Starting your own business as a hairdresser or barber

When you open a hair salon or barbershop, there are lots of things to take into account. For example, the rules for running a hair salon from your home, or visiting clients in their home. And matters like records, taxes, and insurances.

These are the key considerations when you start as a self-employed hairdresser or barber:

Market research and finding customers

The number of hairdressers has been growing for years. On 1 January 2024, there were 33,510 barbers registered with KVK. The number of barbershops has also grown, from 473 in 2020 to 1,056 in 2024.

So you need to make a plan to attract customers who are spoiled for choice. You could become a specialist, for example, in styling children's hair, doing perms, or dyeing. Or stand out by using sustainable products.

A barbershop caters specifically to men. Customers come to the barbershop not only to get a haircut and a shave, but also for the experience. A barbershop is all about craftsmanship, atmosphere, and personal service. Often barbershops also offer traditional shaves. If you want to open a barbershop, it is advisable to take special training for this. You will learn to cut, style, and care for men's hair and facial hair.

Use the KVK Company Counter to find out how many competitors are active in your region. 

Number of hairdressers in the Netherlands (2020-2024)

YearNo. of hairdressers on 01-01
202029,862
202131,213
202232,199
202332,869
202433,510
Source: KVK Business Register

Rates

How much will you charge your customers for a haircut, styling, or dyeing? Hairdressers and barbers charge set rates for treatments. When you set your rates, take into account:  

  • Fixed costs
    For example rent and insurances. 
  • Variable costs
    Like the products you use. 
  • Profit
    How much money do you want to earn per treatment? Calculate how much time treatments take on average. 
  • Taxes
    Make sure you have enough money left to pay income tax and VAT. 

Have you done specialised training, and are you a specialist in a certain area? Then you can charge extra for the treatments you offer. 

This calculation tool (in Dutch) can help you set your rates. 

Location

Choose where you want to work. For example: 

A home hair salon or barbershop

Many newly established hair stylists start their business by working out of their home. Often, you do not need to make too many changes. Or you convert your garage into a work space. The benefits of running your business at home are that you eliminate travel time, travel expenses, and additional rent. A potential disadvantage is that it becomes harder to separate work from your private life.  

Check the conditions

Before you start, check the terms and conditions with your local authority. Do you have to notify the municipality of your plans to open a business? Does your business fit with the local environment plan? What do you need to look out for when remodelling your home? Also, are you permitted to hang up a sign outside your home

It is also important to check your mortgage agreement or lease to see if you are allowed to start a business from or near your home. Contact your bank or landlord to discuss your plans. Also remember your insurance policies. Building insurance and property insurance cover your personal property and the home itself. They do not protect you from damage to your business assets and workspace.

Providing services for clients in their homes

Some hairdressers and barbers go to their clients for a haircut. This way, you can get started easily and quickly. Just make sure you have business liability insurance. Do you accidentally cause damage at a customer's home? Then you won't have to pay for it yourself. Also include your travel expenses in your rate.

Renting or buying business premises

If you rent a commercial space to start your own hair salon or barbershop, you should check whether this space meets your demands and requirements. How many chairs do you want and is there sufficient room for washbasins? Where can you put the waiting area, and could you add an extension if this were necessary? Check with your local authority whether your activities comply with the zoning plan. 

Renting a chair

Chair rental involves a collaboration between two or more independent entrepreneurs who offer their services to customers at their own risk and expense from the same commercial premises. This approach is becoming increasingly popular. Chair rental can be a practical way to reduce your accommodation costs, buying costs, and marketing expenses. It also provides you with opportunities to expand your services, for example, by working with beauty therapists and nail stylists. 

Taxes

If the Netherlands Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) considers you a business owner for VAT purposes, you must file a VAT return every quarter. This involves reporting the VAT you have charged to customers or clients and deducting the VAT you have paid to your suppliers. The VAT rate for hairdresser services and products is 9%. For other products, the VAT rate is 21%. You will also need to file an income tax return once a year.  

Rules and laws

As a hairdresser or barber, you will need to keep in mind the following main rules and laws: 

Music in your salon

If you routinely play music in your salon or barbershop (including background music), you have to pay for the music rights. Ask Buma/Stemra about the costs involved. 

Opening hours

The Trading Hours Act  (Winkeltijdenwet) states that your salon can be open Mondays to Saturdays from 6:00 to 22:00. If you want to stay open beyond these hours, you have to request a permit from your municipality. 

Sustainability

The number of rules and laws in the field of sustainability is growing. You need to take these into account if, for example, you decide to buy business premises or a delivery van. Read how you can make your business (more) sustainable, and save yourself time, effort, and money later on.  

Ban on microplastics

Besides rules for you and your salon, there are rules for the products you use. For example, since 17 October 2023, you cannot sell beauty products containing microbeads. From 2027, shampoos must also not contain other forms of microplastics. Keep this in mind when you buy stock.

Safe and healthy working

The impact of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions can be serious, including occupational hand eczema (OHE) or back pains.   The ‘healthy hairdresser’ (in Dutch) initiative, set up by the sector association Branche Platform Kappers (in Dutch) will help you identify risks within your business. And give you tips on how to act on these risks. Think of wearing gloves, or adopting a healthier stance. 

KVK Insurance check

While some insurance policies are compulsory, others are simply practical and convenient. Which ones do you need? The KVK Insurance Check helps you choose your insurance products. 

Sector organisation ANKO

Sector organisation ANKO (in Dutch) represents the interests of Dutch hairdressers and barbers. You do not have to become a member, but if you do, you can turn to ANKO for information about the sector. 

You do not need any specific qualifications to work as a hairdresser or barber, but training is essential. You have to learn techniques for cutting, dyeing, and other treatments such as perms. Training enables you to offer your customers the quality they expect. ANKO organises training and retraining courses. Keep up with new developments in your field. It increases your chances of success.  

General information for starters

Apart from all the above, new business owners will also have to deal with the following: 

Do you have any questions about starting your own hair salon? Ask the KVK Advice Team advisers to help you: 088 585 22 22.