You may have been thinking about it for years. Planning and strategizing. Thinking about decor, product, and all the fun things that come along with being in business for yourself.

Starting your first business is such an exciting time. I remember everything about the first day I opened my doors. I even remember my first guest. It was such a high. I was over the moon happy and so proud of myself for finally jumping in full force on my dreams. 

But as time went on, I found myself starting to doubt my capabilities as an owner — and falling into some pitfalls along the way. Here are some things I wish I’d known before I signed my lease for my new salon space. We all make mistakes when we’re just starting out, but take my advice on these and you’ll be much further ahead. 

4 Mistakes People Make When Starting a Salon Business

1. You’re Probably Not Focusing Enough Attention on Budgeting

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses as an owner is key. Overspending on supplies is one of the biggest issues for beauty industry owners. Having a clean cut budget and knowing what percentages per month you are allotted to spend on consumable supplies will change your life. 

Also, having clear systems and budgets for purchasing retail products is key. Create an excel sheet or print out a sheet each month and write out what you’ve allotted to spend on consumables and retail products, then do your best to stick to it.  

2. You Decide to Put Off Hiring an Accountant and Bookkeeper

Hey, if numbers are your thing, knock yourself out. But be sure you are running your numbers and looking at your profit and loss statement every single month. If not, this is where a bookkeeper comes in. 

I waited until year six to hire a bookkeeper, and it literally changed my life. Things became so much more clear. I had so much more time on my hands to focus on the business, and my books were accurate.

Likewise, having an accountant you can trust is very important. You may have questions about your taxes, you may be overpaying, you may be underpaying. I ended up saving so much money per year when I found the right accountant. 

As stylists, managing our taxes and bookkeeping aren’t typically in our wheelhouse. So, get an accountant and a bookkeeper on retainer. Invest in protecting yourself and your money. 

3. You Don’t Invest Enough Time in Creating Your Brand

WOW! Great branding is a total game-changer. It’s one thing to start a business, but it’s a whole other level when you create a strong brand to go with it. 

You want to stand out amongst the crowd, but you also want to create longevity in your career. Your brand is what will carry you through. It is what connects you to your current and future clients. 

I wish I knew how important this was when I started my business. I was kind of all over the place and sensed I wasn’t attracting my perfect target client. If you find yourself feeling the same way, I recommend you take some time to really dig deep and understand who you are and what your brand stands for. This takes time, so don’t feel like you have to work it out in a few days. But the payoff will be huge. 

4. You’re Not Prepared for the Amount of Time It Takes to Start a Salon Business

Time? What is that? 

The time you have to invest in owning a business is never-ending, especially in the first three years or so. I knew starting a salon business would take a lot of my time, but I had no idea that I would literally think about my business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

In the first three years, you are still in the nurturing stage. You are learning and growing and implementing new systems. All of this requires such a time investment, it can become very exhausting. 

Make sure that you’re organizing your days to the best of your abilities by cutting down on unnecessary busywork. Start running all your appointments through an online appointment scheduler like Schedulicity so you’re spending less time playing phone tag (this also helps make sure you’re not wasting unnecessary time between appointments or thanks to client no-shows). Set aside a specific time to look at your finances all at once. Still, even as you get better about how you use your time, when you’re just starting out, it will always feel like there’s not enough of it. 

The good news: It does get easier, so there is hope for you and having some of your time back. But when you’re just starting your salon, I would plan on eating, sleeping, and breathing your business for at least the first three years. Year one is the hardest. (Entrepreneur calls it the year of “surviving”.) Every year gets easier from there. You start to become more comfortable with your leadership and the day-to-day of running your business.

And of course, to say that you successfully run your own business, the hard work is totally worth it.


About the Author: Nina Tulio is a former salon owner and stylist that has been in the industry for 23 years. She now owns a consulting business and travels the country educating salon owners and stylists on how to grow a successful, sustainable business.