Going Solo: Making the Transition from Commission to Independent

When hair stylist Marissa King first decided to transition out of the commission-based salon she was working in, “it was very chaotic.” She had no plan in place of what to do next: Move to another salon? Rent a booth? Get her own salon suite? But she knew it was time to go independent. And when she finally made the move, she learned a lot along the way that she gladly shared as part of our Community Spotlight series.

For anyone starting out in a commission-based salon environment, the thought that it's time to leave may eventually pop into your head, too. So many personal factors come into play – from your experience to your resources – and it takes a lot of thought to make the right choice. But as we learned from Marissa’s experiences, it doesn’t have to be all chaos. With the right support system, a little planning, and the right tech on your side, a smooth transition will be much easier, even if going solo isn’t always easy. Here are a few of Marissa’s takeaways to ensure a more smooth transition when you decide to dream big.

Soak Up Extra Wisdom

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a mentor or simply a peer who can figure things out alongside you, it's always a plus when you have someone at your side to help you determine what you need to know about going independent. From figuring out how to register an LLC or deciding how to set up your business banking accounts, having someone else’s brain to pick makes the process so much easier to navigate.

“I was fortunate enough that one of the guys who was part of the Sola franchise I'm in was extremely helpful,” Marissa shared. “I think it would have been so much more dramatic and stressful if it wasn't for him.”

Even if you don’t have someone giving you the cheat codes, you can take it upon yourself to get a little extra education before setting out on your own. Take the time to learn something new – be it skills related to your craft or some extra training you should employ as an independent businessperson. Consider the additional education an important investment toward starting your own brand.

Brush Up on Your Business Acumen

Going solo is an exciting step for any professional, and as much as you should be celebrating the newly found creative freedom – and extra profit share! – you should also be prepared for the extra responsibilities that come with all that power. Taxes, payroll, and overheads will become a central part of your business vocabulary, so you’ll need to come up with smart business operations to make tracking costs, taking inventory, and marketing your brand a cinch.

In order to equip yourself with the knowledge to properly manage all these new assets, you’ll need to be prepared and stay organized. Marissa was lucky enough to have someone guiding her along the way so she got the heads up on the process of choosing a DBA or an LLC, how to manage her taxes, and which bank accounts to set up. Being introduced to GlossGenius was a game changer, too. The all-in-one booking and payments system makes it simple for anyone running a one-person show to stay on track while wearing the many hats it takes to run your own business.

Revisit Your Pricing (And Your Finances)

One of the biggest changes as you switch from a commission-based salon or booth rental is becoming responsible for salon overheads. You’ve likely already accounted for rent, but in addition to that, you’ll have to cover inventory (for your back bar and any retail you decide to offer), utilities, and wages when you start expanding your team. With all of these recurring costs, you’ll need to revisit your budget and ensure you’re set up to generate enough monthly income to cover these new costs.

When Marissa was staring out on her own, she admitted that she mostly based her pricing on what she was doing at her old salon. But going independent gives you the opportunity to raise your prices so you have more control over what you’re able to bring in with each hour and client you spend time with. As you’re assessing your prices to determine what your new baseline salary should be, take a look at your salon numbers over the past year and decide how that worked for you. If you haven’t already been keeping detailed reports of your transactions, inventory, and sales, you can easily do so with GlossGenius – a number of essential reports are literally at your fingertips so you can quickly assess how your business is performing with a few taps.

Boost Your Client Base

Even though you’ll likely be bringing some of your most loyal clients along with you, depending on the type of location you move into, you may not have the same walk-in traffic or direct exposure from sharing a space with other professionals. Going solo likely means you have to hustle to bring in some extra business. You may already have a full book, but when you’re running your own brand, it never hurts to continue putting yourself out there, especially because your income depends entirely on you.

Marissa, who has been in the business for over 18 years, continues to promote herself despite having a full roster of clients. She often leaves her card with the tip when going out for dinner or drops off samples of product to nearby businesses with her contact info attached.

For newer stylists, Marissa’s advice is “Don't be afraid to put yourself out there.” Use social media, ask clients to share your posts and tag you where relevant, or go old school and visit all the shops in your area with a complementary client base and introduce yourself. New or established, when you’re running your own business it’s essential to communicate regularly with your current clientele and leverage text, email, or social media to continue getting new clients in the door. All of these are possible with just a few taps using GlossGenius’ integrated marketing features.

Transition with the Right Salon Tech

Having the right tools can save hours of your precious time when you’re pouring yourself into a new venture. For Marissa, discovering how simple it was to use GlossGenius’ all-in-one booking and payments solution was the biggest help as she moved into the new phase of her career. “I spent my night on the app, figuring stuff out and playing around with it. I was like 'Oh, this is going to be nothing.'”

Marissa created a beautiful salon website for free without having to hire a website developer, recreate her service menu, or tediously reach out to every client she’s ever had with the news. GlossGenius made it all a breeze. “I didn't have to spend my time calling all these different people that I had in my books,” she said. “I could just shoot them a message right through my app. That helped the transition of doing everything so much.”

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