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Another Record Year

A computer monitor, tablet and laptop reflecting an image of the word breathe in pink neon surrounded by greenery on a white desk.
Photo: Sanni Sahil

With just days to go until 2022, the numbers reflected in my POS software indicate sales growth of over 60% in 2021. 2020 was a weird year so I am a little apprehensive to celebrate.

Instead, I am spending some time to reflect on what went right, worked phenomenally and plan to duplicate or even supersede that success in the upcoming year. In August, I had a business check-in with a colleague where I assessed the amount of growth I had already achieved year to date. I knew back then, if I kept on pace I would reach that out of this world goal I had set for myself back in 2016 when I was planning my next years success.

You see, knowing what you want and understanding where you are currently are the two factors that go hand in hand when you're forecasting future success. It took me four and a half years to reach this money goal in part because I was scared. I didn't want to fail, I was a part time self earner while I let my Spouse work 40-50 hours with a steady paycheck. A job he grew to loathe. A simple passing thought at the tail end of 2020 eventually came to fruition and I asked him to leave the job that was making him miserable in order for me to work longer hours through the week. I didn't have to modify my schedule much at all.

In those years of learning and growing how to market my brand, paid ads became the tipping point of freeing up my time and allowing me to spend more of it actively earning money.

I started slow, like most of us solo-preneurs, with a few boosted ads on Facebook. I learned later that they were just a superficial way to get a few likes and I never generated any real dollars using them. Spending years understanding the algorithm Facebook Ad hub is still not my favorite for the salon industry. After my first few failed campaigns with Facebook, a crappy experience with Groupon and an underwhelming tiptoe with Yelp, I turned to Google Ads. What did I have to lose? With the most minimalist budget that I could, I started my first campaign in 2019 and I watched my organic reach of roughly 1k a month go up to 2.5k then 5k. I was hooked but still waited until I was getting new calls

and bookings that justified spending anywhere from 19 cents to 60 cents per click. When those first few color corrections came in, I truly felt like I found my niche in digital marketing.

I spent 2020 really fine tuning my business and learning what I wanted out of it, even within its three branches; salon/photography/consultant. With all the real world experience I had, I decided to settle on throwing money into salon ads, narrowing in on the services I wanted to perform, with exuberance. I creeped other pages and salon competition to set the bar, never be afraid to do that, and what I found lacking in a lot of other salon sites was personality. As if a lot of stylists were afraid to open up, show their faults while celebrating their strengths.

Realizing that having my website visible to thousands of people a month, I knew I wanted to stand out, capitalize on what made me different and more suitable for eyes looking to connect. All that branding work is a progressively changing monster on it's own but understanding the cause and effect of design principles and engaging copy has been paramount to keeping potential clients falling into my funnel via those paid ads I have come to lean on.

Before the first quarter of 2021 was over, I was spending 8% of my earnings back into paid ads, my profits just kept exceeding the month before, those new guests were returning every 4-6 weeks and referring their Mothers and co-workers, filling my books all throughout the year. Toward the middle of the year, I thought about reassessing that marketing budget because those paid ads had amassed a 75% increase in sales in the month of June, so in theory, my budget should have increased. I had set my ad spend early on and kept it on auto-pilot to ride the wave post pandemic. My lack of available time proved that to be a mistake so I kept that budget through to the last month, having really wonderful results along the way.

When the Holidays arrived, I had to concentrate on marketing again and really decide ultimately to pause my ad campaigns. Traditionally, people don't want to try a new salon before big events like family Christmas or work parties and celebrations. Plus, the biggest retail giants are spending beuku dollars to be front and center selling all things beauty. Small businesses have to spend a little extra just to compete. The real icing on this cake, I had done so well through the year that I was booked solid from Thanksgiving break to January. So, on the chance clients did find my website I had nowhere to put them, essentially paying for ads that wouldn't yield profits.

Now, as I look at my numbers and compare them to the next few days of 2021, I know I have a sustainable business model that will continue to provide a wealthy lifestyle for my family and I.

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