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How to start a salon business: 5 expert tips

June 6, 2022
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
June 6, 2022 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

How to Start a Salon Business: 5 Expert Tips

If you hope to own a prosperous salon business, you may daydream of a room full of excited customers awaiting their transformation or self-care session. But before you can make those dreams come true (for your business and your future customers), there are several steps to account for before your doors officially open.

Read on to discover our top recommendations on how to start a salon business, so you can start building up your clientele even before you book your first appointment.

5 tips for opening your salon business

From financing your beauty salon business to growing your client list, finding success as a salon takes both business savvy and building genuine connections with your customers.

Below, find 5 tips for starting your journey as a salon owner and establishing your reputation as a neighborhood mainstay.

#1. Research small business grants for salons

If you have your salon business plan ready to go, chances are you’ve already laid out how you’ll secure investors or small business loans to finance your enterprise.

That said, there’s no harm in having a little extra money in the bank when you’re launching a brand new venture. There are a myriad of grants available to small-scale salon owners:

  • Many heavyweight hair care brands sponsor relief efforts to support struggling salons. Aveda, for instance, partnered with the Salon and Spa Relief Fund for salons and spas affected by natural disasters.
  • You’ll also find grants offered through municipal governments. Charlotte, North Carolina incentivizes local growth with the Small Business Innovation Fund, sponsored by Honeywell International.
  • Salons and spas took a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those owned and operated by historically underrepresented groups. Emergency Economic Injury Grants, which will provide salons with $10,000 of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) incurred during COVID-19.

No matter how refined your business plan is, you’ll inevitably encounter unforeseen expenses that require extra funds to tend to. Grants like these can introduce some “shock absorbency” to your financial blueprint, so get a head start on those applications before your grand opening.

#2. Know your location

While it’s tempting to shop for real estate online, the search for your salon’s brick-and-mortar home should start in the real world.

Three to five year-leases are the norm for most commercial properties, so the more you can find out about your prospective location before you sign, the better. As you take your lay of the local land, consider:

  • Transportation – Accessibility is key for welcoming customers through the door and into the beauty seat. Is public transportation close by? How about a parking lot? How walkable is the neighborhood in case clients need to find a spot several blocks away? Are the properties you’re considering wheelchair-accessible? Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and make convenience a cornerstone of your final real estate decision.
  • Visibility – The degree of visibility your salon has to passersby can make a big difference in your rate of client acquisition. Think about it: how many times has a post-brunch Sunday stroll led to the discovery of a genuine neighborhood gem? If you’ll be opening in a car-heavy neighborhood, opt for spaces you’d see while driving by. Leasing a space above or below the ground floor tends to be more budget-friendly, but be sure to market your salon online if your business can’t be seen from street level.
  • Aesthetics – It’s no secret that salons rely heavily on aesthetics. When reviewing properties, determine whether you or your landlord will be responsible for property maintenance or (if applicable) lawn care. If your commercial lease dictates your landlord will assume responsibility, do your research to ensure they’ve lived up to their end of the bargain at the other properties they manage.
  • Noise – While the atmosphere of each individual salon may differ, most of your customers will undoubtedly want to get their royal treatment in a calm environment. You won’t be able to gauge a soundscape from reviewing properties online, so aim to visit the neighborhood several times of day, on different days of the week, before you sign a lease.

It’s worth noting that there are entrepreneurs who have successfully opened salons with a slightly unorthodox approach to real estate.

Take Adrienne Jones of Houston, Texas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she opened Salon 84—a mobile hair salon she built into a commercial truck. Jones says, “It’s all in one—one-stop shop, and I come to you wherever you are. Whether you’re at work, at happy hour, bridal party…pretty much anywhere, I can show up, roll up, hop out, come on the bus, get your hair done.”

If Jones’ story tells us anything, it’s that your chosen location will be decisive in determining what makes your salon a unique destination in your neighborhood.

#3. Identify local partners

Getting to know fellow local entrepreneurs is one of the best resources you have for establishing trust within your community.

Indira Hodzic, co-founder of Image Spa MD in Southern California, embraced the power of networking when it was time to grow her client list. She joined forces with a neighboring boutique whose customer base was likely to overlap with hers. Hodzic’s story reminds us that, as a salon owner, you’ll be particularly well-positioned to make connections in the following industries:

  • Spas, bathhouses, or salons with different specialties
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Yoga or pilates studios
  • Fashion, jewelry, or beauty retailers
  • Pet grooming centers

If you’re inspired to connect with other types of businesses, there’s no rule saying you can’t. Why not join forces with a local bookshop and offer a book-and-blowout deal so your customers can sink into a good read while they’re getting their hair done?

Ultimately, a thriving, closely-woven business community is all about diversity. The more you branch out and play with unexpected partnerships, the wider your orbit of potential clients will be.

Here are some popular cross-promotional ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Loyalty programs or punch cards to each of your businesses
  • Joint events or giveaways
  • Block parties
  • Social media campaigns

Lastly, philanthropic initiatives are a great way to cultivate a connection to your community.

Follow in the footsteps of Ashley Graham, coordinator of Sona Bella Salon & Spa in Shelton, CT. She hosted a Glam-a-Thon to benefit the Adam Wysota Foundation’s programs to offer grief support for children going through a family loss. Hosting a local fundraiser is an excellent way to enhance your visibility, meet new people, and (most importantly) give back. 

#4. Boost online engagement

No buts about it: these days, every brick-and-mortar business needs to have a robust online presence.

Marketing your salon to an online audience isn’t just about posting your pretty-as-a-picture handiwork to your online profile. Try these 3 effective tactics for promoting your new salon business online, beyond the photo-ops:

  1. Keep the conversation going – With social media, salon marketing is a two-way street. Asking questions in your posts, commenting on clients’ or neighboring business’s pages, and using hashtags to make your content discoverable are all cornerstones of driving online visibility. Hosting “tag-a-friend” contests or giveaways on your profile is another tried-and-true way to net new customers and reward your current customers.
  2. Offer product education – Are you planning on selling products in your salon? Use social media to introduce their clients to the various merchandise available for resale. Remember: your expertise is a resource that adds value to both your customers’ lives and your enterprise. The more you can familiarize customers with your merchandise, the more confident they’ll be about making a purchase.
  3. Add value with content – If you can muster the extra creative energy, consider creating unique online content to add value to your client's salon experience and customer service. Aim for a balance of seasonal content (e.g. “5 nail looks for the holidays”) and evergreen content (e.g. “How to deep condition hair at home”).

Lastly, aim to make your in-real-life and online presence cohesive. Cici Huang, owner of eco-friendly beauty salon pH7 in Brooklyn, NY, embraced a minimalist aesthetic for her salons—but she still wanted to educate her customers about what made her salon special. 

Rather than adding visually busy descriptions of her services on her website, she created a blog landing page to distribute her assets evenly, search engine-optimize her content, and inform curious customers about what it means to be a cruelty-free salon.

#5. Get to know your neighborhood with Nextdoor

And as a salon, the more trust you can build with customers, the more likely they are to keep coming back. 

Start building your salon’s reputation by setting up your Business Page on Nextdoor:

  • Curate your page to show neighbors who you are, what you offer, and what sets you apart
  • Interact with neighbors to start building your local network
  • Make announcements, run promotions, and highlight special offers using Nextdoor Ads
  • Build up your recommendations and start getting noticed in local search results in your neighborhood

With Nextdoor, you can reach swaths of new customers who are already on the market to feel pampered, polished, and refreshed. By making the act of finding your beauty business seamless and complication-free, your customers can trust you deliver the same kind of experience when they walk through your doors.

Build your salon business beautiful with Nextdoor

As an aspiring salon owner, you know how to make your clients glow from the inside out. The challenging part can be helping your new business find the spotlight so your customers can find their way to you.

Business Pages with Nextdoor can give your beauty salon business a headstart on reaching locals who are already looking for salon services and beauty treatments just like yours. Download the Nextdoor app, create your Business Page, and start connecting with clients who are already eager to book their first appointment with you.



The Salon & Spa Relief Fund. Home Page.

Q City Metro. How 2 West End salons were transformed with business innovation grants.

Allure. 20 Black Female Salon Owners and Hairstylists Will Receive $10,000 Grants.

Business News Daily. Tips on Choosing The Right Location for Your Business.

Houston Life. Local hair stylist transforms bus into a chic modern, mobile hair salon | HOUSTON LIFE | KPRC 2.

Forbes. How Cross-Promoting Can Help Your Small Business Thrive.

Shelton Herald. Shelton salon’s ‘Glam-a-Thon’ to raise money for children’s grief support.

pH7. News.


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