Hair salons brought in more than $46 billion in revenue in 2018. And the market is still growing, making it a perfect opportunity for beauty-focused entrepreneurs. In fact, the industry as a whole is mainly made up of smaller businesses, rather than huge, nationwide competitors.
How to Start a Hair Salon
If you’re interested in starting your own hair salon from the ground up, here are some of the essential steps you’ll need to consider.
Gain Industry Experience
Before breaking into the world of entrepreneurship, it helps to have some level of experience in the industry. You can potentially get started just after attending a well regarded cosmetology school. But it can be beneficial to get your feet wet by working at another salon first.
This can help you see how the business side works on a daily basis. It may also give you valuable industry connections or even a business mentor. If you don’t have a business mentor before jumping into the business world, you might consider hiring a consultant or connecting with industry groups to give you some of those helpful insights and resources.
Create a Business Plan
Before starting any type of business, you need to have a plan in place for how you’re going to earn money, what type of customers you’re trying to attract, how you’ll manage your finances, and day-to-day operations. There are plenty of resources available to help you make these important decisions that will shape your business. For example the Professional Beauty Association offers their members access to business blueprints that can be customized.
PBA Brand Manager Erin Walter said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “Each business will vary depending on their format, size, and goals. It’s important to choose the right plans for your individual business needs.”
Set Your Budget
When you have an idea of what type of salon you want to start, you’ll need to get set with your finances. Hair salon expenses can vary widely depending on your size and location. For example, a home based salon may only cost a few thousand dollars, but a large salon in a desirable location may cost hundreds of thousands. If you want to open a salon with no money, you’ll need to obtain some financing to at least cover your supplies.
Determine Your Target Customers
Many of your business decisions will depend on what type of customers you plan on serving. It’s not enough to say that you want a general hair salon. Research the market in your area and consider offering services to an underserved group. For example, your area may have plenty of options for trendy or upscale customers, but not as many affordable options for those who just want basic hair services at a convenient location. So you could potentially thrive by starting a salon that caters to busy moms or working professionals.
Find a Location
If you want to start small, you may start by providing hair services out of your home. However, this type of business isn’t very scalable and comes with some risks. For those opening an official salon with a dedicated space, find a storefront that is centrally located and easy for your target customers to access. If you’re targeting an affluent clientele, then your location should be in a downtown area or upscale shopping district. If you plan on working with young customers, find a trendy or up-and-coming neighborhood.
Obtain Local Permits
Depending on where you choose to set up shop, you’ll need to obtain a business permit, building permit and various other legal documents. Check with your local government or consult with a business attorney in your area if you’re unsure about the exact requirements.
Stock Your Inventory
You need more than just a location to run your salon business. At the very least, you’ll need chairs, hair tools, washing stations, and styling products. However, many salons also stock some inventory that customers can purchase to recreate their looks at home. Connect with brands that you love and that will appeal to your target customers to offer their products at your location.
Hire a Team
Many salons have more than one stylist on hand to serve a variety of customers. This isn’t a requirement, but it’s often helpful to improve profitability, especially if you have a dedicated retail space. Keep your target customers in mind through the hiring practices. Your stylists should not only have the talent to offer your desired hair services, but they should also be personable and friendly so they can converse with your clientele throughout the experience.
Develop Your Marketing Plan
You should start marketing your new salon before even opening, so you can build some buzz for your initial launch. Start taking appointments on your website shortly beforehand, unless you intend to work mainly with walk-ins. Then you might invest in some local online ads or alert your local media outlets about your new business. A launch event or some type of special promotion could help you make the opening more newsworthy. However, you should also create an ongoing marketing strategy for once your salon is already up and running.
Set Aside Time to Run Your Business
Meg King, consultant for Empowering You Consulting, a firm focused on the salon and spa industry, said in an email to Small Business Trends, “When it comes to running a business it’s very important to have dedicated time to work on your business vs in it. So many owners are busy being busy. When you take the time to understand your numbers, set budgets train your team you can then set goals to grow your team and create higher profits! It’s working smarter vs harder!”