What I wish I had known (and will remember moving forward)…

As we are heading into our 8th year at Mirror Mirror, I can’t help but think of the girl I was as I put the key in the door for the first time.  We were just a couple of months out from our wedding,  I was just three years out of cosmetology school and I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into.  We had bootstrapped some cash and decided to open my first salon.  I was scared and excited and everything in between.  There were huge stumbling blocks and I was figuring it out as I went.  This year, I decided I would put pen to paper and share a few thoughts on what I wish I had known then and will remember moving forward.  It’s my very first business blog post and I hope you enjoy it!

So here ya go…a letter to myself as I put the key into the door for the first time…


Hey girl, hey!

It’s me, I’m you 8 years down the road and I want to give you a little bit of advice before you open those doors…

Don’t be afraid to be a leader.

This is crucial.  I know you want to create a collaborative environment and you are afraid to stick your neck out and actually lead.  You will learn that people actually are seeking a leader. They want someone to show them the way and go right alongside them.  Being a leader doesn’t mean you aren’t scared it just means you do it anyway. Step up and lead!

The right people are everything.

It’s true.  You will learn very quickly that the right people for your business will support you and trust you no matter what.  They are willing to get in the trenches and understand that change is inevitable (especially in small business) but the way you handle that change is key.  On the flipside, the wrong people will get in the way of everything you do.  They will confuse you and distract the right people. Keeping them around will also hold them back from what they are meant to be!

Taking a break is okay.

You will get tired…and burnt out.  You will be forced to take breaks out of necessity (like when the boys come along or when your health demands it) but over the years you will learn that it’s okay and imperative that you take breaks from your business.  A well-oiled machine will run without you (eventually) and you will be a stronger leader if you are recharged and well rested! Keep an eye out for your team and make sure they are taking breaks too.

The Golden Rule will guide your business.

This works with your customers and your team.  Treating people the way you would want to be treated is really all it takes.  When you stray outside of this guideline it bites back hard. When it’s time to make a business decision or create an experience that brings customers back time after time, make sure you come back to this.

Stay flexible and be ready to evolve.

Innovation is at the core of who you are and one of your super powers.  Eventually you will put “Innovation” in your core values and it’s because you don’t want to do anything like anyone else.  Never have. It would be so easy to buy into a set program but you will continue to want to innovate what can be done in your industry in all ways.  You have what it takes to pave the way and be a pioneer. Stay the course. If nothing changes, nothing changes. So stay flexible and make sure your team understands that.

You will fail and mess up.  It’s okay.

Oh boy will you fail.  You will try things and they will not work.  You will let people down and they will let you down.  You will invest in ideas and they will bust. It’s okay.  If you don’t try things you won’t know what DOES work and your failures and mishaps along the way will shape who you are in business and in life.  Do it anyway.

It’s okay to make a profit.

This one will take you awhile to figure out but you are in a for profit business.  You invested a ton of time and money and it’s your head on the chopping block if it all falls apart.  If you are putting people first and creating opportunity that nobody else can offer while offering experiences that are exceptional, it’s completely okay to expect to make a profit.  Plan for it, work for it, and do not apologize for it!

It’s okay to say “no”.

Just because people (your team members) ask doesn’t mean you have to say “yes”.  Think before you respond and remember it’s okay to say “no” in the name of what’s right for the business and for their future!  While your nature is to want to be a “yes” girl – resist and respond with thought! Additionally, people (the public) will want you to give your time and money and unless it’s mutually beneficial – it’s okay to say “no”.  As Jen Hatmaker would say…”if it’s not a heck yes, it’s a no”.

Systems are your friend.

In the interest of building a company that runs like a well-oiled machine, you will need systems.  And policy’s. And manuals. And it will actually provide more freedom for you and your team than you can imagine.  Everyone wants to be playing off the same play book and it will provide a sense of comfort in how you do business!

Don’t run your business based on how you THINK others are running theirs.

It’s normal to look around and see how everyone else is doing it.  For you to assume what their structures are and what they allow. While it’s fair to keep an eye on the marketplace remember you don’t know anything about the inner workings and just because that’s the way THEY do it doesn’t mean they should and it certainly doesn’t mean you should!  Pave your own path. Trust your gut.

And remember…If your heart is in the right place.  If you treat others the way you’d want to be treated.

…and if you make sure there is money in the bank to fund it all, you will find your way!  Cash is king!

Never be afraid of evolving and adjusting your sails.  Know when to cut your losses and move on.  Be open to new ideas and find ways to help others.

Leap and the net will appear – you got this and you’ve got a massive support system to help you along the way!


Martha Lynn

Image via Melissa Glynn


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