How to become a self-employed hairdresser

The in’s and out’s of becoming a hairdresser

If you consider yourself to be a sociable person, a career in hairdressing could be ideal. You get to communicate with clients throughout the day and as a self-employed hairdresser you will be in control of your work-life balance.

Self-employed hairdressers carry out much more than just haircuts, you’ll need to develop the following skills to be effective in you day-to-day duties:

  • Cutting, styling, colouring and drying hair
  • Handling enquiries from new customers
  • Staying on top of any administration that needs to be completed

That last point can often put people off setting up their own business. After all, your skills will be in hairdressing and you don’t want to have to spend hours doing admin work and organising the books.

At Futurelink Group we are experts in payroll solutions and have a wealth of experience in helping people just like you come to grips with the world of self-employment. We offer a number of comprehensive payroll solutions and can take the majority of your administrative duties off your hands, so you can focus on the general day to day activities of being a hairdresser. For more information on our services, please call our team on 01923 277 900 and we will be happy to help.

Do I need any qualifications?

There are a few different ways that you can get started on the road to becoming a qualified hairdresser; the most popular is to obtain an NVQ whilst undertaking an apprenticeship.


As an apprentice you’ll be able to earn money, learn on the job and study for the necessary NVQ levels to become a fully qualified hairdresser. The amount of time it takes to complete an apprenticeship depends on the contract that you have drawn up with your employer and also your ability – in general, hairdressing internships can last anywhere between 1 and 5 years.

The Apprenticeships Organisation can tell you what opportunities are available in your local area, so be sure to give them a call to find out more information. Additionally, you could also go to job centres and approach salons directly.


NVQs are work-based qualifications that are commonly achieved whilst learning on the job. There are 5 different levels to represent the stage of progression that the person is at.

You can achieve your NVQ levels through being assessed on the job and also answering some competency based questions. NVQ Level 1 is the first step and is focused on competency to ensure that you can apply your knowledge to a range of hairdressing activities. Although, as we are talking about becoming a self-employed hairdresser, your goal should be to achieve NVQ level 4 as this effectively enables you to start working for yourself.

Setting up as self-employed

Setting up as self-employed is quite straightforward, all you need to do is register online with HMRC and they’ll send you the relevant confirmation documents. On these documents will be your Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number, make sure you keep a record of this number as you’ll need it when communicating with HMRC and employ someone to handle your accountancy affairs.

We offer a range of comprehensive payroll solutions that can minimise the amount of admin work you need to complete. Our Sole Trader Solution will be the most applicable when you are first starting out as a self-employed hairdresser.

As a Sole Trader client, you’ll be paid in the quickest way possible, receive access to our reduced rate tax return service, be provided with a dedicated Payroll Coordinator and much more. Additionally, we offer a premium package that includes a complete payroll and administration solution, peace of mind that you are covered against professional indemnity claims and full support on all aspects of tax.

If you would like to find out more about the solution and how we can help, call our customer care team on 01923 277 900.

Finding work as a self-employed hairdresser

As a self-employed hairdresser you are going to need to learn a thing or two about generating business. Its ok, you don’t need to be some sort of sales & marketing guru; there are many things you can do to get your name out there without having to come up with some wacky marketing scheme.

Word of mouth

People trust recommendations from friends and family, so word of mouth is one of the strongest ways of obtaining clients. The question is how do you get people to recommend you? Well you can do things like offering a referral discount but the best thing you can do is work hard and make sure that you provide each client with the best service possible.

When you are first starting out you might not have any clients, so a great way of spreading the word is telling your family and friends to let people know what you are doing… a few social media updates should get the ball rolling.

Work with local venues

Another good way to drum up business is to generate strong working relationships with local venues. Each time a hotel books a wedding; couldn’t they recommend the party to arrange their haircuts for the day with you? In return you could work at a slightly reduced rate or more likely pay a small fee to become a preferred supplier. Entries onto preferred supplier lists can vary in terms of price, so make sure research different venues.

Do a leaflet drop

A leaflet drop advertising your services in the local area can be extremely useful, just make sure that you have a well-designed leaflet that clearly promotes the range of services that you offer. Furthermore, it would be useful to do your drop in the afternoon after the post arrives, otherwise it could easily be cast away by the homeowner as junk mail as they are more concerned with opening important items that arrived in the post that morning.

Diversify to increase earnings

If you want to maximise your earnings or should business get quiet, it’s always useful to have other skills that you can utilise. There are a number of skills that you can learn by attending a few courses at a local college and these can help to greatly increase your service offering.

One service that could result in regular repeat business is spray tanning. Once people start getting a spray tan and see their skin glowing, it’s easy to get hooked and want it done on a regular basis. Tanning courses and equipment are quite inexpensive so it’s something that is worth considering when you think you can charge at least £15 to £20 per session.

To take the next steps to becoming a self-employed hairdresser, call our customer care team on 01923 277 900 and we will be happy to help.

Finally, now that you have a better idea of what you need to consider before you become self-employed, you might also find the following pages useful:

Take a look at our guide on how to become a self-employed marketing consultant.

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William Cadden, Self-Employed Contractor

“For me, Futurelink Group was the best solution, as a foreign and a lack of knowledge of the UK rules, they were extremely helpful in all aspects. Always fast in answering all my questions. I almost didn’t do anything and they put me on track to invoice and receive my payments. I can fully recommend them.”

Ronaldo, Umbrella PAYE contractor

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Michelle Hughes, WS Contractors Ltd

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