Ep 70 - Building A Solo Practice: Tools, Tips, and Resources

Crystal Ochemba Powell

Are you thinking about starting your own business, but you’re not sure where to start? Hear advice from the owner and founder of Crystal Ngozi’s Beauty Business Coaching, Crystal Ochemba-Powell. She specializes in teaching beauty professionals real and actionable marketing and branding strategies to attract more clients and increase revenue in their businesses. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk she shares strategies to attract clients, develop a plan, and define your niche. 

Author Bio: 

Crystal Ochemba-Powell is an experienced licensed esthetician, makeup artist, business coach, and licensed continuing education provider with a combined 10 years of experience in both business marketing and the beauty industry. In addition to her esthetics license, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in advertising and marketing.

During her career, she has used her knowledge and experience to successfully build her own beauty business as well as the beauty businesses of other creative entrepreneurs, including barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians, and more.

When she is not servicing her own clients, she enjoys training and coaching other beauty professionals on how to use proven marketing techniques to increase customer acquisition and conversions. She feels that her biggest asset is her ability to intersect her passion for both marketing and beauty with her signature training courses.

Connect with Crystal:

Website: www.crystalngozibeauty.com/coaching

Instagram: www.instagram.com/crystalngozicoaching


About our Sponsor: NeoGenesis

Introducing the next generation of stem cell science for skin and hair care: NeoGenesis patented S²RM® technology. This exclusive technology harnesses the power of adult stem cell-released molecules to awaken your body’s natural regenerative power. This natural approach to healing simply returns to the damaged tissue the molecules that were present when the skin was young and healthy. Because of what we are able to do with traumatic wound care—from accidents, burns, chemo, radiation, and more—we knew this science could also serve aging concerns and chronic issues. We also enhance the result of all treatment-room modalities, reduce downtime, and aid in resolving issues resulting from treatment modalities that did not go exactly as planned. There are no contraindications, and we offer a full money-back guarantee on our skin care products. 


Connect with NeoGenesis:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/NeoGenesisInc

Instagram: www.instagram.com/neogenesisinc

Facebook: www.facebook.com/neogenesisinc


About our Sponsor: LAMPROBE

The popular and revolutionary LAMPROBE utilizes radio and high-frequency technology to treat a wide variety of Minor Skin Irregularities™ (MSI)—non-invasively—with instantaneous results. Common conditions treated by the LAMPROBE include: vascular MSI, such as cherry angiomas; dilated capillaries; sebaceous MSI, including cholesterol deposits and milia; and hyperkerantinized MSI, such as keratoses and skin tags.  

The LAMPROBE uniquely assists modern, capable, and skilled skin care practitioners to do their work more effectively and with greater client and professional satisfaction. Setting standards in quality, education, and training, the LAMPROBE has become an essential tool enabling skin care practitioners around the world to offer new revenue-enhancing and highly in-demand services.


Connect with LAMPROBE:

Website: www.lamprobe.com

Email: info@lamskin.com

Phone: 877-760-2722

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lamprobe

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theLAMPROBE


About our Sponsor: NMSWP

Meet Toshiana Baker, the founder of NMSWP.

Toshiana is a licensed esthetician who grew into an international educator, traveling globally to facilitate spa and beauty-related programs she created. At one time, she led a team of 250+ estheticians nationally as the director of esthetics for an iconic luxury spa chain with over 30 locations. She was also the regional operations director of four full-service spa/salons, including two inside Saks Fifth Avenue, and the education executive for the iconic brow artistry brand Anastasia Beverly Hills. Toshiana also held positions of leadership at other luxury influencer brands in spa, cosmetics, and retail. In 2016, she left the corporate space to become a full-time entrepreneur who parlays her wealth of experience to help small business owners, solo practitioners, and independent brands grow and scale.

Seeing a gap in the spa and wellness space for support, professional development, resources, and education for those of diverse backgrounds, Toshiana founded the Network of Multicultural Spa and Wellness Professionals (NMSWP) to be the gap filler. More than that, she wanted to create a community that feels like a “tribe to thrive” and to be a beacon of light and excellence for the spa and wellness industry.  


Connect with NMSWP:

Online: www.nmswp.com

Email: hello@nmswp.com

Instagram: @WeAreNMSWP 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreNMSWP


About Maggie Staszcuk 

Maggie has been a licensed esthetician since 2006 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephens College. She has worked in the spa and med-spa industry, and served as an esthetics instructor and a director of education for one of the largest schools in Colorado before coming to ASCP as the Advanced Modality Specialist. 


Connect with Maggie: 

Phone: 800-789-0411 x1636 

Email: MStaszcuk@ascpskincare.com 


About Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP):

Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) is the nation’s largest association for skin care professionals and your ONLY all-inclusive source for professional liability insurance, education, community, and career support. For estheticians at every stage of the journey, ASCP is your essential partner. Get in touch with us today if you have any questions or would like to join and become an ASCP member.


Connect with ASCP:

Website: www.ascpskincare.com

Email: getconnected@ascpskincare.com

Phone: 800-789-0411

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ASCPskincare

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ascpskincare



0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: This podcast is sponsored by LAMPROBE. LAMPROBE, is a popular aesthetic tool that enables skin care practitioners to rapidly treat a wide variety of common minor skin irregularities or MSI. Red MSI treated by LAMPROBE, include dilated capillaries and cherry angiomas. Yellow MSI, cholesterol deposits and sebaceous hyperplasia. And brown MSI treated includes skin tags and more. 


0:00:27.6 S1: LAMPROBE MSI treatments are non-evasive and deliver immediate results. LAMPROBE can empower your skin practice with these new and highly in-demand services. For more information, visit lamprobe.com. That's L-A-M-P-R-O-B-E.com. And follow LAMBROPE on social media @lamprobe. 


0:00:52.2 Maggie Staszcuk: Are you an aesthetician that has felt unsupported or under-represented in the industry? Have you felt isolated once you left school and have seen others making strides, but are unsure how to make this happen for yourself? Do you feel that if you had education, resources and access provided to others that you could kill the game. We are exactly what your career has been missing. Join the network of multi-cultural spa and wellness professionals. A community to help you go from simply surviving to thriving. Visit www.nmswp.com to explore our membership options for individual professionals, students, schools, and corporations or groups. 


0:01:39.3 Speaker 3: You are listening to ASCP Esty Talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources and education for aesthetician at every stage of the journey. Let's talk 'cause ASCP knows, it's all about you. 


0:01:54.7 MS: Hello everyone, and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm your host today, Maggie Staszcuk. I have been a licensed aesthetician since 2006, and I'm the advanced modality specialist here at Associated Skin Care Professionals, where no topic is off-limits. We share all kinds of great information on this podcast from ingredients and the science of the skin to business and beauty diversity. We hope you come away having learned more about your career, the industry and maybe even life in general. 


0:02:21.0 MS: Today, we are joined by Crystal Ochemba-Powell. Crystal Ochemba-Powell is a licensed aesthetician makeup artist, business coach, and licensed continuing education provider with a combined 10 years of experience in both business marketing and the beauty industry. In addition to her aesthetics license, she holds bachelor's and master's degrees in advertising and marketing. During her career, she has used her knowledge and experience to successfully build her own beauty business as well as the beauty businesses of other creative entrepreneurs, including barbers, cosmologists, aestheticians etcetera. 


0:02:58.8 MS: When she is not servicing her own clients, she enjoys training and coaching other beauty professionals on how to use proven marketing techniques to increase customer acquisition and conversions. She feels that her biggest asset is her ability to intersect her passion for both marketing and beauty with her signature training courses. Please welcome Crystal to the podcast. Hello, Crystal. 


0:03:21.4 Crystal Ochemba-Powell: Hi, how are you?  


0:03:24.2 MS: Very good. So glad you could join us. 


0:03:27.2 CO: Thanks for having me. 


0:03:27.9 MS: We're happy to have you on the show. So many aestheticians are considering going solo. And Crystal, you're joining me today to talk about what these aestheticians need to consider when starting their own business. 


0:03:40.5 CO: For sure. I definitely, even for myself, going solo, I actually... I had a way of being able to go solo right after beauty school, but the trick was that I actually kind of worked under someone as kind of like an assistant... Unofficial assistant before I graduated from school. So then I was able to do these things and these tips that I'm actually going to share with everyone today. So I actually was able to prepare myself to go solo right after school. But you don't necessarily have to go solo after school. Some people have no desire to go solo. And that's absolutely fine. But I find that a lot of my personal coaching clients, they typically are the ones that... Hey, I just graduated from beauty school... I'm on my way to graduate from beauty school... 


0:04:28.3 CO: Or... Hey, I've been working for someone for five years... For 10 years, and I really think I can do this on my own, and I have a desire to do this on my own. So I think for the most part, the bulk of my coaching clients and students are those who want to go solo. Whether it be after working for someone or just... Right at their school. 


0:04:50.7 MS: Are you finding that there are more and more aestheticians coming straight out of school and saying, "I'm gonna go right into opening my own business." 


0:04:58.0 CO: I am seeing that. I'm a part of a lot of different aesthetician groups, and I am seeing a lot of people wanting to dig straight into going solo. And once again, not to put pressure on anyone who does work under an establishment, because I know several aestheticians who work under great... Under great people, under great private companies or even corporate chains, and they absolutely love it there and they make great salaries. It just really all depends on what you desire to do. Do you want to be solo or do you want to work for someone? Not everyone can be solo, and that's okay. 


0:05:35.9 MS: So I know a lot of people are hearing this, or maybe even when they were in school, were considering this thinking, "I don't have clients." So how do I go out venture and start my business and make money without having that client base?  


0:05:49.3 CO: You know what's crazy? I do get that question often, and even when I poll my current following and I say, "Hey, what are some things that you would like to learn about the beauty industry or the business side of the beauty industry?" And everyone always goes to, "I want more clients." I say, "Great, well, do you have your LLC?" And they're like, "Wait, what?" So it's like, first things first. You have to... I like to call it, get legal... So make sure that you're establishing your LLC. In Georgia, it's georgia.gov, where I would register my business at the Georgia Secretary of State. 


0:06:27.2 CO: If you're in Florida, it would be the Florida Secretary of State. So I don't know those exact links, but if you were... Google is literally everyone's friend. If you go and look up exactly what your Secretary of State website is, that's where... It will walk you through it. It's so easy. And that's where you can reserve your business name and establish your LLC. It's maybe... Don't quote me. Maybe 100 bucks, 150 bucks, but it's so worth it because that's the absolute first step is to reserve your business name and not to over-think it, but just reserve your business name and to get that and establish our LLC first. First things first before you even worry about clients. 


0:07:10.2 MS: Do you recommend that people reach out to... Obviously a business counselor or a consultant, but people in the legal field, a lawyer or maybe even an accountant to gain advice before going down this path? You say, the first step is to establish that LLC, register the business, and it is so easy, but should there be experts in the industry that someone is speaking to before deciding this is the route for them?  


0:07:37.8 CO: That really just depends. Some people may be a more of a disadvantage than others. I think because I actually went to business school, I kind of knew how to set up my own LLC. But yes, if you feel as though you need advice in terms of accounting and how to establish your business by all means spend the money. It's absolutely a great investment. But if you're really just going to be... To start a sole proprietor and you're literally a solo business, you have no one working under you, I would say that it's safe to just go ahead and do the LLC, and then you can move about with partnerships and the incorporations and things of that sort as your status changes. 


0:08:20.0 CO: I think one of the things that I run into... Especially with my coaching group, I think people overthink things. And what I like to tell people is like, "Hey, if you're going to jump out here into the solo world... Yes, be prepared, but sometimes I think people drag their feet because they need to be too prepared. So yes, if you're planning to do a partnership later, if you're playing to be a corporation later, yes, please read up on those things and get you some legal advice and accounting advice or what have you. But if you're really going to be a true solo practitioner, then the first thing you need to do is just establish your LLC and then we'll worry about everything else later. 


0:09:01.9 MS: So how important is it having that capital or in that investment income and a savings to go into developing your business? It's gonna cost a lot of money if you're just having a suite or a little room that you're renting. Do you need to have extra money on the side in case of emergencies?  


0:09:19.3 CO: Yeah, for sure. So what I like to call it is I like to call it my jump number... So I worked during school, and I also did an apprenticeship so I can kind of get my experience while I was in school. But as I was working, I had my number in mind of what I needed in order to go solo. If not, I was not going to quit my job because it is... It's hard out there. And unless... For whatever reason, if you have a two-income household where your spouse or significant other is able to support you... But some people, they're literally doing it on their own, whether they choose to do it on their own or they have to do it on their own. So I would always suggest never to just jump out there... And just sometimes I see these posts like, "Hey, I just got a suite. I just got the keys to my suite. I have no money in the bank, and I'm just winging it." 


0:10:12.0 CO: And I'm like, "Oh my." So I... Personally, I think because I'm such a planner, I would strongly suggest having that number in mind. Ideally, I would suggest three to six months of business and personal expenses stacked. On the low end, three months. Just because if you're going to jump out there, you have no other parachute underneath you, then you're going to need to be able to survive comfortably. 


0:10:40.0 CO: And so what I like to do is I have a... Or in the past, before I went solo, I had a list... Or a spreadsheet and one tab was a must-have list, and the others tab was a nice to have list. So now that I've been solo for a while, now I'm tackling the nice to-have and the big machines and the modalities and things of that sort of, and new product lines and all of that. But when I first went solo, I said, "Hey, what are the few services that I can do that I enjoy and where I can make a decent amount of money that I can promote myself and get those clients in?" 


0:11:16.4 CO: I set my prices and then I literally only bought what I needed to get from A to B. I worried about Z later. I got those things that needed A to B. So if that meant just one product line for the time being, maybe two or three services for the time being, I didn't go out and buy all the things... I literally started with a very small budget. And you can always grow from there. So yeah, definitely always have a business savings account, have that number in mind before you decide to jump out there and go solo. And make sure that you start small and know that you can always scale later. 


0:11:52.5 S3: Hey, guys, stop. Let's take a quick break. 


0:11:55.3 MS: Introducing the next generation of stem cell science for skin and hair care. NeoGenesis patented S²RM technology by harnessing the power of adult stem cell released molecules. These products awaken your body's natural regenerative power and simply returns to the damaged tissue, what was there when it was young and healthy. This enhances the result of all treatment room modalities, reduces downtime and speeds up the healing process, naturally. There are no contraindications. And NeoGenesis will offer a full money back guarantee on all NeoGenesis skin care products. 


0:12:35.0 S3: Let's get back to the conversation. 


0:12:38.9 MS: I've often heard that it doesn't... Within reason, it doesn't matter what your treatment room looks like, and to your point, start small, and you don't have to have this elaborate menu of service offerings. Your clients are coming for you and they love you, and the service that you're providing... You don't have to have... The most plush blankets and every device that's offered and... So start small and then build on that. I think is... A very, very good point. What about having a business plan ahead of time. How important is that? And is the bank expecting that, for instance, if you're gonna go out and get a loan?  


0:13:21.8 CO: So... Yes, the bank would want your business plan. But because I think I would advise if you're going true solo why not just do it all cash. Just save... Work hard, save your money. It may take you a year or two out, but if you start small then it's more palatable. You can literally, start your solo practice under 10K, under 5K, if you really know how to squeeze it in. And I... Dare I say even 3K? So outside of, of course, rent and renting a suite or a booth or whatever that you're doing. But you can literally get started for under three, maybe even 5K. 


0:14:00.8 CO: So I suggest not going into your solo practice by going into debt, if you can help it. Some people may need to, but literally, it's maybe three to 5K if you can help it, then I would just say save your money. But regardless, if you're going to the bank for a loan or not, I always suggest starting with a business plan. That's also one of the second things that I ask when someone wants to work with me on one-on-one basis. They say, "Oh, my God, Crystal, I read your blog." Or, "I found you here. I found you there. I would love to work with you." 


0:14:37.6 CO: And one of my first questions are, "Do you have... Have you established an LLC?" And then do you have a business plan? Most of the time people will say no, and I say, "Hey, here's a business plan template." That at... Sometimes I share. Go work on that and then come back later. Because if you don't know where you're going, then you have no idea how I can help you. And I have no idea how I can help you, because you don't have a plan. 


0:15:02.8 CO: And when... I think sometimes when people work on these business plans, I'll check up on them and say, "Hey, how's your business plan going?" And then they kind of get derailed or stressed out over several different portions of the business plan. But it's not... It's a living document, and it doesn't have to be complete before you move forward. Just fill it out as best as you can, and then that way you can kind of know a little bit... It's almost like a blueprint of where you need to go. 


0:15:28.8 MS: What do you find when working with your clients, or just talking with aestheticians out in the industry, that... Are there things that people just never think of that should be top of mind when putting their plan together?  


0:15:43.1 CO: Yeah, for sure. A lot of times, I don't think they have a strategic marketing plan. So some of the quotes that I hear is, "I just wanna get my business out there. I just wanna get clients." But they have... They don't really know how to go about doing that. Or when you get to the marketing plan section of the business plan, sometimes they'll say, "Okay, I wanna do this." And that and this, and this and that. And you don't have to do 10 things to market your business. 


0:16:12.6 CO: Primarily, when I first started my business... I love social media. I actually... I teach a class on social media. That's kind of my background. So I focused on doing social media ads and that's what brought in my clientele. And then I used it in combination of social media as in, email marketing. Those were the two methods that I used... Like just completely. That's it. You don't necessarily have to have the flyers, then the this, then the posters, then the that. And you don't have to do absolutely everything. Narrow it down, because once again, if you're a true solo and you're starting small, you don't have time or the money to throw everything... To throw everything you have at everything. Choose that one thing and crush it out. 


0:16:56.6 MS: How long would you say it's going to take a new solo aesthetician to build that client base?  


0:17:05.4 CO: Oh man. It really just all depends. It can take you anywhere between six months to a year. One of the things that I did was I made sure that I actually started my practice part-time while I worked, so that way I can have that steady stream of income coming in and then still building my clientele part-time. And then once it made sense financially, then it's like, "Okay, now I can leave here to go over there." I think sometimes people feel... And this is just in life in general. People allow others to put timelines on you when it's really just your journey. So if it takes you a year or two to build your practice, I would rather it take you a year or two and you'd be completely booked and satisfied with your business than for you to just jump out there and go broke in three months. 


0:17:48.5 MS: Yeah. And completely booked is different for everyone, right? Because it... 


0:17:52.6 CO: Absolutely. 


0:17:53.7 MS: Depends on how many days are you working and what are you charging. And so... Yeah, that's such a moving target as well. So when we're talking about marketing, that really is kind of a generic term too. What does that mean for those that are listening in?  


0:18:10.0 CO: Yeah, for sure. It is a very generic term. I feel like marketing and advertising and sales and things of that sort... It's like, what does that really mean? But when you think of marketing, especially when you're talking about your solo practice, it's about how many people know you and get to know what you do. It's about figuring out what you need to say to get people to want to come to you to be that go to person. I always drive home and I feel like I'm always just preaching to the choir here, but I believe in defining a niche. Reason being is that you can't be everything to everybody. And that's absolutely okay. 


0:18:51.1 CO: So sometimes I'm chatting with other aestheticians and they're like, "Oh, you know, I do waxing, but I do brow waxing, and full body waxing." And this and that and this. And that's great. You're an amazing waxer, and that's amazing. But when I think about waxing, I'm not going to think, "Oh, let me call Maggie for a waxing." Because literally 10 people down the block does waxing. But if you specialize in maybe the seven-minute Brazilian or a 10-minute Brazilian or a speed Brazilian, I know you do other things outside of Brazilians, but if you make that your signature service, then you're known for that. Then people will think, "Ah, I need to call Maggie for this." And then that's when you get in there and they see, "Oh, I didn't know you did this and you did that." 


0:19:39.4 CO: And now you're booking clients for three or four of your other services, but they know you for that one thing. So I think... I overheard someone saying... So I had mentioned something, and someone said, "Well, I don't believe in that. I think that's wrong." I feel like you're being... I feel like you're being exclusive and you're excluding people when you do niches. But in all reality, now that you're known for that 10-minute Brazilian or seven minute Brazilian, or... I'm not a waxer so... However fast you can wax. When you're known for that and you market it as, "Hey, if you wanna save time... " It's... Save time... You're gonna be pain less. Whatever it is. 


0:20:25.4 CO: When you market your signature service, then not only can you charge more, but now people know exactly what you're known for and they know to come to you. For me, I... Here in my area, people come to me because I primarily do acne and acne scarring treatments specifically for... I don't market specifically for a Fitzpatrick's IV plus, but because my clientele and my portfolio kind of presents as such, people call me for those services. I do make up and browse too, but my money maker are my acne treatments. So I definitely drive home that, "Hey, if you really want to make a living going solo is to find a niche." 


0:21:09.2 MS: I think that's really interesting what you were saying, that some people say, if you are finding your niche that that's actually exclusive... I've never heard that before. I mean, I guess I can understand that. But I think what you're saying is so spot on that you have to define who you are as an aesthetician, and then target that market or that demographic, and the people that are looking for... Say that seven-minute Brazilian. And so I think that's... I agree with you. I think that's so important. 


0:21:39.5 MS: So you've made such amazing points, and I thank you so much for joining us today, Crystal. It's been such a pleasure chatting with you. And I hope that we can continue this conversation, in additional podcasts for anyone who's interested in establishing their business aesthetician. Can you share with us a little bit more about where we can find you and what you're working on?  


0:22:00.0 CO: Yeah, for sure. So I'm actually going to be starting live group coaching sessions coming up in the next few months. So I invite everybody, whether you're in school or an aesthetician, or in the beauty industry, period. And just come and check it out, and I'll be talking about different marketing and client acquisition topics every month. It's just once a month for about an hour. We all get together, and I basically go over a couple of marketing tips. And it's actually a great opportunity for other people to ask questions about beauty business. 


0:22:35.5 CO: So, no, you're not working one-on-one with me, but it's a great way for you to get my ear in. And we all just kind of chat about business and about the beauty business. So at crystalngozibeauty.com/coaching is where people can go and learn more about those monthly coaching sessions and sign up. It's absolutely free. I'm giving away free game. And then, of course, follow me on social media at @CrystalNgoziCoaching. And that's on Facebook and on Instagram. 


0:23:05.7 MS: Thank you so much for joining me Crystal. Thank you to everyone listening in. Have a great day and we will talk with you next time. 


0:23:14.7 S3: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all-inclusive association for aestheticians that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights, and an opportunity to spotlight your sick skills join at ascpskincare.com. Only $259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP, knows, it's all about you. 

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