How to Start Your Own Cosmetology Business

Kellie G., December 28, 2021

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Planning on starting a cosmetology business? If so, what kind of business? Hair salon? Nail salon? Maybe a spa? How about the full hair, makeup, and beauty salon? Cosmetology is increasingly popular and it continues to grow as the years go on. This opportunity is for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort to start and grow a business. You must have a passion for cosmetology, the ability to motivate yourself, and have a good relationship with customers in order for this business to be successful.

  1. Create your plan
  1. Location
  1. Documentation and certification
  1. Hiring employees
  2. Marketing your cosmetology business

Create Your Cosmetology Business Plan

if you’re asking yourself how to start a cosmetology business, or any business rather, you need to have a steady plan. It’s important to not jump into creating your own business fresh out of school. It takes time, experience, and a lot of patience. Start by working for a company first; such as a spa, or hair salon. That way as you create your own business plan, you are also gaining more experience and knowledge on how to run a business. 

  • Write out your business plan. – A good business plan should include customer segments, acquisition channels (such as social media), supplier plan, necessary business relationships, revenue streams, cost structure, and key resources.
  • Stop to think. – Do you want to operate your business while paying stylists on commission, or run a chair rental business? With a chair rental business, stylists carry their own insurance and your business will receive a percentage of their fees. 
  • Budgeting. – Of course with any business, you will need to set a budget for yourself. Determine how much money you need. This should include utility bills, employee salaries, supply budget, property bills, taxes, etc. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. – If you aren’t sure where to start, check out the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website or work with a small business accountant or attorney. That way they can help plan out and start your business. Getting a mentor is also a good way to get some extra help, along with marketing ideas and wealth of experience. 

“You want to have a business plan and a budget. If you don’t know what that is, you don’t need to own a business. Take a class. Hire a financial planner. Definitely hire an attorney,” said Shannon Dyer, co-owner of Harlow Salon in Nashville. 

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A Location for your Cosmetology Business

The proper location can make or break a business. The key to a good business is a good location. Ideally, the location should be in a safe and easy-to-locate/navigate area. It shouldn’t be a hole in the wall and have too many local competitions. Find an area that’s highly visible and populated by your key demographics. There should also be a sufficient amount of space for parking.

Documentation and Certification

Now that you have your business plan and your location, it’s time to get all the proper documents and certificates. It’s important to note that hiring employees without proper certifications can cause the business to be shut down, so make sure they are all certified. 

  • Health Inspections and Fire Marshal inspections. – They must pass the state’s health and safety guidelines. 
  • Insurance – Required by many states; it’s crucial to insure your business.  Salon insurance provides liability, employee liability, and equipment/stock coverage. 
  • State Cosmetology License – Yourself and any employees that you hire must be licensed/certified in cosmetology. 
  • Salon Retail Seller Permit – If you plan on selling any goods, such as shampoo, conditioner, soaps, etc. 
  • Federal Employer Identification number (EIN) – The IRS uses the EIN to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns. 
  • Certificate of Occupancy – Required when purchasing a building to use as a business. 

Certifications need to be posted where inspectors and other state workers can see them when needed. When it comes to documentation and certification, every state differs. Be sure to read the guidelines from your state to see what types of documentation and certifications are required before opening a store. you can read our full article about the best life coach certification.

Hiring Employees

When looking for employees, be sure that you hire qualified, licensed, and well-trained individuals. The number of employees that you are able to hire depends entirely on the size of your business and the budget you have set for yourself. 

You also want to make sure that you keep enough of your budget to provide incentives, raises, and bonuses. Keeping a good relationship with your employees, and rewarding them for a job well done, is a sure way to keep them around and motivate them to work hard. After all, they are a huge asset to your business. 

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Marketing your Business 

At this point, you should have a business plan with a budget, a location, proper documents and certificates, and employees. If you worked at a prior business, you may even have loyal customers, along with some customers from people in the area. But now, you want to get the word out further to gain even more and allow everyone to know that you are open for business. 

Listed below are some creative and low-cost marketing ideas that should fit within your budget.

  • Create a website. – One of my personal favorite website platforms is wordpress. They make it practically effortless and the websites you create appear professional and clean. There are other great platforms as well; do some research to find the best one for you. Your website should include but not limited to images, hours of operation, contact information, services you provide, employee introductions, booking and canceling appointments, etc. 
  • Use social media. – That’s almost a no brainer. Most everyone is nose deep in their phones and hardly notice what’s going on around them. You can post flyers on street poles or on windows, and they would end up going unnoticed. So, instead of wasting the paper on flyers, put the advertisements where they can’t help but read them. On their newsfeeds. Creating a social media presence is a good way to attract and bring in more clientele to your business. 
  • Customer service. – With the customers that you do have, be sure to provide excellent customer service. They are the reason your business is able to run in the first place; the reason why you created the business. If you treat your customers well, they will talk to their friends and family about it, and/or post about it on social media. They could also leave reviews and comments. There’s no better advertisement than word of mouth. Sure you can have a great website and a social media presence, but there’s nothing better than hearing from real customers their real experiences and sharing their real thoughts. 

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Closing Statement

There you have it! Five steps to getting you starting with opening a cosmetology business. To recap, before you begin your cosmetology business, you need to have a steady plan. Map out what you want the business to look like and what kind of services you want to provide. As you plan, you need to also create a budget. While mapping out your budget, include things like utility bills, supplies, salaries, and any location fees. I can’t stress enough about how important location is. A good location makes for a good business. It should be in a safe, and easy to navigate to, an area with plenty of parking.  

Now that you have your plan and your location, it’s time to get all the documentation and certifications out of the way. All employees need to be certified or else your business could get shut down. Follow your state’s guidelines on the documentation and certifications that are required. Then begin hiring some employees. As said before, they need to be certified. They also need to be well-trained and qualified individuals with an eye for detail and a passion for the cosmetology world. 

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Lastly, marketing your business. There are plenty of low-cost and easy ways to advertise your business. A popular way to advertise and speak volumes to potential customers is to use social media. Another way is to create a great website, using the platform of your choice. The website should include images, hours of operation, contact information, services you provide, employee introductions, booking and canceling appointments, etc. 

 For those planning on running their own business, consider downloading the Persona app. Persona is designed to work behind the scenes so that you can focus on running your business without the added stress. Persona will help with managing your business and financial aspects. This includes but is not limited to tracking and collecting payments, keeping you informed on how your business is doing, helping you pay less in taxes, and saving for what you do have to pay in taxes. 

Persona is the #1 management platform for independent business owners. it's 100% free, download it now.


Persona is the #1 management platform for independent business owners. Download it now, it's 100% free.

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