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    Industry • Inspiration

    How to Start a Barbershop: The Complete Guide

    Don’t work yourself into a lather about how to start the barbershop of your dreams, just follow this guide.

    If you’re trying to find out how to start a barbershop, you have a long but rewarding road ahead of you. Barbershops occupy an essential place in the service industry by providing haircare to clients, of course, but also by serving as a community gathering place, as well as a source of self-care to demographics who may otherwise balk at the idea of “pampering.” 

    This guide will set your barber’s pole spinning with some fundamental ideas to keep in mind as you start opening a barbershop, including how to arrive at a rough estimate of your initial operating costs and essential tips to make the most of your business. First thing’s first, let’s talk finances.

    How to start a barbershop and plan for operating costs

    If you’re interested in setting up a barbershop, you’ll need to cover several types of expenses before you can start generating revenue. Many of these costs will vary depending on your location, so consider this a starting point for your research into what you’ll need to pay to whom in order to begin your barber business.

    Physical location

    This is likely to be your biggest cost. According to the Small Business Development Center, haircare businesses are typically between 1,000 and 1,500 square feet, with rent taking up a substantial portion of total operating costs. Leasing a business space that’s in a good location and has the necessary amenities to host all your barber shop setup ideas can be pricey. These costs will vary from state to state, city to city, and even block by block.

    Insurance and licensing

    You won’t be prepared for how to start a barbershop if you don’t acquire the necessary business licenses and insurance to operate in your location. Operating as a business in the U.S. requires paying incorporation costs, legal fees, and others which can easily surpass $1,000 in total. You may also want to pay membership dues to professional organizations like the National Association of Barbers, which can lead to better deals on other operating costs.

    Once that’s squared away, the next step is insurance, and you should look to at least purchase plans for general and professional liability insurance. However, it’s also important to consider worker’s compensation and a Business Owners Policy. Combined, the average cost for these different forms of business insurance is roughly $333 a month.

    Equipment and inventory

    With a physical location, licensing, and insurance taken care of, the next step is to acquire the necessary equipment to provide your planned services. Here’s some of the equipment you’ll need, along with some estimated costs:

    • Barbershop chairs: $800-$1,500+ each

    • Electric clippers: $50-$150+ each

    • Shears: $30-$350+ each

    • Shavette straight razors: $25-$150 each

    • Combs and brushes: $10-$50 each

    • Shampoos, conditioners, and styling products: $10-$50+ each

    • Mirrors: $100-$300 each, $150-$500 for installation

    These are bare essentials and their costs are likely to vary depending on your location and planned business volume. You may also want to consider additional costs related to amenities such as a sound system and TV screens; these are ideal for customers who are waiting for their appointment or those who prefer to catch up on the sports highlights rather than make small talk with their barber.

    Marketing

    Marketing is an essential component of any barber business. You should advertise your services with an appealing sign out front, along with the trademark red-and-white barber pole. A sandwich board can effectively direct nearby foot traffic to your location, and ad space on bus stops and billboards can help capture street traffic.

    Internet marketing is just as essential as in-person signage for any new business. You can get started by creating free social media pages on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok, while some self-care business management software will also be well-equipped to help you with the task.

    Tips on opening a barbershop

    A solid grip on your finances is important, but it takes a lot more than that to build a barbershop that will serve your community for years (and hopefully even generations). Keep these points in mind as you fill out your business plan.

    Find a good location

    Several criteria are worth considering when choosing the ideal location for your barbershop business. For example, it’s going to be harder to attract business if there’s another barber or hair salon nearby. It’s also going to be difficult to attract business if your location is far away from areas with substantial street and foot traffic. It’s always a tradeoff; the closer you are to the ideal spot for attracting business, the higher your location costs will likely be. That being said, clever marketing can go a long way toward making up for a less than ideal location.

    Build a professional website

    Social media is helpful for marketing, but having a central web page is essential for the long term. Affordable services such as Wix and Squarespace can help you build an informative and attractive website without any web design experience. Don’t forget to prioritize an easy self-booking experience, since that will be the first direct engagement many clients have with your brand.

    Rent out your chairs

    Many barbershops rent out their chairs to licensed hair care professionals on a weekly or monthly basis. This incentivizes barbers to attract and retain regular customers since their paycheck comes directly from the work they do. At the same time, you can leverage your location and popularity to earn consistent income from professional barbers looking for a location to do their jobs. It may work better for your particular business to do a more traditional top-down employment scheme, but it’s worth considering all your options.

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