How to start a barber shop

Are you a skilled barber with dreams of being your own boss? There’s never been a better time to go for it! Get started with our guide to opening a barber shop.

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Today, UK barbers are facing a myriad of challenges posed by the impending recession, rising business costs, and reduced consumer spending as a result of increasing inflation.

Despite these issues, in the long term, starting your own barber shop is definitely a lucrative business opportunity. But it’s not a venture for the faint-hearted, it requires some pretty significant initial investment and specialised skills.

Get it right though and you could be making money for years, even decades to come. All whilst giving your customers trendy trims!

This guide is full of great insight on things like how to finance your barber shop, what you should bear in mind when choosing a premises, the licenses/insurance you’ll need, attracting customers and hiring staff. can help your business succeed

At, we’re here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have helpful resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – you can use the tool below to get started today.

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Em Militello, founder of Em’s Barbershop in London, explains why he got into the barber trade…

“I grew up in the hairdressing trade. My mother was a hairdresser and my father a barber. 

“Barbering can be very rewarding especially when you are your own boss. You have the stimulation of meeting interesting people, honing a creative craft, and becoming fully embedded in the local community. 

“It’s becoming a very saturated market and opportunities are minimal. So you have to stand out by providing high quality haircuts in a high quality environment.”

Business plan and earnings

Unlike a hairdressing salon, your barber shop should specialise in dealing specifically with men’s hair and possibly catering to a range of ages, from children to the elderly (unless you choose to target a particular audience).

If you’d rather open a hair salon, you can find our detailed guide to starting a hairdressing business.

With a focus on male hair in mind, the services you offer should at least include:

  • Haircuts
  • Hair washing and styling
  • Line-ups
  • Beard/moustache trimming and grooming
  • Facial shaving

It’ll also serve you well to have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge and understanding of men’s hairstyles, plus the ability to recommend a certain cut to a customer based on their face shape, hair type and preferences.

Writing a business plan

One of the first things to do is start work on a business plan. This will help you to plot out things such as: business branding, marketing strategy, management plan, cashflow, and earnings.

Visit our business plan template page to find out the best way to create this.

Choosing your pricing

Of course, how much you do earn as a barber shop owner will depend on your pricing. In order to decide how much to charge for each of your services, consider the following:

What are your fixed costs and variable costs?

What you earn each month needs to be more than what you pay out. Think about the number of times you’d expect to perform each of your services in a month, and work out how much you’d need to take for each one to keep yourself in the black.

Jargon buster

Your business’ fixed costs are those which remain the same from month to month, such as the amount you pay to rent out your shop.

Variable costs, on the other hand, can fluctuate each month; for example, your staff’s wages, how much you spend on restocking products, etc.

What do your competitors charge?

Examining what similar barber shops charge for their services should give you a good reference point for what your prices could be (but don’t feel you have to replicate them).

What are prices like in your town?

Barbershop prices in the south of England, for example, are often higher than those in the north.

Consider how much money locals tend to dedicate to their leisure time and hair and grooming regimes. How much might they expect to pay, based on local pricing, for a service like yours? You might ask local friends and family about this, or even hold a focus group, if you’re unsure.

What’s your brand image?

Do you want your barber shop to be the go-to for affordable grooming, or luxury experiences? Your pricing should reflect the impression you want potential customers to have of your business.

Remember, cheaper isn’t always better – for some customers, a higher price can indicate quality.

How experienced are you?

Why not make your prices a little higher if you’re confident you can offer a wide range of services at top notch quality?

Em Militello, founder of Em’s Barbershop:

“If I were to give any advice to entrepreneurs looking to start a barbershop business, it would be to not be afraid to charge what a haircut is actually worth.”

Financing your barber shop

Starting a barber shop isn’t free, and it takes time. It may be that you are starting the business with money you’ve saved. However, in many cases people will need to raise extra capital to get started. If this is case, there are fortunately  a number of options available:

Startup loans – the Startup Loan company is a government backed scheme where you can borrow up to £25,000 with a fixed interest rate of 6% p.a.

Business loans – business loans are similar to a startup loan, except that they are not just for new businesses and don’t have the same caps.

You should also consider how you will track your finances. It’s best practice to use a business bank account to separate your personal and business expenses and income.

Premises and setup costs

When it comes to opening a barber shop, location can be make or break. Even if your marketing efforts persuade customers to travel to you (see section five), if you don’t settle somewhere with decent passing trade, you’ll miss out on a lot of additional revenue.

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to set up shop in an area of your town that’s almost constantly busy – such as the city centre, a bustling shopping street or a commercial or cultural hub.

Of course, rent in these prime spots can cost a lot more than in other areas. If you’re not willing to pay so much (understandable for a start-up business), there are alternative, cheaper locations that benefit from high levels of footfall:

  • Next to office buildings or somewhere along a popular commuter route. Here you’ll attract custom from the local workers – though you may need to be prepared to take appointments before or after work hours. Bear in mind that you may not get a lot of trade at weekends.
  • Next to student accommodation. Here, you can get custom from appearance-conscious students who are likely to tell their friends if they have a good experience with you. You might want to consider offering a student discount to really reel them in.
  • In “up and coming” parts of your town. Can you think of a street or area that’s really on the rise? It may be that footfall is growing here but rental costs aren’t as high as traditional prime spot prices.

Of course, the building you’re based in is arguably as important as your location. You’ll need to find a place that has the right…

  • Size: Will all of your equipment and staff be able to fit and operate comfortably?
  • Layout: Are you looking for long and thin, or more of a square floorspace? Will customers and staff be able to move around easily?
  • Structural quality: Are the windows and insulation energy-efficient? Is there any mould or damp? Might the building flood in bad weather?
  • Amenities: Is there a decent staff room and toilet, and reliable plumbing, electricity, heating and air conditioning?

How much does it cost to start a barber shop?

A barber shop isn’t exactly a lean business idea – you’ll have to invest a significant amount in things such as premises rental, staff salaries and equipment. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000 – or potentially more – in start-up costs.

When opening a barber shop, your main cost outlays will be:

  • Paying to rent your shop
  • Having your shop outfitted with the right furniture
  • Decorating and refurbishing your shop (if you choose to do so)
  • Paying any staff that you hire
  • Paying legal fees, including the cost of insurance and licenses
  • Buying the tools and equipment you’ll need to perform your services to a high standard
  • Buying products such as gel, wax, shampoos, shaving creams and beard oils
  • Undertaking a training course (if necessary)

If you’d love to provide a barber service but aren’t sure whether opening a barber shop is doable for you, you might want to try starting a barber business from home, or becoming a mobile barber, visiting your clients in their homes.

You can find out more about this in our guide to becoming a mobile beauty/grooming professional.

Taking payments in your barber shop

To take your customers’ payments, you’ll need an electronic point of sale (EPOS) system which includes:

  • A cash register and monitor
  • A barcode scanner (this is important if you decide to sell grooming products at your barber shop)
  • A receipt printer
  • In some cases, a credit and debit card reader.

To run this, you’ll need EPOS software. While this will usually come in a package with your EPOS system, in some cases you may need to buy or rent it separately.

To see which could be the right solution for your barber shop, use our comparison tool to quickly and easily check out the UK’s leading EPOS providers.

Regulations and training

Barber training

If you’re not already a qualified barber, it would be a good idea to earn a recognised barbering qualification – whether it’s a BTEC or an NVQ Level 2 or 3.

You don’t need to have a qualification to become a barber and set up a barber shop, but having one will show customers that you’re more likely to provide a good service, and studying for one might provide you with invaluable knowledge and experience if you don’t already have it.

Explore your local schools and colleges to find out whether they offer a relevant training course, or investigate specialist schools such as the London School of Barbering. You should also find out whether it’s possible for you to get financial help while you study.

You might consider undertaking a barber apprenticeship; earning a qualification while working as a barber in a shop and gaining hands-on experience. While an apprenticeship may take longer to complete than a training course, it might give you a more practical understanding of how a barber shop works.


✓ Licenses

In order to run your barbershop legally, it’s likely that you’ll need to register yourself as a barber and/or your premises as a barber shop with your local government authority, and possibly obtain a license from them too.

Each local council has different requirements, so get in touch with yours to find out exactly what you need to do. You can also check the cost of business rates with your council.

On a different note, if you’re planning to play music – or, in fact, any sound recordings – in your shop, you’ll need a licence from Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL).

Most local authorities will also have byelaws which require barber shops to obtain the right insurance, comply with health and safety regulations and undergo regular inspections…

✓ Insurance

As a barber, you’ll need insurance that will cover you and your business in the event that a customer makes a claim against you after having a bad experience at your shop – whether he’s suffered chemical burns from a dye, tripped over an exposed wire and injured himself, or received an inadequate service.

Remember, as the shop owner you’re liable for the actions of your staff too.

As a barber, you’ll want to look into getting:

  • Public liability insurance
  • Treatments liability cover
  • Employer’s liability insurance (a must if you employ other barbers in your shop)
  • Contents cover

You might also want to consider insurance that’ll cover you in the event that you have a personal accident or your business is interrupted by broken electrics, plumbing, phone lines or equipment.

It may be wise to look into getting an insurance package designed for barbers, which includes all this and more.

✓ Health and safety

With barbers bringing chemical substances and sharp tools into such close contact with clients, there are a number of health and safety issues to keep abreast of, including:

  • Chemical safety – Make a list of all your products (such as shaving cream, dye and hair products) and obtain hazard sheets from their manufacturers to understand how hazardous they are, and whether they might cause conditions like dermatitis. Do your research and avoid any which may harm customers. Brush up on the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations with regards to using and storing your products, and stock up on protective clothing such as aprons and gloves for your barbers if necessary.
  • Electrical safety – Have any electrical tools and equipment that you use checked and maintained every two years by a reliable electrician. Be sure to keep an eye on your equipment yourself too, making sure that you stop using any tools which have broken plugs or exposed wiring, or look faulty in any way.
  • Premises safety – You’ll need to carry out a risk assessment of your barber shop, making note of all the potential hazards on your premises – note down everything from a rug someone could trip over to an extremely hot tap – and plan how to mitigate each one.
    You should also make sure that you and your staff have a plan in place in case there’s a fire. Make sure everyone’s aware of where fire extinguishers, emergency exits and meeting points are.
  • Hygiene – Hygiene is of paramount importance in a barber shop (the last thing you want is to give a client a nasty infection instead of a smooth, clean shave). Ensure all of your tools and equipment are thoroughly sanitised between each use.

For detailed guidance on these issues, you might want to consider joining an industry body like the National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF).

Attracting customers

It goes without saying that a barber shop is nothing without its customers – but how can you attract them? Try the tips below…

Launch a website

First thing’s first: your business needs a website. Your website should be sleek, professional, easy to navigate, and optimised for search. It must show your location and your contact details, as well as high-quality photographs of your shop and a list of your services and prices.

Building a website from scratch sounds a bit daunting – but there are a couple of ways you can go about it – including hiring a freelance web designer, or using a website builder.

Find out more about web builders with our guide to the best website builders for small businesses.

With so many customers preferring to book online rather than over the phone, you might want to integrate a booking system and calendar into your website. This will help you to keep on top of appointments, too.

1 of 3 Best overall

Wix (web builder)

2 of 3 Best design

Squarespace (web builder MAIN)

3 of 3 Best value



Make yourself visible on Google

When someone Googles “barber shops in [insert your town here]” or “barber shops near me”, you want your business to pop up in the search results. In particular, you want to appear in the Local Pack – where Google lists local businesses matching the search, along with their addresses, opening hours and review ratings (if they have them).

To be in with a chance of appearing, you need to first register with Google My Business (GMB). This is a free service, which lists details such as your address, phone number and opening hours. Even if you don’t make it into a Local Pack, your GMB details will show when someone Googles you – meaning customers can access the information they want much more easily.

Use social media

These days, social media is an invaluable marketing tool. With it, you can share images and details of your services, your shop’s environment and your barbers, giving potential customers a sense of familiarity with your shop and the experience they can expect to have there.

Maximise the power of social media by:

  • Using a tone of voice, communication style, type of imagery and colour palette that’s consistent with your brand image
  • Using professional, high-quality images
  • Sharing popular hashtags that are relevant to your shop and the services it offers
  • Staying engaged with your followers by responding to their comments and instant messages
  • Experimenting with competitions and giveaways

Email your customers

Keeping in email contact with your regular customers is an excellent way to keep them engaged with your shop; especially if you’re sharing special offers and updates on your services and what the business is up to.

A CRM (customer relationship management) system will help to streamline this process, personalising emails and newsletters, automating sends, collating customer data and more.

Take a look at our guide to the best CRM for small business, where you can compare CRM systems quotes for free.

Offer incentives

Everyone loves a freebie! Get customers through your doors by offering the following…

  • A rewards scheme, where, for example, customers get every fifth or tenth cut for free
  • A referral programme allowing customers who introduce new customers to you to earn discounts and rewards
  • Discount codes for customers who book online

Provide an excellent service

Remember, barber shop customers tend to be loyal – if they have a good experience with you, they may well become a regular.

So, offer them a drink of water, tea or coffee when they come in, and make sure your barbers are friendly and seat them in a timely fashion. Your shop should be a welcoming and relaxing environment – it’s these little touches that really make a lasting impact.

Of course, you should also give them the best cut, style or shave possible to ensure they leave happy and keep coming back.

Hiring barbers

Em Militello, founder of Em’s Barbershop:

Getting the right staff can be difficult. I’ve seen adverts from places like Australia and Norway luring away UK barbers as they're experiencing staff shortages too. You need to be prepared to take on a junior and train them up.

Finding candidates

So, you have a vacancy for a barber at your shop – but how do you get the word out there? Here are a few things to try:

  • Advertise the vacancy in your shop; be it a notice on your reception desk or a poster on your walls or in your window.
  • Post the advert online, both on your barber shop’s website (see section five for more on this) and on a jobseekers’ site such as Reed or Indeed.
  • Ask friends and family if they know anyone who’d be interested in the job.
  • Share the vacancy across your social media accounts.
  • Contact local colleges which provide barbering training courses and see whether they can share your vacancy among their students and graduates.
  • Consider hiring an apprentice, who’ll work with you alongside studying for a barbering qualification.

Choosing candidates

Of course, only you can know whether a particular barber will be a good fit for you and your salon. But, alongside how well you think you’ll work with them, you should also consider:

  • Their experience. Do you want someone who’s fresh from college so you can teach them how to perform your services how you like them to be done, or someone who already knows exactly what they’re doing and can get straight into it? It’s your call – but either way, they need to be trained.
  • Their appearance. Customers will feel better about receiving a cut or shave from a barber who’s clean, and obviously keeps his or her own hair well-maintained.
  • Their social skills. In such an intensely customer-facing role, it’s important that barbers are friendly and understand social cues; knowing when to put a customer at ease by chatting to them and when to leave a customer to relax quietly. It might also help if they’re able to man reception and answer phone calls from time to time.

Paying your barbers

Unsure about what you should pay your staff? As a reference point, barbers who are just starting out typically earn around £14,000 per year, while those who are more experienced can earn £14,000 to £24,000. Highly experienced barbers can earn £30,000 or more.

Of course, this can vary greatly depending on a number of factors; including the style and branding of your barber shop, and the location in which you’re operating.

Remember, your staff’s wages should never be less than the minimum wage (National Living Wage).

What’s next?

Starting a barber shop isn’t easy, and you may be required to invest a lot of capital into it – but the rewards could be great.

If you’re passionate about providing excellent customer service and feel satisfied when your customers leave happy, and you have the skill as a barber and a little business nous, you’re well-placed to succeed in this industry. Good luck!

And remember the importance of taking a break, as Em Militello rightly points out.

“In the first year of opening I lost count of how many people told me I couldn’t shut up shop to take a holiday. Well, I did shut the shop and go on holiday – and the customers were all still there when I got back!”

Written by:
Ross has been writing for Startups since 2021, specialising in telephone systems, digital marketing, payroll, and sustainable business. He also runs the successful entrepreneur section of the website. Having graduated with a Masters in Journalism, Ross went on to write for Condé Nast Traveller and the NME, before moving in to the world of business journalism. Ross has been involved in startups from a young age, and has a keen eye for exciting, innovative new businesses. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.
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