videos and apps to keep moving even if you can’t get to the gym. For those of you who have been meaning to get to the gym and find yourselves hanging out on the couch more than ever- start small. 1 jumping jack, 1 ten second plank,  1 sit up,  1 deep breath. The next day try to add one more and keep adding until the end of the month. It is amazing how quickly these small additions can become easier and more important keep you sane. We have the time now. Take lots of deep breaths, write, draw, jump up and down, use your stairs, write letters to people instead of texts and emails. Keep moving. You need your health and you need your mind. 

TO BE CONTINUED, my friends. Stay safe. #Stayhome. #wewillgethroughthis.

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SET IT AND FORGET IT

SET IT AND FORGET IT

There was a movement over fifteen years ago. It was a rotisserie chicken movement. It was in my old life when my former husband bought something on an infomercial that was a contraption for roasting a chicken to perfection. The one liner that went along with the countertop roasting oven was “Set it and forget it!” And the promise was exactly what it sounded like. Put the chicken on the spicket and voila, this oven would make a perfect rotisserie chicken, no basting, no temperature checking, just put it in and take it out. I was a skeptic, but I must admit, this was a great purchase and we ate endless roasted chickens that were delicious.

As clever as Set it and Forget It was for engaging chicken rotisserie enthusiasts, Set it and Forget It does not apply to being a parent (if only) or running a business. Just like you can’t say something to your child one time and expect them to remember (Michael, take out the trash every Friday… imagine if as a parent you could say this once and miraculously it just happened every Friday without fail?), Set it and Forget It is also like this for a business.

Creating a systemic approach to running my company so that everyone who works for me knows the parameters of expectations is the Set It part. This is the seasoning part, the prep, the getting it in the oven before turning it on part. This is where lots of the work goes into and creating systems and teaching my team to follow them is 80% of success. There are times in my past sixteen years of leading a team of usually about twenty women that I have wanted to Set it and Forget it. There are times when I have been mentally or physically absent. When I have Set it and thought I could Forget it for a moment a month or a few months. I have seen the results of turning on the rotisserie and forgetting to set the timer as much as I have seen turning it on and ending up with a perfect result.

Just because I own my own business does not mean that when life has come at me, it has not affected the way I have been in my business and my own performance. I am human. I am woman and I have made mistakes. I have lost great people who have worked for me and I have weeded out dead weight of people who shouldn’t have worked for me in the first place. I hope that I always learn from my mistakes when someone leaves, and what I do know 100% of the time is that when someone does leave it is always a blessing in the long run with few exceptions. The great ones usually move on to something that continues their love of beauty and this always makes me happy because I know I have been a positive influence in this. Even if there have been negative elements, there are always divine lessons for both of us.

What I love most about running my company is that it is like a living breathing organism. It allows me to take breaks when I need to and it calls me back in when it needs me. For sixteen years, my business has never let me down and I always come back stronger and better from its unique lessons. I am convinced that it is because of my Set it mentality. Without the Set it, what do I have? If people who work for me don’t know what my expectations are then how can anyone of them succeed and how does my business succeed?

I have strong expectations and some people love this about working for me, some are energized by it and some grow tired of it. All of this is good in the long run. What I have realized, especially this past year with my caught it early for the second time breast cancer surgeries, is that my team continues to show up and has allowed me to Forget it so that I could recover. I lost some great employees right around my first surgery and it was hard to not take that personal when I reflected on the timing of their departures, but I have learned that business and employees are just that. No matter how much I think of them as family and close connections, first and foremost it is employee and employer. When I remember this, I am a better leader. Don’t get me wrong, sensitivity and empathy to my teams’ personal lives make for much better relationships. I care about them a lot. I care about their happiness and their work environment. I care about their lives, their children, their families, their livelihood, their animals, their weddings, showers, funerals, first homebuying, the list never ends. This day as I reflect on what was one of my most difficult years of owning my business, I am so grateful for my team of almost twenty shining stars who have rallied and risen to every occasion. I am blessed beyond words for their work ethic and their hearts as they come to work every day to help me fulfill my own business mission of taking stellar care of our clients so they want to come back often.

Recently one of my favorite employees decided she was getting a bit complacent and at 45 wanted to take a break and decide what she wanted to be when she grew up because she realized that she never really had defined this for herself. This was a big loss for me as I came to rely on her unique approach to my business and she offered honesty and solution based constructive criticism on an almost daily basis. She assured me that all would be fine, life would go on and someone else would take the helm. I knew as I always do that this is definitive truth. I know that grooming leadership is my strength more than even running my business, one of the most satisfying elements of being an entrepreneur is developing leaders. Her departure reminded me of this part of my ability that is intuitive to me me. I have always known what I wanted to be when I grew up because it is exactly what I am doing today. As sad as this loss was for my company and the women who have grown to rely on her own leadership skills, this opportunity for me to develop new energy is something I relish and it is a perfectly timed gift. Working with women and teaching them the skills that I know are invaluable to running a million dollar company also teaches them unique life skills they can bring to their personal worlds. These skills make them better women, not only in the workforce, but as mothers, wives, partners, and humans. It is my unique privilege to show up for them the way they show up for me. This is legacy and female small business owning in its finest hour.

I have the best team not because of luck as so many like to say when they speak to me about my team. I have the best team because they are willing to take a chance and step out of their comfort zones to trust my leadership. They are my nucleus, not the other way around. I just get to be the container of their strengths by keeping the cell healthy and growing. I am the lucky one every day because I get to own my own business, but because I get to work with twenty women who are the best in the business. We have learned to care and support one another. They have taken my Set It to heart and have given me permission to occasionally Forget It. They command my return when they know it is time for my leadership again. This is the well-seasoned machine of a team that I have the honor of being the line leader of. People leave. Great people leave and I miss the ones who were great, surely, but what I know in my deepest of cells is that the great ones stay too. I am so appreciative for the time they have given me before they left and I am most grateful for the time they are here present and part of this party I have the luxury of calling work. To all the chiefs in my kitchen who have come and gone, you know who you are and the Chieftresses who are still cooking up the feasts, Thank you. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be the line leader, the head chef and the student all in the same breath. Lucky indeed.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Great Life.













surely not all of the team past and present but the photos i could find quickly this am to at least represent a few.