Salon owner with arms extended

How to Become a Salon Owner

Salon owner with arms extended
DragonImages – stock.adobe.com

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!

Become a beauty entrepreneur selling the feel-good factor!

Career Profile: Salon Owner

As a salon owner, you’re in the business of making clients feel fabulous. Whether it’s with a great haircut, a sparkling manicure, or a luxurious spa treatment, your service (in a significant way) is giving clients confidence.

A salon owner is a driving force behind a beauty business—the person orchestrating every aspect of the company. You’re responsible for budgeting, branding, marketing, hiring staff, securing finances, scheduling, product restocking, and much more. You can design your business from the ground up. Whether you go for a small salon offering affordable cuts or a high-end luxury spa, you’re in charge of the aesthetic, prices, branding, and ethos behind your business.

As well as a creative vision, you’ll need a solid business understanding. If you want to be a stylist and run a business, then you have to mentally prepare to dedicate long hours for the first few years.

Woman styling client hair
Jacob Lund – stock.adobe.com

Make it Happen

Education

Salon owners must have a cosmetology license from a certified cosmetology school. If you’re thinking of owning a spa, then an esthetics or a cosmetology license will be helpful. Ogle Schools offer programs in cosmetology (covering hair, skin, and nails) and esthetics (protecting skin and nails).

Having business development training will help you be successful in your pursuit of opening a salon. 

A little legal knowledge is also a good idea, from paying taxes to knowing your legal responsibilities to your employees and customers.

Attending beauty industry shows and conferences like the Live Love Spa, Beauty, and the International Salon and Spa Expo will give you the edge on new styles and products and network with other beauty professionals.

Experience

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 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.

Investment

Opening a salon means you’ll need a loan, a substantial amount of money saved, or an investor. Some salon owners opt to hit the ground running by buying an already established business or a successful franchise. Do your homework, and learn if you qualify for business loans or what is the best option for you.

Skills & Attributes

Business Skills

Here are some of the roles you should expect to be responsible for in the beginning:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Marketing Manager/Coordinator
  • Administrator

When you’re starting a new business, you’re likely to play the roles of a bookkeeper, human resources manager, marketing department, and administrator all rolled into one. If you are analytical, creative, and organized, then you can keep all your plates spinning at the same time with a bit of effort.

Marketing

Create a marketing timeline for the soft opening and grand opening. Network and tell all of your retainer clients about the new salon—word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool. Create promotions and a calendar for seasonal events. Hire a copywriter and social media marketing manager who remains abreast with all the trends for your social media needs. The important thing is that you have a cohesive brand across all channels. Your Instagram should showcase your client’s haircuts, the salon’s design and layout, and introduce any new hairstylists. Hire a web designer. 

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 for appointments, sales transactions, etc.

Leadership Skills

Motivating, training, and sometimes even disciplining your employees means you’ll need to be tactful, kind, and have strong leadership skills. A good leader inspires staff to work hard. 

Negotiation Skills

Buyers for restocking products and searching for new ones should have extensive knowledge and good negotiation skills. Communicating with other businesses and getting the best deals out of them is crucial.

People Skills

You want your customers to return, and offering a friendly service is key. Chatting with customers and motivating your staff to do the same will build relationships that last. Listening to complaints or handling difficult customers is part of the job. Always be professional while fostering a positive atmosphere with your clients and staff.

Customers and their reviews are what keep your business thriving. Greet your customers at the door. Offer them water while they wait and always listen actively to their requests. Communicating effectively and clearly will always save you time and make your customer feel at ease.

Vision

A clear, cohesive vision will help you streamline operations and bring everything to fruition much more effortlessly. You’re the guiding force behind this enterprise.

Problem Solving

As a salon owner, the buck stops with you. Staffing, monetary issues, building maintenance—a host of problems 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 developments on the market.

Salary Potential

You’ll be pouring all your finances into the salon’s startup fees, overhead costs, and fixed expenses, like utilities, products, and employee salaries in the early days, so you won’t be raking in the money in the first year.

As a salon owner, you should be passionate about keeping up to date with the latest looks and products. Besides staying abreast with trends, know the classic looks and hire different stylists who encompass those skills and talents. 

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

At Ogle School, our students will learn about business development and client relations, be permitted access to our career services job board, and learn a comprehensive curriculum. Call 888-820-4224 toll-free today to get more information or request information online. 

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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.