How To Start Your Own Salon | Part 1: Your Vision
We are super excited to kick off a three-part series on starting your own salon! Do you have a passion for building an amazing environment where others around you can excel in their career? If so, I get it! Let’s dive into the importance of having a vision!
At the first salon I worked at, I had the opportunity to change my status from an employee to an independent contractor—at the same salon. If that sounds strange to you, it’s because it is not typical. However, it was an amazing opportunity! When I transitioned from an employee to an independent contractor, I started to run a business within a business, and I loved it! I found so much fulfillment and joy in marketing, developing promotions, starting referral programs, and everything that went along with running a business!
There is a lot to learn about running your own business, but I hope that sharing my story gives you the inspiration and insights to consider starting this journey of entrepreneurship! Let’s get started!
First, ask yourself why you want to take this jump and start your own salon. If you’re like me, you probably want to have a space of your own that is conducive to teamwork and allows for more structure and consistency. At my previous salon, I couldn’t help but see a few gaps in the system—components that I thought I could fix in my own business. Ultimately, I thought that I could do it, I told myself I could, and I took the plunge!
After you understand why you want to begin this process, you need to develop your vision. Your vision is home base. It will be a point that you can consistently return to when the going gets tough—and it definitely will. I recommend that you start by picturing your dream space, and actually map it out on poster boards, using pictures from magazines, or Pinterest boards. Having a vision board gives your planning the hands-on element that most of us need.
In addition to your vision board, start writing down your ideas and putting pen to paper. Try this: close your eyes and take a tour of your salon. As you are walking through the space, write down everything that you want! Use all of your senses and consider what you feel, smell, see and hear. The more descriptive the better. Write down your shampoo units, the styling chairs you want, your color bar design, whether you see receptionists in your salon. Are there bathrooms? Color schemes? Is it bright and cheery or dim and cool? This is the fun part, so let your imagination do the work.
And now is where the killjoy comes in. I don’t want you to discard your big vision and your dreams. You should definitely take your time with the first stage because it will give you momentum, create focus, and it will keep the dream alive for you.
But, when it comes to actually opening your salon, I want you to realize that it is probably going to take about a year. So, I want you to take this big dream that you have and cut it in half. Take all of the things in your dream and do them on a much, much, much smaller scale.
While you may feel like I just crushed your dreams, let me share my experiences, so you understand why it is important to start small. When I opened Be Inspired Salon in 2010, our space was only 750 square feet. It was very small! Since then, we have nearly doubled our space to about 1,150 square feet. But the important thing is that I didn’t start at that size. I grew into the larger space as my business grew and developed. It was hard work getting there, but it was possible for us and it’s possible for you.
When I first started, I was picturing the average salon having 8 to 10 stations and being around 1,200 to 1,600 square feet. Of course, I also looked for convenient locations and nice areas to be located in. At that time, though, I was definitely getting a little overconfident. I was so sure that I would never have a problem getting clients and filling chairs. I figured at the time that my income alone would cover the cost of the space. Hint, hint: that is not a good idea!
Eventually, I scaled back my ideas and hired only two people at the beginning and started in a small boutique space. We started slow and steady, so that we could build up to the success we have now. Within three years we were able to expand! But had I started out too big, I would have had a major issue with cash flow. That’s why I really encourage you to cut your expectations in half, so you can start out successful and build up from there.
You never want to be in a position where you can’t afford to pay your staff. That’s how businesses fail, and it does happen. In the first year of my salon, I didn’t make any money for myself. I was still covering the costs of opening, paying employees, and growing their clientele. At that time, I did have to rely on my husband while my business got off the ground. I worked very long shifts that year, and I was incredibly overwhelmed at times. Despite the crazy long hours, I LOVED the experience of working hard and building a business! I persevered, and it paid off!
Work, Work, Work!
Based on my experiences, I can say this with confidence: opening your salon will take double the money, double the time, and double the effort than you expect it will.
If you think that you can start a salon for $50,000; you need to be prepared that it’s actually going to cost you $100,000. So, if you want to start a salon for $50,000, you need to only plan to spend $25,000 because it’s probably going to end up being $50,000 in the end.
You may have the “go big or go home” mentality, but I promise you that it is very challenging. Most salons fail within the first seven years, and a huge majority of those fail within the first year. It’s a very expensive decision to make, so choose wisely. Be willing to start small and work towards that big vision, so that you can build on it year after year.
Just remember that even if you resize your dreams in the beginning, you should always have your big vision in your mind and in front of you. That is where you’ll want to be someday.
Be Inspired Salon has been open for six years now, and it has been an absolutely amazing experience! I encourage you to start your own salon if this is your dream too. Don’t stop—do whatever it takes!
We hope to see you back for Part 2: Funding Your Vision where we share our insights about securing the money to start your salon! In the meantime, check out our weekly podcast and follow us on social media!