Opening a beauty salon? Read our guide first therapist applying a face mask

Your guide to opening a beauty salon

Do you have what it takes to open a beauty salon? Here’s our guide on how to start your own salon and give it the best chance of success.

Opening a beauty salon in the UK is a challenging prospect. But if you have the necessary beauty expertise, people skills and business acumen, you have a great chance of achieving success in this thriving industry.

Here’s our guide to opening a beauty salon in the UK.

What do I need to know before opening a beauty salon?

First of all, you need to know that running a successful small business is hard work. A survey by insurer RSA even suggests that a large proportion of UK startups fail within three-to-five years.

On the positive side, those business failures aren’t distributed evenly across industries and many closures are down to more than simply bad luck. So by making the right decisions and putting in the work you can give yourself a good chance of lasting success.

There will be times when it’s tiring and stressful, and you’ll need to remember that your customers will come to your beauty salon for more than cosmetic treatments. They’ll want to relax and unwind. So no matter how grumpy or worn-out you feel at times, you’ll have to project a calm, positive and enthusiastic image.

Lastly, you’ll need to have either solid beauty salon experience or excellent skills as a beautician. Or, if you’re new to the industry, find a business partner who can make up for the areas in which you’re lacking. For example, you might have background in marketing or management, so partnering with an experienced beauty therapist could make the perfect team.

What are the requirements for opening a beauty salon in the UK?

Beauty salons are licensed differently from hair salons. If you’ll be offering certain treatments, it’s likely that you’ll need to register your new business with the environmental health section of your local authority. It’s recommended that you approach them as soon as you’ve found a property, as a failed application could mean you have to re-think your plans early on.

For laser treatments you also have to register with the Care Quality Commission if you’re based in England. In Wales, approach the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, or in Scotland go to the Care Inspectorate.

Areas for which a licence is required include:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Beauty treatments, including manicures and pedicures
  • Chiropody and podiatry
  • Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Saunas and sun beds

Licensing authorities will need to check that you’re appropriately qualified and, where applicable, that your premises are suitable.

If in doubt about whether you need a licence, don’t take any risks – approach the relevant authorities and ask.

How much does it cost to start a beauty salon?

The costs involved in starting a beauty salon depend on various factors, including where you are in the country, how many staff you’ll employ and how large a salon you want to open.

Either way, opening a beauty salon is not cheap. While it may be tempting to scrimp on décor, furniture and equipment, you have to remember that clients come to you for the whole salon experience – not just for the treatment itself.

Similarly, when it comes to your premises, starting a beauty salon in a cramped space in an inconvenient location, far from car parks or the town centre, may save you money at the beginning but cost you in the long-run.

Look for a property if you can with pleasant surroundings, easy access and good footfall figures. You can potentially get footfall figures specific to your location by getting in touch with your local Regional Development Agency (RDA), Chambers of Commerce or trade association.

There may be savings to be made if you’ve been running a mobile business for some time and have a base of loyal customers. If you can bring them with you to your new beauty salon, you might be able to start small and work up gradually to a larger business. This will depend on your people skills and networking ability.

You’ll also need to factor in the cost of insurance. Treatment and public liability cover would provide cover in case you injure a customer whilst performing a treatment. You may want to insure your stock, business contents and money in case these are stolen or damaged due to an insured event, such as a fire or flood.

Also, by law, you may have to have employers' liability insurance if you hire any staff.

Writing a beauty salon business plan

Writing a business plan can help start-ups focus on their objectives, understand their likely costs and give them a benchmark to judge how their businesses are performing.

As discussed above, opening a beauty salon is expensive, as is keeping one running if it’s not breaking even. So, putting a business plan together is a good idea. If you look at the numbers and they don’t add up, you can act before getting into serious financial trouble.

Also, most people starting a beauty salon will need help with finance. And if you want access to credit, you’ll almost certainly need to present a business plan to the person with the purse strings.

Your business plan should be concise, backed up with data and free from typos. If English isn’t your strong point, ask a friend to check it for you or even send it to a reputable proof-reading service. Don’t be vague or unnecessarily wordy – whoever’s reading it will be experienced enough to see through any waffle.

General and beauty salon business plan templates are freely available online, and the government has put together some useful business plan information here.

In summary, your plan should include:

  • Owner details (including contact details and some background information)
  • An executive summary – this summarises your business’s name, its location, what product or service you sell, and the purpose of your business plan 
  • A description of your business and its services 
  • Information about the market
  • Competitor analysis
  • Your marketing strategy
  • Operations and logistics summaries – how you plan to make or source your product and how you get it to shops and/or customers
  • Management summaries – key information on your personnel, anticipated growth and how the company is organized
  • Your pricing
  • Financial forecasts

Don’t be overly optimistic with any of the figures in your business plan. Since you have to write it in order to secure finance, you might as well use it as an opportunity to check that your business prospects are good. If not, keep rethinking your plans until you’re confident you’ve arrived at a recipe for success.

If you’re overwhelmed by this aspect of opening a beauty salon, consider teaming up with someone who has the business or management skills that you lack. As the saying goes, ‘None of us is as smart as all of us.’

Remember that, no matter how careful you are in your work, mistakes can happen. It's worth getting salon insurance, so that once you've opened your beauty salon, you can have peace of mind your covered should the worse happen once you're running your business.

Small Business Insurance

Last Updated: 19 Aug 2016