Do you love all things nails and want to bring that artistry to the public, but you don’t want to become a licensed technician? Or maybe you are a licensed tech, but are tired of renting a booth in someone else’s salon?
About 21% of nail salon owners provide nail services themselves, but 4% don’t, so whether you’re a licensed technician with years of experience or someone with no ability to pick up a nail file, opening a nail salon business could be an exciting, lucrative opportunity.
And with nail salons comprising just 15.9% of the $57.9B beauty salon industry in the U.S., there’s room for more. Keep reading to learn how to start your own nail salon.
With the average nail salon owner income ranging from $40,000 – $75,000, opening a nail salon presents an opportunity for decent income. Plus, that average can increase a whopping 50% depending on where you open the business and how well it’s managed.
Owning a nail salon also lets you create an environment of professionals uniquely suited to your vision. Imagine going to work every day with a team you hand-picked. Plus, there are almost no barriers to entry here. While all the technicians have to be licensed, the owner does not necessarily have to be if you’re not performing any of the tech work.
So many business owners skip this step — to their detriment. While writing everything out may seem daunting or boring, it’s absolutely necessary. As you complete the steps of writing your small business plan, you’ll identify the money, equipment, and people needed to get the business going.
You’ll also cover challenges and opportunities that could crop up, anticipate costs, think through how to position the nail salon for success, and more. The file will help in times of want or plenty, so don’t skip it. A business plan is a must-have.
Here are the areas you need to address in a business plan for a nail salon:
For an example of a nail salon business plan, consider this one from My Nail Business.
While there aren’t many barriers to opening a nail salon business, you do have to register it with the IRS. To do that, you’ll need to figure out the company structure that is best for your tax situation. Most small companies are either an:
Providing a service to the public opens your business up to lawsuits brought by discontented or ill-served clients. If you operate as a sole proprietorship, your personal assets may become embroiled in those lawsuits. For this reason, the liability protection of an LLC structure merits consideration as the way to go with your business formation. This structure shields your personal assets from lawsuits, and when it comes to taxes, the LLC structure avoids the double taxation that comes with other corporate business formation structures.
Don’t worry — there’s no need to go stand in line somewhere and fill out paperwork. You can file for an LLC for your nail salon online. You can even use an LLC formation service to handle the entire process for you. Be sure to also research nail salon license requirements and permits you may need to open your business.
When naming your nail salon, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be sure the URL and social media handles for your name are available. Customers need to be able to find you online, without getting confused by a similarly-named nail salon.
Second, think about where your salon will appear in listings. Quick tip: Consider starting the business with “A” such as “A Stellar Nail Salon” so that your business appears toward the top of the list in phone books or other listings. Finally, check to make sure a salon with your name doesn’t already exist in the area.
Your business doesn’t have to have the same name as your nail salon. You can have two different names, with a “doing business as” (DBA) setup.
Name your nail salon
Enter your business name to get started
Time to make this official. Register the business structure you selected (i.e. LLC) and get a sales tax license with your state. Obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Then, open a business bank account, as it’s best practice to not mix personal banking with business banking.
The costs to start your nail salon business aren’t complicated. Basically, write these down: people, place, product, and promotion.
Also, check with a local insurance agent to get insurance costs and determine the exact coverage you’re required to have based on your needs.
There are various ways to fund your new nail salon, and they include the following:
The equipment and products you’ll need are determined by the type of salon you’re opening. The more expensive items most salons have are chairs, tables, drying stations, and sanitation equipment. Towels, a way to wash and dry them (either on-site or via an off-site vendor), and nail polish are also needed.
If you are supplying all the service products (rather than requiring your techs to provide them), you’ll also need clippers, files, polish remover, cotton balls, massaging lotion/oil, and more depending on your salon’s services.
Remember, a good location and excellent service will go a long way toward promoting your salon. Consider reaching out to local Instagram and community influencers with an offer of a complimentary service. If they enjoy the experience, they’ll tell their audiences.
Don’t forget to use the inexpensive advertising opportunities of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and YouTube to get the word out as well. Finally, register your nail salon with Google My Business as well as any local business and tourist directories.
The best nail salons seem to be those that pay their technicians fairly, are managed well on the business side, and physically position themselves strategically in their markets. Miniluxe is a good example of how paying techs well can ultimately influence a business’s growth.
Here are a few examples of different kinds of nail salon businesses:
Opening a nail salon has very little barrier to entry, low startup costs, and solid potential for income. By paying attention to the clearly identified income influencers of location and business management practices, you can be on your way to running a successful nail salon.
If you want to keep your startup costs low, we can form your nail salon LLC for free (+ state fee).
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
Start an LLC in Your State
When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for forming an LLC.
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