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How to start a hair salon this year

There’s plenty of reasons why you might want to start a hair salon. The beauty industry is resistant to recessions, growing every year, and can be a lot of fun! Whether you are a seasoned stylist with the experience and clientele to branch out on your own or an entrepreneur learning a new skill, here are some of the core steps you’ll need to take to start a hair salon.

Figure Out Your Business Model

If you want to start a hair salon, the first step is to define exactly what it is you want to do. How exactly will your business make money? Will you offer an extended menu or a few select services? Are you going to attract a young, hip crowd or will you aim for an upscale and exclusive atmosphere?

Even though it’s the first step, figuring out your business model is something you’ll come back to again and again. It's normal and ok!

Once you’ve been in business awhile, you might decide to add services, take services away, rebrand yourself, reach out to different markets or make other changes to the original plan. As you work through the first planning stage, remember that it’s okay to start small and work your way up. It might make more sense to open with a handful of awesome services than to overextend yourself with every service a person could possibly ask for at a hair salon.

Initial Investment to Start A Hair Salon

The initial investment is the most intimidating part of starting a hair salon. In most cases, people who start a salon put their own money on the line to set up the business, rent the space, buy equipment, and run marketing efforts. Not only do you have to have the money in the first place, but you’ll lose your investment if your business efforts don’t succeed. For this reason, it’s important to keep your initial investment low and to use it effectively and precisely. Two of the biggest factors of your investment will be the location and the equipment you need to get started.

Location

Where will you set up shop? Selecting your premises is a big decision because there are so many different things to think about. First of all, you’ll need a space big enough for all the services you offer, plus a nice place for customers to sit while waiting. You’ll want a space that you can decorate to reflect your brand and you want your shop to be somewhere people want to hang out and spend time.

These factors can be difficult enough, but that’s not all. On top of that, you’ll need a place that gets a lot of traffic and is easy and convenient for the clientele you want to reach. Of course, locations that get better traffic are more desirable, and will, therefore, cost you more money. The trick is to find a happy balance between your budget and what’s in the best interest of your business.

Salon Tools and Equipment

The equipment you need to start a hair salon will depend on exactly what services you plan to offer and how many stylists you plan to have working when the shop opens. You could start a hair salon alone and build a client base before hiring more stylists, but you will likely not be able to keep your shop open as many hours or on as many days as your competition in town. You could choose to hire another stylist right away and accept twice as many appointments, but you will need to equip two stations as well.

In addition to salon product and station equipment, you’ll need a small reception area, places for your customers to sit when they are waiting, and decor to help brand your shop and make it a pleasant place to be.

Managing Your Salon

Once you have a location, all the equipment you’ll need, and a plan in place to earn money, you’ll be ready to open shop. But when you start a hair salon, you’ll need to make a billion decisions on the day to day management. How will you pay the bills every month and when? How will you track your expenses and income? What will the policies be for the stylists who work in your shop? Will you offer a product line for customers to purchase? What will you do to make sure every customer that comes through the door has a great experience?

Keep your operations at a size that you can manage until you’re ready to expand them. That means not hiring more staff than you can manage, trying to take on too much work yourself, or offering more product lines than Kohls. Here are a few tips for keeping your salon on a scale you’re comfortable with.

Salon Online Booking

Most people who plan to start a hair salon do not picture themselves answering the phone all day to schedule appointments. Online scheduling software like Start Booking make it easy for customers to set up their own appointments on your website. Start Booking is a no-brainer because it also gives you powerful tools to manage your customers and stylists, which saves you time and energy when it comes to marketing, scheduling, and communicating with your staff. As the owner of a hair salon, your time will be very valuable. Start Booking helps you get more done every day for about the cost of a haircut.

Prioritize Marketing

When you start a hair salon, marketing needs to be at the forefront of your mind. You will need to tell people about your salon and give them an incentive to check it out. The more hype you can build, the more excited people will be to make an appointment. To accomplish this, you’ll need a marketing plan, which is a written plan for what actions you will take to spread the word about your business. It’s easy to end up biting off a bigger marketing plan than you can chew, but your focus when you start a hair salon needs to be on your website.

The more hype you can build, the more excited people will be to make an appointment.

Your website will function as the hub of your marketing efforts, so take the time or hire someone to help you make it awesome. Your website should reflect your brand and invite customers to make an appointment. Once your website is in place, you can focus your efforts on directing potential customers to it and your Start Booking software can take it from there.

Make Strategic Plans

There are likely a thousand ideas pinging around your head right now about exactly what kind of place you want to run once you start a hair salon. Keeping to a scale you can manage doesn’t mean stopping short of everything you want to achieve. Write down every idea you have, whether it’s something as small as a staff policy or something as grand as opening a second location. Then, take everything that you can accomplish in the next six months and make an action plan to get there. Don’t pitch the other ideas you have, but accept that you’ll get there in time.

You might find it helpful to write these goals into your business plan (for example, you could set a goal of opening a second location in three years). Strategic plans help you visualize where you are going and focus on what you need to do right now to get there. This is a great strategy for growing at a pace you can manage.

Grow Your Salon

Finally, the last step when you start a hair salon is look forward to growth. Your first steps of growth might be to hire additional stylists, expand your business hours, or to create new services to your menu. The key is to take these steps one at a time and give your business time to adjust at each phase. Bringing on additional stylists, for example, gives you the chance to book more appointments and expand your client base, but it can also bring changes in the dynamics of your staff, in scheduling, and in the marketing required to get those extra appointments filled.

Network with other salon owners and members of the beauty industry in your area. Connect with the small business association or chamber of commerce where you are located. These associations will open new opportunities to you and give you access to potential mentors whose advice will help you grow.

Once you’ve reached the capacity that one location can manage effectively, it might be time to scout out properties for a second location. A second location puts you back the beginning of this checklist but taking forward all of the resources, experience, and wisdom you’ve built up already. Make sure you put in the man-hours to research the perfect location, gather the tools and equipment you’ll need, and add a second location option to your website.

Whether you expand to multiple locations or just rock the single salon of your dreams, opening your hair salon isn’t cheap or easy. But with the right attitude, the right experience, and a little help where you can get it, you can see your dream of being a salon owner come true.

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