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You’ve decided 2016 is going to be your year to really shine, and you’re ready to launch your own salon with Sola’s help. But, now what?

“There are many individuals who hang their shingle without having a plan in place,” says Cindy Dudden, a partner CPA with Gracey & Dudden, PC. But, it’s important to start with a plan in place.   

Developing a solid, actionable plan for your new business might sound intimidating. But, it doesn’t have to be. Here, Cindy shares the steps salon owners – and all small business owners, for that matter – can to follow when preparing to launch. Grab your laptop or pen and paper, and get ready to make your New Year’s resolution a reality.  

Identify Your Market

The key to thriving in a booming industry is finding your niche. Consider your target clientele and think about what type of salon services they are looking for. What can you can offer that they can’t possibly find anywhere else?

Salon owner Kristyl Bell at Sola Salons Middletown, for example, realized area consumers desperately needed a brow specialist who focused on maintaining the natural brow line. Derek Williams from Sola Salons Crofton, MD mastered the art of a clean shave, and his wallet’s thanked him for it.

Other Sola stylists have carved out niches in color or specialty cuts — some have even catered their businesses to clients’ specific ages, focusing on kids’ cuts, for example.

Take some time think about a void in your market. Then, figure out how you’re going to fill it.

Create a Budget

Once you’ve identified your market, you’re ready to determine how you’ll generate income. “You need to look at all of your costs,” Cindy says, asking, first and foremost, “What services will you be providing?” And how much will these services cost?

Cindy suggests stylists start with the services they are most comfortable providing. But, she also notes that savvy stylists will look for additional services to tack on, thereby creating an opportunity for extra income. If you have the training to do nail care or waxing, consider whether these additions might increase your revenue stream.   

Next, think about the income you’ll make from selling products. Set up a meeting with your local distributor sales consultant to learn more about the various professional brands and find out if there are any specials coming up. Ask lots of questions and make sure to select a brand that fits into your target clientele’s budget as well. (Don’t forget about Sola’s retail bonus for new stylists!)

“Basic budgeting looks at revenue and expenses,” continues Cindy. You know how you’ll be making money; the next step, then, is sifting through the ongoing costs to owning your salon.

Tally hard costs first, including rent, salon software and your phone bill. Add in the retail costs and back bar, including color. Don’t forget about equipment: shears, combs and curling irons. Consider how much you plan to invest on marketing, such as purchasing a web domain or creating Facebook ads. And, consider periodic expenses, including continuing education and licensure.

Soft costs, adds Cindy, include purchasing entertainment – magazines, cable TV – for clients. These aren’t necessary, but they’ll enhance guest experience.

Now, you’re getting close to your bottom line: What, in numbers, do you need to bring in the door to cover your costs? Cindy says to “distribute these costs throughout the year.” By breaking down your yearly expenses by month, you can determine what Cindy calls the break-even point.

This break-even point can be used to drive the cost of your services, along with the amount of time you’ll plan on spending behind the chair.

“Depending on the cost of your cuts,” Cindy says, “Maybe you need to bring in fifty cuts a week. Or, maybe you’ll only bring in 25 cuts, and you’ll add some higher-value services.” Diving this deep into the budget might have you reevaluating your prices, too. Remember, your time is money so make sure to charge for it accordingly!   

Create Your Marketing Campaign

Now for the fun part! You’ve created your business plan, you know your target audience, so how will you reach them? The final piece, says Cindy, is building your marketing campaign. “How,” Cindy asks, “will you celebrate the fact that you’ve hung your shingle?” More importantly, how will you drive clients through your new Sola door?

Consider where and how your target clientele spends their time. Can they be reached through social media? Or perhaps they’re searching on Yelp for a new stylist. Don’t forget about your existing clientele – let them know about your new salon studio and make sure to invite them to refer friends and family!

What’s the best way to ensure positive reviews and ongoing referrals? Provide the best experience possible in your brand new salon. Make your studio their "home sweet salon."

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