Setting up a hairdressing business is an extremely popular choice due to the possibilities for creative expression, unique selling points, expanded services and wide market. Salons are also known for being recession-proof, perfect if you want to ensure revenue streams are sustainable.

Why start a hairdressers?

Hairdressing businesses are very diverse and can be tailored to your exact requirements or the requirements of your clients. Whilst many hairdressing businesses operate out of salons, there’s no obligation to do so, meaning you can set up a mobile business. This helps keep start-up costs down and allows you to travel to take on business, potentially increasing revenue streams. Hairdressing businesses can also rapidly expand to include related offerings such as beauty therapy and massages.

What skills will I require?

Aside from significant practical experience in hairdressing, most likely through a recognised accreditation, you’ll also need to be very customer-focused and friendly. While many hairdressing businesses rely on walk-ins, repeat business makes up a significant part of many revenue streams and it’s important to develop rapport with clients so that you can continue providing them with a good service for years to come. An eye for figures would also be useful to ensure your price points are realistic, particularly if you have a mobile business as you’ll need to take into account travelling costs.


Training is essential. If you have no hairdressing experience then expect quite a wait before you can go it alone. Get whatever work you can in local hairdressing shops whilst you apply for professional qualifications. NVQs are very popular hairdressing qualifications and offer five different levels of attainment. Level 3 allows you to perform the more advanced hair cutting techniques whilst level 4 prepares you to run your own salon. An alternative option would be a foundation degree in hairdressing.

Start-up costs

The costs of buying an established hairdressing business range significantly, from around £3,000 to upwards of £70,000 for a prominent company with a roster of loyal customers and high-end equipment. If you’re starting from scratch, marketing and promotion will add heavily to start-up costs as you’ll need to build a new customer base. New equipment will also be expensive although you may get a discount for buying many items at once.

Insurance and compliance

Public liability insurance is essential due to the nature of the service provided; you’re dealing with customers’ bodies. Employer’s liability insurance will also be required if you employ staff, and you may also benefit from professional indemnity insurance. Because you’ll be working with a great deal of electrical equipment, seek advice from the council or fire department. All electrical equipment must be checked and serviced every 24 months; make sure the electrician you choose is professionally accredited. Businesses that offer colour treatments must follow regulations known as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), which outlines the use of protective gear to prevent burns and other accidents. Salons that wish to offer additional services, such as massages or beauty therapy, may need a license – talk to your local licensing authority for details.

Your first step

If you don’t have any practical hairdressing experience then this is essential; it could be a several years before you’re able to go it alone. Talk to local establishments to see what they can offer you. Meanwhile, start applying for professional qualifications – see the training section above for details on what you need. If you do have experience, then market research will be your first step. Many areas are saturated with hairdressing businesses so you’ll need to strike a balance between getting the best location and avoiding the competition. If you’re looking to convert an existing premise you may wish to speak to the local council.