Opening A Salon Studio: Planning & Preparation Tips

May 26, 2023

Got mad beauty pro skills you’d like to share with the world? Looking for a way off the rental-chair treadmill? Ready to embrace all the benefits of being your own boss — but not sure how to open a salon on your own?

IMAGE Studios has your back! We’ve helped many talented, ambitious professionals learn how to start a salon suite business with our unique vision of community and support. We’re committed to nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit in promising hair stylists, estheticians, lash technicians, makeup artists, MedPro professionals, massage therapists and other beauty and wellness professionals.

Read on for our insider tips on opening a salon suite that’s bound for success!

Why Do You Need a Business Plan for Opening a Salon?

Starting a business is a big deal. When our founder, Jason Olsen, got the idea to disrupt the traditional salon industry with his innovative business model in 2009, all he really had was his vision and a few sketches on napkins. Today, there are IMAGE Studios salon suites all over the country — which means people all across the U.S. are living your dream of starting a business and making it work.

Why did Jason’s idea work when countless others ended up as mere anecdotes to entertain friends at dinner parties? He had a clear, focused and specific business plan.

Any time someone decides on starting a business, steps to success always begin with “write a business plan.” That’s because crafting a business plan forces you to take the time to think through all the details of your entrepreneurial dream.

A thoughtful, well-defined business plan must do three things:

Clarify Your Goals

What kind of salon do you want to run? What types of clients do you envision filling your chair? Do you see yourself managing multiple employees or primarily working solo? Will retail products be part of your income stream or are you only interested in providing services? A strong business plan for opening a salon answers all these questions and more. It should also spell out your policies on everything from canceled appointments to your fee schedule to your plan for scaling up (eventually).

Be Strategic With Your Resources

Let’s be brutally honest: Starting a business is expensive. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though! You’ve just got to be smart about the resources you have available to you. Whether it’s financing options from a lender or the testimonials of successful salon suite owners, you need to maximize every asset at your disposal to stay on your path to success. Talk to the successful beauty professionals you admire, ask a ton of questions, and really learn from their victories — and their failures.

Up the Odds for Long-Term Success

There’s strength in numbers. Whenever people band together in pursuit of a common goal, they’re inevitably more powerful than they would have been alone. That’s part of the reason why IMAGE Studios is the perfect choice for successful lash artists, brow techs and other niche beauty pros. Joining a community of like-minded professionals in a jaw-droppingly designed facility that’s situated in an area bursting with potential ups the odds for long term success more than anything else. The idea of community works for so many professions — lawyers, doctors, real estate agents, plumbers, actors — and it can work for you, too, with shared resources, ideas and support.

Starting a Business: 6 Steps to Success

Here’s our step-by-step outline for how to start a salon business, plan for your future and grow your boss acumen: 

1. Create a Business Plan and Budget

What’s your monthly budget for leasing a salon? How about your budget for renovating and updating the fixtures, flooring, façade? Where will your brand be visible and easily accessible to your preferred clientele? Do you have any idea how much it costs to rent a salon suite in your first-choice location?

When budding beauty pros ask us how to create a business plan and set a budget for opening a salon, these are the questions we start with. Your answers will guide every step you take from here forward.

2. Keep It Legal and Legit

If you’re thinking about how to open a salon of your own, you’ve likely already obtained the licensure required for your specific occupation. But remember that beauty industry license requirements differ from state to state, so relocating may mean you’ll need additional licensing. Also, if you’re trying to do this alone, you might have to figure business permits, liability insurance and other regulatory expenses into the cost of opening a salon.

3. Find Your Space and Make It Stand Out

Are you crafting a business plan for opening a salon in your hometown? Or would you like to relocate for a fresh start? Either way, it’s crucial to find a salon space that’s easily accessible to your preferred clientele and in an area where you’d like to put down roots. IMAGE Studios offers locations on the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast, the beaches of Florida, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and just about every other terrain of our great nation — making it easier for you to figure out how to start a salon suite business where you’ll be able to thrive.

Once you’ve chosen a site, the fun part of opening a salon suite can begin: decorating it! We’re not one of those corporate cookie-cutter places that limits tenants to certain colors or types of décor. At IMAGE, your salon suite is the clean slate on which you are free to build your brand and express your creativity. We love innovative and inspiring salon design so much that we recognize the most impressive with our regional and national Studio Design Awards. And because each IMAGE salon site comes equipped with all the fixtures and features you need to start servicing clients on day one — saving you the expense of remodeling and outfitting a place from scratch — you’ll be able to afford the décor that really speaks to your brand.  

4. Build Your Reputation and Clientele

Your clients are the foundation of your beauty business, and your brand reputation relies on their loyalty. One of the most important steps in starting a business is learning how to build clientele and create brand identity. In the beauty industry, word-of-mouth referrals are as good as gold, and connecting with a community of other professionals who share your values and vision is crucial to locking down those references. In your IMAGE salon suite, your neighbors are hair stylists, massage therapists, estheticians, nail techs, tattoo artists and other beauty and wellness professionals with solid client bases — of people who would love to make just one trip for, say, a blowout and a mani-pedi or a facial and a deep-tissue massage. By making connections with your colleagues, you can add new clients to your roster, get real-world insight on new products and share ideas for developing your brand identity.

5. Get Social With Your Brand

Nothing beats social media for boosting your brand. And the social media strategies that help creatives like you aren’t all that different from those for other industries. Besides, beauty is a highly visual business, so you’re likely already active on at least a couple platforms. Take your social media presence to the next level by including it in your business plan for opening a salon. That way, you’ll have a clear goal for every Insta post, YouTube video and tweet.

6. Grow Your Boss Skills

Starting a business means becoming a life-long learner. If you’re not constantly honing your business acumen and amplifying your skill set, you’re not moving forward toward your vision of success. The IMAGE Pro Success program delivers a series of free, live, online workshops to our salon studio owners to support their entrepreneurial journey. Lean into growing your brand through topics like “Vision and Goal Setting” and “The Client Experience,” taught by industry experts who truly want to help you succeed.

Resources For Salon Owners From Image Studios

Have a clearer vision of how to start a salon suite business with the support and resources of IMAGE Studios? See how our vibe suits your brand in a virtual tour — then discover all the benefits of community and connection by touring IMAGE Studios salon suites in person and exploring the location of your choice. Your golden ticket to creativity, freedom and success is closer than you think!

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