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Are You Ready To Own Your Own Salon?

Do you have what it takes to open your own salon? Or are you at a loss as to where you should even begin? We had a chat to Nicole Dwight of ‘Axis Hair’, who has co-owned a salon for over two decades. Nicole shares her incredible career and tricks of the trade that enabled her to become so successful.

For 22 years I have been running a hairdressing salon. I fell into hairdressing at 19 years of age. By age 21, I was a shareholder in one of Canberra’s busiest and most well respected salons, Axis Hairdressing.

So many things about salon life and the way we do business has changed over this time. One thing that has remained the same however, is the desire of most good Senior Stylists to open their own salon. I have had dozens of very talented hairdressers work with/for me over the years and I always ask them if their goal is to own their own salon. The majority of them answer “Yes”. My response to them is almost always, “Great, but are you really ready to OWN your own salon”?


The trap is easy to fall into. “I’m a really good hairdresser, I turn over a lot of money for my boss!” That is probably true however owning and managing your own business is a lot more involved than managing a full client load.

These are some the questions you need to ask yourself if you are considering opening your own salon:

  1. Do you want your own salon simply to make more money?
  2. What will you do to set your salon apart from the rest?
  3. How will you recruit a team in the current climate?

Owning / co-owning a salon is very rewarding. Being the “master of your own destiny” is an attractive prospect. Unfortunately, most of the salon owners I speak with started their salon full of enthusiasm and hope, but after a short amount of time they are disillusioned and worried about their future. I believe this is largely due to not being properly set up from the initial starting point with a business plan or prepared for the reality of running a salon.

The facts are undeniable. Our industry has a massive labour shortage. Hairdressers are hard to find, let alone good hairdressers. I believe you have to offer better working conditions than your competitors in order to attract and retain good talent. Long gone are the days where you cannot offer work life balance to your team. Remember this is probably one of the reasons you left your old boss.

Choose the best possible business partners. I don’t necessarily mean a “co-owner” for your salon although there is merit in this. I am talking about product companies and software programs. These are the two most important components to running a successful business after selecting your team.  The product company you choose must support your business in more ways than just supplying products at a good price in a timely fashion. Put your colour business out to tender. Interview more than two companies to see what they can offer you. Things like marketing, education and financial incentives should be discussed. The software company you choose is equally important. Paper and pen appointment books and cash drawers are a thing of the past, to complement this digitally savvy world we live in. To compete in the market you have to have up to date IT.  A good POS saves time and money when it comes to the end of each month. Reporting to the ATO, superannuation and bank reconciliation should all be taken care of by your salon software.


Set yourself a realistic time frame. This allows you to be able to market yourself well before you are due to open. It is a scary prospect to open your salon doors and have little or no clients to do on your first day.

Lastly, you must focus on your strengths. What do you do really well? This should be the point of difference for your salon. Is it colour, cutting or hair extensions and styling? Play to your strengths and find your niche.

I hope this helps. If you would like to know more about my thoughts on running a successful salon get in touch with your Matrix agent to see when I am in your state. - Nicole xo

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