Scratch Logo Author

What it’s really like to own a nail salon – Part 2

By Scratch Staff | 07 August 2019 | Business, Feature, Salon & Spas, Tech Talk

Sue Davies Salon 2

Industry veteran, salon owner and Scratch Stars Services to the Nail Industry champion 2017, Sue Davies, reveals an insight into her experience of running a nail salon business…

Read part 1, here.

We all like to think that our futures are bright and stable, however that isn’t always the case and for any owner life-changing events can happen and having contingency plans in place is a vital part of managing your business.  My last few years have highlighted some issues that all salon owners should consider for when things don’t go quite as planned.  Back in 2014, I made some business expansion decisions while I was feeling fine and within a few months I was on my knees and diagnosed with a chronic and debilitating Vitamin D deficiency. This sounds like something simple, but it was far reaching and led to two years of tests for multiple diseases and disorders before I finally started responding to treatment. Within two weeks of beginning my recovery, I was involved in a car accident that caused injuries to my right, dominant hand and, consequently, I’ve had to deal with 2 surgeries and PTSD.  The last five years have been a ‘journey’, that’s for sure.  One I’m glad is coming to an end, but that has caused learning curves of varying degrees.

As a business owner, I have had to adapt rapidly at points when I have been unable to deal with life in general, let alone running a salon and that has resulted in trauma to my business at some points.  Therefore, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you built a business that can survive in your absence?
  • What happens to your income if you are not there?
  • What protection do you have in place for any absence you have to take from your business?
  • Can/will your team step up?
  • Can you let go?
  • What will be your future if you become an ex salon owner?

During my 20-week absence last year (following second hand surgery post-car accident), I found that day to day tasks ticked over for the most part and I was in the background at home or popping in to ensure that I was still ‘present’ in my business as we had planned it all out before I went off. However, as the weeks turned to months, even with my regular input the business suffered. The implications of my absence have been far reaching for turnover, client base and more as I my absence was initially only a few weeks but grew and cover over the busy summer period was virtually impossible to find and with an unknown return date it made it hard to plan.  We tried to cover all bases, but in some areas things that I had thought were working had turned out to have a cost to the business.

There isn’t a guidebook to being absent from your business so when it happens it is always going to be a challenge, trying to have a plan will limit the damage but it’s always something that should be considered.

If the team don’t see what’s missing during an owner’s absence, and the salon owner’s eye off the ball due to unforeseen circumstances, it can lead to downturns in areas you thought were safe and only in hindsight do you see the impact and have the opportunity to rebuild.

Salon owners & self-care

Fatigue, exhaustion, stress and anxiety figure heavily amongst salon owners, and realistic time management and self-care are usually missing. Trust me, I’ve been there and learned my lesson. The challenges I’ve faced over the last few years have taken a lot to come back from, but dogged determination is an inherent factor for most salon owners and so I’m still hanging in there.  For good or bad, I’m not sure, but I’m still trying!

It is important to take care of your physical and mental health in any role, but with responsibility comes added stress. Ensuring you maintain your own health is vital and I have learnt to book myself regular massage appointments for some downtime, relaxation and physical rejuvenation to recover from the rigours of still doing too many clients and causing stress to my body.

Whether you take time out with friends, rest on a Sunday, go to the cinema every week or book that massage or spa day, as a business owner of any kind it is imperative to keep fresh and have vitality in your life to allow you to progress your salon and team.


If you choose the road to salon ownership, study hard, work hard and play hard, but most of all try and enjoy it and make it the best version of our industry that is possible.  Strive to succeed, enter recognised award schemes for business and industry to help you review your business and make yourself proud!

Sue runs award-winning Bexley salon, Gorgeous Nail & Beauty Emporium.