Leadership: The foundation of a successful business

Leadership is the foundation of a successful business.  In a recent post, you learned about the 5 pillars of business(Leadership, Operations, Administration & Finance, Marketing and Sales) – all are important, but it starts with leadership.  Any business or team is only as good/strong as its leader.

You might be wondering how this is relevant in a one person, sole-trader, freelancer business.  Good question!  As a freelancer, we are our own boss, and we need to LEAD our business.

I sometimes joke about my “boss” being a hard-ass and how she makes me work every day, and I also joke about how she’s great at times giving me a day off.  Of course, my boss is ME.

As freelancers, we don’t have someone else looking over our shoulder telling us what to do, setting targets and checking to see if we have achieved them.

I mean, think about a retail store, like Sephora for example.  When you walk into a Sephora, you don’t see the staff wandering around, chatting amongst themselves, playing with the makeup, scrolling through their Instagram.  No. Because the store is focussed on their bottom line, making a profit, and looking after their customers so they will keep coming back and not go to the competition.

We need to think the same way!

Yes, those sales people do makeup, but if you’ve ever had your makeup done in a makeup store like Sephora (or at any makeup counter), you’ll know that the “makeup artist” is doubling as a sales person (or should be!!), he or she will be talking about the products they are using, highlighting the features and benefits of those products and making recommendations.  The expectation is that after the makeup application the customer will purchase some of the products.  Often the cost of the makeup application is redeemable in products, the expectation being that many customers will spend MORE than the amount they were quoted for their makeup application. I know some stores even have a target that their staff should sell three products to each customer.

What happens if a particular staff member doesn’t perform very well?  What happens if they don’t convert makeup applications into sales?  They might get less shifts, even a warning and if they’re really bad they might get fired!

Whereas the good staff members get more shifts, more perks (like working on fashion week) and end up being promoted to management.

So how does this relate to being a freelancer?  Well, do you want to be the casual sales person doing 2 shifts a week, OR the manager who gets to work at fashion week and earns a full-time income? Of course, as a freelance makeup artist or hairstylist chances are you are providing makeup and hair services, and not selling products… but to stay in business and to succeed, you do need to sell your services.

In our freelance business we need those same principles of LEADERSHIP that the management provides for the staff at stores like Sephora.  We need to LEAD ourselves, our own business.  You are the boss and the staff member!



The first principle of leadership is your VISION and MISSION.  Do you have a vision for your business and your career?  Your vision is like your Destination.  Where are you going?  It’s the GPS for your business.  Your VISION is where your business is headed, in the future.

What does success look like to you?  (There is no right or wrong answer here – only the answer that is right for YOU)

For some people it could be to see their work on the cover of magazines

Working around the world on fashion weeks

Working with celebrities

Doing 100 weddings every year

Managing a team of artists

Working a variety of jobs and meeting awesome people

BUT, just the same, it could be simply earning enough money from 2 days work so you can spend more time with your children as they grow up.

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The second principle is TARGETS.  A retail store will set sales targets: yearly, quarterly and monthly targets, and they keep a very close eye on their progress towards those targets.  Now, while most freelance makeup artists are “selling” their services, not actual makeup products, the same principle applies. Do you set yourself targets?  Do you measure your progress?

If the retail store doesn’t reach their targets they will make some changes:  change their staff levels, change the product lines they have in store, change their opening hours, whatever.

If you’re not reaching your targets, why is that?  Maybe you have set the targets too high? They do need to be realistic!  Maybe your strategy for reaching those targets needs to change.  Look at where your strategy ISN’T working – it may be one of the other pillars of your business that needs attention.  Course-correct to get you back on track to achieve your targets.


The third principle is REWARDS.  The retail store may reward its staff with money (wages) and discounts on products. They reward their shareholders with dividends (profits).  How are you rewarding yourself for success in your business?  Obviously you are earning money, HOPEFULLY you are earning a profit (if not, we need to TALK!!) and I recommend you also reward yourself for not only achieving your targets but for your honest efforts towards them as well.  A good boss or leader knows that rewarding effort leads to better performance.  When was the last time you treated yourself for your efforts in your business?


Check back in two week’s time when we talk about Pillar 2 – Operations – this is all about what you DO in your business that actually gets you paid: makeup, hairstyling, beauty treatments.  If you’d like to receive a reminder directly to your inbox, click here to join my newsletter list.