Kirsten Foss is a sought-after spa business mentor who has worked in the beauty industry for 23 years. Kirsten’s creative strategies help beauty entrepreneurs implement productive methods to build a thriving business. She has been a huge inspiration for us, so we wanted to share some of her best business advice with you!
What does a day in the life of Kirsten Foss look like?
I have to admit, I lead a pretty simple life. I have a home office so the worst part of my commute is occasionally tripping over the cat or dog on my way in (those two are usually racing each other to my office door in the am). My work week is a mix of coaching calls, creating content for my blog and online courses, as well as reserving time for brainstorming new ideas for making spa ownership and management easier. I retired from hands-on esthetics 2.5 years ago after giving services for almost 25 years and I'm loving this next phase of my career in which I can help elevate the profession, leadership, and earning potential of the spa industry in a more profound way. Our family consists of older teenagers who are doing their own thing, so on the weekends, I have lots of free time to hang out with my hubby. We live in Victoria BC, Canada, and this summer we'll be doing lots of camping on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
What's your most effective daily habit?
Can I have two? Time blocking and what I call "Just do it." With Time Blocking, I break down my prioritized tasks in an average work week (coaching client time, admin time, finance time, content creation time and personal time) and protect each of them fiercely. I know that if I don't block time for non-revenue producing tasks (doing FB LIVES, email marketing, social media, bookkeeping) it's far too easy to let them slide...which will 100% affect my business outcomes. The second part of my productivity habit is to "Just do it." As simple as it seems to action out my tasks, procrastination can still easily creep up and hijack my outcomes. So when my schedule notifies me it's time to work on a project I'd rather do later, I take a split second to lock into my awareness that productivity is a decision. "Do I want x? Then just get it done." Another favorite and similar method is Mel Robbins "5 Second Rule".
What's the best advice you've been given?
When needing to make a big decision, I always fall back to the advice of a dear client from many years ago: What's the worst that could happen? If you know you can handle the worst case and you still want to do it...go for it!"
It taught me to analyze risk and make a decision more quickly, rather than get stuck in the muck of insignificant details.
What values are you committed to?
My professional values are Curiosity, Compassion, Organization, Connection and Leadership.
Who has influenced you?
I'd say my mom is my biggest influencer. She's why I choose to go into the spa industry in the first place. It wasn't because she valued great skin or went for manicures, it was because I watched her struggle with her self-worth when I was growing up. I had a strong inner knowing at a young age that when a woman felt good about herself, she takes that feeling home to her family to empower them and which creates a beautiful ripple effect amongst her friends, coworkers, and community. By the age of 16, I knew that I wanted a career where I could work with women to actualize their full potential, I just wasn't sure of the modality. When I discovered esthetics at 20 years of age, I knew I'd found a method for making a change to the self-worth of women in my community. 25+ years later, I'm still deeply inspired by this mission in my coaching business.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from other women leaders. Whether they're in the spa industry or not, I love to listen, read and watch stories and interviews about women from all over the world who are stepping up and boldly creating change where they see a need. It inspires me to be a bigger thinker, to take inspired action and to speak up when I feel something important needs to be said.
What have been your greatest business challenges?
My Inner Critic, for sure. And she can be a big 'ole jerk if I don't catch her in time. Throughout my life, I've been a pretty confident person, but that doesn't mean my Inner Critic doesn't hijack my head occasionally...it just means I've learned to soothe her until my confidence can step back in as the voice of reason.
The online world is incredibly noisy and you can't help but notice what others in your industry are doing. The trick is to see what others are doing for business context only, meaning I need to have a pulse on what's being offered to the spa industry, but it should hold no bearing regarding what I sell or my self-worth. If I were to listen to my Inner Critic all the time, I would have never had the confidence to open my own spa or shift from spa owner to spa business coach (a position that requires the eyeballs of international audience!) It's no mistake that my biggest inspiration and my greatest challenge are two sides of the same self-worth coin. We're here to learn what we're here to teach.
What's the first thing you would do to create an environment where motivation can thrive?
Clear, honest communication. I would be sure to book time for 1:1 conversations where I can begin to understand this person's perspective of life, family, career, etc. Motivation starts with personal values so if I don't understand you personally or what you value, I'll never understand how to create an environment that motivates you. Leadership is so much more than having a staff handbook or writing paychecks...we're in the business of people so we need to make an effort to understand each other. And I can only do that if I value clear, honest communication with the people I work with.
How do you keep emotions from affecting your business decisions?
To be honest, I don't! Lol. I'm an emotional person, especially when it's regarding something I'm extremely passionate about like my business! But I do have a system in place to manage the process before it can do any damage. I have what I call "My Inner Council" - a list of 4 people of whom their opinion truly matters to me. As soon as I'm feeling emotionally triggered in my work, I reach out to one of them for support ("Am I crazy to do this?" or "Does this piss you off too?" or "Ugh, I've been working on this all week but now I think it might be a stupid idea!"), and I can have those emotions resolved fairly quickly with their help so I can move on to taking action rather than be paralyzed with self-doubt.
What professional organizations are you associated with and why?
I used to sit on the Board of Directors for the Esthetician & Spa Professional Association of BC in Canada as their Director of Communications. In Canada, most Provinces are not regulated and our association was trying to support and bridge the gap between spa professionals, standardized education, and regulation. I had worked in the spa industry under government regulation for half my career and although far from perfect, it was better than what's happened to our industry since it's been deregulated. Unfortunately, two years ago and after many years of trying, our Board decided we had to fold due to lack of members willing to step up and volunteer their time to continue the fight. Currently, I'm a member of the Spa Industry Association of Canada, a non-profit organization who addresses the concern for the absence of national regulation and to level the playing field globally. SIAC is also responsible for creating the Leading Spas of Canada designation, for whom spas must pass a strict set of criteria, abide by a code of ethics and meet or exceed standards and practices identified by the association, which I wholeheartedly support.
We are always so inspired after our business discussions with Kirsten. Let’s be honest, we all want to build our business and need motivation and leadership. Are you ready to move forward? If so, contact Kirsten today! https://www.kirstenfoss.com