Small Business Owner Spotlight: Spa on Main

First Financial Bank
Nov 19, 2021
“I call it the three “Ps” because it is critical to anybody succeeding with any kind of business: 1) Align with your Purpose. 2) Provide it with the Passion it needs to move forward – so always motivate yourself first, and then those around you. 3) And be Persistent…” Sharon Morgan Tahaney, Owner, Spa on Main.

Sharon Morgan Tahaney, Owner of Spa on Main was gracious enough to sit down and talk about translating her decades of senior executive experience into being a successful small business owner.

You’ve had a storied career in skin care and wellness, helping other brands grow and flourish. What was it about Spa on Main that prompted you to buy it?

A lot of things! It’s a beautiful place to be. I like that aspect of a business where people walk in the door and anticipate enjoying themselves and becoming their best selves by being here. That’s a good place to connect. It felt especially good in that regard, since I’d been a client before becoming the owner. In my own personal life, I’d retired from corporate America and decided to come back to my hometown. I wanted to take a nice deep breath, relax and de-stress, but still have a purpose. I was wanting to share what I’d learned over the past 40 years with a small business in our community, and this spa allowed me to do that.

Is this the first business you’ve owned?

Yes, though I have built the business for those large organizations where I’ve worked. There is a big difference between working with a large company vs a small business. It’s been quite a learning curve.

What were the surprising things you learned along the way?

As an owner of a business, you have a whole new level of gratitude that comes over you. When working for someone else’s company, there is a commitment and passion around what you are doing. But when you own your own business, it is heightened to a whole new level. Your gratitude for your clients is beyond measure. And the people around you become even more important – they become family. It was a big surprise!

Your spa looks beautiful – and the services sublime! Can you tell us about Spa on Main and what were your inspirations? Where did you get your ideas for your spa and services?

We have a mission here and we all share in that: Help our clients who walk in our door to relax, renew and live their best lives. There are lots of arms and legs to that. When they walk into the spa, they are greeted with gratitude and a welcoming attitude. When they go into a facial room, they receive the highest quality of products and services. Every moment of their experience here is one that is lifting them up. Our mission is a big part of who we are here at the Spa on Main. It means – and actually our service providers have done this – when someone comes in feeling down, the service provider may give them an extra service – example massaging their hands and arms, talking to them about how valuable they are as a human being and how appreciated they are as a friend. Those kinds of things are priceless. And I hear those stories from our clients “so and so just made me feel so good about myself just by talking to me”. I think that is an important aspect about who we are at Spa on Main.

Our service menu is varied but we try to include things such as massages that help people de-stress. We all know stress is a contributor to disease, so when we can de-stress, we are helping ourselves to be healthier. We have a big wellness commitment to that. In addition to massages and facials, we have a wide variety of offerings such as lashes, body and facial waxing, hair services, reflexology, spray tans – and more. It’s about feeling as good as they look – and they look pretty darn good when they walk out of here! It’s both an internal and external feeling.

I’ve lived in large cities before coming back to El Dorado. I was used to being treated like a number, without love and care. When I started working with Trey (Clark) at First Financial Bank, setting up everything for the spa, I found it to be an entirely different situation. This is why people like small towns. I was treated as a person not a number. They totally customized what they were doing for me based on what I needed. When COVID hit and we were all straining to get through it, First Financial said “We’ll do what we need to do for you”. And they actually called me to tell me that. I thought “Wow! This is like being on the set of “Cheers” and walking in and everyone says “Hi Norm”” – everybody knows your name – and I felt like that with First Financial. They really know me and what the struggles are – and they care enough to help me through it. It was a huge gift to be here and to be working with First Financial Bank.

What were the greatest challenges in meeting your mission?

Like many others, this past year we’ve dealt with the pandemic and the reluctance of people to get out in public. I bought the business two weeks before we were mandated to be closed. I’ve never been challenged to that degree before – where my market and client base was completely unavailable. Hands down, it’s been the biggest challenge and continues to be one.

What have you learned or had to be creative about as a business owner?

To succeed in business, you have to have an element of persistence. So even if you are having a day where you are down and out, you still keep going. This past year, no matter how difficult it became – and it became even a little bit scary – I had to keep going. For the sake of those working here and as the only full-day spa in this community, I don’t think of this place as just a place of beautifying and pampering. I think of it as a place of wellness. That puts our purpose a bit higher than just looking good. You have to stay persistent. I call it the three “Ps”. Because that is so critical to anybody succeeding with any kind of business. 1) Align with your purpose. 2) Provide it with the passion it needs to move forward, so always motivate yourself first and then those around you. 3) And be persistent – this past year has really required persistence to keep going.

Your background as a senior executive, and now as a business owner, has provided you with unique insights into what it takes to succeed. What would you tell other women who are looking to start their own business?

First of all, define the roles for everyone playing the game with you. If you are the only person in the business, you obviously assign yourself all those roles. In my case, I have service providers, front desk personnel etc. As an owner, I clearly defined my role as financial and strategic oversight, knowing what kind of services we want to provide, community outreach and building corporate partnerships in the community. Regarding staffing, it’s essential that we aren’t stumbling over each other or duplicating efforts. I think it is important to have defined your role as owner. Everyone needs to know their roles: the leader provides the path to get where they are going and the resources to get there. The CEO is not trying to be the day-to-day manager and – the manager responsible for day-to-day oversight is not trying to be the CEO. I’ve seen what happens when it is murky or unclear, you can’t be efficient or see the financial results you want.

Are there things that surprised you when you started Spa on Main? How did you handle / manage?

I walked into a business that had been opened 8 years prior and thought “ok, this has been tried and true, so we’ll just carry on” . But I soon realized that the needs are constantly changing and we need to be ready to adapt and adjust. No matter how long you’ve been in the business, even if your processes are the same, the world around you is changing. The market may demand a service you hadn’t planned or a change in your products. Every small business owner who buys a business because they like their product will discover at some point that you’ll need to evolve to support your customers’ requirements.

You offer a wide range of services with a good size team of specialists and supporting staff members. Besides the specific technical experience/skills, what else do you look for in prospective hires? How do you determine that they have what you are looking for?

That is such an important question! I have learned that skills and competence around the job is important. But what I’ve found is even more essential is what you don’t see. You can teach a skill, but you can’t teach them to be nice. You want someone who fits into the culture and believes in the mission. Someone who understands about character and can show kindness, forgiveness and love to others is more important. Character is critical.

What’s next for you? What’s in the future for Spa on Main?

We continue to evolve. I was telling my manager this morning that business is fluid. The service offerings we have now may not be the same in 6 months. Maybe our staff of providers will change. So if we find that our clients want a service we no longer provide, how can we provide a similar benefit in a whole new way? It’s a constantly evolving scenario, and being open to situations without being stuck in “what has always been” is essential.

Please tell us what else we should know about you and/or your business.

There’s not a month that passes without an “oops” but if we stumble, we get up and we always make it right. We want our clients to know that our purpose is to serve. We are really clear about that.

I’m very grateful to be back in my hometown, one of the best examples of small town living in the country. We have a charming little town and I’m proud to be part of it again – and to have the spa to serve the community. They have certainly stepped up to support us and other small businesses that are locally owned and operated. Every person here is depending on their job to feed their children. I’m grateful to the community for supporting us through such a difficult time. I want them to know how important their support has been to every person Spa on Main and that we are grateful.

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