4 Lessons In My First Year Of Salon Ownership

Aug 03, 2022
4 Lessons In My First Year Of Salon Ownership

In beauty school, hair stylists are pitched in order to have a “successful cosmetology career” that the growth path goes from being a hairstylist to owning a salon. Now there are many different ways of owning a business inside the salon world; from booth rental, salon suites, and rental & commissioned salons.


I’ve dabbled in all forms of salon business ownership throughout my career and with each and every endeavor I've learned a lot along the way.  Over the past year and a half, I embarked on expanding my salon suite business into an employee/commission-based full-fledged salon. 


Over the past year and a half, I've learned quite a few lessons that I want to share with you. Some things worked, and some did not work so well. 


Lesson 1: I had no idea what I really was doing & either do many salons.


I had a grasp on my other businesses... barely(looking back now). Going from 3 employees in a suite to 12+ commissioned Stylists is a whole other ball game. Trying to manage so many personality types, education levels, learning styles, business finance/accounting at this level... 

The list could go on and proved to not be as easy as I thought. I am a natural-born educator and I was under the impression that if I just educated my staff on technical skills and what it took to succeed that they would just dive in and do the work. I thought that other salons created their pricing based on facts of business… fast forward a couple of months into business and I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. Not an exaggeration.

The biggest lesson I learned is many of us creative opened a salon with the right intentions but didn’t have the business background to run it efficiently.


Lesson 2: I can’t do it all by myself.


Ok, so I thought I was superwoman or something.

In my head, I could still take on my full client book of business (Hair Stylist). Teach my staff all the knowledge I had learned and ensure they retained the information. Handle client retention & communication, run our salon and my social media pages, inventory ordering, run payroll, and business finances …the list goes on honestly.

It's a hard transition to go from being a full-time stylist to being a CEO. It's totally normal to not even know how to be a “CEO.” While trying to do it all myself, my health, family life, finances, sanity, work BTC, and leadership suffered.

I learned quickly that in order to truly have a business that doesn’t suck the life out of me… I had to delegate.


Lesson 3: Get yourself a coach/mentor even when it may seem impossible financially.


Only four months into my salon ownership, I literally told my husband “If I don’t do something, I'm going to end up in the hospital” that's how stressed I was. I had lost about 15 lbs on my already small frame, people were concerned and I was a ghost of who I was.

I opened my salon to have the opposite result. I wanted to thrive, lead, and have profits and freedom. I was so far from attaining all those items, I didn't know what to do. I asked some of my successful salon owner friends what to do & they all said one thing. Hire a salon business coach & strategist.

That was great and all but how was I going to afford it? I was basically tapped out from the build-out of the salon and my money wasn’t growing... It was actually declining quickly. I didn’t have the funds at the time & definitely paid on credit, but once I hired the right (... and she wasn’t cheap) coach, everything changed.

Lesson Learned: Hire a coach and mentor that will understand your business model, you and can give you solid advice and a roadmap on how to achieve your dreams. Your coach shouldn’t just tell you the action plan, but also should work with you on your mindset and limiting beliefs. “Doing the work” is one part of the solution, but understanding the why behind why you operate is even more important and the key to making your dream business come true faster than you could ever imagine. Invest in a coach that has been where you’ve been.

The Failed Attempt: First I hired a big brand” salon strategy company that was cheaper, by cheaper I mean $1500 a month..I realized that a big name didn’t mean that they could coach me to the business that was in alignment for me. Their methods were so old school…*ahem* sliding commission scales… and they definitely didn’t lead their education growth programs with a servant's heart.


Lesson 4: Your salon is a business, meaning it's meant to make money for you.


You might be thinking, well that's obvious... But is it? The majority of salon owners have to work inside their business as a hairstylist to bring revenue to the salon to keep their doors open. That's typical in this industry, but not typical for any other business. Why do salons tend to operate that way?

There are three parts to this; Many salon owners open with the intention of having a wonderful environment where stylists thrive (emotional), are like-minded and are wanting an improvement from their previous salon. The intention is amazing, but a successful salon business needs much more than intention. It needs leadership and knowledge of best business practices.

The mindset that “you’re not in this for the money” will leave you drained financially and emotionally. I had the same mindset but here's the thing. If your business is not making you money, it's draining you.

How can you be a good leader and make sure your stylists are thriving and reaching their potential if you are burning the candle at both ends? Do your research, and find out how to operate your business without your hair income, so you can focus on the growth of the salon.

If you're looking for a starting point the book Profit First For Salons is a good starting point. Knowing exactly how much your salon needs to bring in per hour will set you up for success.


Part 2 .. coming soon.

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