For many hair stylists, owning their own salon is their dream goal. Those with the entrepreneurial spirit want to be their own boss and create their own business. It takes time, patience, a variety of skills and a lot of effort to get there, though. If you know owning a salon is what you want to do, then make sure you’re on the right path.


Before you open your own business, you’ll want years of experience working in a salon or spa. You’ll be able to watch and learn how scheduling works, how employers and employees work together, and how to manage time. As you move up in a salon, you may pick up on other business skills like marketing or hiring. If the opportunity comes along to take on more responsibility, take it! Consider working as a hairstylist as a stepping stone towards owning your very own salon.


To run a successful salon, you need to be business savvy. There’s so much more going on behind the scenes than you may realize. You need to know about licenses, taxes, tracking expenses, sanitation regulations, budgeting, human resources, insurance and more. Whenever you run across a seminar, class or webinar that offers business training, sign up. These skills will help break down everything you need to know about running a business. At first, it can all feel overwhelming, but classes break everything into manageable bits.


If you want to manage a salon, you need to have your manager’s license. According to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, you can earn your license after 4,000 hours of practice as a licensed Cosmetologist under the supervision of a licensed Cosmetology Manager or 2,000 hours of practice as a licensed Cosmetologist and 150 training hours of theoretical instruction in a school of cosmetology licensed by the Department. There’s also a test you need to take. In addition to this license, you’ll also need a business license, LLC license, business insurance and a tax ID.


What demographics do you want to target? Get to know your audience. How well you understand your clients can make or break your salon. If you know who your target market is, look for a salon in an area you know your market lives. When you build your salon, build it with your clients in mind. If you’re seeking a upper class client, create a high-end salon experience. If you want your guests to be children, paint the walls with bright color and put in salon chairs shaped like airplanes or frogs (yep, people do make those!). Your audience should heavily influence your salon’s location and appearance.


When you own a salon, you can’t be everywhere at once. To help you run your business, you may need to hire a manager. You’ll need receptionists, and you’ll definitely need amazing hair stylists. The people you hire should be people you trust to run your business. You won’t be able to sit in on every appointment, so hire hair dressers with positive attitudes. Hire managers with excellent organizational and people skills. Your receptionists should be polite and charismatic. During interviews, really get to know your potential hires. If you are unsure about someone, they probably won’t be a great fit for you.