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3 Mistakes I Have Made as a Salon Owner

It’s easy to look back on your career as a salon owner and pick apart the things you wished you’d done differently. How many sleepless nights or 15 hour days could have been prevented had you known then what you know now? Hindsight is 20/20 and in this blog post, I’m going to break down the 3 biggest mistakes I have made as a salon owner, and the lessons I’ve learned from them.

For context, my name is Sarah and I am the social media content specialist at Salon S.O.S and I have been in the salon biz since I was 16. I fell in love with the industry and everything it is about and have played every role from receptionist, to service provider, educator and salon owner. I opened my first salon with my sister in 2014 and have been lucky enough to have her as my partner in crime through the ups and downs of salon ownership. There have been many highs, but also many, many lows along the way, and I hope new salon owners and professionals can learn from the 3 major mistakes I’ve made.

Mistake #1: Not setting boundaries for work/life balance from the get go.

When you open a business, the idea of a 40 hour work week is unfathomable. You don’t get to clock out of owning a salon at 5pm, and the line between work life and personal life can become blurred very quickly.

If I could go back to the beginning, I’d force myself to set boundaries for when to work, and when to focus on my personal life. Obviously things come up that need to be dealt with immediately, but for the most part, there is no harm in shutting off your phone and removing yourself from the salon from time to time. Not only is there no harm in setting boundaries between work and home life, but it is imperative to prevent burn out and resentment towards your business. Not only is burn out inevitable when no boundaries are set from the get go, it is incredibly difficult to set these boundaries once they’ve already been trampled all over. It’s hard to stand your ground and not bring your work into scheduled personal time when you’ve already become used to crossing that line time and time again.

If I could do it all over again, I would set firm boundaries separating work and personal time but scheduling personal time into my schedule and treating that block of time as seriously as I would as if a client had booked the appointment. Not only that, I would force myself to take time away from the salon that was completely non-work related as a means of rebooting and coming back inspired. It is both a blessing and a curse being a salon owner, being your own boss and being 100% in control of your own time and schedule. With some planning and strategic thinking, work life balance is absolutely achievable when you have the right systems in place!

Mistake #2: Trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Salon owners wear so many hats and have multiple plates spinning in the air at any given time. We’re service providers, mentors, book keepers, merchandisers, marketers, coaches, HR…. and the list goes on and on. In our first salon adventure, my sister and I tried to take on everything ourselves, even though a lot of these things were foreign to us and frankly, out of our wheelhouse. The internet can trick you into believing you can do everything yourself, and although it’s amazing to be able to DIY a lot of things, it’s often better to leave certain jobs and tasks to the professionals.

For example, I took on logo design, branding, and website design for our first salon company, and although I did an alright job of it, the stress and time it cost me wasn’t worth it as someone with no training or experience in the area. When we opened our second salon company, we hired an incredible graphic designer to handle all of that and do what he does best, and the results were exponentially better than anything I could have planned or expected. I accepted that I was not a graphic designer, I am an esthetician and salon owner, and my time is better spent working on building the business in other ways rather than pulling my hair out over something that is not in my skill set.

If I can build my salon business and create revenue in other ways, the investment in hiring outside services is more than worth it! Figure out your strengths and your weaknesses and what you bring to the table and concentrate on excelling at those tasks. Become a jack of a few trades, and an absolute master of some!

If you need a little help in the website design market, S.O.S has got you covered! Check out our website design services here!

Mistake #3: Working more IN my business than ON my business.

Many salon owners become owners because they have worked hands on, on the floor as a service provider. Although providing services gives amazing perspective for salon owners and the day to day operations in the floor, it can also be super difficult to separate the roles. This is something that took me to realize that I was spending way more time working IN my business as opposed to ON it. I worked 12 hour days with back to back clients alongside my employees which provided me invaluable insight and perspective.

However, I wasn’t spending the time needed to build a “well oiled machine” of a business that operated with, or without me on the floor. It was a huge adjustment shifting my focus from building a clientele and improving my skills as an esthetician to working on being a mentor and leader as well as working on ways to improve our salon and increase revenue. It’s still a daily struggle as I love working with clients and providing services, however I did not open a salon to build my own clientele, I opened a salon to grow a team and a business. I wish this was the mind set all new salon owners went into ownership with as it would prevent many internal conflicts and unnecessary stress but it is a lesson that only experience can teach you.


I am a firm believer in the idea that you never lose anything from your decisions as a business owner- you either win or you learn. Owning a salon is hard, and unfortunately there is no manual on how to make it happen seamlessly (unless there is, in which case, please send it my way!). If you take anything away from the mistakes I’ve personally made in my own salon ownership journey, I hope it is this:

  1. Set firm work/personal boundaries for a healthy balance from the very beginning. It’s hard to teach an old dog (you) new tricks (boundaries), so set ‘em up from the get go!

  2. Master what you bring to the table, order in take in for the rest. Time is money, make sure you invest it wisely.

  3. Work more ON your business and less IN it. Remember why you opened a salon in the first place!

And one more bonus piece of advice from one salon owner to another:

4. Always have the highest, best energy in the room. Set the tone for your salon team by radiating positivity from the second you step foot in the salon. Set the best example you can every day to demonstrate what you expect.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a salon owner and what lesson did you take away from it?! We want to hear it! Email us at to have your lesson featured in the future.

For your daily dose of all things digital marketing for your salon/spa, give us a follow on Instagram and TikTok @salon.s.o.s

‘Til next time,

Your Team at Salon S.O.S

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