Better Together : How I Found my Right Hand Babe and How We’re Working Together to Fulfill Our Greatest Potentials

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“I need an Amanda.”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that over the last two years.

Here’s the story of how my right hand gal came into my world and how we’re working together to grow our baby into our market’s premier sunless brand. 

I met Amanda in 2016. She was a founding member of ASTP and also happened to be one of my business “competitors” in my market. When she asked me to have coffee, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little wishy washy on the whole thing. I had been burned by giving someone too much info in the past and while I had finally gotten over all of that, I still had a little twinge of nervousness in my gut leading up to our meeting. 

But I had I showed up. 

Little did I know how that coffee chat would change my personal and professional lives forever.

We met at Starbucks and I could immediately sense her nervousness. I was nervous, too. I was the “pro” she was reaching out to for guidance but at the time I struggled with confidence and really felt a bit like a fraud. Sure, I had built what could be considered a very solid and successful home-based spray tanning business, but on the heels of launching ASTP and being met with a lot of negativity...I wasn’t in a great space mentally. 

I really thought I was “just” an in-home spray tanner with a passion for making women feel beautiful and a dream of bringing my industry together.

We talked for an hour and I gave her the best advice I could while still guarding my “secrets”. By the time I took my last sip of coffee, I felt like I had made a new friend. As an introvert, that’s hard for me, but I was excited to have someone local who understood what I do and the amount of work I had to put in to achieve the success I had to that point.

The following January, I hosted the first Sunless Summit. Once again, Amanda was one of the first people to sign up. We had coordinated our flights to Vegas and she had agreed to help me with registration and setup for the event. Little did we know how that one volunteer job would show me that she is a pro at all of the things that I am not...and would start us down the path to being the unstoppable team we are today. your Integrator.

“Visionaries have groundbreaking ideas. Integrators make those ideas a reality.” 

If you haven’t read the book “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman and Mark Winters, then you have no idea what I’m talking about. I would highly recommend you buy the book if you feel like you’ve reached a plateau in your business or if you feel like you’re running in circles of “busyness” but never fully seeing things through.

If your creative brain is constantly in overdrive or if your analytical personality keeps you from taking necessary business risks, you will likely benefit from joining forces with someone who can balance you out. That’s what we did...and we are reaping the rewards.

I have no shortage of ideas. Entrepreneur brain has kept me awake for far more nights that I would like to admit. I am a risk taker and never want to live a life of “what if”. If I lose money...oh well! At least I tried. And I’ve taken a lot of not so strategic risks and spent a lot of unnecessary dollars in the eight years I’ve owned Recreating Rays.

Amanda is my polar opposite. She is strategic and analytical. She’s good at taking a step back and evaluating the pros and cons instead of just jumping in. She can see the details instead of just the big picture and she can implement ideas instead of just coming up with them.

When I met Amanda, she was my business competitor with huge dreams of her own. When I got to know Amanda, I realized she could be the missing link that took my business to the next level. 

But how could we merge her dreams and my own and create a new path forward that could fulfill everything we both wanted? With a whole lot of communication and compromise, that’s how.

I vividly remember the day I approached Amanda and asked her to give up her dream of building her own baby, Infinite Tan, and instead adopting my baby, Recreating Rays. 

Who was I to ask someone else to give up their dream? 

In 2018, Amanda was working contract for me on an “as needed” basis in my year old brick and mortar storefront. She had shown me over the course of several months that I could trust her with everything I have and as our relationship grew, so did my desire to make her a full-time part of my very small team (at the time, just me and my girl, Kristen). I saw the value that her personality and skill set could add to my business and I knew that if I could convince her to join me instead of competing with me...we could make massive strides. 

I presented Amanda with a proposal that would make her Brand Manager of Recreating Rays. She would be in charge of collaborating with me and integrating my ideas into our business. She would manage our soon-to-grow staff and ensure my standards were upheld. She would also be a vital part of my long-term growth plan and a legal partner in RR in the future. 

If we could grow this thing the way I thought we could...I was willing to give her a big part of it down the line.

All I had to offer her that day was the schedule flexibility to continue putting her kids first and a steady paycheck via a monthly salaried position. I didn’t know if it would be enough, but living life never saying “what if” meant that I was going to ask and hope for the best.

Of course, she asked for time to think about it and talk with her husband and I was happy to oblige. I was actually ecstatic that she didn’t just shut the whole thing down right then!

One week after I made my pitch, we met for lunch. Amanda sat across the table from me and her eyes filled with tears as she talked about giving up her dream of Infinite Tan and what that meant to her. If you know me at all, you won’t be surprised that I cried, too. 

But she trusted me and had grown to love my business, my clients and my dream. She knew she could be an asset to us and that together we could create new dreams and a new reality that benefited both of us. She accepted my proposal and off we went.

That was mid-2018. Since then, Recreating Rays has flourished under our joint leadership…

  • We ended 2018 with a six figure revenue for the first time - up 40% from 2017. 

  • This year, we are on pace for 80% growth from 2018. Pretty amazing growth for our eighth year in business.

  • We have grown our staff from three to six and anticipate hiring two or three more staff members in the next six months. 

  • We underwent $35,000 in renovations that added a third spray room and helped us maximize our space. We paid off the loan in less than five months.

  • We have grown our membership program from less than 50 to more than 100 members.

  • By mid-August we had surpassed the 2018 year end totals for all of our three key metrics - revenue, total tans and new clients.

And most importantly...Amanda has kept me in check and shut me down when my big picture view gets a little out of hand. I promised her at the end of 2018 that 2019 would be our year to figure this all out and define our path forward. I promised her no new service additions and no new locations. And then I tried to do both! 

She reigned me in when I could have gone off the rails and for that, I am eternally grateful.

We found each other through a mutual love of spray tanning and opened our minds and our hearts to the possibilities. 

Had I not taken that first meeting for fear of being burned again...Recreating Rays would not be where it is now. Had Amanda not forgone her individual dreams with Infinite Tan to join me...Recreating Rays would not be where it is now.

We worked on a friendship first, then a business partnership. We grew to trust each other over many months and varying circumstances. We have been tested and we have stood by each other in those trying moments. She has always had my back and I have always had hers. Most importantly...we both know we always will.

We don’t know what the future holds but we know we will both accomplish our own version of success much quicker together than we ever could have apart. 

Collaboration over competition isn’t just an ASTP motto...we’re living it. 

And when I figure out how to clone’ll all be the first to know!

Shonna Dexter1 Comment