Mo money, mo problems is a real thing.
Trust me, I remember being 22, newly licensed and dreaming of the day I was a stylist making six-figures spending my Summers sipping cocktails out of coconuts with tiny umbrellas and twirly straws.
Seriously, that’s what I thought it would look like when I made it big.
The reality of a successful stylists life somes has a touch of that, but it comes with it’s fair share of struggles too and it’s time we openly talk about it.
While I want you to keep pushing hard for success, I want to prepare you for the tough times too and set you up for happiness in the years to come.
Here are the 6 big challenges that successful stylists today face and how to overcome them:
Your peers may become upset, judgmental or cold
We all know that change is scary and generally speaking nobody likes change. Any stylist who is successful today will tell you they’ve heard the dreaded “you’re just not the same as you used to be” which unfortunately has such a negative connotation.
The ironic thing is that our goal as humans IS to grow and change. If we aren’t growing, we are slowing dying so it’s funny how as we change often those around us become saddened rather than celebrating our success.
Often when our peers seem disappointed or disheartened by your changes, it stems from jealousy and disappointment in themselves.
Try and keep in mind that in 20 years you’ll only look back and reflect on your own choices. You won’t care what anybody else thought any more and you’re fully responsible for the life you’re creating. This life is about making yourself happy, never forget that.
Your clients will begin to leave you
The fear of losing clients is the reason why most stylists put off price increases, stay in bad salons for way too long, delay schedule changes that they so badly want to have.
Here’s the reality….clients will leave you. Period. Very few clients will be loyal to you for 30+ years and follow you for your entire career and that is totally okay. In fact, this is a great thing because you’d probably be completely bored doing the same 100 heads of hair over and over and over month after month for 30 years.
As you raise prices, change locations, change your schedule some clients will leave you BUT you’ll also become even more appealing to new clients who want to pay more for services or value the lifestyle changes you’re making.
You’ll need to break up with some of your clients
Funny, but so true because you really will have to let some of your clients go. You may not have experienced it yet, but successful stylists do hit a point where they’ve done three price increases in a year, their entire clientele pre-books and they still have no room for new guests so they need to start prioritizing their efforts.
When this happens a stylist does sometimes choose to eliminate all clients who don’t get color services or maybe take every Saturday off and just start enjoying more free time.
This will leave some clients high and dry but you can totally navigate this.
The best thing you can do is to make your guests feel well cared for. Be open and honest, don’t beat around the bush.
You can become obsessed in an unhealthy way
Listen I proudly say on the regular that we are working in the best industry on the planet. How lucky are we that our job in a nutshell is creatively doing hair, making people feel beautiful and showing off our work on social media. I mean, that freaking rocks.
The problem is when your love of the industry becomes an obsession because you will miss out on life around you and it’s a really slippery slope.
I’ll never forget the email I received from a stylists spouse earlier this year begging me to ask her to please put her phone down, leave the Instagram alone and focus on her family for a change.
It breaks my heart when I ask stylists where they last went for vacation and they say “well I haven’t been on a real vacation, but I did go to a great hair show this year and that’s my kind of vacation”.
I question this industry when stylists say they feel guilty about calling in sick or taking a two-week trip because they are worried their clients will be mad.
All of that is true insanity to me. What are we doing this for if it’s not to support a beautiful personal life. There has to be a life beyond our work. You must have passions and interested outside of hair, because one day you won’t be doing the hair anymore and the life and memories you’ve created will be all that you’re left with.
You’ll burn yourself out and hit a breaking point
Often a stylist who starts reaching great success don’t want to tackle the three things I mentioned above, so instead they bend over backwards to make it all continue to happen.
I’ve coached incredible educators who are still behind the chair 5 days per week, hop on a plane Saturday night, teach Sunday and Monday and show up back behind that chair on Tuesday. By the time they call me they are burnt out, over it and desperate for a solution.
I’ve coached incredible stylists who technically work only 3 days a week but are pulling 12-14 hour days to squeeze every last butt into that chair. You can maintain that pace for a while, but trust me, you will burn out.
I don’t think anybody got into this industry to be overworked, exhausted and resentful which is exactly where you’ll be if you don’t regain control quickly.
You’ll hit a glass ceiling and feel lost in the world
You’ve probably heard me say before that you’ll never max out as a stylist and your income potential is limitless.
That is fully true, but often successful stylists do hit a point where they crave more. Having a maxed out schedule or being a successful educator and making great money is fulfilling for a while, but as humans we are generally looking to work for the next goal.
So what do you do when it doesn’t feel like there is a next goal? When you feel like the only way to grow is to just take more clients, or teach more classes or open a salon of your own and none of that even feels fulfilling?
As somebody who has coached hundreds of stylists who are 10, 20, 30 years in to this industry, my best advice is for you to spend a few years working like most people won't so that you can spend the rest of you life working like most people can't.
Throw a tiny umbrella in that coconut cocktail and celebrate the beautiful life you've built more often than not.