Setting up your own beauty or hair business

Dreaming of setting up your own hair or beauty business?

Want to swap the day job but haven’t quite got round to it?

What’s stopping you?

Sophia Hilton the super-successful owner of Not Another Salon in Shoreditch explains* how she decided to set up her own hairdressing business and the sacrifices she made…

“I sat on the sofa with my husband, throwing around the idea of a salon. We discussed that ‘If I was to do it, then it couldn’t just be yet ‘ANOTHER SALON’. I told him that I want to move the industry in some way, if the gateway to this is opening a successful salon, then screw it, that’s what I’ll have to do.”

Sophia was so fired up that next day she got up at 6am to start working on her plans for a few hours before her ‘real’ work as a stylist began. She explains, “From that day on, I got up at 6am every morning for the next year. I didn’t take days off, I got frighteningly skinny and I don’t mind saying I worked harder than I have ever worked in my life. I was just 27, with no money. I had to put my flat up as security, my mum’s only life savings at risk and got loaned up to the hills. It was terrifying.”

*interview with th-ink

Sophia’s start up salon went on to win HJ’s prestigious Hairdressing Newcomer of the Year 2013 and is now a multi-award winning successful business.

I get hundreds of emails from hair and beauty employees who dream of being their own boss but who are, understandably, worried about taking the plunge. So if you’d love to open a hair or beauty salon, set up a mobile business or rent a chair or treatment room, read on to learn how to overcome your doubts and get started on making your dream come true.

Sophia did and so can you…


#1. Concerned it’s not the right time to set up your business?

Are you hiding behind the “now is not the right time to start a new salon business” excuse?

Let me be clear: there is no perfect time. Perfection isn’t possible.

So don’t hang around waiting for the time to be right.

Is the real truth that you are frightened of failure, hard work or the perceived risk? It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Setting up a new hair or beauty business and becoming your own boss takes guts, hard graft and commitment. It’s not for everyone. Just because you’re a brilliant therapist or stylist and love your job doesn’t mean you will become an overnight business success. Succeeding as an entrepreneur calls for a different skill set to that of an employee.

So before you rush to hand in your notice do your homework. Find out if you’re really going to enjoy being ‘the boss’.


  • Shadow a salon owner for the day.
  • Enrol on an online course aimed at hair and beauty start ups and benefit from expert advice.
  • Speak to as many salon entrepreneurs as you can.

Just make sure you don’t fritter away your opportunities worrying about the ‘right time’. You may end up dissatisfied with your job, kicking yourself as your peers set up successful salon businesses and enjoy the rewards of being an entrepreneur.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
Mark Twain


#2. Prepared to work long hours in your new start up?

Ask yourself if you can, or indeed want, to devote all your spare time to your new venture. Sophia Hilton admitted she “worked harder than I have ever worked in my life.”

If you like a quiet life, have busy family commitments or an absorbing hobby that you love, then perhaps setting up a salon isn’t for you. But you could still be your own boss by starting a mobile beauty or hair business or go self employed by renting a chair or beauty room.

I love this quote from entrepreneur and founder of Innocent Drinks Richard Reed

“A good test of whether you have the staying power and commitment is if you can come home after your full-time job and work on your business plan rather than watch EastEnders.”

Whichever route you chose – salon start up, going mobile or salon freelancer – setting up and running your own business is demanding. Anyone who says otherwise is telling you porkies. But the benefits of freedom, building something to be proud of and the financial rewards beat watching EastEnders hands down every time.


#3. Worried your new business will be a big flop?

Fear of failure – that it’s all going to crash and burn – stops many of us pursuing our dreams. We are so frightened of failing that we don’t take that first step.

Here’s how to control it, harness it and push through it:

  • Ask yourself what you are afraid of.
  • Do your homework and plug the gaps.
  • Believe in yourself and your abilities.
  • Set goals, deadlines and write a plan.
  • Then take action: “Do what you fear, and fear disappears.” David Joseph Schwartz


#4. Reduce the risk-factor in your new salon start-up

Go in with your eyes-wide-open, especially if you’re putting your family home on the line.

By doing your business homework you reduce your risk and greatly increase your chances of success. No-one is suggesting you should jump in and open a hair or beauty business blindfolded. Read and learn as much as you can before you dive in.

If you’re thinking of setting up a hair or beauty business, or you’ve recently taken the plunge and started, then this section is for you. I share resources to help you start and grow your business, whichever route you choose to take: salon owner, freelance or going mobile.

Still waiting for that perfect timing?

Still spending too much time thinking, and not enough doing? Decide today to ‘do it’.

Take that first step, and turn your ideas into a real business. Remember the perfect situation, time and circumstances don’t exist.

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