beauty salon owner

Beauty Career Profile: Salon Owner

Become a beauty entrepreneur selling the feel-good factor!

Career Profile: Salon Owner

As a salon owner, your business exists to make your customers feel fabulous! Whether it’s with a great haircut, a sparkling manicure or a luxurious spa treatment, your product is confidence and self-esteem, and that’s a pretty great thing to sell!

A salon owner is the passion behind a beauty business; the person with ultimate control of every aspect of the salon. You’re responsible for making a profit, and in charge of branding, marketing, finding premises, hiring staff and cash flow. You can design your business from the ground up – whether you go for a neighborhood hair salon offering affordable cuts, or a high-end luxury spa, you’re in charge of the look, the prices and the ethos behind your business.

A salon owner is an entrepreneur, and to make your salon a success you’ll need more than beauty expertise. As well as a creative vision, you’ll need solid business know-how, and you’ll have to be prepared to take a step back from day-to-day beauty treatments – you are more likely to be balancing the books or dealing with suppliers than styling a cutting edge look.

beauty career as salon owner

Job Outlook

A salon is a business with a steady and largely recession-proof future. In the 2008-2009 recession, the salon and spa industry performed well compared to other sectors. And between 2009-2010, the salon and spa industry grew by 1,600 locations across the United States, a gain of 1.7% compared to a gain across the whole economy of just 0.3%.

And the future looks good too – as the country comes out of recession, spending on personal grooming and luxury treatments will rise. Jobs in the personal appearance sector are projected to rise by 15% before 2020, higher than the general rate of employment.

Make it Happen


You’ll need a cosmetology license to become a salon owner, which will mean getting a qualification from a certified cosmetology school. If you’re thinking of owning a spa, an esthetics or a cosmetology license will be useful. Ogle Schools offer programs in Cosmetology (covering hair, skin and nails) and Esthetics (covering skin and nails).

You’ll need business knowledge to make a salon a success, from knowing how to write a business plan to working out your pricing and staff salaries. A business course may be a good way of gaining this knowledge if you haven’t run a business before yourself.

A little legal knowledge is a good idea too – from paying taxes to knowing your legal responsibilities towards your employees and customers.

Attending beauty industry shows and conferences like the American Salon Better Business Network, Beauty Expo USA and the International Salon and Spa Expo will give you the edge on new styles and products, and the chance to network with other beauty professionals.


You’ll need to know the salon business inside out, and the best way to do this is to work in one. Put yourself forward for more responsibility whenever possible, so that you get to see different sides of the business. Working as a salon manager before you open your own business is a good way to get a feel for the managerial elements of the job.


You’re likely to need a cash investment when you start out as a salon owner. You may choose to hit the ground running by buying an already established business, or buy into a successful franchise, or you may want to find an empty premises and create something new. You’ll need a lump sum at the start to get you going, so knowing how to find investors or financing will be important.

nail polish in beauty salon

Skills & Attributes

Business Skills

When you’re starting a new business, you’re likely to be Bookkeeper, Human Resources Manager, Marketing Department and Administrator all rolled into one. You’ll need a solid head for figures and an organizational brain to keep all your plates spinning at the same time.


You’ll need to have a good marketing head on your shoulders to make your salon successful. Once you’ve decided on advertising strategies, you’ll need to keep close tabs on what marketing approaches are giving the best returns.

Computer Skills

Good computer skills are essential. From setting up customer mailing lists to running a website (even if you pay someone else to design it), a modern retail business relies on computers and the internet to make an impact.

Leadership Skills

You’re likely to be employing staff members, so you’ll need to pick the right people, and manage them well too. Motivating, training and sometimes even disciplining – strong leadership skills are important.

Negotiation Skills

A successful salon works with a number of business partners such as product suppliers to make cash. Being able to communicate with other businesses and get the best deals out of them is crucial.

People Skills

You want your customers to come back again, and offering a friendly service is key. Chatting to customers and motivating your staff to do the same will build relationships that last. You may also need to deal with complaints or difficult customers without losing your cool.


Whether you’re buying an established salon or creating your own brand from scratch, you’ll need a strong vision of what you want to achieve, and the energy and determination to get there. You’re the guiding force behind this enterprise.

Problem Solving

As a salon owner, the buck stops with you. Staffing, monetary issues, building maintenance – there is a host of problems that might arise. You might have a salon manager to help you, but the bottom line is that it’s your business, so it’s ultimately your responsibility to sort it out.

Sales Skills

As well as core beauty services, a salon makes a large percentage of its profits from selling professional quality products to its customers. You’ll need sales skills, an eye for visual merchandising and the drive to keep up with the latest products on the market.

beauty salon retail sales

Salary Potential

As a salon owner, you may opt to take a salary out of the business, or depend on income from the business profits. But be aware that, as with any entrepreneurial business, you may have to take very little out of the business for yourself in the early days.

Trends & Tips

As a salon owner, you should be passionate about keeping up to date with the latest looks and products on the market, to give your customers a unique experience they’ll want to repeat.

Here are some hot tips to help keep you on top of the latest trends.

3 Hot Trends for 2014!

1. The natural look – no makeup on show, just the glowing healthy skin that comes from great skincare treatments and effective products.

2. Slick cuts – center partings are back, and hair is being worn straight, classic and close to the scalp.

3. Bold, bright lips – popping lips in shocking orange to compliment pastel fashion pieces.

To be on the leading edge, be sure to attend trade shows and expos and of course read all the latest fashion magazines and subscribe to the leading fashion sites online.  This will help you keep up with all the latest trends.

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About the Author

Jeff Chiarelli
Jeff Chiarelli is the Head of Marketing for Ogle School. His responsibilities include leading Ogle School's marketing and branding strategy to amplify Ogle School's passion for helping create future beauty professionals in the communities Ogle School serves.