How I Started My Small Barbershop Business in Kiambu, Kenya – Edwin Maina.

Among the many small business idea choices in Kenya lies the barbershop business commonly known as kinyozi. This business ranges from executive barbershops to small and simple barbershops.

Sharp Cut in Ruiru owned by Edwin Maina is one of the many small and simple barbershops around Kenya. Edwin started his barbershop business in a residential area in Ruiru one year ago and has found the business lucrative. His customers include boys, young men, old men, and women.

“I used to think that I needed an executive kinyozi to make what I make now. But as small as my barbershop is and with only one employee apart from me, I am making enough money to take care of my family and with a hope of expanding my business.” Edwin Maina.

One great advantage of a barbershop business is that it’s sustainable as there will always be a need in the market to be met. Every day, people want to get haircuts and look groomed, and to some extent, a haircut is a ‘basic necessity’ for many.

“A barbershop business is not seasonal and this means business will always flow as usual.” Maina.

Apart from offering grooming services, a barbershop has a ‘special’ place in the society for men to meet and connect.

If you already have skills in haircutting and shaving, this would be a great business to venture into. Additionally, if you have an interest in such grooming services but don’t have the skills, you could learn how to.

Starting a small barbershop in Kenya needs planning considering registration to ensure your business complies with the law.

A Small and Simple Barbershop (Kinyozi) Startup.

Starting a standard executive barbershop in Kenya would cost you about Ksh.200, 000.

However, you don’t need too much capital to start your small barbershop. With less than Ksh.30, 000 from your savings or from a loan, you could start your small barbershop anywhere in Kenya. And, with a strong customer base, you could go home with even Ksh.2, 000 a day.

“I started my business with a small capital of Ksh.35, 000. My initial budget was Ksh.55, 000 but after reducing my equipment list, I was able to reduce my budget by a good amount. I acquired most of my equipment after the business started to peak.” Maina.

The starting point: Becoming a Barber.

Grooming (doing haircuts and shaves) is a profession and you cannot operate a barbershop without these skills. These skills form your services.

This means that if you don’t have haircuts and shaving skills, you need to learn them and become a barber. That might mean learning from an experienced barber or taking up a beauty course. These courses are very affordable in Kenya and you can complete them within a very short time.

The other option that the majority go for is employing a trained barber. E.g. if you are not interested in doing the grooming work yourself. Also, if you already have another profession, you could comfortably add a barbershop business as a side hustle.  

“I am a trained barber and had been employed as a barber at an executive barbershop for 5 years. When I started Sharp Cut, I was the only barber but I now have one employee who is also trained.” Maina.

Find a good Location.

You definitely know that location is key for any business as you need to go where the customers are.

When it comes to a barbershop, you need to be located in a place that customers can easily find. You need to be very strategic about your location. Think of a place that customers can easily walk-in on foot.

“I thought of a residential area as an ideal location for my barbershop. My barbershop is just beside the road and easy to notice as potential customers pass by. Somewhere a customer can walk in at any time of the day and head back to the house.” Maina.

As you think of a location, think of the rent per month. How much you pay for a shop will depend on the size and location. For example, if you want to open your barbershop in an urban residential area, you will probably pay between Ksh.5, 000 – Ksh.15, 000.

In rural areas, you will get shops for less than that, a common range being between Ksh.2, 000 – Ksh.5, 000.

Get a permit/ licenses.

For a barbershop, you need a single business permit.

The cost of the permit varies from county to county and also depends on the size of your barbershop and where it’s located. For a small barbershop, you could pay as low as Ksh.3, 000, or higher than Ksh.7, 000.

Visit your county council offices or eCitizen to check the requirements for acquiring a license. Register your business name and then apply for your license on either.

Additionally, if you will be playing music in your barbershop, you will need a music copyright license from MCSK. The MCSK license goes for Ksh.2, 000 annually.

Set Up/Furnish Your Barbershop.

Once you have settled on your ideal location, you need to set up your barbershop. Have a carpenter visit your shop and put up your work stations. For a small barbershop, 1 or 2 workstations are enough.

Put up the mirrors, the cabinets and give your shop a new look.

“Setting up your shop will cost you a good amount of money. But with good suppliers and laborers, you might not part with a lot of money. Another option is doing it yourself like I did if you are able to. You can consider bringing in someone when you need to. This approach will save you some money.” Maina.

Purchase the equipment you need.

Obviously, you need your tools, ranging from shaving machines to shaving products among other basic equipment.

“Executive barbershops spend a lot on their equipment. But for a small barbershop, you just need the basics to start. The rest will come as your business peaks.” Maina.

You will probably have a long shopping list of what you think but you could do without some of them.

Focus on the basics for a start such as shaving machines. A cheap one will go for Ksh.1, 500 and you don’t need many.

Get locally made barber seats for less than Ksh.3, 000 each. Buying cosmetic products such as aftershave will cost you around Ksh.3, 000. Extra items such as aprons, towels, and other necessary fabrics will cost you about Ksh.3, 000.

Small basins, a good water heater, and water storage will cost you less than Ksh.3, 000. You will also need charts that display different haircuts and a charge sheet too.

You might consider going the extra mile and get an entertainment system and this will vary in price.

“Building a clientele is what will sustain your barbershop business. Give your customers the best services and value for their money. They might not be paying too much but they still need value in your services. Treat your customer like royalty and they will keep coming back. ” Maina.  

Final Thoughts…

Starting a small barbershop business will only cost you skill, planning, and little capital.

Your barbershop might take a few months to reach a peak. But, once it peaks and you have a loyal clientele, you are good to go. With time, your barbershop will expand in terms of profit, capacity, and personnel.

A small barbershop business is a good venture as a profession and a side hustle.