Today: Artist, Tomorrow: Manager

Read Time: 7 Minutes
Expertise Area: All Career Fields
Career Stage: Seasoned Professionals

Expert Career AdviceManaging a Beauty Business ➜ Today: Artist, Tomorrow: Manager

There are many career paths to choose from as a beauty and wellness professional and working in management is one of them. The transition from artist to manager is not as difficult as some may think. Many of the same skills you have acquired to build your book, manage your clients, and communicate with co-workers are the same salon manager duties needed in your salon, spa, or shop.

In management, those skills have to be razor sharp because you are now in charge of everything. Many service providers, when watching a manager in action, think they can do it better and in some cases, they probably can, but it is a tough job and often thankless. Let’s review the pros as well as cons when transitioning into management.


  • Create the culture you want
  • Have a voice in how things are run
  • Learn valuable business skills


  • Responsible for everything that happens and doesn’t happen
  • Handling insurance, taxes, payroll, and licenses
  • Added stress

The manager’s role is to oversee the business at large with a focus on business operations. Operations consist of the administration of best business practices to achieve profitability. It’s a high-level position with a lot of responsibility. If you love systems, organization, and numbers, you will most likely love management.

Managers wear many hats. In addition to operations they may also be responsible for marketing, sales, and finance. Their biggest role is not even in the job description and that is “putting out fires”– this includes everything from a water leak, to a broken washer, to client complaints. Although stressful, being in charge does have its advantages and managing a business is great experience if you want to have your own one day.

The Skills Needed to Effectively Manage

The skill sets needed to manage a team and run a business are not that unsimilar to the skill set needed to interact with clients and build your own business behind the chair/table. Critical thinking, the ability to solve problems and achieve goals, is an essential soft skill needed to manage effectively. If management is your goal, then sharpening your soft skills is a must. Effective communication, active listening, and team building, are additional soft skills that will help you succeed, regardless of what career path you choose.

The Path to Management

Advancement in one’s career comes from goal setting and planning. It also takes hard work and persistence. Begin by showing interest in the procedures and policies your salon, spa or shop have in place. How do they impact the overall health of the business? Approach your manager/owner, let them know your goals and ask what additional skills you need to be considered for a role in management.

You can start small and work behind the desk part time to begin taking on more administrative roles. There are salon management programs offered as an associate degree, and if management is the path for you, consider combining both the licensed program with the salon management program. If you are already licensed, you can enroll separately in the salon management program. At the very least, take a few business classes to help you hone the skills needed to manage effectively. Education is never wasted, and business skills are easily transferable.

There is a clear trajectory to a management position within a salon, spa, or shop that fosters the necessary skills to lead a team and manage a business. This path is literally “learning on the job” and offers invaluable lessons in both business and employee management. Let’s look at the typical path to salon, spa and shop management.

Service Provider

As an artist behind the chair/table, your main responsibility is to show up, take care of your clients, and do your part in maintaining a high level of client service. As a manager you will need to think about cutting your hours behind the chair/table or give it up altogether. Are you ready to do this? You can split your time between the two roles, however, this pace is not sustainable, and quality can suffer if you are too fragmented. Having worked as a service provider does give licensed professionals an advantage over non-licensed managers because you know the needs of both the service provider and client.


If you want to a be manager, the best place to start is behind the desk. The receptionist is the heart of the salon, spa, or shop and it is here that all interactions begin and end. You can work part time behind the desk and still see clients, this way you can get the best of both worlds while you contemplate your move to management. Offer to help if you are not busy and ask questions on procedures. The receptionist is the gatekeeper for the business and is often the manager or assistant manager. Find out what they do and what their responsibilities are. By asking questions and offering to help with solutions, you will gain a clear understanding of what it takes to run a salon, spa, or shop.

Assistant Manager

Depending on the size of the business, some managers will have an assistant. The assistant can be a working service provider or not. Their role and responsibilities will focus more on the day-to-day operations and implementing the tasks needed to be done, such as inventory, ordering, scheduling, front desk fill in, etc. It’s a great role because it gives you first-hand experience of what it takes to run a business without the full responsibility of the manager title.


Being a manager is very different than being an artist. It requires using less of your left brain (the creative side) and more of your right brain (the logic side). It’s an administrative role, though you can be creative when running a business, especially when you are in problem solving mode or creating new marketing promotions or decorating for the holidays. The manager’s responsibility is to the whole business. They are the vision holders and big picture thinkers. Their role is to ensure best business practices are being implemented and there is a cohesiveness to the team and a satisfaction among the clients. Some of the responsibilities include:


  • Staff scheduling
  • Payroll
  • Inventory
  • Ordering
  • Month End
  • Deposits


  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Ads


  • Retail/Service Goals
  • Budgets


  • Staff Performance
  • Hire/Fire Staff
  • Train New Staff
  • Maintenance
  • Team Meetings

Management isn’t just about roles and responsibilities; it’s also about leadership. Learning to lead with vision, enthusiasm, and compassion is essential to the health of the team. A great leader facilitates the success of others and sets the standards the team is being held accountable to. They take risks when others won’t and inspires the team with a clear vision of what is possible. There are three management/leadership styles most people fall into once they take on management/leadership roles.


This is the most controlling leadership style. It’s the leader’s way or no way. There is no room for discussion or questions. This style can easily demotivate people and leave everyone feeling unfulfilled.


This style involves the entire team in the decision-making process. Everyone has a voice, and everyone feels heard. The leader still makes the final decision but not before carefully considering the ideas and thoughts of the entire team. This style is appreciated by most team members because they get to contribute to the decisions being made that will ultimately affect their livelihood.

Laissez Faire

This style is the most relaxed. The leader lets the team function without much interference. This style can work well when the team is strong and cohesive. With a new team, this style can lead to confusion, dissatisfaction, and frustration.

Your style of leadership is based on your personality, values, and education. By sharpening both your business and soft skills, you can begin to cultivate a path to management that brings you and the team success.

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