If you enjoy styling hair, performing manicures and all other aspects of the cosmetology industry, a career as a hair salon owner may be a rewarding and lucrative career choice for you. According to Salon Builder, in 2011 the hair salon and spa business is expected to make about $35 billion a year in services with another $7 billion in retail sales of professional hair and beauty products. Many online publications offer valuable information on the requirements for starting a hair salon.
Cosmetology & Business Licensing
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Contrary to popular belief, not all salon owners possess a cosmetology license. Unless you will be personally performing salon services on your patrons, you are not required to carry any cosmetology certification. However, you will be require to maintain any state required business licensing to operate a salon. Check with your local county or appropriate state departments for information on what types of permits you will need for each of the services offered in your shop.
Rent & Utilities
To run a comfortable operation, you'll need a adequate amount of space to accommodate several service stations in your salon. Of course the amount of space needed will depend upon how many and what type of services you provide. But in any case, you will need to lease or purchase a suitable facility. According to Salon Builder, in 2010 you'll pay anywhere from $1 per square foot to rent salon space in smaller towns while major metropolitan salon rental rates are about $2.50 per square foot per month. Factor in your utility expenses, and you're looking at a few hundred more dollars per month.
Administrative Materials, Equipment & Services
Starting a hair salon business will also require purchasing a considerable amount of administrative material, equipment and services. Furnishing your reception area and back office will require buying desks, chairs, file cabinets, office supplies, telephones, cash registers, and credit card terminals. Service fees are likely to include merchant fees for credit card transactions, attorney and accountant expenses, your initial marketing and advertising costs and registration fees for any required business licenses or permits.
Salon Equipment or Upgrades
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It's hard to pin-point exactly how much you can expect to spend on upgrades and equipment for your new salon. Your additions and improvement will rely almost entirely on how well the business was maintained by previous owners, how large it is and what type of services you offer. You may spend less than $1,000 for minor cosmetic repairs like paint of flooring, for a small neighborhood salon, or spend $100,000 installing plumbing, lighting fixtures and other amenities for a hair salon that offers spa services. In most scenarios, you will typically need to at the very least install new signage and outdoor identification of your business.
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"Entrepreneur" magazine says that unless you plan to operate a very small hair salon, it is likely that you will need to hire an experienced, reliable and licensed staff of hairdressers and cosmetologists. It generally takes more than one person to successfully operate a salon, and having a qualified staff on schedule prior to your opening will make all the difference in your customer service quality. Consider your needs for a receptionist to greet clients and tend to the phones, a shampoo person to prepare patrons for services, and at least two hairstylists to tend to customer needs.
Resources & Professional Affiliations
Though it is not a requirement, becoming affiliated with professional hairdressing and cosmetology organizations can be of great help to new and experienced salon owners alike. Being part of a national organization recognized beauty industry professionals helps increase your credibility to customers and confirm your professionalism. Organizations such as the Professional Beauty Federation, Aestheticians International, National Black Hair Association and American Beauty Association offer a variety of industry resources for continued education in hairstyling techniques and cosmetology.
Estimated Start-Up Exepnses
According to Power Home Biz, the estimated start up costs can be anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in 2011, and you may expect to absorb between $2,000 an $30,000 in expenses for just your salon equipment. Of course, these figures will vary depending on factors such as location, the size of your facility, what services you are offering and whether you are building from the ground up or taking over an already-functional hair salon.
Michelle Renee is a professional trainer and quality assurance consultant in the career, education and customer service industries, with two decades of experience in food/beverage and event coordinating management. Renee has been published by Lumino and Career Flight as well as various food, education and business publications.