Starting a beauty business: mobile vs salon

Salon Gold explores the pros and cons of starting a mobile beauty business vs starting up a salon on the high street.

Working as a beautician was once synonymous with doing business from a salon, but in an age where convenience is king, many entrepreneurs have found it more rewarding to set up their own mobile beauty businesses instead.

This involves pampering customers from the comfort of their own homes. Although, as Salon Gold notes, being a mobile beautician isn’t the same as going freelance. Freelancing simply means being self-employed, but not necessarily on a mobile basis. For example, a freelance hairdresser may choose to rent a seat in someone else’s salon rather than travelling from place to place.

Opening a salon and starting a mobile business are two exciting ways to start making money from your passion, but both are very different. Explore the pros and cons of each option to see which is the best path for your beauty venture.

Going mobile

Setting up

As you’re not required to find premises to start a mobile beauty business, all you’ll need is your equipment and a mode of transport. Public transport may be an option if your business specialises in smaller-scale services like nail art and make-up artistry, but if you need a full arsenal of tools to do your job, it’s time to invest in a set of wheels.

Working hours

One of the best things about going mobile is the ability to set your own working hours, which is ideal if you want to run your beauty business while employed elsewhere. This flexibility also means you may be able to attract customers who want early morning or late evening treatments, as many salons will be closed during these hours. The downside is that if a customer asks you to call in at an inconvenient time, the instability of your income means you might not be in a financial position to decline.


With no rent, bills or employees to pay, it costs very little to run a mobile beauty business and you can keep all the profits yourself. A portion will probably need to be reinvested back into your business, but you can spend the rest however you like.

Bear in mind you may need to spend a bit more on marketing your beauty business than you would if you owned a salon. Potential customers could walk past a salon by chance, but as your business requires coming to them, you will need to do everything in your power to make sure they know you exist. Remember you’ll also have to pay for public transport fares or for running your vehicle – which costs roughly £160 a month for cars in the UK – and petrol expenses could mount if you’re frequently driving long distances.

Other pros

  • Working in your customers’ homes means you’ll never have to deal with time-wasters who don’t turn up to appointments.
  • Home visits bring a personal touch to your service, providing an opportunity to build especially close relationships with your customers and gain their trust. This could help you to better win their loyalty, and offer a greater chance of them giving you recommendations to friends and family.

Other cons

  • Travel may eat into your working hours, and reduce the number of jobs you could be able to do in a day.
  • Being self-employed means you won’t receive sick or holiday pay, and as you don’t have any employees when working on a mobile basis, there’ll be nobody to cover you.

Opening a salon

Setting up

It can be very expensive to buy or rent a space to set up, especially in prime locations.

Beauty business owners Leah Durrant and Mica Nicole say the cost of starting a salon can range from roughly £10,000 to £25,000. Choosing a space is a huge decision to make, as the area must be well-situated, and be able to attract lots of clients without facing competition from other salons. Figures show that the number of beauty salons and barbershops grew faster than any other high street business in 2018, so if there are any rivals nearby, you need to ensure your own premises stand out enough to be successful.

Remember it will also take a while to build a customer base, so you must have enough money put aside to cover rent, insurance and employee wages before you start making an income. And as the salon is the face of your brand, you’ll also have to invest in showstopping decor.

Working hours

Running a salon involves fixed working hours, which will probably include evenings and weekends. This routine allows you to easily plan your personal life around these set periods, unlike mobile beauticians who may need to work at sporadic times of the day if their financial situation isn’t great at that point in time.

If a customer does want you to work outside of your stated opening hours, you could charge them extra for the privilege.


Being responsible for a property and for your employees means you have plenty of outgoings when you own a salon, so you won’t get to keep as many of your profits.

However, having a large space and a dedicated team allows you to cater to multiple customers at once and make far more money than if you were working alone as a mobile beautician. Plus, with a physical high street store, you’re much more likely to attract spontaneous walk-in appointments and your bottom line could really be boosted by this passing trade.

Other pros

  • Overseeing a team of staff means there’s always someone to cover you, so sales won’t suffer if you go on holiday or take a sick day.
  • Opening a salon secures your place on the high street and makes you part of the community. Locals will be sure to recognise and get to know your business as they go about their day-to-day lives, so it’s likely you’ll be a contender the next time they need a beauty treatment.

Other cons

  • Salon life isn’t ideal if you’re keen on varied work schedules and environments. Regularity is key to this vocation, so you’ll be working in the same place, at the same time, every day.
  • You are liable for all the actions of your employees, so it’s your responsibility if any mistakes are made. As a mobile beautician, you only need to consider your own behaviour.

Salon Gold are experts in insurance for hair, beauty, holistics, health and fitness with policies designed for salons, clinics, gyms, spas and freelance or mobile professionals.

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