Looking for tips on how to start a hair business with no money? Then you’re in the right place. I know it’s a hard topic to learn about since it’s such a niche topic, but by the time you finish reading this guide, you’re going to know exactly what to do.
Keep in mind, this guide is not about doing things like filing for an LLC.
You can worry about that after you make some sales.
Instead, we’re going to go into the real stuff you need to know to turn your passion for hair into a profitable, sustainable business. This includes everything from audiences to paid media and more, within the context of doing it with no money.
Let’s do this…
The Hair Business Checklist
There are always a million things you can do to learn how to start a hair business with no money. But in all cases, the fundamentals always stay the same.
In the hair business, you only need 2 things…
1/ Great product
2/ Affordable traffic
Normally, the average entrepreneur will look to get a manufacturer to create the product and then turn on advertising to promote it. However, this is not the right move for everyone. Particularly if you’re trying to to figure out how to start a business with no money.
Instead, you have to figure out how to make a product without your own money.
How to get targeted traffic without having to pay for your clients.
That’s much easier said than done, but it still can be done. You just have to be OK with going the long, slow right so you can actually bootstrap the process. So what is the hair business checklist in full?
1/ Reduce marketing costs with an organic audience
2/ Use your customer’s money to buy inventory
Let’s talk about how this looks like in real life.
Step #1: Build An Audience For Free
If there was ever an example of a business model to follow in the hair space, it would be Into The Gloss.
If you don’t know what that is, it’s a beauty blog that Emily Weiss started on the side from scratch. Over the course of a few years, she built from 0 visitors to millions of people. Eventually, she used her audience to launch her Glossier brand. Today, the brand is now valued at over $1 billion.
The same can be done for hair.
Tactically speaking, this means building the Vogue Magazine for hair.
This can be through Youtube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or even something like an email newsletter. And in this “Vogue”, you would cover everything about hair. From hair care tips and product reviews to interviews and even relevant news.
For context, Into The Gloss became famous for their influencer interviews.
In addition to all of the great content you’re putting out, because you already know you’re going to launch a hair brand, it’s also a good idea to include behind-the-scenes content to show people exactly how you’re building your brand. This is an easy way to get people primed to buy once you launch.
Now comes the big question…
How big do you have to get to sell something?
Luckily, you don’t have to be huge.
If you do this right, you can get away with building an email list of 500 people who opted in and are interested in hearing about your specific brand. Ideally, you’re using Klaviyo since it’s what you’ll need when you start your Shopify store. Either way though, 500 subscribers is enough to do some serious damage as long as they’re specifically interested in your new brand and you’re sending out behind-the-scenes content to them.
This step is critical if you’re serious about learning how to start a hair business with no money.
You could do Facebook advertising or hire an ad agency, but they both cost money. The only true way to sustainably eliminate the cost of advertising is by using SEO, social media, and word of mouth to grow your own audience.
Keep in mind, this is the longest and hardest step.
Expect to take at least 6 months.
Step #2: Brainstorm Your Hero Product
While you’re working on building your audience, you should also use your free time to figure out what products you’re going to sell to that audience. More specifically, you want to know what that first product is going to be. It will quite literally make or break your brand.
The biggest mistake new ecommerce businesses make is that they blindly make product lines without considering important things like economics and positioning.
What specific category can you dominate in?
What do the finances look on a per unit basis?
How is your product different from everyone elses?
These questions will decide whether you’re profitable or not.
And the best way I’ve come up with to figure this out is with the “best seller strategy”.
1/ First, create a list of your top 5-10 direct competitors. Ideally, these competitors are at the top of their categories. Bonus points if they’re direct-to-consumer brands rather than retail dependent. With that said, this is going to depend on what category you choose.
2/ From there, you want to analyze their best sellers. This means literally using the “rank by best seller” category on each competitor’s website. Now, if they don’t have that option, then you can just add this extension to their URL, assuming they’re hosted on Shopify.
3/ Once you look through each competitor’s similarities, you will find similarities. This includes everything from what product categories sell best and what features/benefits they use to how much does each product sell for and how much does shipping cost.
4/ With this data, you want to create your own best sellers list. Based on what you saw, what are the top 3-5 products you could sell that have the highest chance for success? And by success, I mean products that people already show they want, but have good margins and can be differentiated during the production process. Then, make sure to prioritize this list with the first product being the most important to the last product being the least important of the bunch.
Product 1 is now your hero product.
This is the product you build your brand around. Then as you grow, you can slowly add in products 2-5 to your catalog.
If you intend to launch on Amazon first, you can repeat the product research process by using Amazon’s search feature.
Step #3: The Secret Behind How To Start A Hair Business With No Money? Crowdfunding
If your goal is to learn how to start a hair business with no money, then that inherently means you can’t spend money on inventory. Yet, manufacturers don’t do work for free. So what do you do?
Get your customers to pay BEFORE manufacturing anything.
If you’ve ever seen a Kickstarter or Indiegogo before, then you’ve seen what I mean.
The problem here is that you need a prototype to do a Kickstarter. So you’ll either need to set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo or your own Shopify store with any crowdfunding app. There are pro’s and con’s to each, but considering you should have your own audience at this point, either one is fine.
The important part is getting as many of your subscribers to buy.
Here’s how you do that…
1/ By now, your subscribers should have gotten multiple emails detailing the behind-the-scenes of your new brand. If you haven’t done that though, I highly suggest you do that over the next 3-4 weeks. This will get people warmed up for the launch.
2/ The week before you launch, you want to send an email that says you’re launching. The goal here is to pre-sell the idea. Tell them what it is you’re selling, who is it for, what makes it different, and a teaser of what amazing offer they’ll have a chance to exploit.
3/ Assuming you’ve set a 30 day crowdfunding goal, you’ll want to send 2 emails on day 1 and 4 emails on day 30. In between days 1 and 30, you should be sending an email every 3-4 days. This means 7-10 emails. In these emails, you’re reminding people about why they should buy. And on the last day, you want to push that there’s only a few hours left.
If you have a big enough audience and have a product they want, they will buy. Of course, if you want to get super nerdy about this, feel free to check out any of these great digital marketing books.
Once the campaign is over, you can now take that money and give it to manufacturers to start production. And there you have it. You’ve officially learned how to start a hair business with no money. All it takes is some patience and strategy.
Your next step?
Anything you want.
Heck, you can even repeat the process over and over again until you have an entire product line. Then, try your hand at getting on Shark Tank, if you’re so inclined.