Starting out with your new hairdressing business

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As a hairdresser going into business for yourself, either by starting your own salon or going mobile, can be an attractive prospect and there’s certainly a big market for you to explore. Read on for our top tips for starting a hairdressing business

How to get started

One of your first decisions will be whether you want to have a base – a salon – or if you’d like to be more mobile in your approach. There are advantages and disadvantages for each option. With a salon you’ll have the overheads of a premises to budget for, but you’ll also have a ‘shop window’ to help with marketing. Going mobile means you can be much more flexible, but you’ll need to think creatively to attract new customers.

Hair salons and mobile hairdressers often offer very different services and experiences, so there’s definitely room for both options.

Once this is decided, as with every business, you’ll need to do the basic planning before you start up your hairdressing business. You’ll need to:



If you’re just styling and cutting hair, you won’t need a licence. However, if you plan to offer other beauty services you’ll need to check out which licences you may need.

Every employer has an obligation to comply with Health and Safety legislation and for hairdressers this goes further than ensuring a safe working environment for employees. Hair dyes, shampoos, conditioners and styling products can be hazardous, causing dermatitis or allergic reactions. You’ll also need to make sure you follow the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations regarding the use and storage of chemicals at work and ensure everyone in your salon takes care when handling chemicals. In some instances protective clothing should be worn to protect the skin or the inhalation of toxic fumes. All of your cosmetic products must be labelled safely and correctly.

You’ll also need to keep a regular check on the electrical equipment your business uses – hairdryers, straighteners, shavers and anything else that requires electricity to work. Your portable electrical equipment must be checked by an electrician – Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). It’s also a good idea to check your appliances more regularly yourself – a visual check will normally suffice, taking a look at the wiring and plug. If you feel something is amiss it’s always worth calling an electrician to take a quick look.

You’ll also need to ask the local fire service to visit and advise you on fire extinguishers needed and escape routes. This should be entered into your health and safety policy and highlighted to your employees.

As a hairdresser your liabilities are also greater than for some other types of business. Working with members of the public you’ll need to have public liability insurance as well as your obligatory employer’s liability insurance if you have employees working for you.


Qualifications needed

Your staff working on your customers hair unsupervised must be qualified to at least GNVQ level 2. The Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) can advise on your staff training and qualifications as well as offering advice and guidance on your business growth.



If you’re looking to take over an existing hairdressing business you’ll need to pay for the rights to the business. The price for these will vary by location within the UK, but they could cost under £10,000 or over £500,000.

If you’re setting up from scratch the outgoings you’ll need to consider include:

  • Premises.
  • Fixtures and fittings.
  • Equipment.
  • Insurance.
  • Utilities and services.
  • Licences (for some beauty therapies).
  • Staff and staff training.


Setting up your hairdressing business as a limited company

Setting up your hairdressing business as a limited company is no different to any other business – and it’s easy with the help of a formations agent. At The Formations Company you can be registered and ready for business in as little as three hours and it can cost even less than the price of your Companies House registration fee.

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