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Opening your own Barbershop

May 16, 2019
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Opening your own Barbershop is the end goal for every barber. This is the pinnacle of the profession and should be something to plan and look for years in advance. Barbershops and their craftsmen are an important part of our culture.

There are many different aspects to it and one barbershop can differ widely from another. This differences can be in what type of clientele you have, what type of services you provide, where your strength and weaknesses are and how much you charge for the service.

Depending on all of them, you can either be running a long established, traditional barbershop that is frequented by the locals. Or, you can go for a more elite type of barbershop, chasing the newest and coolest trends in business, serving high-end customers and charging top bucks for it.

Which direction you will go, will largely depend on either the choices you have made or the circumstances that will shape the business. Mostly, it is a compromise of the two.

In either case, running a barbershop is quite a different experience, than simply being a barber. It adds a whole other business dimension to the craft. You cannot succeed if you are not good at both the barber part of it and the business part. This is why it is important to have experience in at least one of them. Most often this is the barber part of it.

What to keep in mind before opening your own Barbershop?

In this article, we have compiled the list of things you should be fully aware of, before embarking on this journey. It will be hard and perilous, but if you are truly passionate about this craft, there is no higher goal to aim for. Through carefully thought out plan and investment of your time and resources, you should be able to accomplish everything you aimed for.

Two faces of the same coin

As with any other business, opening your own shop is a huge deal. You are becoming the captain of the ship. No longer will anyone be telling you how to run things, what time to come to work and how long to work. Well, to be more precise, you will be doing that to yourself and the employees if you are planning on getting them. This move cannot be taken easily, this is an investment of a lifetime. I am not trying to scare you, but if you are planning to give it a shot, it is better to be aware of all the consequence of your actions.

You will no longer simply be a barber. You will effectively have two separate jobs, which are still intertwined in each other. The owner of the barbershop must be well aware of the business side of things.

It is simply not enough to be a good barber with the years of experience behind your back. This experience is a must, if you are starting a business without it, prepare for a reality check. In addition to being an experienced barber, you must become an experienced business owner.

Education is the key

You don’t have to go to University to get a degree, but attending some classes won’t be a bad idea. At the end of the month, the money you will make won’t simply go to your pocket. Paying rent and personal expenses become secondary. You are running a business now. You have a lease to pay for, your equipment must remain in proper shape, and the products that you use daily must always be in stock.

But that’s no the end of it. You must spend on the interior of the barbershop as well, make your clients feel comfortable and at home. Getting that flat screen TV on the wall, so that the clients in waiting have something to look at while waiting, is something that will be expected. They might also like to read some new fashion magazines, get to know what the trendiest looks are right now. This might not have seemed as important when you worked in someone else’s barbershop, but now it is your responsibility.

The Barber

Only people who have years of experience behind their back in the craft should consider opening a barbershop. The challenges and pressures of running the business are simply too large, for someone without experience to began to comprehend.

You cannot start learning the craft from zero and simultaneously run a business. Not only must you come with great barber skills, but it would be great if you already have a clientele from your previous jobs. They may follow you to your new place. Having that base of people who trust your skills and expertise can be crucial, especially in the beginning.

The Location

You won’t always be able to find the best location for your barbershop. Not only are they few, but can cost arm and leg. On the other hand, you can always rely on people who you have been serving for years. There is a connection between a barber and the customer that is rarely encountered in other businesses.

Once you find a good barber, you might end up cutting your hair at the same place for most of your life.

I know this from my firsthand experience. Since the age of 7, only one barber has been cutting my hair and despite all the times he had to move to a new location, I managed to follow him through the years. That’s what a good client will do for you. They will offer a good boost in income, while you will be in the process of establishing in a new neighbourhood.

Business

Running a business, any business, is never an easy task. The number of responsibilities that are put on you can be overwhelming. People spend years on education, just to get a theoretical, basic understanding of how different aspects of business work.

Years more are spend on applying those theories in real life, understanding the reality once you get the boots on the ground. No doubt, you will have some understanding of it, from simply spending years as a barber. But having some knowledge and connection to the business aspect of it is no the same thing as understanding what must be done to run your shop properly.

As with any undertaking, the first thing you must do is to come up with a detailed plan. Every aspect of your business should be well thought out before you will apply for that loan or take a lease on a property.  Each dollar and cent should be calculated and accounted for. You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much do you expect to make in the first month, how about the first year?
  • How much of that money will be available to invest further into developing your business?
  • Will there be enough of it to cover all your basic expenses?
  • What are the areas that you will be able to make cuts in the beginning and which are the ones where you cannot compromise at any cost?
  • Do you have enough saving to fall back on, or are you in for a trip to the bank? (If it is the second one then you must double down on all that planning mentioned above. You must be able to show how every dollar will be spent and why your business will not fail after a couple of months)

Legality, License and other Requirements

Make sure you have valid documents

As with any business, you must ensure that you will have all your documents according to the laws of the state and the city you are working in.

There are numbers of regulations from every level of bureaucracy, starting from the local city laws, going to states law and federal regulations.

This might seem a bit overwhelming at the start. But as it is with most laws, you just need to find a person who will explain what’s is expected from you. If you are the barber with years of experience, you should have no problem with this. You either already have that information, or have access to people who have already dealt with the legal side of it.

The laws may and will vary depending on the place you are planning to operate in. Some, if not most of the cities to have whole departments, whose sole purpose is helping up and starting business owners to navigate in the world of legal bureaucracy.

Having a license is a must

The license is the most important part of the legal shenanigans. You can kiss your dream of opening a barbershop goodbye without getting one.

The good news is, that it is almost never especially hard to get one and mostly involves filling out one or two pages of documents. The only thing you should be aware of, is what type of business it is that you will be running. Some of them are more suitable than others, depending on the plans that you have for your operations.

For example, if you are a lucky one, who is packing some money and are planning on opening a large business from the get-go with a chain of barbershops and dozens of employees, then the type of business you are looking for is a corporation. But you probably won’t be reading this article if that was the case and would already have lawyers and accountants giving you the best advice about enticing investors.

If you are planning on being both the owner and the operator of your barbershop, which is often the case, you will have to choose the model of Sole Proprietor. Be aware though, that in this case, you will be the only one doing all the work. Basically having two jobs at the same time. Attending to the needs of your customers and managing the business side of things. This can be a challenge, but it will also be a rewarding experience.

A Limited Liability Company is something between a Sole Proprietors and a Corporation. You will still be the one doing the main bulk of work, but you will also be able to hire employees and delegate the responsibilities.

Certain things that will be required of you

Depending on the city and state you live in there will be a number of requirements you will need to meet in order to be able to run your shop. This will vary slightly from place to place, but you should have no problem finding the exact list of requirements in the departments of public health.

Here are some must-haves that are more or less uniform in all the states and which you will probably find on the board:

  • A license to operate a barbershop
  • The documents proving the lease of the property you are operating on
  • A license that attests that you are a certified barber.

The rest of the requirements have less to do with you but more with where you are located and the property and you will be working in. A couple of questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Are there going to be bathrooms available?
  • Is the water suitable for consumption? (Easy access to hot water?)
  • Are you going to need air conditioning? (electricity bill)

Hiring employees

If you are just planning on opening a barbershop, then hiring new employees should be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have already established your business and are seeing small to moderate success then you should be aware of this side of things as well.

There are different regulations and taxes concerning the hiring process. However, there are three general ways that employees in barbershops work.

  • Firstly you can rent out the barber chairs to different barbers. They will have their own clientele and will take care of their business themselves. At the end of every month, you will have a guaranteed income from them. Things can get a bit competitive in that environment though, as each barber stands on their own.
  • Secondly, a less competitive way of getting new employees is hiring them to work on the basis of salary. This is what most people in other businesses mean when talking about hiring new people. They will be working directly under you and will be accountable to you. You will have to take care of them and be a good and responsible boss.
  • Lastly, there is a third option, a compromise between the two. You can have both employees who work strictly on a salary basis and can also rent out some of your chairs to an independent professional who will pay a fixed amount of money to you.

Conclusion

We hope you found this guide useful, for further reading we recommend the following resources. (Also , be sure to check out our guides on both finding the right barber chairs on a budget and also the right barber chair for heavy duty customers)

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