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So you have just qualified in your chosen field and you have the opportunity to rent space from someone. You are excited to start working for your self and earning some dollars. Yay!

But let’s back it up a little. Before you go setting up in the back room of a hair salon, let me offer you a few tips that may save you some tears and start you on the path to success and profit.

Now don’t get me wrong, if your goal is to rent space and you have no plans to grow your services – you can go ahead and do that. 30+ hours a week with no pressure of actually running a full-blown salon is tempting but you have to remember that in reality, you are buying your self a job. If you get sick or want to a holiday you need to factor in the price of “life”  into your prices.

Renting space in a beautiful professional salon is an awesome way to get the best of both worlds – after all, that’s how I started my business.  You can work your own hours and not have to deal with all the other “business” stuff that comes with operating a bigger salon. It is also an awesome starting point to grow your business into something bigger with staff (again the same way I started my multiple 6 figure business).

Let’s cover a few things that you may not have thought about with the actual set up of the business.

1. Do you have any Salon Experience: 

My first tip is very important – If you have never worked in the industry I highly suggest you get real salon experience from a professional salon. Trust me, you have to learn all kinds of basic salon skills – from managing money and stock to providing amazing customer service. Spending some time working for a salon will teach you so much about how to run a business and how not to! I worked for a few different salons before I rented my first space, and it taught me a lot about how I wanted to run my own business and how I would treat staff when I had some. Having a group of other professionals around you will provide you with support to iron out any issues that come up – including learning how to book appointments, deal with mistakes and how to fix them, time management and all round business structure – even stock control.  If it’s only 6 months, trust me it will be worth it – plus an extra bonus is you will also be able to see if you even like the industry before committing a lot of money to a business start up.

2. Contract: 

Please have a contract in place with your “landlord” which will be the salon owner. Every little thing needs to be covered in this agreement, not only for you but for the owner too. I understand it’s your business but you are working inside someone else’s business and you need to respect their client’s and their good name. Elements you should discuss are:

  • what you are expected to wear
  • how to welcome clients
  • what hours you can enter the business
  • what hours you are going to work
  • how appointments are made
  • where your stock and equipment will be kept
  • who can touch your equipment
  • when rent is due
  • if there is any bond amount and what will happen at the end of the contract
  • how much notice do you need to give to end the agreement
  • how you can gain access to the premise after hours if there is an emergency
  • do you get keys to the salon
  • how phone calls are going to be answered etc.

You need to know what is expected of you in the salon. Are you allowed to use the coffee machine, do they want you answering the phone, are you allowed to talk to clients while they get their colour processed, what is unacceptable conduct in the salon etc. As you can see there can be a lot to cover. Make sure lines of communication are always open so any misunderstanding can be sorted out quickly. Every little thing you can think of that may go wrong needs to be thought about before you start trading.

3. Payments: 

How you are going to take payments for your services? I always recommend a separate payment facility for your own business. There are so many great apps you can use on a smart phone now to take payments – the App store has a few different apps you can look into. like Square. Make sure you look into all fees and your responsibilities. Cash is also going to be a popular one but you need to make sure you have a secure spot for it and a banking plan each week, plus giving receipts and tracking all your income.

4. Insurance: 

As a professional providing a service there are a number of insurances you need – general public liability and any goods need to be covered by insurance. You will also need to discuss with the salon owner what type of insurance they need you to have.

5. Client’s Details: 

Once you have started servicing clients, whether they are new to the salon or old clients from the salon you need their details. Some salons don’t want to hand over client details to a renter because then they lose control of that client. Once you start servicing them they become your client and to build your business you need to keep personal details of everyone. This is your database – where your money lives – and you need to make sure you have all updated info allowing you to keep in contact with them and grow your business.

6. Advertising and marketing: 

You will need to start planning how you are going to find your tribe of clients. Start thinking about where they are, how you can reach them and how to win them over. A great way to start is by working in a hair salon and being there even when you don’t have clients. You need to be visible and available to them at all times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people rent space and then leave the salon when they didn’t have clients booked in. Building a client base takes times and a lot of work. You need to show your new salon that you mean business and you are willing to put in the hard work. That means being there when you have no bookings, and being able to take walk-ins and talk to anyone willing to listen.

7. Bookkeeping: 

Some people love it, some people hate it (I am one of those that hate it). I really recommend making sure you have some sort of plan for the bookwork that needs to be done. A great program you can use is Xero but if you don’t want the expense just yet, use a spreadsheet or note book to record all your expenses and income so that you are prepared come tax time. (trust me, you will thank me later).  All that money isn’t just for buying polishes and lipsticks ?

8. Exit strategy: 

Sounds weird thinking of an exit strategy at the start of your business, but really thinking about the long term will help you plan out where you are taking this new business. The sky is the limit and you may not want to be sitting at a nail table 40+ hours a week for the next 10 years. This is something close to my heart. Thinking about this and planning out the big picture is what really helped me grow my salon to be able to look after me while I took a few years off to have my babies. It also makes the business worth money when I choose to sell it.

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