You’ve studied. You’ve practiced. You’ve leafed through mountains of magazines and logged weeks of screen time on YouTube. Your fingers are cramped from scrolling Instagram trolling for inspiration. You do your best to get better at what you do. But the fact is there’s always more to learn, and reminding yourself of that is the number one habit for success for any professional. So we congratulate you for seeking advice, and we think you’ll find it worthwhile to cultivate the habits on this list.
Part 1: The Personal
Strive to be fearlessly who you are. You're bringing your unique self to the table – or floor – and that’s who people want to know. It also means accepting who others are and how differently we each see things.
Take care of yourself.
You take care of others, so be sure you’re not last on the list. Sleep. Eat well and wisely. Tend to the stress points. Have fun. Exercise to reset, realign, and release all those fantastic neurochemicals. Check in with yourself daily – sit, stand, meditate, walk in the garden or stare at a wall – to calm the mind and come home. Anessa Daviero from Headdress Hair Salon in New York City considers her morning meditation the most important habit because, “My life is really busy running the salon, being a hairdresser, a mom, and a wife.”
Be Simple but Deep.
Do a few things really well rather than too many things less well. Focus your talent on the things that excite you and that come naturally. On the other hand...
Live just outside your comfort zone. Choose new ways to experience familiar things. Find teachers to help you take steps forward and outward. Traveling to seminars can be great, but there’s a world of inspiration online to be found right at home.
Thicken the Skin.
Manage your emotions, especially when feeling insecure. Take criticism constructively and not personally. Easier said than done, but achievable – and essential.
Dress the Part.
Whatever your style, work it. If your edges are on the rough side, be artful about it. Clients look to you for inspiration, so look inspired.
Part 2: The Professional
Do the Math.
Know your retention, pre-booking rate, retail commissions, and productivity. Work on ways to improve them all.
Lend a Hand.
Being helpful fosters collaboration, creates a congenial vibe, and simply feels good. Just don’t be a know-it-all or the rescuer. Remember that what goes around comes around, but the reward isn’t the intention.
Carry a Card.
You never know when you might meet a new client, potential colleague or career-changing influencer. Have business cards on you at all times, or if paper isn’t your thing, prepare a complete contact in your phone (with social media handles) that you can easily text.
Make Team Time.
If your team isn’t working as one, your clients feel it. Good leaders know their capabilities and build a team that complements theirs while supporting others’ needs and growth. Anessa received this advice early on and practices it: “Know your strengths & weaknesses and create a team of good and talented people.”
Tend to the Flock.
It can cost six times more to acquire new customers than to serve current ones; creating comfort and trust is the best investment. Take some time each day review who is coming in and when they do, take the opportunity to talk about how they look, how they feel – how they feel about how they look.
Stow the Phone.
Switch all devices to hairplane mode. Only use them to take pictures beforehand and afterward, share relevant ones for consultation purposes, and to process payments and check schedules.
Encourage clients to pre-book their next appointment. They can get their preferred slot, and they won’t go too long between services so you can maintain their look and your reputation.
Choose Your Path.
It’s your life and your career. It’s up to you to make your dreams reality. Make the effort to set your goals and take responsibility for achieving them. Focus on crystal-clarity with yourself and others. Anessa’s advice for young stylists: “Do a lot of hair! We are lucky to have a career as fun and creative as hairdressing, so practice any idea that comes into your head and document that to train your eye.”
* * *
In short: It’s all about you (your skills and your goals) and it’s not all about you (your clients and your colleagues). Be confident but know your limitations. Trust your instinct but also trust the numbers (neither of them lies). And take pride in your accomplishments – but stay humble with the prospect of so many more.