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How to Start a Nail Salon Business – Ultimate Guide

Do you want to start a nail salon business? If the answer is yes, you have landed at the right place. Here in this article, we guide you stepwise in starting a nail salon covering aspects like the process, equipment, licenses and permits, and much more.

Owning a nail salon business can be fun and profitable too. There is a rising demand for nail-related beauty care services from men and women across the globe. Hence, it is seen more and more nail salons are coming up in most cities and small towns across the world.

What is a Nail Salon Business?

A nail salon business is an establishment that specializes in providing professional nail care services to clients seeking manicures, pedicures, and various nail enhancements. These businesses focus on enhancing the appearance and health of clients’ nails, offering a range of services that go beyond basic nail grooming.

Some nail salons go beyond basic nail care and offer specialized treatments such as paraffin wax treatments, hand or foot massages, and spa-like experiences to enhance relaxation.

Is Nail Salon Business Profitable?

The global artificial nail market is estimated to grow at a rate of 4.5% in the coming five years. In 2024, the market is expected to reach $1.2 billion. As per Statista, there were almost 395,600 nail technicians and more than 56,300 individual nail salons in the United States.

Profit margins in the nail salon industry can vary but are generally considered healthy. According to a report by Sageworks, the average net profit margin for personal care services, including nail salons, was around 8.6% in recent years.

The profitability of a nail salon business can vary based on several factors, including location, business model, services offered, and effective management.

Here is a 10-Step Nail Salon Business Plan

1. Market Research

Before diving into the nail salon business, it is advisable to conduct thorough market research. Identify your target demographic, assess local competition, and pinpoint the specific services in demand. Understanding your market will help tailor your salon to meet the unique preferences of your future clientele.

2. Create a Business Plan

Like any other business, it is essential to have a properly documented business plan for your nail salon. It will not only work as a roadmap for future success but also as an important document for sourcing funds.

Some of the basic topics to include in your nail salon business plan are the startup and recurring costs, target customers, pricing, hiring plan, pricing, and profit margin.

3. Obtain Permits and Licenses

Every country and state has different legal requirements for starting and running a nail salon business. For example, if you are from the United States, you will need a building permit, business license, cosmetology License approved by the concerned state, and employer identification number(EIN), to start a legally compliant nail salon business.

In addition, select a proper business structure under which you are going to run the business. It can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or Limited Liability Partnership as per the scale of operation. Talk to a local business attorney or government authority if you need further help.

4. Select the Type of Services

There are a wide array of services that you can offer from a nail salon. You need to select them based on the demand of the target customers. Accordingly, select the specific services that you will be providing to your clients.

Some of the nail salon services you can provide are as follows:

  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Nail polish
  • Nail repair,
  • Sculpting
  • Hand Conditioning.

5. Find a Suitable Location

After creating the business plan, this must be the first step toward establishing your nail salon business. Choosing the right location is an extremely important aspect of a successful nail salon. A 300 sq ft minimum space is required to establish this type of nail salon business. Having a good location will set you up to expose your business to new customers. Your budget in this regard will play a critical role.

Strip malls and shopping malls are good because they attract large foot traffic. Concentrate on the interior and fixtures that you will need to have.

If you are short of money, consider starting a nail salon business from your home. This will free you from rent costs and startup investment becomes much lower.

6. Select a Business Name

It is important to choose a catchy and unique name for your nail salon. An attractive name not only contributes to building brand growth but also helps customers recall your company whenever they need similar services.

Also, do not forget to book a similar domain name for your nail salon business website before someone takes it.

7. Buy Equipment & Supplies for Nail Salon

The single biggest expense in starting a nail salon is equipment and supplies. You must make a list of the tools you need to do as a nail technician. Luckily, we have done exhaustive research for you. Here are the basic tools you need:

  • Nail Polish Racks
  • Manicure Stations
  • Pedicure Chairs
  • Sanitation Stations
  • Drying Lamps
  • Nail File & Buffer
  • Table Lamp
  • Nail Drill
  • Nail Drill Bits
  • Acrylic Powder & Monomer
  • Hard Gel
  • Acrylic & Gel Brushes
  • LED Nail Lamp
  • Base & Top Coat
  • Nail Dip Powder
  • Nail Polish Remover & Cotton Balls
  • Nail Polish Wall Rack
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Nail Tips, Glue & Forms
  • Cuticle Nipper
  • Cuticle Scissor
  • Foot Spa Basin
  • Foot file
  • Manicure Nail Brush
  • Manicure Tray
  • Mixing bowl
  • Nail Buffer
  • Pedicure Nail Brush
  • Plastic Container for Cotton

8. Create a Price List

There are two ways of fixing the pricing strategy. One is cost-plus and the other is value-based pricing. If similar nail-related services you are offering are also provided by other local nail salon businesses, it is better to go for cost-plus pricing. It is just adding the profit margin after calculating the actual cost.

However, if you are providing unique services that other competitors are not offering to customers, you can opt for value-based pricing.

9. Setup Accounting & Administrative Processes

It is expected to have a lot many financial transactions with customers in a nail salon business daily. You must fix proper accounting processes and select accounting software. point of sale software(POS) is essential as it provides customers with an easy option of paying service charges. Ensure proper standing order procedure for scheduling customer appointments and service follow-ups.

10. Have a Promotional Plan to Get Clients

Word-of-mouth advertisement still works great for beginners in the trade of nail salons. To promote your nail salon business you can go for media coverage by targeting reporters and editors who cover beauty and fashion. You may go for some press releases making your content news by highlighting special events and seasonal offers. You can start advertising with local print, TV, and radio consistently.

In terms of getting a new client, you can go for an opportunity to offer service at their doorsteps for those who can’t come to you. Clients can include busy professionals, residents of nursing and retirement houses, hotel guests, pre-wedding bridal parties, and just anyone looking for great and comfortable in-house or office manicure and pedicure services.

Read: How to Start A Nail Polish Making Business

Go for online promotion by presenting a decent and professional website detailing the services you are offering with an online appointment system. Educate your client by writing some content about the benefits of nail care.

We hope this nail salon business plan guide will help you in a better understanding of starting and running the business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of starting a nail salon?

The biggest component of startup cost for a nail salon is the retail space rent. You need a minimum of 800 sq. ft space to open a nail salon in the United States. If we take an average rent cost of $100 per sq. ft, the total retail space establishment cost stands at $80,000.

In addition, there will be the cost of equipment, furniture, the salary of staff, legal expenses, administrative costs including software, and promotional expenses. So, a minimum investment of $1,00,000 will be required to start a nail salon.

How much profit you can make as a nail salon owner?

The profit in a nail salon business will depend on the number of customers you are serving and the margin of profit you are making for each customer. Also, it depends on how many nail salons you are running.

A successful single nail salon business owner on average earns between $50,000 and $80,000 in a year in the United States. Most nail salon business owners after the first successful launch opt for multiplying as the format can be scaled easily.

Do I need formal training to start a nail salon?

While formal training is not always mandatory, having certified and skilled nail technicians on your team enhances the credibility of your salon. Ensure that your staff is well-trained and licensed.

What licenses and permits are required to operate a nail salon?

Requirements vary by location, but typically, you’ll need health permits, business licenses, and compliance with safety and sanitation standards. Check with local authorities to ensure you have all necessary permits.

How do I choose the right location for my nail salon?

Consider factors such as foot traffic, visibility, and proximity to complementary businesses. Choose a location that aligns with your target market and enhances the overall accessibility and appeal of your salon.

What services should I offer in my nail salon?

Determine the range of services based on your target market’s preferences. This may include manicures, pedicures, nail extensions, nail art, and additional offerings like waxing or massages.

How do I recruit skilled nail technicians?

Advertise job openings on relevant platforms, consider offering competitive salaries, and provide opportunities for ongoing training. Look for technicians with certifications and a strong portfolio showcasing their skills.

What is the ideal pricing strategy for a nail salon?

Develop a pricing structure that considers the cost of services, local market rates, and your salon’s unique offerings. Consider package deals, promotions, or loyalty programs to attract and retain clients.