The Basics of Running a Hair Salon


iStock_000017957820XSmall Starting up a small business can be risky and at the same time profitable and fun.

In order to open a beauty and hair salon, there are some core basics related not only to business itself, but to the beauty industry, you need to take into account. Making those first critical steps is always hard, but with a good, step-by-step business plan and a large dose of enthusiasm, you can achieve your goal – to run your own hair salon.

Deciding to open a beauty salon is a very good idea, because people will always need someone to make them pretty. All – women, men and even kids! Beauty is always in demand, and that’s why you will always have clients. The first requirement is of course, having at least one certificate as a beautician or hairdresser. In addition, a big advantage is good experience in the certain area of beauty industry such as cosmetic services, nail business, hair styling, massages and many others. The second thing you should take into consideration – opening your own salon will take a lot of hard work, determination, and experience. Running a small business is not as easy as you think, so take a business class to receive some basic knowledge in management, finance and marketing.

So, making a plan, good attitude and patience are important ingredients, and once you have them, there’s nothing stopping you from running successful hair salon. The following basics will help you define what you will need to handle and will guide you through the first stages of your own small business.

Decide what kind of salon to open

This first decision will determine the next steps, so choose wisely. First, is it going to be hair salon alone, or you will offer multiple services – manicures, hair braiding, and so on. Then decide if you are opening a traditional hair salon, offering hair care to all types of clients, or a specialty salon such as men’s barber and shave shop, or a children’s hair salon. You can also have a full-service shop, or specialize in hair care services such as haircuts, hair coloring, hair straightening, extensions, or hair styling for weddings and proms.

Salon Business Options

You can buy an established hair salon, opt for a hair salon franchise, or open a brand new shop on your own. What to choose depends on your startup finances and overall idea. Then, decide on the best legal structure for yourself – do you want to be on your own or enter into a partnership. Decide if you want to work alone – it can be hard, but at least you are your own boss, and you depend only on yourself. However, the probability for your hair salon to grow in such case would be slim to not. We advise you to hire specialists. You can offer them full time job or use their help on commission structure. If you choose the commission-based model, each specialist receives a percentage (usually from 35% to 65%) of what they bring in. In a booth rental model you will act as a landlord, charging your staff “rent” each week or month to use a chair. This is a very popular business strategy in the hair salon business.

Licenses and permits

Secure local permits and licenses such as a basic business license, business name no objection letter, and many others. Check laws and regulations to see if you need a permit from a health department. Having insurance is also a good strategy to protect yourself and your business from lawsuits and customer complaints after a damaged hair incident, for instance.


Estimate your start-up costs carefully starting with incorporation fees, rent (if you are renting the place), marketing expenses, and of course, money for special equipment. You will need to purchase all kinds of equipment and supplies – styling chairs, hair dryers, shampoo bowls, sinks, shampoos, and many others. Since you have so many supplies to track, you may want to look at expense report software to get an accurate representation of what your costs are.

Take a loan if you don’t have enough money or negotiate equipment installments with the suppliers, which is a standard practice in business.

Find the best location

Choose an affordable and in the same time a high-traffic location for your hair salon. Furnish it in the best way you can – painting, floor replacement, furniture, installations, and decorate it in order to make your clients feel good. Another option is to run your salon from your home. You won’t have to pay rent, but you will have to check the regulations with the Dubai Economic Development Department. Purchasing an existing shop or a franchise will be very convenient, because you won’t have to start from scratch.

Advertise your business

You can open a neighborhood hair salon or an exclusive upscale salon which will need a grand opening. Advertise your special opening or make brochures and fliers in which you offer a service at discount or special promotions. Offer coffee and refreshments to the clients. Start e-mail marketing campaign, or use social networks as your website. A Facebook group or even a blog will be great for online appointment booking, especially if it’s optimized for mobile devices.

Once you open your hair salon, you will not only work hard, but you are expected to look your best! This is a beauty business after all, so have your own and your staff procedures regularly to set a good example. If you look fabulous, you will be own advertisement!

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  1. A few factual and practicality errors in this article: Home salons are ILLEGAL but offering home services is allowed if you are a licensed salon and this service should be included in the license.
    Secondly UAE labour laws require that employees are paid a monthly salary as stipulated in the contract. The commission model or chair rentals does not work. Maybe a bonus or 13th salary.


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