Salon ownership 101: The business advice we wish we’d had

By Sally Learmouth on September 20th, 2023

Starting and running a successful salon is an exciting journey with its fair share of challenges, growth, and valuable lessons. Meet Christopher Laird and Emma-Louise Cantwell, who, at just 23 and 24, opened the stunning 150-sqm November Collective salon just outside Edinburgh.

Fast forward almost two years, and they’re well on their way to reaching a £1 million turnover. But, like any adventure, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. We caught up with Christopher and Emma-Louise to learn from their first-hand experiences, glean some invaluable insights, and hear about the business advice they wish they had when they started their salon venture…

Give yourself breathing room

Seriously, make sure you’ve got a gap between leaving your old job and diving headfirst into salon life. It’s like a buffer zone for your sanity.

Work smarter, not just harder

Right from the start, schedule some quality time to actually work on the business, not just get lost in the day-to-day. It’s essential for future growth.

team power

You know what’s an even better feeling than being the most in-demand stylist in town? Making your whole team shine. Invest time in them, and you’ll find it way easier to step back when needed.

prepare for the unexpected

Think you’re ready? Think again. Dive deep into all the business nitty-gritty – VAT, taxes, employment laws, HR. You might know a lot, but trust us, there’s always more. And investing in yourself? It’s a money-saving, money-making secret.

price it right

Determine your worth and calculate prices based on a thorough breakdown of costs plus a reasonable profit margin. Don’t get caught up in what others charge. Your salon, your rules.

set your ground rules

Clear processes and policies are essential – from stock management, cancellation policies, annual leave requests, the dress code for your team – the works. And then, make sure everyone’s on the same page – this way there’s no room for error.

self-care isn’t selfish

Don’t be a superhero who ignores the signs of burnout – a healthy you is essential for a healthy business.

change is your good

If things aren’t clicking, don’t be stubborn. Embrace change. Whether it’s systems, social media tactics, or team strategies – be ready to pivot.

money, money, money

Have some extra stashed away. Opening a salon takes more money than you’d think, even if your budget’s super healthy. A little backup can save the day.

Christopher and Emma-Louise’s experience with November Collective shows the grit and knowledge needed to succeed in the salon industry. Their honest advice can be a guiding star for aspiring salon owners, offering valuable insights for building strong, long-lasting businesses.


Sally Learmouth

Sally is the founder of Gloss Communications which specialises in lifestyle public relations, from traditional PR across print, online and television, through to influencers and social media management, events and copywriting. Since 2005, Gloss has created hugely successful PR campaigns. Having created successful campaigns for Jack Howard, Luke Benson, Jamie Stevens, Errol Douglas, Karine Jackson, Cally Borg, Tina Hollis, Christopher Appleton, O&M, Nine Yards, Authentic Beauty Concept, Trevor Sorbie and more.

All articles by Sally Learmouth

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