How to set up a beauty salon

Updated April 17, 2017

Many cosmetologists, aestheticians and beauty therapists dream of opening their own beauty salons. After all, beauty is big business. says over £4 billion is spent in the United States annually on cosmetics and beauty treatments. With beauty in high demand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the "overall employment of cosmetologists and other personal appearance workers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations." With the right planning, preparation and business acumen, owning and operating a salon can prove to be an exciting and financially rewarding business venture.

Consider the initial investment required. If you are purchasing an existing salon, the start-up costs may be lower. If it is a brand-new business, you will need to secure enough funds to register the salon name, pay the rent/lease, hire qualified staff, purchase equipment and market the business. Use a worksheet to calculate one-time and ongoing expenses and determine which expenses are essential during the start-up phase. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration's website, "Essential expenses can then be divided into two separate categories: fixed (overhead) expenses and variable (related to business sales) expenses. Fixed expenses will include figures like the monthly rent, utilities, and administrative and insurance costs. Variable expenses will include inventory...and other costs associated with the direct sale of a product or service." When you have a good idea of the initial costs, decide whether or not to approach lenders and/or investors.

Create a catchy, attention-grabbing salon name. Make sure that this name is not already registered by another business and complies with government regulations. Search and register business names through your Secretary of State's office.

Find a location in a high-traffic area if you are trying to attract new clients and/or will be accepting "walk-ins." If you already have a strong clientele base, look for a location that is convenient and easily accessible.

Determine what salon services you will offer clients. Boost your business by providing a variety of beauty treatments, which might include nails, hair, facials, waxing and tanning.

Decide how you want the salon to look and develop a floor plan. Choose a colour scheme and decor that will help to create the desired atmosphere. Determine what furniture/equipment will be needed, such as a reception desk, tanning equipment, nail desks or beauty chairs, for example. Research suppliers.

Hire additional staff if necessary. Decide which positions are needed, write the job descriptions and advertise the posts locally. When interviewing, keep the vision of the salon in mind. Look for candidates who hold the necessary qualifications and are passionate about the business.

Advertise in local newspapers and magazines. Hold an official grand-opening celebration and offer discounts to guests. Hand out flyers and business cards. Set up a website that details salon services and hours of operation. After the salon is up and running, offer existing clientele a discount for spreading the word about your new business.


Good employees are hard to find, so try to interview, hire and train staff before the salon opens. Reduce initial start-up costs by leasing, rather than buying salon equipment


When hiring new staff, always check references and licenses/certificates. Test candidates' skills to ensure that they meet the required standards.

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About the Author

Akua Boakye is an experienced journalist with a passion for beauty, fashion and women's issues. In 2000 she launched a successful career as a freelance writer. Since then, her articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers worldwide including "Make-Up Artist Magazine," "The Toronto Star," "The Canadian Press," "Share News," "Black Beauty & Hair" and "Aspire Magazine."