How Do I Start a Small Salon Business?

Two cosmetologists holding an open sign in front of their salon business

If you love cosmetology, opening a small salon business is an excellent way to follow your dreams. Do you have creativity and a drive to be an entrepreneur? If so, becoming a small salon business owner may be the right career path for you.

Why Does a Person Open a Salon?

There are lots of important reasons that someone may open a salon. From enjoying helping others to creativity and entrepreneurship. What drives you?

Enjoy Helping Others

To open a salon business means you enjoy helping people and can create bonds with your coworkers and clients. Helping others look good and improve their self-esteem is a great motivator and reason to open up shop every morning.


Opening a salon allows you to pursue your creativity for hairstyles, cuts and nail fashion. Whether it is with traditional styles or avant-garde approaches, the possibilities are endless. Being creative makes the hard work of running a small salon more enjoyable.


Do you have the passion to start a business from scratch? When you open your own salon business, you’re an entrepreneur. You work for yourself, and you have autonomy and freedom. You get to create your schedule and success is up to you.

A Sustainable Future

Industry growth is another reason to open a salon business. Hairstyles, nail styles, facials, and makeup will always be important to women and men, and therefore you have a lasting opportunity to stay in business, as long as you provide quality customer service and create a loyal following.

What Types of Salons Can You Open?

One of the best things about opening a small salon business is the many options you have. Whether you want to start small and grow or bring in some friends to rent booths, you have many options to choose from.

Booth Rental

You don’t have to open a retail brick-and-mortar location just to start a salon business. Try doing it from another salon’s booth. The area where you operate could be an individual room or an open space. As a hairstylist or a makeup artist, you rent the booth from the owner of the salon and you work alongside other hairstylists that also rent booths. Everyone pays rent each month. When you rent a booth, you’re responsible for your own hair styling supplies. You set your own hours, prices, and decide what services you want to provide.

Salon or Spa

Owning a salon or a spa is another way to open your own business. It can be as low-key or as high-end as your budget will afford. When opening a business, you’ll need financing. You will also need to do your research. Try different promotions to see which ones bring in the most clients. Maybe cocktails as a perk, a special day of the week or family night. There are many options to choose from and the opportunities are endless.

Boutique Salon

A boutique salon offers a wide range of beauty services, such as hairstyles, nail work, and skin services. It can also provide products such as clothing and jewelry to complement the cosmetology services offered. It can be an eclectic destination for your community to enjoy.

In-Home or Mobile Hair Salon

If starting on a small budget, you can operate out of your home as long as you have proper permits and satisfy all additional requirements. Salons can also be mobile. Why not bring your supplies to a client’s home. There are also mobile salons located inside vehicles. Choose from a variety of options, there is a salon for every budget.

What Steps are Needed to Open a Salon Business?

To open a salon business, it takes some important steps. The most important steps to start with include proper training and licensure. Then you can start doing your homework, get financing and build out your beautiful salon.

Get Trained & Attain a License

If you’re interested in opening a salon, you’ll most likely have an interest in beauty. The best way to get training in cosmetology is by attending a vocational school that offers a cosmetology program. They teach you everything you need to start a small salon business in as little as a year. This program will prepare you to take the licensing exam so you can start your business on day one.

Study the Market and Location

What kind of salon are you opening? If you wish to open an upscale boutique salon, make sure the community can support it. Perhaps you just want to rent a booth. What are the best places to rent a booth? In short, you must do your homework.

Get Financing

You can’t start a business without start-up financing. Check with friends and family, your bank account, or the Small Business Administration. If starting on a budget, you can start with the basics and then expand as your salon becomes more popular.

Furnish and Design Your Salon

If you’ve chosen to purchase a location, it is time to name it, design it, and furnish it. The most attractive businesses follow a theme or an overall design. You’ll be wise to hire a design consultant to help.

Purchase the Equipment

To start your salon business, you will need to purchase the proper equipment like salon chairs, waiting furniture, mirrors, dryers, towels, hair colors, nail colors, and accessories. There are many places that offer professional salon equipment to licensed hairstylists.

Qualities of a Successful Salon Entrepreneur

There are many qualities you must acquire to run a successful salon business. They include passion for cosmetology, confidence and attention to detail to name a few. You can master these qualities during your cosmetology program and continue to improve them every day you run your salon business.

Quality #1: Passionate

If you want to succeed in your new small salon business, you must be passionate about cosmetology. Do you enjoy helping your friends style their hair or paint their nails? It takes time and a lot of work to start a business and passion helps you push through to success.

Quality #2: Motivated

You need to be a self-starter and be motivated to succeed. You will be the person opening up shop and turning off the lights at the end of the day. If you are motivated to succeed, you will.

Quality #3: Confidence

When you are just starting out, you may second guess yourself but after attending a cosmetology program and passing the licensing exam, you will build your confidence to run a successful salon business. Confidence is contagious and your clients will trust your services and advice if they feel you are confident in your decisions.

Quality #4: Communicative

Most of the day, you will be talking with coworkers, vendors and clients. It is important to be clear and concise, so no misunderstanding happen. Poor communication can lead to a strained atmosphere in the salon. Make sure to communicate effectively and everything will run smoothly.

Quality #5: Attention to Detail

Everything from the inside of the salon to the equipment and sanitation must be perfect. You want to keep your clients safe and healthy, and that comes with meticulous attention to detail. During your cosmetology program, you will learn all about sanitation, equipment cleaning and proper hygiene. You will interact with a lot of clients in a salon, and it is important to keep yourself and your clients safe from bacteria and viruses.

Quality #6: Leadership

Running a salon takes a leader to keep the clients happy and the hairstylists working hard. A good leader will lead by example. Take the time to prepare yourself and the salon first thing in the morning and when the rest of the employees show up for work, they will have an example to aspire to.

Final Thoughts

Now is the time to start your salon business. The first step is to attend a cosmetology program and learn the skills you need to succeed. This cosmetology program will also offer you business knowledge so you can better run your salon, do light bookkeeping, advertising, payroll and the other financial tasks that come along with owning your own salon. Take the first step to a new adventure and prepare for your success.

Want to Learn More?

Are you ready to start your own small salon business? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetology entrepreneur and start a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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