Top 3 Business Tips For Self-Employed Cosmetologists & Barbers


Look around the industry and you’ll see the changes: in the last 15 years, 70% of stylists have become independent contractors (up from 33% in 2002); salons and barbershops are closing due to COVID-19 (or announcing pay cuts and layoffs), stylists are moving out of suites in the middle of the night, beauty brands are filing for bankruptcy, salons are changing employment contracts, modifying commission structures, and putting status quo on notice. Yet, even amidst the chaos, the value of what we do remains at the forefront of the discussion. Are we “essential”? “Nonessential”? How important are we? People even marched on state capitals for the right to get their hair cut while prices surged to $1,000 per service in some parts of the country. 

Times may be strange, but building your business shouldn’t be. Here’s how to win as an industry entrepreneur now and post-COVID-19:

Business Tip #1: Create Economic Mobility

With 65% of beauty and barber pros losing their jobs overnight, now’s the time to reimagine how you manage and grow your small business. Whether you’re a self-employed professional or considering going independent, you’ll need to find ways to create self-sufficiency while maximizing your earnings potential. Let’s start with flexible space to work. In the new world of on-demand everything— from food delivery to car rides to babysitters—it’s no longer necessary to carry the normal overhead and risks of a long-term chair rental. The ShearShare app lets you lease private suites or open stations near you by the day, week, or occasion. No more obligation without clientele. Now you can work how you want, when you want, where you want, and for the price you want . . . and all the money you make is yours! Yes, tools exist that allow you to schedule client appointments via a booking platform. And yes, there are apps where the consumer can find you, the stylist. But when has there ever been a mobile app that connects licensed professionals to salon and barbershop owners who have empty space? Just like Airbnb transformed the hotel industry and Uber changed taxi service, ShearShare is changing the status quo for beauty and barbering professionals and giving you the opportunity to flex-work in a setting where you were classically-trained. 

How it works:

  • Download the free ShearShare app
  • Filter your search by location, price, amenities, licensed specialty, and private suite or open station
  • Review options that start at just $25/day 
  • Super simple to rent space or rent out your own suite for added income!
  • 625+ cities from which to choose!
  • Pictures and videos of locations
  • Stylists and Hosts are both verified and licensed 

Created by a 26-year master barber-stylist and salon owner who earned his Doctorate in Professional Barbering & Cosmetology, ShearShare connects fellow owners or suite renters to licensed stylists to fill unused suites and stations on demand. As a result, you can capitalize on salon and barbershop owners who are looking for pros to fill their empty space during times of unpredictable demand.

Business Tip #2: Set Up Portable Benefits

Our traditional salons and barbershops were already moving toward disruption prior to COVID-19. In many cases, salon owners were forced to reduce the number of benefits to their staff because they didn’t employ enough stylists to qualify. However, portable benefits are work-related benefits that are “tied” to you instead of the salon or barbershop employer. These benefits go wherever you go and include health insurance, disability, health savings accounts, retirement, and life insurance. Recent changes to work arrangements puts the modernization of the beauty and barbering pro into hyperdrive. And as a result, what used to be accessible to employees only is now available to the self-employed. 

As an independent stylist, you’ll want professional liability insurance coverage that follows you wherever you practice, as well as full coverage on medical, dental, and vision. Check out the Professional Beauty Association‘s insurance marketplace; PBA makes it super easy to apply for portable benefits and offers multiple options at great rates.

Business Tip #3: Open These 5 Bank Accounts for Financial Freedom

To win as a self-employed beauty or barbering professional, it’s important to practice financial discipline from day 1: save for emergencies, plan for retirement, or just get organized so your accountant can easily file your quarterly taxes. The most successful solopreneurs are purposeful in how they manage money, both in the short- and long-term.

Here are the 5 bank accounts that stylists need for financial freedom:

  • Personal Checking Account
  • Business Checking Account
  • Emergency Savings Account
  • General Savings Account (for long-term goals)
  • SEP IRA or a Solo 401(k): Yes, you can provide your own retirement savings with your own money!

Technology and innovation are bringing change and transformation to our industry, essentially putting the future of beauty and barbering into the hands of the independent stylist. Whether you’re reopening, rebuilding, or regrouping, there are added benefits to growing your self-employed business post-pandemic. For more business tips to help you succeed, visit the ShearShare Blog.