How to start a mobile hairstylist business in 13 steps
Gone are the days when a hairstylist’s main option was to work in a salon. Now, some stylists enjoy the benefits of mobile styling. If you’re an entrepreneurial hairdresser or prospective mobile hairstylist who wants to learn more about how to start a business, read on. We’ll break down all you need to know to get started.
First, let’s take a look at some FAQs about mobile hairdressing.
What is a mobile hairdresser?
A mobile hairdresser travels to their client's homes to work. They are no longer tied to a brick-and-mortar salon and work solely for themselves, rather than as an employee or contractor for another business.
What are the benefits of working as a mobile hairdresser?
You receive multiple benefits when working as a self-employed mobile hairstylist. Let’s look at 2 of the most attractive benefits of this career path.
You have a more flexible schedule
When you work in a salon, you’re often required to be available for long hours. Sometimes you’re asked to be at the salon even when you have no clients that day. You may also learn that a client has canceled at the last minute, leaving you with dead time in the salon that you must find a way to fill.
However, when running a mobile hair salon, you set your own hours, workdays, and rules for client cancellations. This means that you can build your work schedule around your life rather than your life around your work. If a client cancels, you can fill your time with your own needs rather than waste idle time at a salon.
You keep more of your money
If you’re used to running your own brick-and-mortar salon, you know that much money goes into rent, utilities, equipment, and maintenance. A mobile hairstyling business can help you save money on all these things as you no longer need your own physical location to do your work.
If you’re used to working in someone else’s salon, then you know you’re either asked to pay rent for your chair and/or give the salon a percentage of your income as payment for the use of their facility. However, as a mobile hairstylist, you get to keep everything you make.
What is a mobile hairdresser's typical work day?
There’s no “typical” work day for a mobile hairdresser. Some mobile stylists only meet clients in the morning or evening, and some prefer to meet back-to-back clients in the heart of the day. As a mobile hairdresser, you can decide what schedule is right for you.
Can I start a mobile beauty salon if I’m not licensed?
You must be licensed to work as a hairdresser in all 50 states. Check with your state’s regulations to determine the exact steps you need to take to obtain the proper licensing to work as a stylist in your area.
Now that you know some basic information about mobile hairstyling, let’s look at what you need to do to build your mobile hairdressing business.
1) Write a mobile salon business plan
Your mobile salon business plan will help you clarify your vision and stay on track as you continue to build your business. It is also an important document if you require funding from a bank or outside investors.
A great mobile salon business plan contains a few key sections:
- Executive summary: What is the purpose of your business? What are your main goals? What is your mission statement?
- Overview: How will this business be structured? How will you position this business to be successful?
- Industry analysis: What does the research tell you about the salon industry in your area? Include market size, trends, gaps, and level of opportunity.
- Competitive analysis: Talk about your competitors. How will you differentiate yourself from them? What will you offer that they don’t?
- Marketing plan: Who is your ideal client, and how will you reach them with your marketing plan? What marketing channels will you use? Discuss your brand here as well.
- Management: Why are you the one to run this business? What do you bring to the business that will ensure its success? How do you intend to manage the business to keep it financially healthy?
- Operations plan: Outline the day-to-day operations of the business as well as any systems, software, equipment, or technology you intend to use.
- Financial plan: How will your business make money? What are your financial goals and projections for the business for each of its first 5 years, and how will you reach them? Detail the startup costs, estimate regular expenses, and talk about how you intend to fund the business.
2) Choose your business structure
Once your business plan is in place, you’ll need to determine your business structure. There are 4 main types of business structures you can choose from. These are sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), partnership, and corporation. Research them all and choose which is right based on your business plan.
3) Choose your niche
A niche can help you stand out in a saturated market. For example, your niche can be a specialty beauty service you offer or a specific client base you serve.
Some ideas of a salon niche for mobile beauty professionals are:
- Hair coloring only
- Barbershop services such as men's hair care, shaves, etc.
- Curly-hair specialist (perms can also be included here)
- Hair extensions and weaves
- A focus on Black hair
- Styling only (think weddings, prom, and special occasions)
- A focus on children’s hair cuts
4) Identify your unique value proposition
Your unique value proposition (UVP) is different from your niche. Your UVP identifies your overall brand. It’s less about what you do and more about how you do it.
Some ideas of a UVP for a mobile stylist are:
- Free blow-outs with every service
- On-call schedule (you’ll work when they need you, even during irregular hours)
- Makeup services available in conjunction with hair services
- You use only sustainable products and services
- You know rare and unique styling, cutting, and coloring techniques they can’t find anywhere else
Highlight your UVP as part of your marketing strategy and make sure you can consistently deliver on it. This will help you build your brand’s authority and develop client trust over time.
5) Select your business name
Selecting the right business name can be difficult. To get you started, here are a few basic guidelines to follow when choosing a name for your business:
- Make sure it’s easy to remember
- Make it simple and pronounceable
- It should clarify what sort of business you are
- It should work with your brand identity
- Make sure the matching website domain and relevant social media handles are available
If you’re still having trouble, use a business name generator to gain more ideas.
6) Determine your target clients
When you begin your journey as a mobile stylist, you may need to take on many different types of clients. However, your branding and marketing should be geared toward those specific clients with whom you most want to work.
To identify your dream clients, ask yourself these questions:
- What sort of hair do they have?
- What services do they always want?
- What’s their personal style?
- What is their annual income?
- Around what age are they?
- What do they do for a living?
- Where do they spend their free time in the world and online?
These are not the only questions to ask as you determine your ideal client, but they will get you started. You can continue to refine your ideal client over time as you build your business and learn more about what you love to do and who you most like to work with.
7) Define your brand
Your brand is the clear, consistent identity of your business. You need a strong brand to develop a following, especially if you want to attract a specific type of audience or client base. Once you've determined your brand's colors, style, and voice, make sure it is consistent across all marketing channels.
8) Create your service menu
Your mobile salon’s service menu will include at least:
- Your core services: Haircuts, all-over color, blow-outs, etc.
- Your add-ons: Deep conditioning treatments, balayage, etc.
- Your pricing: Factors in travel time, equipment and other overhead costs, and the true cost of your labor and talents
The pricing you choose needs to be in line with your financial plan. Refer to your mobile stylist business plan to ensure your rates will indeed be profitable.
9) Get your equipment and supplies
You will need equipment to take to your clients’ homes to perform your services. Some of the basics to get you started include:
- A variety of shears and scissors
- Any chemicals and dyes for coloring services
- Bleach-resistant towels
- Flat iron
- Curling irons
- PVC floor covering to protect your client’s floors from and spills
- Color mixing bowls
- Mobile washing station
- Sturdy and durable travel bags to house your equipment
- A car or other mode of personal transportation
There are several ways to secure funding to get your business started, such as:
- Bank business loans
- Private investors or lenders
- Friends and family
- Your own savings
Remember that creating a strong business plan helps you secure funding from banks and investors.
As a mobile salon owner, you will need several small business insurance policies to ensure that you are covered in your business. The exact policies you need will vary slightly, but you can expect to procure at least the following:
- General Liability Insurance: A single lawsuit can devastate your business. This insurance will help protect you if you are sued for injury or property damage.
- Business Interruption: If you must cease operations for any reason, business interruption insurance can help supplement the lost income.
- Business Owner's Policy: A Business Owner’s Policy bundles multiple policies together. Your Business Owner’s Policy may include general liability, business property insurance, and business interruption coverage all in one package.
(If you want to know how much you’re likely to spend on small business insurance, get a fast and free business insurance quote for your mobile salon from Huckleberry.)
12) Paperwork, licenses, and permits
In addition to solid insurance, you’ll need to complete some paperwork to get your business ready to open:
- Register your business name: Check the Small Business Association (SBA) for details on registering your business name.
- EIN: Your EIN is your Employer Identification Number. It acts as a Social Security Number (SSN) for your business. You will receive multiple benefits from your EIN, so be sure to get one right away.
- Business license: Every state has a different process to secure your business license. Find your state’s specific business license regulations and follow them to ensure your business is registered properly.
- State Cosmetologist or Beautician’s License: You must be licensed as a stylist to operate your business. Ensure that you are properly licensed in every location you intend to offer services.
- Employee paperwork: You may not need to think about this if you intend to be the only employee of your business. However, if you do want to hire additional employees, you’ll need the proper paperwork. You can easily download and print W-4 and W-9 forms and other pertinent hiring forms online when and if it’s time.
- Business credit card and business bank account: Keep your personal and professional finances separate (and the IRS happy) by opening your own business bank account and business credit card.
13) Develop your marketing strategy
Every new mobile salon owner needs a strong marketing strategy to ensure the word gets out about their business. Here are some options for you to think about as you develop your marketing strategy:
Your salon’s website is an essential part of your business. It allows potential clients to view your list of services, learn more about you, and book appointments online. Make your website easy to use, fast to load, and on-brand. You may want to hire a web developer to help you with this process.
You can also create an email capture form on your website to grow your email list. This will allow you to eventually add email marketing to your marketing strategy.
Social media marketing
Hairstyling is great for social media as it is very visual. Leverage Instagram, TikTok, and other social platforms to demonstrate your work, share helpful tips, and build a following. If you’re not a social media whiz, no problem. Start with one platform and learn it well, then add others if it makes sense.
Word-of-mouth and referrals
The best way to gain word-of-mouth business is to do an amazing job. When someone receives an outstanding cut, color, or style, you can bet they’ll talk about it. Incentivize referrals by offering both the referrer and referee a small perk such as 10% off their next service in exchange for a successful referral.
Congratulations! You're on your way to starting a successful mobile salon business. Before you know it, you'll have a list full of dream clients excited to receive your outstanding hair services.
Cross “get mobile salon insurance” off your to-do list
At Huckleberry, our mission is to help you get quality mobile salon business insurance faster than it takes to blow dry a buzz cut. See how you can get insured online in minutes with Huckleberry today.