How to start a barbershop in 15 steps
Barbershops: They’re not just for men anymore. Although traditionally a barbershop business existed to serve the male members of a community with a buzz cut and a hot towel shave, today the category is far broader. Some barbershops even look and act just like a salon.
The barbershop industry continues to trend upward in popularity. This is due in large part to barbershop owners choosing to provide a wide range of services to people of all kinds, without sacrificing classic services like a quick buzz cut, beard trim, or close shave.
If you’re an aspiring barbershop owner you’ve not only locked on to a fantastic business idea, but you’ve also come to the right place to learn how to open a barbershop of your own.
But first, let’s get some quick FAQs out of the way.
Do I need a barber license to open a barbershop?
You do not need to be a licensed barber unless you plan to do some barbering yourself. If your aim is to open and manage the barbershop without performing the actual cuts and shaves, you don’t need a cosmetology license or a barber license. However, you’ll need some other licenses, so read on to learn all you need to get the right permits and licenses in place.
Can I open a barbershop with no experience?
If you want to give cuts and shaves, you’ll want to have experience under your belt in addition to attending a proper barber school. However, if your dream is to own your own barbershop in a more managerial capacity, start with the steps in this guide and learn as you go. With the right team, deep research, and industriousness on your side, you can successfully run your own barbershop with no prior business experience.
Is a barbershop business profitable?
Yes—if you manage it well. The range of profitability for barbershops varies greatly. Some barbershops rake in as little as $60,000 per year, and some shops produce close to $200,000 in revenue. Your personal income also stands to be greater if you give cuts and shaves in addition to managing your new business.
If you’re not sure whether or not a barbershop business is right for you, try asking yourself some essential entrepreneurial questions. If you’re as excited as ever to open your shop, then let’s break down the 15 steps you need to know to get started.
1) Your barbershop business plan
Not only will a well-written business plan help you attract and secure funding, but it can also help keep you on track as you continue to build your business. A great business plan has a few key sections.
- Executive Summary: Outline your goals, mission, and values. You can also provide a high-level overview of each of the following sections here.
- Industry Analysis: What market research have you done? What insights into the market size, trends, gaps, and level of opportunity have you uncovered
- Competitive Analysis: Who are your competitors? What are their weaknesses and strengths? How will you differentiate yourself?
- Marketing Plan: Who is your ideal client? How will you reach them with your marketing strategy? Discuss branding here as well.
- Management: What do you bring to the business as a manager that will ensure its success?
- Operations: Outline your intended day-to-day operations. This is also a good place to discuss your plan for employees. How many will you hire, and what roles will they perform?
- Financial Plan: Provide detailed information about startup costs. How do you intend to fund the business? How will this business generate consistent cash flow? State your financial goals and projections for the business for each of its first five years.
Consider your business plan a living document that can evolve right along with your business. It doesn’t need to be perfect at the start, but it does need to exist.
2) Your business structure
You will need to select one of the 4 main types of business structures for your barbershop. These structures are:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability company (LLC)
Note that there are multiple options underneath these 4 main structures. Review each option and select the one that most aligns with your business goals.
3) Your business name
When you go to select your business name, remember that a great business name is generally:
- Easy to remember
- Simple and pronounceable
- Descriptive of what sort of business you are
- In line with your brand
You'll also want to make sure the matching domain and social handles are available.
Having trouble coming up with a business name? No sweat. Use a business name generator to help you brainstorm ideas.
4) Your ideal clients
You will likely serve a range of clients, but defining your ideal customer will help you with your branding, barbershop's design, and marketing strategy. However, it can be difficult to figure out who your ideal client is, so here are some questions to help you:
- What does your dream client do for a living?
- How do they like to dress and wear their hair or facial hair?
- What is their annual income?
- Are they married?
- Do they have children?
- Where do they love to spend their time?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- What is important to them? What are their values?
Use your market research to help define your target client even more. If you get stuck—don't worry! You can continue to refine your understanding of your ideal client as you progress in your new business.
5) Your niche, unique value proposition, and branding
A niche is a small, specific piece of the greater barbering industry that you can fill with your services. Look at your market research to see if your area particularly needs a certain type of barber. Perhaps you can fill that gap. A niche isn't essential, but it's something to think about if you want to stand out in your community.
Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Your UVP is different from your niche in that it reveals the value of your overall brand, not just your specialty or services. It's about what your potential clients stand to gain from choosing you over anyone else.
A well-executed branding strategy makes you easily identifiable and memorable. There are many components to great branding, including:
- Color palette
- Design aesthetic
- Mission statement
- Team structure
- Target demographic
As you build your brand, remember that consistency is key. Ensure that each element of your branding is cohesive and complements your overall business strategy.
6) Your services
Your barbershop's service menu will include:
- Your core services (cuts, beard trims, shaves)
- Your add-ons (conditioning treatments, shoeshine)
- Your pricing
Remember that the pricing for your services needs to be consistent with your financial plan, your ideal client, and the market in which you want to open your shop.
7) Your products
Along with your services, you may want to offer a couple of lines of hair or beard products. Choose products to sell that fit your brand, consider their price point, and ensure that your various product lines complement (rather than compete with) each other.
8) Your location
You will need to secure a brick-and-mortar location unless you plan to operate your barbershop out of your home. As you search for the perfect location for your new business, consider:
- The part of town in which your target market likes to spend their time
- The location’s relationship to your competitors
- What signage do you intend to have?
- The cost in relation to your financial projections
You may want to work with a leasing agent to help you find the right fit for your business goals.
9) Your equipment
You'll want to ensure you're stocked with the right equipment to support your staff and serve your clients. Some main barbershop equipment you'll need includes:
- Barber chairs
- Straight razors
- Hand-held blow dryers
- Styling products
- Shampoo, conditioner, and other hair care products
You may also need coloring products and equipment if you plan to operate a barbershop that functions as more of a hair salon.
In addition, you'll need the following to keep your business running smoothly:
- Cleaning products
- Laundry machines
- Point of sale (POS) software
- Accounting software
- A computer or tablet for the front desk (or a cash register)
- Display cases
- Waiting area furniture and decor
Your equipment costs can be anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on the amount you need and the quality of each piece.
10) Your finances
Opening a successful barbershop can cost upwards of $250,000, depending on the location. This number may sound daunting at first, but there are several ways to secure financing and make your barbershop dream a reality. Some of these methods of funding include:
- Bank business loans
- Private investors or lenders
- Friends and family
- Personal savings
You may need multiple methods of financing to start your business. You may also need specific forms of insurance coverage to qualify for certain financing options. Remember that a strong business plan will help you to secure funding from banks and investors.
11) Your insurance
As a new business owner, you will need a suite of small business insurance policies to ensure that you are covered and free to run your business. You may need to secure all of the following as part of your comprehensive barbershop insurance coverage.
- Workers' Compensation: Workers’ comp protects you if one of your employees becomes injured or sick while on the job. It used to be a much longer process to secure workers’ comp, but now you can purchase this insurance online. To receive a quick estimate of your workers’ comp premium, try our 60-second workers' compensation calculator.
- General Liability Insurance: Protect yourself from damaging lawsuits. If you are sued for injury or property damage, this insurance will help protect you.
- Business Property Insurance: Covers your barbershop's equipment.
- Business Interruption: If you must stop operating your business for any reason, business interruption insurance will help supplement the lost income.
- Business Owner's Policy: A Business Owner’s Policy bundles several policies together. Your Business Owner’s Policy may include policies like general liability, business property insurance, and business interruption coverage.
(Want to know how much you'll likely spend on small business insurance? Get a fast and free quote for your barbershop from Huckleberry.)
12) Your paperwork, licenses, permits, and accounts
You're cruising toward that grand opening! Let's get your paperwork and other bits of business in order.
- Register your business name: Check with the Small Business Association for how to register your business name.
- Get your EIN: Your EIN is your Employer Identification Number. Think of it as a Social Security Number (SSN) for your business. You'll receive multiple benefits from your EIN, so secure one right away.
- Get your business license: Find your state’s specific regulations to secure your business license.
- Get your State Cosmetology or Barber License: This is only required if you intend to act as a barber in your shop.
- Get your Retail Seller Permit: This allows you to sell products in your barbershop.
- Get a Certificate of Occupancy: This allows you to run your barbershop business in your brick and mortar location.
- Open a business credit card and business bank account: Separate your personal assets and finances (and keep the IRS happy) by opening your business bank account and business credit card. This will help you with your federal taxes.
Check with your state's government for additional licensing requirements for small business owners.
13) Your employees
Experienced barbers are an essential part of your business. Once word gets around about the quality of your barbers and stylist, you'll likely receive plenty of new customers and build a devoted client base over time.
In addition to your professional barbers, you may also want to acquire the help of a bookkeeper to assist you with things like your cash flow statement and balance sheet.
No matter who you choose to hire, you can easily download and print W-4 and W-9 forms and other pertinent hiring forms online when it’s time to bring them on board.
14) Your marketing strategy
Every new barbershop owner needs a solid marketing strategy to connect with potential customers and entice them to stop by your shop and check out your services.
Here are some options for you to think about as you develop your marketing strategy:
Your barbershop's website will be a crucial asset for your business. It can allow potential customers to learn about who you are as a company, peruse your list of services, and even book an appointment online.
Your website should be simple, on-brand, and designed with your target audience in mind. Hire a web developer, copywriter, and search engine optimization (SEO) specialist to help you create a website that will attract many new customers from your local area.
Email marketing can help you gain authority and brand recognition in your community. Build your list by offering a way for potential customers to subscribe through your website, then deliver great content right to their inbox.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing can launch your barbershop business, but it can also be overwhelming to manage. So, keep it simple!
Choose one social platform and learn it well. Then, join another platform if you feel you need to.
Here are the main social media platforms for you to consider as part of your marketing strategy:
Google My Business
Google My Business helps you get found on Google local search. All you have to do is register your business name and create a profile—then you're all set! Best of all: It's totally free.
Word-of-mouth and referrals
You can help increase word-of-mouth marketing for your barbershop business by offering a great referral program. After you've provided a client with high-quality service, offer them a card or email with an incentive if they refer your business to their friends and family. Even a 10% discount on a product or service can be enough to get people talking you up to everyone they know.
Starting a successful business can be tiring. Remember to take care of yourself as you work toward your own barbershop business. In addition, the following resources can be a source of inspiration and education for you as you continue your entrepreneurial journey.
- Monthly Small Business Checklist
- Masters of Barbering Blog
- American Barber Association
- Barbers Only Magazine
- National Association of Barbers
Cross “get barbershop insurance” off your to-do list with Huckleberry small business insurance
At Huckleberry, our mission is to help you get quality barbershop business insurance faster than it takes to trim a beard. Grab a quick workers’ comp quote or see how you can get insured online in minutes.