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Salon and Spa Owners: Do You Want The 2021 Success Formula?

Disruption was undoubtedly a theme of 2020, and it seems to have crept its way into 2021.

While the disruption salons and spas have been experiencing was unplanned, it might not be a bad idea for salon and spa owners to lean into the disruption and use it to create and sustain success for their businesses in the new normal.

Charlene Li (author of “The Disruption Mindset,” and an expert on digital transformation) believes disruption is exactly what leaders need to focus on if they want sustainable success.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Why disruption is often necessary.

  • How disruption can be a great thing.

  • The culture of disruptive organizations.

  • How you can further disrupt your business, and reap the financial and social rewards- not just for you, but for entire groups of people.

  • A success formula for salons and spas in 2021.

Why is disruption necessary?

Recently, I watched a talk by Charlene Li, and she spoke of disruption. She mentioned various companies that did something off-the-wall and used it to create positive change within their industries. The leaders of those companies focused on what the customers wanted without the customers needing to ask.

Are you speaking to the mind of your customers… or their hearts?

Hopefully, you are speaking to their hearts, at least some of the time. The part of the brain that makes purchasing decisions is the part of the brain that controls emotion. Meaning, emotions determine buying decisions.

“When you speak to your customers on an emotional level, you are speaking their buying language.”

When you speak to their heart, you spark change and growth. That’s the difference between a manager and a leader. Leaders create growth.

As a business owner, you are a leader. You have the power to change your organization, your target market, and your industry. Most of all, you have the power to make a difference.

How can disruption be a great thing?

When Dr. King said, “I have a dream,” he painted a picture of the future. Although he might not have been selling skin cream or amazing CBD products, he was selling something. He was selling his vision of the future.

He was disruptive! And his disruption shaped the future (our present moment). By speaking to the hearts of the people he served, he created positive change.

The Culture of Disruptive Organizations

Charlene Li says disruptive organizations hold three beliefs that set them apart from organizations that are not disruptive.

The three beliefs of disruptive organizations

  • Openness

Be open to new ideas.

  • Bias for Action

Don’t wait until you are 100% sure. That is what most entrepreneurs are doing. Be 60% sure, and put your idea into action.

  • Agency

Have ownership, no matter your job title. Know your company’s core values and think about how you can put those ideas into action. Think of how you can help your customers and employees grow. That growth is what disrupts industries and makes them better.

What holds entrepreneurs back from taking action?

Fear. But, if you are 60% sure something will fix a problem, do you have an obligation to do it?

Here’s an example of a company that saw a solution to a problem and went for it.


In 2012, John Legere took over as CEO of T-Mobile.

When Legere took the position, he had a huge task. He had to take T-Mobile from the #4 position among the four largest wireless carriers in the US and get them out of the last place.

He took the task seriously and went to work transforming the company and himself. Legere went from wearing a power suit to wearing an all-black and magenta wardrobe, including a T-Mobile hoodie.

That’s disruptive!

But he did more than disrupt the normal dress code for CEOs.

  • He disrupted the culture of wireless carriers.

  • He changed his starting position as inaccessible CEO to being a leader who made time for his employees and drew attention to the company through his energy and excitement.

  • He turned T-Mobile into the quickest-growing wireless carrier in America and brought them from #4 to #3, ahead of Sprint.

  • John Legere doubled T-Mobile’s customer base.

  • He expanded T-Mobile’s network.

  • He transformed T-Mobile from being a wireless carrier to being “the Un-carrier.”

By Un-carrier, he meant T-Mobile would not be like their competition. They would be polar opposites.

Like Dr. King, Legere had a dream. His dream required T-Mobile to be like a startup, run by a young, energetic, and loud CEO. While he may have been in his 50s, he transformed himself into his version of an energetic and loud CEO, working to disrupt the wireless carrier industry by focusing on the customers and showing they were more than a dollar sign (which is how many wireless customers were feeling about their carrier at the time).

And it worked.

How can salon and spa owners further disrupt the beauty industry, increase profits, and improve the lives of their employees and target customers?

You don’t have to change the world like Dr. King or change pre-conceived notions of CEOs and wireless carriers. You can create disruption in your business by changing your primary focus from in-person salon and spa services to what many term a “knowledge based business”.

That is not to say you should stop performing services altogether, unless that’s what you want. Simply add the knowledge based business to your business model. Doing so can help you make up for lost revenue due to the strict rules on salon capacity that were put in place to keep all involved safe.

What is a knowledge based business?

A knowledge based business is a business in which a person teaches what they know to others, by building the foundation of their business upon tutorials, tips, tricks, and techniques for those who want to learn about a specific topic.

For instance, Shalonda Peguero (makeup artist for Insider magazine) shifted to teaching digital classes.

You could teach tips to help your clients keep their look fresh for as long as possible- and maybe even save them from cutting their own hair and having to wear a wig for the foreseeable future.

While the virus is scary and working in masks and face shields can be difficult, it beats wearing hazmat suits, which is what hairstylists were required to do in China, according to Vogue.

Also mentioned in the Vogue article and one in Entrepreneur, is the speculation that Covid-19 will change how salons are operated forever. And, Insider magazine reminds us that over a million service workers in the beauty industry have been more dramatically affected than most other professions.

A success formula for salons and spas in 2021

Knowledge Based Business + White Label Products = $$$$$

Take it a step further than teaching what you know, and find a white label beauty product manufacturer with amazing products. Then, put your brand name on the bottle and literally become a household name!

Are there alternatives to an Educational Enterprise or investing in white label products?

Absolutely! You could become a virtual assistant or participate in some other work-from-home job, but you undoubtedly chose the beauty industry (or it chose you) because you are passionate about it.

You could even move to a smaller location and only serve 1-2 clients at a time and offer outdoor meditation and wellness services, like Patrick and Grace Watson of Austin, Texas did. It’s important to note, however, that their situation was rather unique. They owned the location they moved to, prior to COVID-19, and they offered high-end luxury services with a pricetag to match, before the pandemic. If you are not in a similar position, it might not be the best solution for your salon or spa.

By selling your branded products, you can pivot, like Patrick and Grace, add an additional stream of revenue to your knowledge based businesses, and show your clients that you care about their beauty and wellness.


To sum it up, we talked about how digital transformation expert, Charlene Li, touts disruption a necessity for leaders, we went over a couple of disruptional leaders, we covered how creating a knowledge based business could help you cover some of your lost income due to the virus, and we discussed a success formula for salons and spas in 2021:

Knowledge Based Business + White Label Products = $$$$$

If you are interested in high-quality, sustainably-sourced beauty products, click HERE.

Don’t forget to share the love with your colleagues. Now, more than ever, it’s important for beauty pros to look out for one another. My hope for you is that you can take this idea and use it to transform the career and business you love into something slightly different that changes lives- the lives of your staff, your clientele, and your life.


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