11 tips for opening a beauty salon

The UK’s beauty industry is worth over £5bn a year, and the number of salons opening has increased by 25% since 2017, despite the pandemic. It’s a thriving industry, with two-thirds of those working in it being self-employed.

 If you’ve ever thought about setting up your own business but are unsure how to open a beauty salon, you’re in the right place. Here are 10 tips on how to open a beauty salon in the UK and the steps to take to get there.

1. Do your research

Researching your business idea and developing a business plan is an important first step for setting up a beauty salon.

Take the time to work out who your target audience is, where you want to be located, what salons are already in your area and what you’ll be doing that’s different to what’s already out there. 

It can be a competitive industry, and setting up your first business can be a lot of work at first, so working some things out in advance will help you make your salon a reality. It’ll also help you stay focused on what you must do next. 

2. Create a business plan

After you’ve done your research, a business plan can help you get your thoughts in place, add some structure to what you need next and help you if you need financial support, like a loan, to set up your business.

It can also help you work out who you need on the journey, whether that’s a team, finances or someone to run the business daily. If you don’t have a beauty background, this can be good for identifying any areas you might need to understand a little more or get some help with.

A business plan isn’t something you do once and then set aside—it should be something you update regularly and keep on board with throughout your journey. It’ll also help you keep track of your business goals and progress.

3. Plan out your finances

Planning out your finances is essential when learning how to open a beauty salon. From your premises to staffing and stock, you need to know how much you expect to spend and the costs to set up your business.

It’s worth considering whether working with an accountant from the word go makes sense. It’s an extra cost to your business but can save you money, time, and headaches further along the line.

Every business needs investment when they first start, and the beauty industry is no different. You’ll need to buy supplies, stock and have somewhere to work where your clients feel comfortable—all of this usually comes at a cost.

Knowing how you will fund everything you need to help your business be as successful as possible is important. Planning your finances can help you get this straight before you spend.

4. Choose your business type

Depending on the size of your business, how you want to manage your finances and who you’re going into business with, there are different ways to set up your business.

You can set up your beauty business as a sole trader, partnership, limited liability partnership, or sole trader. Here’s a little more info about each of them:

Sole trader

This is the most straightforward type of business to set up. It means you’re self-employed and you run the business.

Your tax and national insurance won’t be taken automatically as they would if you were employed—you need to work this out and pay it as part of your Self-Assessment Tax return.

Your business and personal finances aren’t kept separate in this scenario, as it includes all of your personal assets (including any you might own jointly with someone else).

Partnership

A Partnership involves two or more individuals that agree to share in the profits or losses of the business. They share the risks, costs, benefits, and responsibilities of running an organisation.

You’re self-employed, and everyone in the partnership is personally responsible for the losses or debts that the business undertakes, as well as risks, costs, responsibilities, profits and losses.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

An LLP is similar to a partnership except that the partner’s liability is limited to the amount of money they invest in the business. You need to file accounts and do a Self-Assessment Tax Return every year to pay the right amount of tax.

Limited Company

A limited company is a privately managed business owned by shareholders and run by its directors (sometimes the same people).

It’s a separate legal set-up with its own rules, meaning that the company is responsible for everything it does and its finances. The business will pay corporation tax, and profits will be paid via dividends. You’ll need to file accounts and ensure your business is registered properly.

You can get more information on the different types of business at gov.uk or by getting advice from an accountant or business advisor.

5. Don’t underestimate the location

It can be easy to get carried away once you start viewing salon spaces, imagining your clients coming in and redecorating it to suit your business.

But there are a few things that it’s important to think about when you open a beauty salon. The amount of space you have, the budget you want to spend and what’s included are all important factors. 

Don’t underestimate how important things like lighting, parking, public transport, and competitors in the area are too.

Ideally, you want to be based somewhere visible or with a high footfall, but this usually comes at a cost. Do your research and ensure you’re paying the market rate for rent, too, as this will be an ongoing cost, whatever profits your salon makes.

How your salon looks and feels is important for business, too, so make sure you understand what you can and can’t do regarding decor or outside signage. Ideally, you want to stand out and ensure people know where you are and can find you easily.

6. Choose the right business name

Getting your business name right is a big deal when learning how to open a beauty salon. It’s how customers will find you, how you market your business, how our legal paperwork is set up and what your reputation is linked to.

Think carefully when you choose your name, and check that it’s easy to remember, there are no competitors with the same, and there’s no room for confusion.

It’s also worth checking that things like social media accounts for your name are available to use - registering them now might stop someone from doing so before you get the chance. This can help your marketing and avoid any confusion with your clients in the future.

7. Make sure you have insurance

As soon as your premises are in place, you should sort out your beauty salon insurance, even if you haven’t yet booked clients.

Insurance isn’t just to cover treatment risks or anything that happens to customers in your salon space. It also covers property damage, public liability, and employer’s liability. It helps to protect you and your business from financial losses.

Understanding exactly what you’re covered for and what you need to do to ensure your beauty therapist insurance is valid is important too.

Some will need you to carry out patch tests and ensure you have client records completed in full, so knowing the rules will seriously help you in the event of a claim or issue.

8. Building a team is a big deal

In your business plan, you should have identified if you needed any help or support from a team.

This might be staff that you directly employ or self-employed beauty professionals who rent a space in your salon. Either way, getting the right team members is a big deal—they’ll deal with your clients daily.

Ideally, you want them to be professional, experienced, and great at what they do. Customer service skills and the right type of personality to succeed in your business are also incredibly important to your business.

You can build up your team and scale slowly, don’t feel like you need to hire a team of ten immediately.

9. Choose the right services, pricing and products

Take some time to determine what services you want to offer and if there’s demand in your area (or if you can create it).

This depends on your location, ideal clients and what you’re trained in. You might decide to offer everything to reach the most potential customers, or you might decide to specialise.

Check out your competitors, their services, and how they’re pricing them. Remember to sense-check that your pricing covers your costs and helps you generate profits—if you’re not careful, some services can mean losing money. 

Consider this when you choose the products you’re going to work with. You need to use products that will give you results, work out cost-effectiveness for your pricing and help you make more money by selling them to your clients.

10. Plan your processes and policies

This isn’t the most exciting part of opening up your beauty salon by any stretch, but it can help you avoid headaches later on.

Have things like your booking policies and processes in place before you start picking up clients or opening your salon to the public—that’ll save confusion later, and you can always tweak it along the way if situations come up you hadn’t thought of.

You should think about things like deposits, cancellation times, patch tests, and how clients book an appointment (it can get overwhelming if they can book via DM, text, WhatsApp, over the phone, in person, by emails and on their website etc.) and complaints.

Routing your bookings through one place is sometimes a much simpler solution. You need to ensure you communicate these policies and processes with your potential clients ahead of their bookings.

11. Have a plan to find clients

Unfortunately, it isn’t always a case that clients will just appear once you open your doors. You’ll need to raise awareness of your business so that clients know where you are and what you offer. This can vary from location to location and depend on your ideal client. 

Having a marketing plan and some ideas for making people aware of your salon and your treatment is an important part of opening a salon. You’ll have costs for set-up, and you’ll need clients booked in to ensure they’re covered. 

Another important thing to talk about is offers. If you decide to run any offers, ensure the terms and conditions are clear, and you’re not seriously underselling your services. Sometimes pricing too low can confuse clients about the quality of your treatments (or they move on as soon as the offer is over).

Let’s run through some ways to market your business:

Social media

One of the most accessible marketing tools is social media. The beauty industry is a visual one, so it’s a great way to showcase what you can do and the services you offer. It’s also good for directing people to a bookings page and for last-minute cancellations to ensure you’re not left with empty spaces in your day. You need to be consistent and share great content to stand out.

Local advertising

Advertising can be anything from radio ads, newspaper ads, billboards, outside signage, sponsorship, posters, digital advertising or having your business information on the side of your vehicle.

It helps to raise awareness of your business and that you’re in the area. Some types of advertising are more expensive than others, so make sure it fits with your budget (and your audiences).

Booking website

Having a booking website can make it easier for your clients to book your services, and it means you can run everything through one place.

You can link it on your socials, list it on local business directories and include it in any marketing material you create. Setting your business up on Google can help clients find you, too—and it doesn’t need to be complicated, either. Check out this guide from Google.

Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.

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