It is a very common misconception that you can just start a business, and it seems to be particularly the case in our industry. Many therapists will just start working mobile, or from home without much thought to the nuts and bolts of running a business. There is a lot involved in starting your own beauty business – and then running it. It is extremely rewarding, great fun but very hard work and much harder work than a lot of people think it is.
Here are 10 things that you need to consider when thinking of starting a business:
1. Business Plan
First of all you need a Business Plan; it is pointless trying to set up a business without spending time on the planning. I cannot stress enough how important this is, and not just the immediate setting up, but you also need to plan the first year, the first 3 years and the first 5 years. Your business plan needs to be thorough and needs to be reviewed annually. A business plan is essential if you need to borrow money, but is also great for you to remind you of your goals and see how much you have achieved.
Do you need a loan? If so how can you afford to pay it back, are you aware of the terms of the loan, what will your interest payments be? What equipment do you already have? What do you need to buy? You will need to factor in any equipment costs and budget outlay when compiling a cash flow forecast.
3. Type of Business
Will you be a sole trader or limited company? Are you going to work mobile, home based or rent commercial premises? Depending on where your business is based you will encounter different considerations. For example, if you are home based you need to ensure that you inform your mortgage provider and your home insurance company to ensure you are allowed to set up a business from home. You also need to register with the local council and apply for a licence that your neighbours will be informed of – they can object to you working from home. Then you need to consider things such as entrance – will you use your front door? Parking? Will your room be located upstairs – if so what about disabled access? Toilet facilities? Will there be hot and cold running water in your room or will you be accessible to some nearby? What hours you will work and how that will affect your neighbours, family or the other people you live with? If you are mobile you will need to inform your car insurance provider, set out a certain distance you will travel, plan your day more effectively. And are you going to have a separate business phone number? This is more applicable if you are mobile or home based, but needs to be considered.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you have the necessary insurance in order for you to work, it is there for your protection as much as the clients and is essential. You must obtain public and product liability insurance and professional indemnity. To keep this up to date you must send copies of any new qualifications you obtain so as you can be sure you are covered for everything you are offering.
What will your business name be? When choosing a name you must check with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) that it is not already registered and has a registered trademark. REMEMBER you will have this company name for a long time so make it quirky and memorable. The earlier in the alphabet that the name begins with the higher it will be listed in directories. This is important because, let’s be honest, if there was a list of 100 salons would you go through them all? Probably not.
Set up a bank account – most banks offer first 18 months free but then there is a charge so find out what the charges will be. Consider what types of payment will you take, and how you will keep a log of your transactions. Don’t forget to register with the HMRC – this can be done online and must be done within the first few months of trading. It is definitely worth getting a good accountant – they are expensive but invaluable. Set up a cash book for daily income and expenditure so as you know exactly what you are taking and what you are spending and keep all receipts.
7. Treatments, Pricing and Products
What treatments are you going to offer? I realise you can only offer what you are trained in, but are you going to try and specialise in something to make yourself more unique or will you offer everything? How are you going to price your services? Check out your competitors to see what services they are offering, and collect price lists from all local beauty salons, mobile therapists and home based therapists who work in the area. You will probably find these prices are similar so price yourself similarly to your competitors. But always you make sure you work out your costings first, and that you are not cutting your margins too fine – you must know what it is costing you to do before you even consider pricing yourself the same as everyone else.
What products are you going to use? Are you going to invest in expensive well-known brands or start with good quality products from the wholesalers? Are you going to stock any retail items or just provide services? Retailing will boost your turnover, but is of course ‘dead’ money, as you have to buy it up front. I would suggest stocking a small amount of retail to provide another service, create loyalty and increase profits.
Who is your competition? I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to be commercially aware. You need to keep aware of your competitors, services, products, promotions and offers, new treatments and techniques, new trends in the industry etc. What is your Unique Selling Point? What sets you apart from anyone else? Make sure you are aware of this when writing your Business Plan.
Who will your customers be? Are you aiming for a certain market or age group? Are you aiming for just local clients or further a field? Do you want a younger client base? A more mature client base?
How are you going to attract clients? Where will you advertise? Newspapers, leaflets, local magazines, social media? Make sure you have a marketing plan for the first 12 months and review it for the following year to see what was effective and what wasn’t. The correct advertising and marketing are so important because you need to create a brand image and awareness of what your business is and what it offers. Aim to reach your audience with 7 different forms of advertising so you create awareness and people start to recognise your name. This may be newspaper, leaflet drop, parish magazine, Facebook, ladies nights, website/internet, posters and leaflets in local shops etc. You need to build a brand so use a logo, certain colours, certain styles of writing etc. This is the first part of your brand building – the second part is creating the experience once the client comes through the door.
Will you have a website? There are lots of companies on the internet who will provide templates to allow you to build your own website for free which is very cost effective when you are first starting out and funds are tight. Print advertising can be effective but it can also be costly; if you have the patience there are websites that allow you to design your own and again make this more affordable.
If you do decide to start your own business look into attending a workshop aimed at those starting a business as this will be invaluable and save you a lot of work, problems and money in the long run there are many of these available so research them wisely….and above all Good Luck!