Starting a business and making it successful is no easy feat. In fact, only about half of small businesses survive the first five years.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make sure you succeed. Here at Artemis, we’ve helped over 1,600 entrepreneurs build thriving beauty businesses. Through our work with each of them, we've come to realize the most important steps that will help you get off to the strongest start.

1. Match your brand & services with your audience

To begin with, any good salon startup checklist must start with market research. Market research is the process of gathering information about your target customers. It ensures you come up with a business idea that meets a real need, and helps you tailor your marketing to help you reach and convert your audience more effectively.

For example, if you brand aligns high value clients, then you might determine that offering services that require the latest beauty technology is required to appeal to these types of clients.

2. Know how to stand out from the competition

The next key step on our salon startup checklist is competitor research. With an annual compounded growth rate of 4.75%, the beauty industry is booming. In addition, it’s crowded with competition. Medical spas who can afford expensive technology dominate the market. Between 2021 and 2028, the med spa market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 14.3%.

To cut through in a market like this, you need to offer services that compete. Companies like Artemis offer advanced beauty technology that’s affordable for small business owners, helping you compete with larger med spas.

Check out this webinar to find out more about how to make your business stand out from the crowd.

3. Register your business and get your license

Next up on our salon startup checklist, it’s time to register your business. How you register your beauty business depends on your business type and location. You’ll probably need to get a tax ID first. Then, you’ll need to get licenses and permits. You’ll find a list of the permits salon businesses in the US need here.

To make life easier, you can use platforms like Zen Business that register your business on your behalf. This will free you up to spend more time setting up your business.

4. Find a location

Choosing the right location for your beauty business could be the difference between success and failure. Therefore, it is important to allocate ample time on this step in your checklist to make sure you've considered as much as possible before commiting to venue.

To get you started, here is our top five considerations when finding a location for your business.

  1. Rent - compare rent prices in the area, and choose a property that’s within budget and gives value for money
  2. Space - find a location with enough space for your equipment and inventory as well as your treatment areas
  3. Layout - choose a space where you can lay out treatments and equipment to give your clients a relaxed experience
  4. Visibility - be somewhere as visible as your budget will allow. Try and avoid being tucked away or you could go unnoticed. 
  5. Competitor Proximty - observe how many and how close your competitors are to the location. High competition isn't something to be scared of if you think you can stand out.

5. Equip your salon

Equipment is the backbone of any good salon business. Without it, you couldn’t give your clients the treatments they love. This is why it's on our essential salon startup checklist.

The kind of equipment you buy depends on the kind of salon services you offer. You might need anything from facial machines to beauty beds, hair steamers and trolleys. The first thing to remember is that the equipment you use will determine who you attract. The higher the quality, the more you can charge clients. In order to make your business a success, aim to attract high ticket clients. To do this, we suggest investing in the latest beauty technology.

Don’t worry - world class tech can be more affordable than you think. Read our free ebook to find out how small businesses can achieve growth with beauty technology.

6. Hire the right people

We know that it’s a difficult time to hire in the beauty industry due to the surplus of vacancies compared to suitably trained candidates. 

To help you find the best candidates in the current climate, we partnered with Michelle Caron, the CEO of Infinite Wellness Consulting. In our free ebook, How to Hire the Right People to Build Your Beauty Business, she shared her top tips to hiring the best, based on her 25 years’ experience in spa operations.

Here are three pointers from Michelle to get you started:

  1. Be a business where people want to work - quality attracts quality. So, run your business with professionalism, and treat your team and customers well.
  2. Create a referral programme - word of mouth can be one of the most powerful and cost effective ways to hire. Offer a generous incentive to existing staff for bringing in a skilled contact.
  3. Hire for personality, train for skill - it’s easier to teach skills than it is to teach good character. Especially in a labor shortage, look for traits like teachability and resilience as much as advanced technical skills.

7. Create an online presence

It's now time to bring your brand identity to life and connect with your target audience.

  1. Define a visual identity and brand - work out how you want your business to appear to customers, so they feel connected to and cared for by your brand
  2. Get professional photography - your image speaks volumes, so invest in the best photography you can afford
  3. Create a website and booking app - create a website infused with your brand personality and a booking app that gives customers a seamless experience
  4. Create a Google page - a good reputation is one of the most valuable things you can grow for your business - launch a Google page and ask all happy clients for a review
  5. Launch Instagram and Facebook - 82% of buyers said they trust a company more if the CEO uses social media - set up a social page with quality imagery to create brand loyalty
  6. Collect email addresses and create a marketing campaign - ROI on email marketing is higher than any other type of marketing you do, so don’t neglect your clients' inboxes!

8. Promote your salon opening day

An opening event is a great way to create a buzz around your new business, and a chance to meet (and dazzle!) potential customers.

The better your overall marketing strategy, the easier it will be to promote your salon opening day. Beyond online promotion, here are some of the best ways to attract customers to the event:

  • Alert the press - let all the local rags and radio stations know you’re open with an enticing press release
  • Invite officials - send personalized invitations to local politicians and celebrities, to give your opening day an extra shimmer
  • Host giveaways - give people a reason to come by offering freebies that advertise your products and services
  • Offer refreshments - the way to people’s hearts is often through their stomachs - offer food and drink that gets them talking

9. Offer a loyalty reward program

A salon loyalty program is a rewards system for returning customers. You might give customers coupons, free merchandise, or even new products ahead of official release.

Why is a loyalty program an important part of a salon startup checklist? Well, one study showed that existing customers were 50% more likely to try new products or services, and spend 31% more, when compared to new customers. Therefore, implementing tactics to build relationships with existing customers will have a significant influence on the longevity of your business. 

With this in mind, here are some of the different kinds of loyalty schemes to consider to help retain your client base:

  • A membership program gives clients a block of treatment for a cheaper price than if they paid for one off treatments
  • A punch card rewards customers with a freebie after they’ve had a given number of treatments
  • With a points system, clients earn points by spending money with you, which they can then use to buy more treatments

10. Never stop learning

Finally, no salon startup checklist would be complete without the golden rule for business owners: never stop learning.

There are loads of ways you can grow your expertise. Here at Artemis, we’ve guided thousands of beauty businesses through every step of the journey to success. Our range of ebooks, webinars and blogs distill everything you need to know to get your business on a path of strong financial growth.

For those who like an old school medium, check out these must read books and magazines. Finally, you can also learn from experienced beauty entrepreneurs and online courses.