When the 9 to 5 grind gets to be too much and you feel like your talents are just lining someone else’s pockets, the best thing you can do is break away and start your own business — at least that's what Lottie Hadwen says!
Lottie wasn't content with a stable job in a local salon, so she used her formal training and social media savvy to set up shop as a mobile makeup artist. While she continues to build a strong customer base in her local area, she's also working on branching out by creating a line of her own cosmetics.
We chatted with her about the business of beauty and why she thinks it's important to follow and network with the *right* kind of people for your business.
Name: Lottie Hadwen
Business: Makeup by Lottie
Started: January 2016
Why did you start your business?
I started my business because I was tired of working for minimum wage. I did numerous courses on beauty therapy at college, so I took a chance and decided to use my skills to make some money for myself.
The first thing I did was build up a strong social media following and identify local press where I could advertise. I also invested money in Facebook advertising, where I started out with three targeted campaigns.
Can you remember your very first customer?
I can! My first customer was a girl who was about to celebrate her 18th birthday. She saw my Facebook ad and sent me a message. After a couple of conversations, she booked me for a full makeover.
After I completed the job she tipped me and commented that it was my professionalism and phone manner that convinced her to choose my services over a local salon.
To say this was a confidence boost is an understatement! Naturally, I got her to leave some feedback on my Facebook page, as this is a hugely important part of my business plan.
At what point did you know your business was going to work?
After my first client recommended me to a handful of friends, I realized that offering a professional and personal service at an affordable price gives me an advantage over salons.
Reputation is important in the beauty industry, as people are often looking for a luxury experience as well as a professional service.
This means adopting a personable tone during the initial consultation, using high-quality products and — less obviously but by no means less importantly — offering the right price. I’ve set my fees so that I can make a profit without the client having to pay a premium.
What has been the biggest surprise so far after starting your own business?
The amount of time I spend doing "work" outside of work has been the biggest surprise.
Unlike my old 9 to 5 salon job, I now need to actively promote my services and research the marketplace when I'm not with clients. I add new posts to my social channels — YouTube, Instagram and Facebook — every day, reach out to photographers and models and generally try to establish a footing in the industry so I can build up my customer base.
How do you price your services?
My main strategy when I’m pricing my products and services is to be cheaper than local salons, but in line with my direct competitors. As I said, pricing can often be a tricky subject in the beauty therapy world simply because some clients aren't willing to pay too much for a service they see as a luxury.
This can make it difficult when setting prices. I need to ensure I make enough profit per session to offset the infrequency of certain treatments, but not be so expensive that a client feels as though they're paying too much.
The most effective trick I've learned so far is to state all my prices as "From XXX." Adding this degree of flexibility means I can often negotiate with a client based on their needs and, if necessary, charge a price that’s a little lower to secure a sale.
If you could go back in time, what's the one thing you would do differently when starting your business?
I would have saved more money. I think everyone underestimates how much financial backing they need to start their own business. Having more cash at the start would have allowed me to spend more on marketing my services.
Apart from having more money — which we'd all love — I also would have spent more time building up partnerships with companies, models and photographers. I know the idea of networking (and now social networking) is a little clichéd, but I think it's really important for small businesses when they're just starting out.
Is there one marketing trick that you've found to be more effective than any other?
Social media is without doubt the most important marketing tool I've used so far. My target demographic spends more time consuming information via social media than they do watching TV or reading magazines.
There isn't a day that goes by when I'm not uploading a new tutorial, adding images to my online portfolio, engaging with my followers or updating my paid ads. I think the key to a successful social media campaign is to constantly be on top of the action.
If there was one tip you could offer to a fellow entrepreneur, what would it be?
Never give up and learn to roll with the punches. Being self-employed is not for everyone, and I've seen many of my friends in the industry give up and go back to a more stable 9 to 5.
If you have negative people around you, put them aside and only surround yourself with positive and motivated people. Doing this can lift your mood and help you overcome the tough times.
If we gave you an opportunity to ask one question to our community of small business owners and self-employed professionals, what would it be?
I’d like to know more about how other business owners invest in themselves. I attend seminars and do research, but I'd like to know what sort of tools, services and personal development programs other entrepreneurs use.
Let's help Lottie out with her question!
Are you a small business veteran who’s always looking for new ways to educate yourself? What services or resources do you find helpful when it comes to improving your business knowledge and pursuing personal development?
Leave your best tips for Lottie (and the rest of us!) in the comments section below! :-)
"I’d like to know more about how other business owners invest in themselves. I attend seminars and do research, but I'd like to know what sort of tools, services and personal development programs other entrepreneurs use." /// Greetings!! What a question! It could take quite a while to unpack this one, so I'm privileged to offer initial feedback + I'll gauge how much further I may be able to add endless value based on feedback rec'd. Hows that?
@SBSL-Founder-SJ - Can you help Lottie? What services or resources do you find helpful when it comes to improving your business knowledge and pursuing personal development? Thanks!
This is wonderful, @SBSL-Founder-SJ! "Be true to yourself...investing in yourself." I also agree that sticking to something for a year is important, too!
I think having a personal and/or buisness mentor is a huge factor when it comes to running a business. It always helps to have another opinion from a person outside of the circle that is knowledgeable in your industry. Also I have found out that it works as a great accountability partner in my case. Keep up the great work!!!