Many of us want to reject office life and be our own boss. It’s such a lovely idea: your own hours, your own rules, and all the work you put in go into your pocket.

Getting a new business off the ground was nearly impossible at the start of this decade; it just wasn’t a year for financial or entrepreneurial growth. But things are looking up, and if you want to become your own boss, it’s time to go for it.

Running a sustainable salon can be a lot of hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. With the right plans and a lot of passion, it’s absolutely possible to make your dreams a success.


Although it’s nice to dream, when you’re serious about starting and running your own salon, there are many things to consider.

Knowing how to launch a business is about more than dreaming up clever name ideas and designing cool logos. The initial setup costs are the most important when starting. 

Initial Set-Up Activities

Before you start planning your finances or managing your small business bank account, you should look at several aspects that form a successful salon.

Real Estate

You will have to find a nice-looking physical store that suits your needs. You can either buy or rent it, depending on your budget. Should you want to go for a monthly lease, you will probably have to pay a security deposit.

Permits and Licenses

You will need to have a business license for your salon. Depending on where you live, you may also have to get additional permits to run your business. And if you want to sell products in your salon, you’ll have to obtain a seller’s permit.


While it’s a noble idea, you cannot work alone in your salon. There is just too much that needs to be done, and you’ll want professionals to take care of your customers. These professionals need to be paid well so they won’t have to look for better jobs.


Salons require lots of equipment that doesn’t come cheaply. You’ll need seating, beauty supplies, sinks, hairdryers, and so much more to make your salon run like a well-oiled machine.


If you plan to sell any merchandise, you’ll need to have an inventory, which will cost quite a bit of investment.


It’s never a good idea to run any kind of business without reasonable and proper insurance. You’ll need a decent insurance plan to ensure your business is covered in case anything goes wrong.

1. Even established hair salons such as Shin Hair had to consider all these factors before starting out

Even established hair salons such as Shin Hair had to consider all these factors before starting out. Source: Shin Hair

Financing Your Salon

Not everyone who dreams of having their own salon has all the money they need to do so. Fortunately, there are financing solutions that help out beginner business owners.

However, you should know that salons are typically seen as high-risk, so banks might be hesitant to invest in yours.

You can consider other options, though. Here are a few of the options you can choose from when getting your salon off the ground:


These are smaller than traditional loans and can go up to $50,000. Microloans don’t require you to have a long credit history or lots of experience in the business world. As long as your business plan is solid and logical, you should be able to qualify for a microloan.

SBA Loans

You can also try and apply for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. You must have a strong credit score to qualify for this kind of loan, though. They can also take time to finalize, so they’re not ideal if you’re in a hurry to get funded.

Alternative Lenders

If you need the money quickly, you can consider alternative lenders. They’re more accessible and faster sources of capital. You can apply for a credit card, asset-based loan, business line of credit, or term loan.


Marketing is vital for the success of any business, and salons must take it seriously. If you don’t have a good marketing plan, your salon will suffer for it.

With the average hair and beauty business losing between 10% and 25% of their clients with every passing year, effective marketing is essential.

Source: BookedIn

Your brand, objectives and key results, budget, and other factors that are unique to your situation will influence the marketing plan that you employ.

However, some basics remain the same for everyone. You need to have a good understanding of your area’s salon market. 

Let’s look at a few ideas on how you can achieve better visibility through marketing.

1. List Your Business in Online Directories and Communities

Do you want your salon to show up in digital searches? Of course, you do! Make sure that you’ve listed your business in several online directories.

Although there are many free directories you can submit your salon to, they’re generally not worth it. Instead, invest the money it will cost to get added to the proper listings for the best visibility.

Be careful with paid listings, though, because you don’t want to spend money on something that won’t pay off. Some homework on the best options is called for here.

You’ll have to do some research and determine which listings get the best results in your area.

One of the best options there are is Google My Business. It is free, easy to use, and trusted by users all over the world. It also lets you add images, special offers and share news with ease.

2. Grow Your Online Reviews

Online reviews go a long way to building trust in businesses. If you want people to trust your salon even before setting foot there, get as many positive online reviews as possible. (They must be honest and genuine though, no one likes a business that buys good reviews)

According to research, approximately 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Naturally, what they read there influences where they shop and go for services.

Source: BrightLocal

Advertising has long been struggling to sway people the way it used to, so if you want to get noticed and trusted by potential customers, have online reviews that support you.

Online reviews also help boost local SEO rankings, which are essential if you’re using digital marketing.

Having a strong website and showing customer testimonials on it is vital as well. You can use a website builder to build a strong site dedicated to your salon. 

3. Build a Referral System

You should never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Although internet searches can introduce your salon to your market, word of mouth is still significant. 

One of the easiest ways to get people to spread the news about your salon is simply by asking them and offering some form of reward in return, of course.

That’s why it’s an excellent idea to build a successful salon referral scheme.

Be generous when you use a referral scheme. Give your customers a reason to want to spread the word. Give them incentives such as discounts when they bring in a friend.

Ask them to share social media posts and tag your salon for a free haircut or a special treatment that they’ll enjoy.

Use holidays and special occasions to go all out for your loyal customers. Holiday-centric campaigns can be highly successful if planned correctly.

4. Leverage Social Media Marketing

We live in a digital age, and social media marketing has become an essential part of any marketing strategy.

You need to use social media platforms to your advantage, and doing so doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated.

Instagram and Facebook advertising works really well for salons. These platforms are ideal for sharing images, and that’s why they’re great for sharing examples of your salon’s work and growing those Facebook likes and engagements. You can even create a YouTube channel and use video marketing as a tactic to grow.

You should encourage all your happy clients to share their experiences on social media. It’s a fantastic way to get noticed by their friends and followers.

Have a social media account (or two) for your salon that you can use to engage with your customers. Just don’t share constant sales pitches, or you’ll lose any potential following. 

Getting a strong following on Instagram and other social media platforms can take time but reap many rewards for your salon. You should also narrow down the platforms you want to focus on at the start. 

Email personalization is also great for getting your salon noticed, and you can nail it with a good email marketing strategy. When combined with social media marketing, email marketing can significantly increase the success of your overall marketing efforts.

5. Create Loyalty Incentives

For most salons, their success lies in their return clients. If you want a loyal following for your salon, you need to give people a reason to return.

The value of a loyal customer is priceless because not only do they support you continuously, but they’re likely the ones sharing the word-of-mouth news about your salon.

Reward your most loyal clients by giving them special treatment. You can have special promotions or discounts that are tailored for the folks who support you the most. For example, when Black Friday rolls around, who says you can’t promote your salon? You can create a compelling SMS-driven campaign for your loyal customers during seasonal events. 


Now that you know the basics of running your own salon, let’s look at a few tips that will help you even more.

Before getting into that, it’s important to note that you must be well-rested when running your salon. You need to maximize your productivity in a healthy and sustainable way so that you can take your business to the next level.

Many new business owners work themselves tirelessly, much to the expense of their health and their business. Don’t be one of them.

1. Create a Business Plan

You’d be surprised to see how many hopeful salon owners kick off their business without having a good business plan. A good business plan is an essential part of your business roadmap planning.

But the success of your entire business is built on the foundation of excellent planning. If you don’t have any idea what your goals, expenses, and potential is, how could you possibly pull off being a salon owner?

If you want to be sure that your business plan will work, rope in the services of an attorney, online legal services or an accountant. They’ll help you stay on a pre-determined road that is smooth and easy to follow.

2. Research the Laws and Regulations

As briefly touched on earlier, there are specific laws and regulations that matter to salons. You need to have all the relevant permits before opening your doors and running your salon.

There is important paperwork to take care of, such as fire department permits, state cosmetology licenses, certificates of occupancy, and building permits, to name a few.

If you’re worried that you’re not up-to-date with all the legal matters, it’s highly recommended that you consult a lawyer. Rather play it safe than regret blindly jumping in later.

3. Create a Differentiation Strategy

Salons are not exactly difficult to find – you’ll likely compete against a dozen or more similar businesses in your area.

That is why you need to find a way to make your salon stand out and attract clients.

Take a long, hard look at your salon and find what it is that makes it unique. What special services do you offer? Is your staff highly experienced and friendly? Do you provide customized experiences? Do you have a newsletter platform to engage with your loyal customers on a regular basis? Do you outsource to effective call centers for customer service queries?

Use all of what makes your salon unique to grow your brand and identity so you can stand out.

You should also take into consideration what your competition is doing. Learn from them and their social media and digital presence to build your own more effectively. 

4. Partner With the Right Distributors

Few people realize the importance of working with the right distributors until they’ve worked with problematic or underperforming distributors.

When getting all the products and gear necessary for your salon (drying stations, chairs, mirrors, etc.), you must work with reliable and trustworthy distributors.

You shouldn’t have a hard time finding local or national distributors, but give them a thorough inspection before agreeing to a partnership.

Examine factors such as customer support, offerings, prices, special deals, and benefits to the partnership.

5. Solidify Your Client Base

The experience of your clients should be one of your top priorities. If you keep your clients happy, they’ll become a reliable customer base over time.

When you have several professional clients who only use your services and salon, you’ll gain an excellent reputation. You will also be able to actually charge what you’re worth.

Another fantastic way to solidify your client base is by making sure your customer support is top-notch. You can use call center solutions to handle appointment bookings, inquiries, and general phone calls to your salon in a professional manner.

6. Choose the Right Location

Where your salon is located will significantly affect how busy it gets and how easily potential customers notice it.

Your location will likely be one of the most significant expenses you have, so it’s not a decision to take lightly.

When choosing where to set up a store, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Your salon must be in a well-populated area, and it must be easy to access via car and public transportation. Good parking space plays a more significant role in getting feet in your salon than you might realize.

The convenience of your customers is essential, so your salon must be able to make it easy for people to find it, enter it, and spend time in it.

If possible, don’t be too close to your competition. It might be challenging to compete against a salon that is a few blocks away, but taking on one that is just down the street is even more challenging.

Cuttlefish Eco Salon in Brighton is easy to access and has good parking nearby. Source: Yelp

7. Consider Equipment Financing

Starting a salon requires a decent amount of equipment, and it can become a costly aspect of the business.

You don’t want your salon to be inferior or incapable of delivering superior service, and for that, you need some expensive tools and instruments.

Affording all the right equipment can prove difficult, so you may have to consider getting financing specifically for this purpose.

With equipment financing, you can start your salon on the right foot without getting into massive debt that will hold back your growth.

If you need to, don’t buy the equipment at first. You can lease some of it to keep your initial spending to a minimum.

8. Join Trade Organizations

When you’re just starting out, it can feel like you’re all alone, but there are several great trade organizations you can join.

They provide very helpful industry content, especially for salon owners just starting. An example of this is the Professional Beauty Association, which offers scholarships, exhibits, news, and more.

With this and the peer advice you can access, you’ll be able to start your salon the right way.

You can also check out the International SalonSpa Business Network, Association of Cosmetology Salon Professionals, Hair Artist Association, and Salon & Spa Professional Association.


There will always be challenges to new salons, but if you use the advice shared here, you’ll survive them all. Now that you know the secret sauce to running a salon for the first time, nothing can stop you. 

Chase your dreams and make them a beautiful reality!

How To Be Your Own Boss – The Secret Sauce To Running a Salon, For The First Time

Author’s Bio

Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content.  On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs. Connect with him via LinkedIN or twitter.

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