Beauty salons: You’ll find them in every major city and in every small town. Even really small towns typically have one. But when was the last time you heard a city or regional economic developer refer to salons as important business development resources? Becky McCray, small town and rural small business expert (and owner of multiple businesses), publisher of SmallBizSurvival.com, and a regular contributor to SmallBusiness.com, says that Alex Mantz, the economic development director (and local chamber executive and tourism pro…) in her hometown, Alva, Oklahoma, helped her realize that salons may be one of the most efficient incubators in any town for women-owned small businesses.


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Walk into any beauty salon and you’re likely to find that the women who work there are actually independent contractors who rent their booths. There may also be a massage therapist seeing clients in a side room. They’re all business owners.

Look around at the displays. In addition to the hair care products offered by the salon owner, you may see scarves, candles and other retail items. These are pop-up temporary businesses, often set up by other potential entrepreneurs testing out the market. Except they don’t call themselves entrepreneurs and they don’t consider what they’re doing to be market research. They view it as a side business.

But with each new business idea that is tried at these beauty salons, another potential small business owner has the opportunity to learn what does and doesn’t work. If they can try out an idea with a pop-up display in a salon, they can learn more about what will work with local customers and gain market intelligence.

The woman selling her handmade jewelry this way is also a potential booth vendor at an upcoming crafts fair or festival, a possible future store owner, a local entrepreneur who may find success online with a marketplace like Etsy. And before you know it, this small town woman-owned business has generated extra income for her family.

If you are promoting small business development in a small town—or a big city—treat beauty salons like important business development assets. Visit them. Ask questions about the different businesses represented there. Show them respect as unique and knowledgeable business incubators. Make sure they know about business support and coaching opportunities. Invite them to training events.

And if you are a person with the right product to test, talk with the owner of your favorite salon.


See Also on SmallBusiness.com | A Barbershop That’s Grooming Much More Than Hair

See Also on SmallBusiness.com | The Role of Barbershops in the History of African-American Entrepreneurship