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How to Go from Stylist to Boss

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Written by daysmart-salon

How to open a salon


You’re in the midst of a successful career as a stylist. You’ve learned the ropes, earned your stripes and have a good sense of what it takes to excel in the salon industry. As a motivated entrepreneur, you have an eye to the future, and the idea of opening and running your own salon sounds great but do you know the steps on how to open a salon?

Becoming an employer comes with several perks. You get to run your small business, your way—bringing to life how you believe a salon should run (which may or may not be how your current boss operates). While this may sound like a dream come true, ambition and vision are far from the only ingredients you need to succeed as a small business owner.

Take these steps to learn how to open a salon:

Do Your Research and Define Your Niche

Look at trends in the market and in your community to understand where your business will fit into the landscape. What need(s) are you meeting? What can you do that your competitors can’t? Are you located more closely to your customer base? Do you offer hair or nail services that they don’t? You will need to be able to articulate the specific value your business offers as you sell investors, prospective employees and eventually customers on your brand.

Make a Business Plan

As you determine where your salon fits into the market, it’s time to focus on a ‘how to open a salon’ strategy. Making a business plan will force you to consider every aspect of ‘how to open a salon’ before it comes to fruition. Make sure your plan includes the most essential components:

  • Executive summary: a quick overview of your business
  • Company description: a brief description of what/who your business will be
  • Market analysis: this is where your market and competitor research goes
  • Organization and management: a snapshot of your business and management structure—think of your past bosses; what did they do well? What didn’t they?
  • Services/products: outline the various hair and nail services you plan to offer
  • Marketing and sales: map out how you plan to market your business and develop a sales strategy
  • Funding request: establish how much money you’ll need over the next few years
  • Financial projections: include information on budgets and goals, including balance sheets

how to open a salon

Ask the Right Questions

Your expertise is in styling hair and nails—and while you may understand what it’s like to work for a salon business, you likely have a lot to learn when it comes running one. The first thing you should task yourself with is weighing risk versus reward. Ask these nine questions to determine where you stand in starting a small business.

  • How much money and resources do you need to get started?
  • How much cash will you have at risk?
  • How many employees will you need?
  • Will you keep a part-time job while you get operations up and running?
  • Do you have any other obligations that will make it difficult to give this business your full attention?
  • What are the chances of success? What does that success look like? What are your expectations for the first year?
  • If the business provides less income than expected, how long do you plan to stick with it?
  • What makes your salon special?

Tap Your Network

Starting a business on your own doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Tap your network for experts who can give you the advice you need to get started—from industry veterans to lawyers to financial consultants. Your community—including friends, family, and neighbors—are also key players in growing your reach for prospective customers. Once your business is shaping up, get your brand on social media. Connect with everyone in your network to start growing your presence and getting your name out there.

Don’t be afraid to show up at industry or community events. Face-to-face networking can be very effective, and fostering relationships up front can lead to long-term customers and referrals.

how to open a salon

Invest in the Right Tools

As an entrepreneur, you will want to focus on marketing and sales to grow momentum for your salon once it opens. It’s up to you to recruit customers, keep a steady cash flow and build the brand over time. Yet it’s also your responsibility to manage your employees, clients and the financial health of your business. You will be forced to wear several hats and keep all the balls in the air. In fact, this shift in responsibility—worrying about overhead and salaries and YOY revenue—will be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome as a new business owner.

Investing in the right tools and software can take all of the business complexities and manage them in one place. When shopping for the right business management software, look for offerings with the below capabilities to meet business needs.

For business challenges:

  • Mobile app—Manage your salon from anywhere, and your employees get access, too
  • Reports dashboard—Run payroll, check your sales totals and service statistics all in one place
  • Employee performance—Pull reports to show employees exactly how they are performing to enrich customer services

For customer experience:

  • Online booking—Enable customers to make more appointments, more conveniently
  • Appointment reminders—Send automated email and text messages to clients to make sure they show up on time
  • Credit card processing—Integrate payment systems for faster checkouts, fewer errors and simpler reporting
  • Recurring marketing—Share customizable, pre-made email campaigns to make customers aware of promotions and deals

By taking the time to answer the right questions, establish a thoughtful strategy and invest in the right tools, you can intelligently make the transition from employee to business owner. Now you know how to open a salon business, learn how our Daysmart Salon software can ease this transition by visiting our solutions page and reading this customer success story.


Salon Iris is now DaySmart Salon

After more than 20 years, we're changing the name of Salon Iris to DaySmart Salon! Same great product, pricing and sales and support teams, just a new name.