The Struggles of a Business Owner
2021 is coming to an end and I pray really hard things go uphill from here. This year was tough and I’m writing this blog post because I think I need a space to let out whatever that is bothering.
One goal I had when I first started Fickle Beauty was to ensure I kept it affordable but effective because one thing I have learnt over the years is that skincare does not have to be effective. It is so important to educate yourself properly when it comes to skincare. I have been one who fell for marketing gimmicks (retouched before & after pictures😔) and buying skincare products at exorbitant prices. Once I started educating myself about the ingredients in skincare over many many years, I realize how I’ve been paying for fancy packaging and ingredients which don’t what the product is promised to do. Everyone is different hence our skin reacts differently to different ingredients so when brands market it like it is a “one product is all you need” - i truly feel sorry for those who believe that is possible. Because the truth is, good skin doesn’t happen overnight - and you need a good balance of skincare products which work hand in hand. Also, certain ingredients don’t go well with each other so that is why I do what I do at ficklebeauty, to have customers WhatsApp me personally so I am able to put together a balanced routine.
After doing that online for a year, I expanded and offered facial services. Why? Because I too have spent so much on expensive facials which didn’t do much for me. I learnt more about how some services are completely unnecessary and one turn off thing is I always felt like they just wanted me to spend more so they can’t earn more but they didn’t truly do the best for me - in hope I’ll return again to spend more. I always felt pressured and forced to buy products they claimed “I need”, “confirm work” and sign packages that were so expensive. So for fickle + it was to keep things as affordable and never to hard sell because I believe it a customer sees the results, there is no need to force the customer to sign packages. My customers would come back if it’s good and actually ask for the packages and product recommendations themselves.
I think what I am doing is great. I love what I do. A lot. But….now let me get to what I’m struggling with now.
1. The Monthly Overheads
Running a beauty parlour in Singapore is not cheap. Rental is high in Singapore. For me to cover my overheads, I need at least 3 therapists (as I’ve to ensure there are at least 12 appointments a day) + 1 admin staff + 1 cleaner to ensure the space is clean up everyday. All was great as planned, until the restrictions due to covid happened. I was not prepared for it. At all. When we couldn’t operate fully, I still had to pay salaries, I still had to pay rent. Very quickly, the company funds were drained.
2. But since you are fully-booked almost everyday, you should have earned a lot profits.
Sadly, that’s how it looks like to many. It is far from the truth. One of my goal was to keep the prices Low and Affordable. However my staff all have a family to support and need a minimum salary. I didn’t allow hard selling and pushing packages - so there was no “extra funds” it was mostly ala carte. It’s $88 NETT for the standard facial and no package selling unless customer chooses to sign one. It my beautician hits 4 customers a day = $88x4 = $352 and they take a commission of 5-10% from it. On top of their basic salary. I also have monthly rental to cover. I barely earn a cent for myself BUT I was happy doing what I do, and I have an online store which is doing ok and can draw a decent paycheck. From day 1, as long as I don’t lose money running Fickle +, it’s all good. I didn’t have much profit which meant that when the restrictions due to covid didn’t allow my business to operate - I had to start taking loans to ensure the rental and my staff’s salaries are paid.
3. Shut down the business then since you aren’t earning a cent and losing money!
Yes, this was one thing I was really considering the past month. It just made no sense anymore to work so damn hard (trading crypto, selling things online, studying day & night) only to put all my hard earnings into a “failing” business. In August-October, I also had some of my VERY good staff who left because of the government keeps shutting us down due to covid and I’m struggling every month with this issue, it just made more sense for them to resign and go into a different company. God bless their kind souls for being so understanding - but also with them leaving, a lot of customers who loved them felt sad as well. They were truly the best w great work ethics and wonderful characters. They were also people who truly cared for the customers and customers could sense how genuine they are. From their skills to their customer service - 10/10.
4. So with lesser staff - lesser overheads, things should be easier right?
I thought so too. Unfortunately, a next set of problems arised. Due to the lack of staff, we could not reach the minimum sales figure a day to break even - rental, utilities, salaries. The amount we charge per service is $88 nett so we need more customers a day than most beauty salons. We don’t focus on package selling which means we need to do our best in hope the customer comes back the following month + maybe intro friends! Word of mouth is the best! And yes I still had to pump in money from what I earn outside of my beauty business.
5. Facing issues with lack of manpower
In order for fickle+ to continue running, it meant I needed to work harder outside to pump money back in. So most days, I work round the clock. #teamnosleep do some trading, explore new products, catch up on the latest trends, discuss potential business to start with people and of course socialise - to keep myself sane. And because I don’t go into the beauty salon daily because I have so much to do outside. I realize I haven’t been doing a good job as a boss. Internal conflicts arises between the colleagues every now and then especially when I am not present in the office. The lack of manpower also meant that it one person takes last minute leave or MC, there will not be enough therapist to attend to customers who have booked their appointments beforehwnd. This happened so many times and disappointed a lot of customers whom I feel extremely sorry that they had to experience it because it I were in their shoes and on the day of my appointment I’m told that it has been cancelled or there’s no one to attend to me, who wouldn’t be angry? Lack of staff also means one of my staff has to reply the messages on WhatsApp and sometimes it’s slow and it upsets customers but that’s because she is in an appointment serving another customer. Whose fault? Me. I sincerely apologize to everyone who was upset and nothing upsets me more than unhappy customers. Why? Because I started fickle + FOR the ppl. Happy customer = happy me! And their word of mouth to friends, helps my online store business which is where I earn my salary (which I haven’t drawn for 3 months because whatever I earn goes back to fickle+ I thank god for crypto trading and if I didn’t have to take a loan, bleed money monthly I would be so comfortable financially). I can only blame myself and my improper business planning. Or my refusal to listen to successful entrepreneurs about certain stuff like raising my prices to ensure it have more buffer.
I also know I’m doing my very best that I can. And I’ve to find a solution to it.
Business advisors advices me to start to increase prices - for products & services so then I can stick to a small amount of therapists. I’m unsure how customers would react to that. I could impose a strict no-show policy where a deposit will not be refunded if customers cancel appointments (when this happens, my therapists also don’t hit the minimum daily sales target). My biggest fear? Following the advice of smart business people will scare my existing customers away.
I have made some plan for change for November, to be more present in the beauty salon and handle the customer service part. I don’t know how I’m going to juggle all that I need to do outside of this business and stay put at the shop but I have to- so if any staff goes on leave, at least I’m on standby and am equipped to do the service. Also, I trust no one more than myself when it comes to “doing more for my customers” because like I said, happy customers = happy me. Some of my are great, in fact I’m so blessed to have employed them but the thing is, work is work - they will never have the same heart for this customers as I do because at the end of the day, it isn’t their business, their main focus is to get to work, get work done, take home salary.
With all that being said, the end of 2021 will be when I have to make the tough decision. You know, I know, what’ll be best. But….the passion I have in this makes it hard to make that decision. The people I’ve met along the way, the happy customers - they keep me going. However I need to think for myself and my well-being, spending so much time stressing about $ and tiring myself out just to keep this business which doesn’t profit.
In summary: I am a horrible at managing a business. I may be hardworking, I may have great ideas, I may be knowledgeable about certain things but the harsh and sad truth is I have come to realize I can’t run a successful business because of my nature. I’m better off running an online store with 1-2 assistant w low overheads and not have the stress of a big space, big team and the pressure to earn enough to cover the overheads. Unless I have someone to do it with me like a partner, every business I start which involved managing employees - will fail.
It will be a crucial next 2 months, before we exhaust our funds. Also, I want to meet as many of y’all as possible IRL. Educate ppl and chitchat about skincare. Just do what I wna do and love for this 2 months and by me being present in the shop would mean if there is any unhappy customer I can handle the situation there and then. And the trading part….or even NFT part to earn $….I just have to take it down a notch n get some sleep lor.
I really hope I can turn it around somehow. Hopefully we have a consistent flow of customers who get packages so we can sustain it. How to sell packages without being desperate of sales or forceful though? Something I’ll need to learn. We’ll see.
I’m just going to do my skincare recommendations Face to Face (in case I rly have to say goodbye to fickle+ at least let me spend more time there lor haha).
Please don’t mind this long post but if you’re facing skin issues and still struggling to get ur routine right and need help, read on!
From 1 November onwards, I will be spending most of my time at fickle+ as i will personally be the one to pick out ficklebeauty products based on YOUR specific skin concern/type. I had to do it over WhatsApp for the past year due to restrictions - however in person skin assessment will be more accurate. I will also be able to recommend you treatments you can consider (which aren’t fickle+ services because we don’t fix every skin issue).
Last but not least, I’ll also get to meet many of you. This service is FREE OF CHARGE when you spend over SGD$50 (considering average price of our skincare products are $26, that’s like prolly a cleanser + moisturizer?).
I genuinely love doing what I do and hope with better skin, you will regain confidence.
As someone who struggled with my own skin back then, I was fed with lots of misinformation and spent ridiculous amount of $ of products which did not resolve my issues. I wish there was such a service back then. Which is why I started Fickle Beauty, focusing on affordable products & treatments while educating you about the ingredients in skincare from my years of studying. I may not be a certified dermatologist but I know what I’m doing has been helping tons of people!
And from my experience, some bad dermatologists I’ve visited in the past sold me expensive products which didn’t help either. I cannot guarantee what if recommend will work 100% either but I believe learning not to fall into gimmicky marketing and education yourself with ingredients will help you for a long time.
If you are keen to do face to face Skincare Consultation, details below:
WhatsApp +65 87272171
Date & Time preferred:
Below are more details on the operating hours:
We are open 12pm-7pm (Monday - Saturday)
Address: 171 Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427442
For booking of appointments for facial services, book online at www.fickleplus.com
Signing off with love,