The recession may actually be a benefit for medical spas and laser clinics that offer laser tatoo removal.
Playing it safe is not usually associated with great success. It’s that whole, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and the risk is worth the reward sort of thing. And in this business, you’re surrounded by risk-takers. Of course by the time they get to us, the risk resulted in regret.
In the midst of a recession, we launched a laser tattoo removal business in Houston, Texas. There were already over 100,000 people unemployed in our little part of the world, so needless to say entrepreneurial ventures were looking particularly intimidating.
In spite of the clear obstacles to starting a business, we had a strong sense that there would be a market for our services. And while some people feel it’s better to cast a wide net, we kind of took the opposite approach. We decided to bypass several other popular kinds of laser treatments and to focus specifically on laser tattoo removal. We knew that it was a risk, but it felt right to stick to one service that we were passionate about, and good at. I feel like a lot of people fail because they spread themselves too thin and lose sight of their true passion.
It wasn’t long before we realized that, our gut feeling was dead on. Despite providing a scary backdrop for our new company, the recession also provided the perfect landscape for our services. Remember that astronomical unemployment rate? It turned out, oddly enough, that it actually worked in our favor.
See, it was a matter of dominos falling in a way. The recession impacts businesses of all sizes and kinds, forcing them to lay people off. We saw first hand that when business downsize, it creates a massive pool of job seekers all vying for the same limited number of positions. The competition for work had people doing everything in their power to even the job-search playing field. And that’s where we came in
The Waning Job Market
In the increasingly competitive job environment, with larger pools of candidates to choose from, employers could be as selective as they wanted to be. Suddenly, little things like visible tattoos became deal breakers. W began to see the impact of that reality on our phones and in our lobby. While women have commonly gotten tattoos removed after becoming moms, the main reason a man comes to us, is because his tattoo is limiting his job prospects. In fact, we found that almost a quarter of our new appointments listed employment opportunities as their reason for wanting a tattoo removed. At that point our hunch, felt a lot more like ESP.
Sure, in some industries tats have always been an issue, but it’s actually amazing how many jobs have a “no visible tattoo policy”, it’s really not just bankers anymore. Companies from Toys R Us to Calvin Klein have prohibited visible tattoos. Even the local police forces in Houston and Dallas have a “no ink showing” rule. I mean, these are cops. These are tough guys, guys who are supposed to be able to brave the needle and use bad ass tattoos to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. Now even they need to wear long sleeves, patches or makeup. Speaking of weapon-yielding folks that have to “cover it”; tattoos are also an issue in the military. And for many people in the throes of unemployment, military ink policies pose an issue. We’ve heard plenty of stories from people whose slim prospects for work, have them looking to the military as a “Plan B”. Of course by the time they come to us, Plan A is often a distant memory.
When someone has to come in to remove a tattoo, whether it’s to improve their chances of finding work, or to meet military enlistment standards it is always bittersweet. Sure, the focus is on the future, but it’s hard to say good bye to something meaningful. So while the laser treatment may be painless, the parting is not. In some cases parting with payment is difficult too. In a tough economic climate, having to spend over $1000 for several sessions is a brutal investment in the future. I guess the old saying, you have to spend money to make money, applies here. Especially if you have neck tattoos from your teen years.
Learning Our Place
All of those combining social and economic forces happened to be a sort of perfect storm for a little laser tattoo removal venture. It would be nice to say we predicted how all this would play out from the very beginning. But I don’t think we could have. We only knew that this technology would become more important to society, and that it was already important to us. It was early on though that we recognized how our country’s circumstances would impact our future. When we identified that niche of people who needed our services, not simply out of regret but out of necessity; it helped us feel like we were really changing lives for the better.
If there were 2 pieces of advice anyone should take from our story it would be; focus on doing one thing to the best of your ability and always try to look past the surface of your deliverables. Find what you are really giving people. In our case, it made all the difference in the world when we began to think ourselves as a piece of a much larger puzzle, and we considered the role we really wanted to play. I mean, on the surface, yeah, we remove tattoos. But when we looked deeper, we discovered that what we’re really doing is giving people a new beginning.
This guest post is written by Janet Peterson, a writer for “New Look” a Houston laser tattoo removal business. Janet has extensive experience writing about tattoos and tattoo culture.
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