Beauty & business: Preparing for 2018

ABT's Dave Horton outlines how you can get your business in order for the new year

December is a hectic month for nail techs and salons owner, and that's great news! The Christmas rush for nails, tanning, hair and make-up means that salons are busy, mobile techs are booked up, and our industry is thriving. However, as we draw towards the end of another year it's important that the festivities don't take your thoughts away from how you can make 2018 another successful year for you.

For small business owners, a new year offers the opportunity to reflect upon the success you have experienced over the past 12 months, as well as undertake some 'housekeeping' for your business. Although this isn’t the most exciting of tasks to undertake, it will pay dividends in the future.

Policies & procedures

Do you know what you or your team would do in case of an emergency? How would you deal with a client who has been taken ill in the salon? What would you do if your business was burgled? I don't ask these questions to alarm you, instead it’s an opportunity to consider what policies and procedures you have in place should the worst happen.

You personally may know exactly what to do, but is this information written down and accessible, or just in your head? Would a member of your team know what to do if you weren't there?

If you don't already have one, consider putting together a company handbook which outlines what you or the salon's staff will need to do to effectively deal with situations that could arise in a small business. This means that when an incident occurs, the handbook is there to be referred to, to ensure that procedures are followed, and help to keep you and team members the right side of the law.

Staff handbook
A Staff Handbook lists information that your staff need to know in relation to their employment.

Staff handbooks

Whilst the company handbook outlines how to deal with issues specific to the business and your clients, a Staff Handbook lists information that your staff need to know in relation to their employment. Typically, a Staff Handbook would include policies and procedures in relation to attendance and absence (and how to report absence and request leave), maternity and paternity rights, your business' grievance and disciplinary procedures etc.

Having these policies in writing, and making sure they are followed, could help you to avoid legal action from disgruntled employees for issues such as discrimination or unfair dismissal.

If you're an employee and you are not aware of a Staff Handbook where you work, speak to your manager.

Business housekeeping

Good housekeeping also means ensuring your standard company paperwork is up to date, and that you have a schedule for when you will carry out different tasks. If you're a business owner, you have a fiduciary duty to make sure the business is run in a legal manner, and in the best interests of the company’s shareholders (even if that's just you). The legislation that governs small businesses changes constantly, so you need to keep abreast of any updates.

Small business housekeeping
A new year offers the opportunity to reflect upon the success you have experienced over the past 12 months, as well as undertake some ‘housekeeping’ for your business.

Your housekeeping activity should include ensuring that the following are up to date, or you are aware of when you might need to take action:

Health and safety: Fire Risk Assessments, Health & Safety compliance, risk assessments for staff and clients, registration with the local authority where appropriate.

Business premises: Up-to-date tenancy agreements for rented property, up-to-date mortgage payments, property and contents insurance (see below), expansion plans, any maintenance required to the building that is your responsibility.

Insurances: Professional Liability, Public Liability, Product Liability, Medical Malpractice/Treatment, Property Buildings, Contents, and car insurance if you work mobile.

Financial: PAYE, VAT, Corporation Tax, National Insurance, Income Tax, overdraft facility, unpaid invoices, staff salary reviews, budgets for introducing new products and treatments.

People: Staff contracts, recruitment plans, staff reviews and appraisals, client and staff data (you should be aware that new regulations regarding how you store and use information about clients and staff will come into force in May 2018 known as the General Data Protection Regulation).

Marketing: Your 2018 marketing plan and budget, planned website updates, website domain registrations, social media campaigns, specific seasonal campaigns.

The list above may look extensive but is not exhaustive, and there are no shortcuts to running a business successfully. However, there are ways in which you can ease this burden. For example, ABT members will soon be able to take advantage of a fabulous free member benefit which provides help with the above courtesy of the legal experts at DAS. This means that you can access information on recent legislation changes and templates for legal documents such as staff contracts, available online at times when you may need help the most. This is in addition to our helpline for guidance on insurance queries and requirements.

I fully appreciate that whilst nails and beauty are your passion, legislation and risk assessments probably aren't! ABT go above and beyond insurance to provide our members with business solutions and support that let you concentrate on what you love!

Dave Horton is Director of Associated Beauty Therapists (ABT), the industry’s leading membership and insurance provider representing over 17,000 professionals. For more information telephone 01789 773573, email or visit