Going self-employed is about much more than hairstyling. Prepare to diversify. Most self-employed hairdressers will routinely:
- Cut, colour style and dry
- Handle enquiries from new customers
- Stay on top of any administration that needs to be completed
This is especially true of those operating as mobile hairdressers, working in their customers’ homes who also have to be flexible around hours of work and travel costs.
All that additional paperwork can be a turn off. After all, your skillset is hairdressing not accountancy or office management – but fact is, you’ll need to learn some basics. Depending on the route to self-employment you take, you may need to do more or less of this kind of admin.
There are 3 basic routes to becoming a self-employed hairdresser
- Rent a chair
- Set up your own salon
Without the backdrop of a well-appointed salon and a team of professionals on hand to support you how can you compete? Easier than you might think. For starters, customers opting for mobile may have difficulty getting to a salon during opening hours, they may have transportation issues, health issues or commitments that mean a home hair appointment is right for them. Make a virtue of this. Use your flexibility and availability to work around them.
But be warned –just because they’re at home doesn’t mean they’re happy to wait around. Make sure you factor enough travel time between appointments so that if you’re stuck in traffic, you can still arrive on time. Be sure to keep them updated if you’re unavoidably delayed.
Consider how you’ll take payments. Getting this right start with knowing your customers. For some Paypal could be ideal – for others cash might work. Be flexible and keep on top of any money you receive.
As a mobile hairdresser you’re the brand and your best marketing tool. Brand isn’t just a logo or leaflets – though don’t rule these out – for a mobile hairdresser it’s also how you behave, sound and look. Make the effort to look the part and to project the image you’re aiming for. Would you want someone coming into your home late, untidy and disorganised?
Rent a chair
Lots of hairdressers are self-employed but salon based. It’s a growing trend.
Whilst there are salons and hairdressers which hire stylists directly, it is not unusual for a salon owner to rent chairs out to self -employed hairdressers for them to work from whenever they choose.
This helps the salon owner spread out cost of running the salon and its upkeep and gives hairdressers who want a fixed place of work greater flexibility.
Often people who rent a chair also do appointments outside of the salon – a hybrid of mobile and renting – and for many this drives up their income but in work patterns that suit them.
What this won’t avoid is paperwork. Renting a chair is classed as self-employment and there will be routine admin task and tax implications.
Set up your own salon
Owning your own place may be a long-held dream but the reality is that it’s hard work. It’s not enough to be a great stylist (though that certainly will help when attracting and retaining clients), you need business know-how.
Good news is, many other self-employed hairdressers have done this before so learn from them. Do your research. Avoid their mistakes.
Use your network, talk to salon owners, learn about salon management and work out if it’s for you. Not everyone is suited to running a salon business. Maybe you’ve rented a chair in a thriving salon or you’ve been mobile and now fancy your own fixed abode. All good, but there’s much more to consider when the premises are your own. Take a look at this list. It’s just for starters:
Keep the salon ticking over
When your salon’s not busy you’re not making money. Consider offering other products and services to boost takings. Ones that have regular repeat business. Spray tanning, beauty treatments and nail bars can be an asset to your salon.
Already got the skills and qualifications for this? Great? If not consider acquiring the necessary qualifications (you can claim this back on tax!) or use your network and find someone who’s qualified and has already built up a client base.
Set yourself a budget on the salon fit-out. Stick to it.
Sounds easy, but it can be tempting to overspend on fixtures and fittings. Save that for when you’re up and running and you can afford to invest further. It’s all about balance. Know your target customer. Are you aiming for luxury high- end? A contemporary feel? Are you pricing to beat competitors? What do your target customers want from your salon? Answers to these question determine what sort of look and feel to adopt for your salon.
Whatever you choose, customers don’t want to be overcharged for a haircut that is priced to recoup your costs. Spend your money promoting your salon rather than fitting it out with the most expensive kit available. Better a busy tidy salon than a beautiful quiet one.
Setting up as self-employed hairdresser
Setting up as self-employed is quite straightforward. Register online with HMRC and they’ll send you the relevant confirmation documents. On these documents will be your Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number. Keep a record of this.
Setting up as a ‘Sole Trader’ is best when first starting out as a self-employed hairdresser.
Think about tax . Any money you spend on your business, from shampoo and the tools fo the trade to maintaining your skills, can be written off against tax. This means that you can minimise the amount of tax you will owe by keeping accurate records of any business outgoings and including the details on your self- assessment tax return.
There are a few different types of expenses that you’ll have , so it’s always worth checking what you can write off against your income when it comes to completing your tax return. Claiming for everything you are entitled to and ensuring that you do not include anything that isn’t allowed could save you hundreds of pounds every year.