How to Run a Successful Hair Business in 2024

A graphic of mixed images signifying business, including a computer screen, an arrow on a graph, a woman at a laptop, and a dollar sign

by Demya Gaskin

Atlanta hair stylist Ashley Harris says, ‘’I always knew what I wanted to do as a kid so, I started by preplanning.’’ Harris took cosmetology classes in highschool. She built up enough credits and was able to get her license before graduation.

Harris wondered what her next step would be.

‘’Haircuts were my weakest strength because we didn’t get enough practice in school, so I decided to go into the haircutting business,’’ Harris said. ‘’ I turned my weakest skill into my strongest skill and that gave me the confidence to start my own business.’’

Harris is the owner of Crowns Enchanted located in Marietta GA. She has been in the hair business for 13 years.

There is a lot that goes into having a hair business. It is not as easy as it sounds, but it can be rewarding if you do the work.

‘’It takes lots of patience, creativity and honestly the money is not bad at all to run a hair business,’’ said Atlanta Hair stylist Skye Colding.

Colding is a stylist at Boardroom Salon for men in Atlanta. She has been doing hair for about 15 years.

‘’It takes financial literacy,’’ Harris said. ‘’A lot of the time we have the skill but not the financial side or the business side of running a business. ‘’

Starting a hair business takes a lot of preparation. Here are some tips from Logo. Step one is to get experience of course. Whether that be self-taught, taking classes, or practicing on people. The best experience is to get your license in cosmetology of course.

‘’I started my business at home with friends and family. Someone always needed a cut or some curls,’’, Colding said.

Investing in cosmetology school is a great benefit because you learn many things and earn a license. In some cases a license or official document is needed to attain a business permit (a requirement for having a salon).

This step may take months or years to secure but this is the main key to having a successful hair business. Having no experience or starting a hair business with inadequate skills defeats the purpose of having a business.

Step two is determining the cost to start up the business. Hair businesses can vary depending on the size and location of your salon. For instance, a home salon may cost a few hundred dollars, while a salon may cost thousands. Some expenses include supplies, equipment and furnishing.

The costs depend on your vision. You don’t have to go all out at the beginning; it is okay to start small and build up. Start with the basics, and your business will grow.

No one goes to a salon because it looks pretty. People go to a salon because their hair gets done professionally to their liking.

When buying a salon, you have to consider size, location, training and salary of your team, inventory, furnishing, decorations, insurance (optional), and operating expenses like electricity and water.

These things are important because they determine costs, decor design, resources and tools you’ll need, and customer service you’ll provide.

Step three is creating a business plan. No business functions without a plan. If you go into any business without a plan it will fall apart before starting. A plan includes your products, services, your vision, what makes you different from other salons, financial projections, and marketing strategies.

A hair business is more than just having clients and styling, it’s about making sure you’ve done research and planning to be successful. A business plan may also be needed to obtain licensing for a salon.

Step four is the necessary business permits. Business permits are crucial to opening any business. Never skip this step because doing so can lead to fines, forced shutdowns, or receiving a lawsuit.

If help is needed to get started you can visit the city hall in your area, the local Chamber of Commerce, or the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA).

Step five is the location. An ideal location is an area where there is a lot of foot traffic. This can get you visibility and walk-in clients. Adequate parking is a plus as well. This is not always easily accessible, especially at the beginning of starting a business.

Location is also dependent on the target audience. If you want prosperous customers, then a more upscale area or an area adjacent to a shopping district would be best. If targeting young customers look for a trendy, hipster, or up-and-coming neighborhood.

Step six is hiring staff. Hiring the right team can make or break your business. Ensure your stylists are competent and have a great work ethic. Customer service is crucial to running a business because it ensures loyal customers. Make sure your team sets the correct tone for your business.

‘’Some bad service I have received was that my appointment was canceled because I was a few minutes late. I never went back,’’ said hair salon customer Maya Johnson.

Step seven involves stocks and inventory. Many stylists create products for their customers to use to recreate styles at home. They also contact brands to offer products they like in their salons.

Lastly, step eight is marketing. Thinking of strategies before you open is also helpful with running your business. Try to get the buzz going before the launch. Post on social media and tell people you know.

Posting on social media is also beneficial to show off your skills. You can post your styles, designs, create polls and engage with the audience as much as possible. You could also give discounts when clients post or send referrals.

An innovative idea might be to implement a loyalty service. For example, after a certain number of stamps, customers get a discount or free service. This provides great customer service and will keep customers coming back. Another key to a hair business is who you know.

Starting with your friends and family could help put your business out there.

‘’I started my business at home with friends and family. Someone always needed a cut or some curls,’’ Colding said.

‘’I made sure I talked to a lot of people in my free time,’’ Harris said. ‘’ I would give them deals and that helped me build relationships which built clientele and referrals.’’

There are pros and cons to having a hair business. For example, pros can be following a passion, creating a family business, connections and relationships you will make, and the money.

Colding said, ‘’Having a hair business in this economy can be very lucrative for one and it’s just a fun thing to have as long as you’re running it properly.’’

‘’A pro from having a hair business is the freedom and flexibility that you can get in your schedule,’’ Harris said.

‘’The money-making opportunities, the freedom of being a stylist and the great people you can meet throughout your hair journey,’’ Colding said.

There are also cons, such as competition, cost, health effects, labor costs, and the economy.

‘’Cons for me are always on your feet, you hardly can do other things outside of your hair and if you work with chemicals that can be harsh on the body/health,’’ Colding said.

“Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the $10 haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” Sam Ewing said.

If there is inflation, people will not get their hair done as much because they are trying to save money. Another reason is they feel the price is too high.

‘’Getting your hair done in this economy is a little tough because everything is so high,’’ said Johnson. ‘’Some stylists jack their prices up to high even for the simplest styles.’’

This can be tough for stylists and customers because stylists need to charge enough to survive but also not charge too much to keep customers happy.

‘’You have to be very detailed and make sure you are providing more value,’’ Harris said. ‘’Going down on your prices won’t work just because it affects customers, it affects all of us.’’

Harris said ‘’ Even making things more customizable for everyone and making sure we are all thriving in the economy.’’

There are many misconceptions of hair stylists such as high prices and too many rules such as no kids allowed or coming with your hair already washed and detangled.

‘’ Some misconceptions are that we are always rich and that we stick to our race when nowadays stylists are really learning about hair culturally because it’s better for your pocket,’’ Colding said.

‘’That our prices determine our lifestyle,’’ Harris said. ‘’ They think we are hitting them over the head with prices that we live a luxury lifestyle that exists on social media.’’ ‘’We have families, we don’t have a 401K.’’ ‘’We are worried about the day-to-day and month-to-month.’’

‘’If you want to be a good money-making stylist, stay on trend and just be patient and always find someone you idolize and learn from them,’’ Said Colding. ‘’Never give up if you really enjoy styling and always stick to some type of continued education.’’ ‘’ It’s always good in the long run.’’

‘’Plan, utilize your resources, and start with friends and family,’’ Harris said.

Hair is very important. It is a personality, identity, or what makes someone’s character. ‘’Hair means power, culture, expression, and spirituality,’’ Harris said.

‘’My hair is a part of me ’’ said Johnson. ‘’It’s how I express myself, if my hair is not how I like it everything is off.’’

‘’Hair means beauty to me, it’s your crown so do what you feel whether it’s yours naturally or not yours naturally, that’s what makes it unique and can be fun,’’ Colding said.

A hair business is not just a job, it’s about putting smiles on people’s faces and making connections. It’s a lot that goes into running a hair business but can be great in the long run if you put in the work.

“As stylists we’re ground shakers and day makers. Setting trends, while fostering that inner connection between a person’s inner and outer self.” Rebecca Gregory said.

Demya Gaskin is a journalism student at Kennesaw State University.

For her bio box she wrote: “If you can write a good story you can change the world”