5 Mistakes I Made When Becoming A Solo Esthetician

Posted by Sarah Kinsler-Holloway on

Going solo is so exciting; there's so much freedom in working for yourself!

On the other hand, there are a lot more responsibilities. Running a business is not covered in most esthetic programs, so I thought I would share the top 5 mistakes I made when becoming a solo esthetician


Buying into a product line without trying it first

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I prematurely jumped feet first into a product line without really trying it.  It was an organic line, that had beautiful packaging, and it was different than anything I had seen.  I love setting myself apart, and this seemed like a legitimate way to do so.  

Oh how naive I was. The product line turned out to be a dud, because with time, I was able to see that it wasn't providing the results needed.  That was sadly $1000 down the drain. 

I highly recommend trying out different lines for awhile, especially if they have a buy-in. 


My pricing was way too low

I cringe when I think about what I charged for a facial when I first opened. I believe it was $60 for an hour facial.  I had a vague idea of what my backbar costs were, but I was too afraid to charge my worth because I was the new kid in town.  As I've built my clientele, I have raised my prices five different times within the last 3 years. 

I've finally realized that I can't be the esthetician for everyone, and that is okay.  I want to attract high ticket clients, so I need to charge accordingly.  It's true that low prices attract clients who are looking for a good deal, and honestly, those shouldn't be your ideal client.  They tend to be a pain, and don't adhere to policies. 

It's important we charge our worth, and also charge according to our backbar costs.  Now personally, I don't have a cost per service for my basic facial, because it's completely customized, and that would create limitations.  Instead, I roughly know what each product costs, and I know, in general, how to keep my backbar costs low. Do what works for you!

Since I've raised my prices I haven't lost any clientele, and in fact, my business continues to grow!

Think about this, Cocoa Cola hasn't changed their recipe or price because some people like Pepsi.  Stay true to yourself, and charge your worth!


Not keeping boundaries

Are you familiar with the saying, "don't light yourself on fire to keep others warm?" I'm pretty sure whomever said that was talking about me. 

Up until recently, actually, I have had very fluid boundaries, and that has taken a serious impact on my mental health. 

I've squeezed clients in who didn't pre-book because I didn't want to lose them as a client

I've stayed late taking a client because I didn't want them to go elsewhere, and because I had this illusion that bending over backwards is good customer service

I discounted services that I shouldn't have because I was trying to be helpful. Believe me, I've spent too much time in other people's pocketbooks. 

The list goes on and on, unfortunately.

What I've learned, and I still am putting into practice today is that boundaries are essential.  

First, a lack of boundaries invites a lack or respect.  Second, I didn't open my own business to then not live my life on my own terms.  And third, when you give an inch, they will take a mile.

Outline your policies, for both your client and for yourself, and then stick to them.


I didn't pay myself

For the first two years I didn't really pay myself.  I threw everything back into my business to build it.  This was a major disservice to myself, and here is why:

  • I deserved to get paid, I was working after all. Once I started paying myself a percentage, it felt like an incentive. 
  • I didn't have a clear idea of how much it was costing to run my business. Because of that my finances were very unorganized, and I was buying too many "toys" because I didn't realize I couldn't actually afford them. 

If you're not sure how to pay yourself, or where to start, I highly recommend Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. 


I worried about what other local estheticians were doing

I know it can be hard not to check out the competition.  However, constantly comparing ourselves to others can be paralyzing. 

It's also incredibly irrelevant.  Of course it's important to partake in continuing education, and staying up-to-date on treatment/equipment trends, however, our clients come to us because of us, and the vibe we give.  And I'm not talking about the vomit inducing "good vibes only" quotes I see everywhere. I'm talking about the law of vibration. The law of vibration shows us that everything is energy, and we can manifest anything, by matching it's energy.

Treat your clients like gold, stay in your lane, keep your blinders on, and worry about how you can take your business to the next level, and it will happen!


So in closing, know that opening a business is not necessary linear.  There is a lot of learning that happens, and a little preparatory work goes a long way. When you hit speed bumps (because you will), don't throw in the towel.  I think that the last sentence may be the key to success.  Don't let setbacks deter you from the success you deserve. 

I hope, if anything, this blog was helpful and perhaps a little inspiring, and I hope my mistakes can be your building blocks.


In skincare + business,


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