A salon or spa may provide a range of services from personal care to cosmetic care. Before opening your business, consider which type of services you would like to offer.
Some common types of spa/salon businesses are:
This guide focuses on operating an independent spa or salon. For information on buying a franchise, visit The Canadian Franchise Association website or call 1-800-665-4232.
When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:
Our business start-up guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.
Business Start-Up Guide
Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use BizPaL—an online search tool—to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact the Business Info Line to speak to someone about starting your business.
Permits and Licences Wizard
Contact the Business Info Line:
Some common licences, permits and regulations that may apply to starting your spa or salon include:
If you provide hairstyling services, you must be certified to work in Ontario. "Red Seal" certification allows qualified tradespersons to practice their trade in any province or territory in Canada without having to re-apply for certification in other provinces.
Red Seal Trades - Hairstylist
To provide tanning services, you need to follow the guidelines for tanning salon owners and meet the legal requirements for operating tanning equipment in Canada.
Contact Health Canada:
Guidelines for Tanning Salon Owners, Operators and Users
You must be educated through a recognized institution and registered with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario to practice massage therapy in Ontario.
Contact the College of Massage Therapists:
Becoming a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) in Ontario
If you will be providing personal services, including hairstyling, barbering, tattooing, body piercing and various aesthetic services, you can contact Public Health Ontario for resources on preventing infection.
Infectious disease prevention and control
If you are manufacturing, distributing, or selling cosmetics and personal care products, you are responsible for:
Contact Health Canada’s Cosmetic Program:
Information for Industry and Professionals: Cosmetics and Personal Care Products
When your business uses recorded music, you are responsible for obtaining the right licence(s) for that use. The Copyright Board of Canada works with individual copyright collective societies who provide music licensing. Contact the following two organizations for more information.
SOCAN is a not-for-profit organization that represents the performance rights of music creators and music publishers. They can help you learn about your obligations and obtaining the required license(s).
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada
Re:Sound is the Canadian not-for-profit organization that represents the performance rights of artists and record companies, and provides the legally required license(s) for businesses. You can get help determining what licence(s) will be required, what the licensing process will be and how much it will cost.
If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer, based on your needs.
Contact the Law Society of Upper Canada:
Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service
Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.
If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12 month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.
Canada Revenue Agency – Business
Canada Business can help you find government financing options for your business. There are programs that apply to businesses across Canada, and others that apply only to businesses in Ontario. Use the Canada Business financing search tool or browse by type of financing.
You can also access Canada Business information through the ONe-Source online financing wizard. The wizard guides you through 3 easy steps to create a personalized list of results for Ontario business financing programs.
Contact the Business Info Line:
You can find Ontario-specific assistance for your business including advice, financing options, tax incentive programs and more using the Ontario government’s free online directory of support programs for business.
The OBPG provides:
Ontario Business Program Guide
The success of any business starts by setting goals and managing the ups and downs of daily operations. Here are some key factors to consider when starting a spa or salon:
Having the correct business insurance can provide peace of mind. Contact an insurance agent to discuss your business insurance options, or to develop a plan that is right for your business.
You may also wish to contact your local chamber of commerce or industry association, as some organizations offer members lower rates on their business insurance.
The following list is included to remind you not to overlook the complex areas of business insurance. It is best, however, to discuss your specific requirements with your insurance agent.
Insurance for Your Small Business
Marketing can help you determine the value of your product or service and communicate that information to customers. Depending on your market and its size, you can consider using flyers, business cards, brochures, newspapers, radio, TV, the phone book or the Internet. Keep in mind, a satisfied customer or a positive referral is often the best form of advertising.
When preparing your marketing and/or advertising material, there are regulations to follow. When you promote a product or service, your customers need to have enough information to make informed choices. You can get more information on advertising requirements from the Competition Bureau.
Contact the Competition Bureau:
Misleading Advertising and Labelling
The use of business support services can be essential to the success of a small business. Professionals can provide knowledge and expertise to ensure your business is operating efficiently.
As an entrepreneur, there are several types of professional business services you can consult:
For most businesses, choosing an appropriate location is critical. Your ideal location will depend on your business needs, zoning restrictions and where your customers and competitors are. Taxes, noise and the local business environment are also important factors to consider when reviewing your options.
If you are considering setting up your business in your home, make sure you know what regulations and restrictions will apply to your home-based business before you start.
Your business will need equipment and furniture, and it is important to decide what you need and how much you want to spend. Some common ways to save money on furnishings and equipment are:
There are many associations that may be of interest to you. It is not necessary to join an association, but some of the advantages include:
Examples of associations for a spa or salon business include:
Access networking opportunities and apply for certification as an aromatherapist.
Contact the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists:
Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists
Find support for professional development and opportunities for continuing education within the spa industry.
Contact Leading Spas of Canada:
Leading Spas of Canada
Receive accreditation and access professional development opportunities within the cosmetics industry.
Contact the Canadian Cosmetics Careers Association:
Canadian Cosmetics Careers Association
Attend seminars and conferences related to the products industry. You can also access advocacy services and networking events through the association.
Contact the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association:
Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association
Access continuing education, networking opportunities and earn professional designation as an electrologist.
Contact the Federation of Canadian Electrolysis Associations:
Federation of Canadian Electrolysis Associations
For other information that relates to starting your business, you can read the following guides:
Additional resources that may be of interest to you include:
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us through the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888.
Information contained in this document is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute advice for any specific situation. Users concerned about the reliability of the information should consult directly with the source, or seek legal counsel.
Some of the organizations listed above are not subject to the federal Official Languages Act or the French Language Services Act of Ontario. Their services may not be available in both official languages.