How To Start A Nail Business?

Starting and running a new business can be both satisfying and terrifying. While you’re excited about becoming your own boss and making all the decisions, you’ll also become responsible for the bills, staff, taxes, business licenses and liability insurance.

Millions of people just like you have started a small business and succeeded. Though not all of them grew to be the size of Apple or Microsoft — or have the potential to grow to this size — these two companies started in their founder’s garages. These companies were once a small business.

So, does it take a huge business loan to start a nail salon business? Not usually, but you might need financial help of some sort with your start-up costs. It will depend on many factors, but two of the most costly considerations are real estate and hiring employees.

If you are opening a home-based business or a mobile salon, you may not need to buy or rent space, but you might need to focus on interior design for a complete remodel of a room or a van. Or, if you are subletting space, such as from a hair salon business, you still may need to purchase independent insurance and obtain specific licenses.

Before you order the sign, here are some things to consider to help you thoughtfully approach business ownership.

Step 1: Focus on preparation

Whether you are opening a nail business in your home or a storefront, you need to prepare for your future business operations before you print business cards. Investing time in preparation now will make everything else easier and go a long way toward ensuring you don’t miss a step down the line.

Here’s how you can get through all your business ideas about starting a nail salon without breaking a single one of your acrylic nails.

Step 2: Do your research

Now that you’ve decided to open your nail salon, start by making a checklist. There are many tiny and enormous tasks you must address before hanging your sign. Your checklist will become the basis for your business plan. Every item on your list can be a section within the plan or a line item within a section.

Before you start to draft the business plan, it will help to know the cost and effort of some of the items you need or need to acquire. If you gather the information beforehand, writing the plan will be easier and go more quickly.

Write your business plan in document format and record fees and costs in a spreadsheet. Here are things to consider for your research and, ultimately, your business plan.

  • Insurance and license regulations

  • Where you can purchase products and furniture

  • OSHA requirements

  • Salon décor

  • Employment regulations and requirements

  • Nail tech training

  • Capital loans

  • Local market

  • Salary ranges

  • Parking availability

  • Utilities

 

 

Step 3: Choose a location

There are several options for your new nail business. Depending on where you live, you might be able to run your business from your home. It’s essential to check with your homeowners associate to be sure this is permitted, and if so, what rules and regulations apply to you.

You could also have a mobile nail business in a converted van or travel to your clients’ homes and provide in-home services. At one time, it was common to find nail salons as a service or a separate business within a hair salon, and while this is still usual, there are also independent nail salons. Choosing your location will be an essential part of your business plan, so decide before drafting your plan.

Step 4: Draft a business plan

As you start to write your business plan, refer to your research. The plan can be as simple or complex as you choose, but if you seek a loan to start your business, the more information you can provide, the better.

Organize your research on a spreadsheet to guide the topics you need to cover. There are many business plan templates available on the web; don’t be timid about using one. If this is your first business, it will help you see what other people have done.

Write your business plan as a document using Word, Google Docs, or a similar application, referring to your spreadsheet numbers. If you apply for a loan, provide the underwriter with both documents.

Step 5: Arrange for accounting

Unless you are an accountant, hire one. Someone will use the books you keep to file taxes and accuracy counts. Once you’ve hired the accountant, have them review your business plan to ensure your numbers are realistic. It’s no fun learning about a significant expense after you’re already well on your way to opening the business.

Your accountant may also be able to help you set prices and give you information on how many services you need to provide and how many customers you need to see to reach profitability.

Well-kept books are also useful if you decide to sell your business. A potential buyer will want to see your profit margins, losses, and expenses.

Step 6: Apply for business licenses

Once your manicure and pedicure business plan is complete and you’ve received a loan (if you applied), it’s time to complete the applications and purchase the various licenses you need to operate a business.

In some cases, it will be a state license, but you may also need a county, city, or special sales tax permit. If you live in a controlled community, you might even need a license from them.

Do my employees require a license?

Some licenses require you and your staff to obtain certifications from educational institutions. Some of these certificates may be available through online courses. Maintaining your license in good standing likely requires continuing education, so be sure you understand what you need to do to continue to meet the requirements.

Step 7: Stock your salon and stations

With your business license in hand, you are ready to start setting up your nail salon. Set up typically requires some sort of interior design, even if you are subletting an area from a beauty salon.

After you’ve put the paint on the walls and rugs on the floor, you will need furniture and supplies. These checklists are not comprehensive but will help you start decking out your surroundings.

Step 8: Organize furniture and equipment

Inventory represents consumables you use every day. Furnishings and equipment are fixed assets you use for long periods, such as tables and chairs. Equipment includes items such as the cash register and nail dryers. Here’s a list to get you started, but you may need much more or fewer items than shown here:

  • Nail stations

  • Nail station supply carts

  • Comfortable nail station chairs

  • Rolling footstools

  • Cash register

  • Credit card machine

  • Washer and dryer for laundry

  • Reception desk

  • Waiting room chairs

  • LED lamp·      

  • LED nail lamp dryers

  • Warm-air nail dryers

What inventory do I need to start a nail business?

Of course, if you’re thinking of opening a nail salon, you already know you need nail files, acetone, and cotton balls, but what else do you need? Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Acetone

  • Acrylic powder

  • Acrylic compound

  • Airbrush kit for the nail artists

  • Appointment book

  • Brushes for brush nail art

  • Cotton balls or cotton pads

  • Cuticle oil

  • Decorative nail tape and gems

  • Disposable shoes

  • Gel nail products·      

  • Gel polish      

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Hand soap

  • Moisturizing lotion

  • Nail buffers

  • Nail clippers·      

  • Nail clippers

  • Nail files

  • Nail nippers

  • Nail polish·      

  • Nail scrub brushes      

  • Nail tips in a wide range of sizes      

  • Office supplies      

  • Orangewood stick cuticle pushers

  • Rotating nail files      

  • Stencils

  • Superglue

  • Toe separators

  • Towels

  • Various bowls

You should buy most inventory items in bulk to take advantage of bulk discounts and to be sure you always have plenty on hand. Many beauty supply wholesalers have websites where you can create an account and order without ever leaving your shop. It’s best to have multiple suppliers if one is running low on an item you desperately need.

Step 9: Create a service menu

Customer satisfaction is paramount to ensuring you have happy customers that will return again and again. The best way to make a customer happy is to provide them a service they value at a price they think is fair. That’s where your service menu comes into play.

A service menu is a list of your services and each fee. For each service, it is vital to be clear about what you include and what you do not. After all, your idea of an acrylic fill might not include removing existing acrylic nails, whereas your customer thinks it does.

How much you can charge for your services is affected by many things such as how much competitors in your area charge, who your customer is, and their income level. If a nail salon in a swanky part of town charges $100 for a fill, and your salon is in a middle-income area, you probably cannot charge the same amount. You will need to factor in both supply and demand.

To get started with your menu of services, visit other salons in the area where you are opening. This competitive research will ensure you can charge the exact price customers are willing to pay.

You may discover you are more or less profitable over time than you planned. Have a conversation with your accountant about adjusting prices so you can always achieve maximum profitability.

 

 

Step 10: Market your business

Many new nail businesses fail to factor in the cost of marketing their new company. There are many ways to do this, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.

Social media posts are free and an excellent way to get the word out. Other opportunities, such as joining professional beauty associations or chambers of commerce, have membership dues but are ideal for meeting potential customers.

Undoubtedly, the best way to market your business is to create a website. With a phone in every pocket these days, people are using Google three times a day, and much of this traffic is to find a business near them.

Local citations are another way for people to find you on the web. These are directory sites such as Whitepages and others that focus on providing information about businesses. You can register your company for free at many of these sites. Google My Business is perhaps the most popular place to register.

Of course, not all marketing is online. When you hang a sign in front of your business, you are marketing. You could also purchase radio, television, or newspaper ads.

How much marketing you can do will depend on your budget, the amount of time you have, or both. Lower-cost options include hanging fliers around the neighborhood, posting coupons online, handing out business cards, and the like.

Co-op advertising is another option. If your nail salon is in a mall with other businesses, get together and create a joint campaign. By sharing costs, you all will gain a broader reach and send higher quality campaigns, such as a direct mail piece.

Step 11: Open your doors

You’re finally ready to throw open the doors and welcome your first clients. It is both a challenging and rewarding time. Businesses fail every day, but others succeed. The difference between the two is preparation — it’s knowing your market, understanding your pricing strategy, and delivering excellent customer service.

Do your research, write a comprehensive business plan, and listen to others who’ve succeeded before you. Most small business owners enjoy helping new start-ups and giving you the benefit of their experience. Take advantage of it. Listen to their success stories and learn from them so you can become a success too.

The CFS Team
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