The 5 pillars of a successful business

Did you know that as a successful, working freelance makeup artist or hairstylist, you will only be spending about 20% of your time actually doing makeup or hairstyling?  There is so much more to being a successful freelancer. Failing to pay attention to the other aspects of your business could be preventing you from being as successful as you’d like to be.

In my experience coaching freelancers in how to be more successful in their businesses, I’ve found that so many of them focus on the OPERATIONS side of their business because they don’t actually know too much about what to do with the other aspects of their business.

If that’s you, it’s not your fault!!  If you’ve done a diploma, or even a makeup certificate, you’ve learned loads about how to DO makeup, but maybe not that much about how to run a successful freelance business.  When I used to teach diploma, we had I think 8 lessons on business, and most of those lessons taught things that weren’t even that relevant as a working freelancer!  And this isn’t the fault of the teacher or the college…  it’s the curriculum, which the colleges are bound to teach by.

In this blog post you’ll learn a little about the 5 Pillars of a Successful Business, and over the next couple of weeks, we will dive deeper into each of them.  I’m calling them pillars, because if you imagine a roof held up by pillars, you need all of them to be even, otherwise the roof will topple over.  It’s the same with your business, you need to have balance amongst the pillars.  If you focus on one pillar at the expense of others, your business may not topple, but it won’t be as strong and sturdy as it could be.

PILLAR 1 – Operations

Let’s start with the Pillar you’re probably most familiar with.  Actually I could call this pillar the foundation – because if you don’t have this side of your business sorted, you won’t have a business!  Operating your business involves not only doing makeup and hair, but the behind the scenes stuff that makes doing makeup and hair possible.  Washing your brushes, organising your kit, purchasing new products, practicing your craft.  This is probably the pillar I focus on the least in my blog topics, but a few you may find helpful are:

My favourite foundations

The perfect eyeshadow palette? 

What’s in my on-set bag

Who Weekly feature with Lauren Brandt and Barry Hall

PILLAR 2 – Admin and finance

Your business won’t last long if you’re not making a profit, but it’s surprising to me how few freelancers have a good handle on the financial position of their business.  This pillar involves knowing how to set your rates and price jobs appropriately, how to record your income and expenses, organising those important things like business registration and insurance, invoicing your clients and your contracts or T&Cs.

One of my mentors taught me “What gets measured improves” and I really believe this is true.  In fact, I was talking to one of my colleagues just the other day, and she told me how much more profitable her business has become since she started tracking her income and expenses regularly.  Don’t leave it till the end of the year and turn up to your accountant with a shoe-box full of receipts!!  Spend 15 minutes each week, save yourself the stress of doing a big job once a year, AND, watch your business become more profitable.

(I had an appointment with my accountant last week, and I asked her “Do people actually turn up to do their tax with a shoe-box full of receipts?”  She rolled her eyes and said “oh yes!!” – Don’t you be doing that!)

Setting your Rates – and what expenses can you claim?

Makeup Artist Costs Worksheet

Pillar 3 – Marketing

Marketing is all about your customers or clients.  Who are they and how can you help them?  Knowing who you are marketing to makes all the difference, because if you’re speaking to everyone, you’re speaking to no-one.  Getting clear on your target market, ideal client, and message to them is vital if you want to have a healthy business that makes you happy!  I speak to a lot of makeup artists (especially those who are just starting out) who are complaining about their clients.  #truthbomb – if you’re not happy with the clients you are working with, it’s not their fault, it’s yours!  You are attracting the wrong people with your marketing.  Be clear in your marketing, and you’ll attract the right people, the wrong people will notice you and keep moving onto the next artist.

Marketing is SO MUCH more than just posting on Social Media (though that is an important part of it).  Once upon a time Marketing simply meant taking out an ad, or putting up a sign saying “I’m here, book me” and the bookings would come in (I’m thinking of back in the days of the Yellow Pages – yes, I used to advertise there – and it worked back then).  Customers are more discerning now, and need more touch-points before they make a buying decision.

With the right marketing you can help them along this early part of the customer journey, from awareness to evaluation and consideration.  The best business people know how to Add Value to their potential clients during this stage of the journey, and for us freelancers, we can do that by educating, entertaining and inspiring our customers, NOT just by promoting our business all the time.

Are you adding value with your social media posts?  Do you aim to entertain, inspire and educate your potential clients?

Modern Value-driven Marketing (with giveaway)

Old school marketing

sneaky Behind-the-scenes shot on a commercial shoot

Pillar 4 – Sales

Closely related to marketing is the Pillar of Sales.  It’s all very well to have a steady stream of enquiries coming in, but if you can’t convert those enquiries into sales, well, your business won’t be going too well.

The reality is, as a freelancer, you also need to be a sales person.  Often when we hear the word SALES we think of a pushy, slimy, used-car salesman type.  But sales doesn’t have to be like that.  Once you have your marketing message right, you will find that your sales process will be a lot simpler.  This stage of the customer journey is about you highlighting the BENEFITS of your service to the client, and overcoming any objections that they might have.

And remember, sales is never about price, its about perceived value.

An important step in the customer journey is follow-up, and yet I find it’s one that many artists avoid, as they don’t want to appear pushy.  Remember that following up with your client is providing a service to them, most people require at least 5 touch-points to make a buying decision, and “the fortune is in the follow-up”.

What to do when your client ghosts you

How to follow-up

Pillar 5 – Leadership

You might be thinking “wait, I’m a solo artist, I don’t have a team or a boss, leadership isn’t relevant for me”, but that’s not so, even a business of one needs leadership.  And what I mean by leadership is the skills that allow you to undertake strategic planning, and to set goals for your career and your business.  If you don’t know where you’re headed, who knows where you will end up!

Having a strategic plan that covers the other pillars of your business is vital if you want to have a sustainable, profitable business, and particularly if you are looking to diversify and scale your business at some point.

This is particularly relevant  as we head into a New Year, its a great time to reflect on the year that was, and to set some goals and objectives for the coming year.

5 tips for setting goals

The Big Picture Vision

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post, its been a bit of a walk down memory lane – checking out some of my most memorable and popular posts from 2019.  I’m currently formulating my goals and plans for 2020, and reflecting on the great year that was 2019.  Thanks for reading this, and any of my blog posts this year.  I really appreciate every one of you ❤

2 thoughts on “The 5 pillars of a successful business”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s