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A step-by-step guide on how to start a beauty business

how to start a beauty business

Ready to embark on your dream of starting a beauty business? Diving into the beauty space offers an exciting opportunity to be part of a thriving industry fueled by people's desire for self-care and personal expression (for other types, check out types of businesses).

As of 2022, the global cosmetic market was valued at over $262 billion and it’s predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2% through 2030. The market’s healthy trajectory is due in part to constantly evolving beauty trends, new formulations and packaging, and a push for products that put sustainability at the forefront. With proper planning, your new beauty business has plenty of potential to thrive in this lucrative market.

So, whether you're looking to set up a business website, open a brick-and-mortar store or offer mobile beauty services, you're in the right place. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the complexities of launching your beauty-related venture and lay the foundation for long-term success.

How to start a beauty business

01. Research and define your niche

Let's start with the basics. To establish a beauty brand, it's crucial to understand your target audience. Researching and defining your niche or specific beauty business idea will set you up for success by differentiating you from competitors and attracting your target audience.

It's also important to understand that defining the right niche for your beauty business is an ongoing process. As your beauty business matures, stay open to adapting and refining your niche based on changing trends, emerging customer needs and industry developments.

Here are some methods to help you define your niche:

  • Identify your passions and expertise: Consider what aspects of beauty excite you the most, whether it's skincare, cosmetics, hair care, organic products or specialized services. For example, you might be passionate about bridal makeup, organic skincare treatments or men's grooming. Use your passion and knowledge to influence and build your niche. Looking to start a specific niche? Check out our guide to starting a nail business, as just one example.

  • Study the market: Research current trends, gaps and opportunities within the beauty industry. For example, analyze competitors within your geographic area or online space, and identify areas where they might be lacking. Consider fulfilling those unmet needs if they align with your business.

  • Define your target audience: Determine your ideal customers by considering demographics like age, gender, location and lifestyle. Additionally, delve into consumer preferences, interests and values. Understanding your target audience will help you tailor your products, services and beauty marketing efforts to cater to their needs and desires.

  • Find a unique selling angle: Find a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets you apart from your competition and appeals to your target market. For example, you could offer personalized consultations, use all-natural or sustainable ingredients, provide specialized services or create a distinct brand identity.

  • Test and validate: Conduct surveys, interviews or focus groups with your target audience to gather feedback on your proposed offerings. This will help you fine-tune your niche to ensure it resonates with your potential customers.

02. Decide on a business model and concept

When you start a business, it's essential to focus on a specific business model or concept that best enables you to bring your chosen niche to life. At a basic level, there are two primary models to consider: a service business model or a product business model. But, they aren’t the only options you have to choose from.

Other popular beauty business concepts include:

  • Mobile services: Offer on-the-go beauty services, traveling to clients' locations for personalized treatments like hairstyling, makeup, manicures or facials. This model provides flexibility and convenience for customers who prefer on-location pampering.

  • Brand and product development: Create your own beauty brand and develop a unique line of products. This requires strategic product development, branding and marketing to stand out in the competitive market.

  • Dropship beauty supplies: Curate products from a dropshipper specializing in your niche. Dropshippers will handle storage, packaging and order fulfillment, allowing you to sell products without the need for upfront manufacturing or inventory.

  • Retail store: Open a physical retail store to showcase and sell a curated selection of skincare, cosmetics, hair care or other products tailored to your niche. Offer in-person consultations and demonstrations, and complement your store with an eCommerce website for global reach.

Check out this list of over 60 service business ideas for more inspiration.

Let's look at some real-life examples of companies within the beauty and cosmetics industry to better understand how your selected business model and concept might come together.

Bringing Beauty to You

bringing beauty to you website homepage

Nichole Alexis, licensed esthetician and owner of Bringing Beauty to You, offers various skincare services to both men and women within the Chicago area.

  • Business model: Service

  • Business concept: Personal beauty consultant

  • What this business does: Provide exceptional service and education, and guide clients to achieving healthy, radiant and beautiful skin—whether they choose to wear makeup or not.


MDRNbeauty is an eCommerce store that carries a variety of cosmetics and hair care products curated from a select collection of brands.

  • Business model: Product

  • Business concept: Online retail store

  • What this business does: Provide high-quality hair care and cosmetic products from select brands.

Beautifully Blessed Salon

beautifully blessed salon website homepage

Located in Delhi, Louisiana, Beautifully Blessed Salon hosts a variety of beauty service providers, including hair stylists, makeup artists and massage therapists.

  • Business model: Service and product

  • Business concept: Beauty salon and spa

  • What this business does: Offer a place where customers can find passionate, high-quality professionals and a world-class salon experience for all their self-care needs.

03. Decide on a manufacturing strategy (if applicable)

If you plan to manufacture your own beauty supplies, your strategy must be affordable and allow for a reasonable net profit margin—without sacrificing product quality or customer satisfaction.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Regulations and compliance: Familiarize yourself with the regulations and compliance requirements for manufacturing beauty products in your region. This may include adhering to safety standards, ingredient labeling, product testing and obtaining necessary licenses or certifications.

  • Research and development: Invest time and resources into creating high-quality and effective beauty products. Consider factors like formulation, ingredient sourcing, product stability, packaging and compliance with industry standards.

  • Manufacturing facilities and equipment: Determine the volume of products needed and assess the required facilities and equipment. Consider whether you will manufacture in-house or outsource production to a contracted manufacturer. Evaluate your chosen manufacturing approach's cost, quality control measures and scalability.

  • Supply chain management: Establish a reliable supply chain for sourcing raw materials, packaging components and other necessary ingredients. Build relationships with suppliers and ensure consistent quality and timely delivery to maintain a smooth production process.

  • Quality control and testing: Implement stringent measures to ensure your product's safety, effectiveness and consistency. Conduct regular testing and quality checks to meet industry standards and customer expectations.

  • Branding and packaging: Develop a strong brand identity and appealing packaging that reflects your brand values. Consider the functionality, design and sustainability of your packaging choices.

04. Create a business plan

A business plan helps set a solid foundation and roadmap for your beauty business. It's a dynamic document that serves as a guide to keep you focused on your goals and communicates your vision to potential stakeholders, such as investors or lenders.

As your business evolves, plan to review your business plan regularly to keep you and your business on target. Remember to focus on clarity and brevity while ensuring that the key elements of your business plan are covered.

The key elements of a solid business plan often include the following:

  • Executive summary: Provide a concept statement which includes a brief overview of your business operations, goals and products/services.

  • Company description: Describe your beauty business, its structure, location and unique selling proposition.

  • Market analysis: Research your target audience, industry trends and competition.

  • Products and services: Explain your beauty offerings, their features and any proprietary technologies.

  • Marketing and sales strategy: Outline your marketing, pricing and distribution plans.

  • Organization and management: Provide an overview of your team and their roles.

  • Operations: Describe your production processes, supply chain and facilities/equipment.

  • Financial projections: Include income statements, startup capital, cash flow projections and funding needs.

  • Risk analysis: Identify potential risks and outline contingency plans.

  • Appendices: Attach supporting documents like market research data and key resumes

05. Pick a legal structure, then register and license your business

Establishing your startup beauty business as a legal entity makes sure you’re protected, regarding both your business assets and your personal assets.

There are five legal structures (business entity types) to choose from. A limited liability company (LLC) structure is one of the most popular choices for startups. However, you may decide that another structure fits your business better.

  • Sole proprietorship: A business owned and operated by one person who is liable for business debts. Business income taxes are reported on the owner's personal tax return.

  • Partnership: A business owned by multiple individuals who share profits, losses and responsibilities. General partnerships have equal liability, while limited partnerships have limited liability. Partnerships are taxed on partners' personal tax returns.

  • Limited liability company (LLC): Combines the liability protection of a corporation with the flexibility of a partnership. Owners (members) have limited personal liability, and management and taxation options are flexible.

  • C Corporation: A separate legal entity owned by shareholders, providing limited liability protection. Corporations have a complex structure, subject to regulations and formalities. Taxation can be at both corporate and individual levels unless certain tax elections are made.

  • S Corporation: A regular corporation with special tax status. Provides liability protection and allows pass-through taxation, with income, losses, etc. Taxes are reported on shareholders' individual tax returns.

illustration of business legal structures

Consider each entity type's unique characteristics and requirements when choosing the most suitable structure for your beauty business. If you need help deciding what structure to choose, seek the advice of a business attorney or other professional.

The registration process may vary depending on your location and business structure, so it's best to consult with a business attorney or seek guidance from your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office or Chamber of Commerce to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

State registration

  • Business name: Choose a unique name for your beauty business and ensure it complies with your state's naming guidelines. If you need some inspiration, try Wix’s free business name generator to spark some creativity. You can also consider these beauty business name ideas or these nail business names.

  • Register with the Secretary of State: Visit your state's Secretary of State website and follow the instructions for registering your business. Fill out the necessary forms and pay the required fees. Be prepared to provide information about your business, such as its name, structure and address.

  • Secure business licenses and permits: Research and obtain any required business licenses and permits specific to your state. Ensure you clearly understand any specific regulations that apply, such as health and safety standards, cosmetology licensing or product labeling guidelines. Bear in mind you will likely need to show your business license in order to obtain business liability insurance.

Looking to start a beauty business in a specific state?

Federal registration

  • Employer identification number (EIN): Apply for an EIN online through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. This unique identifier is used for tax purposes, hiring employees, opening a bank account and filing federal tax returns.

  • Understand federal tax obligations: Understand your federal tax obligations, including income tax, employment tax and any industry-specific taxes or regulations that may apply to your beauty business.

  • Trademarks: If you plan to use a unique brand name, logo or beauty slogan, consider registering for trademark protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to safeguard your intellectual property.

06. Create your website

Choose a solution that includes all the tools and support you need to build a beautiful website for your new business needs. For example, Wix offers a complete suite of tools for managing and growing your business, including hundreds of professionally designed website templates, a drag-and-drop website builder, inventory management, marketing tools and more.

  • Choose your design: Pick a design template for your website that reflects your brand. Wix has various product and service website templates to choose from. Customize your chosen template with your graphics and colors.

  • Organize your pages: Create essential pages like About, Contact, Shipping and Return Policy. Add your products or services to your online store and always use high-quality photos. If you see clients in person, like at a spa or salon, you can integrate the Wix Bookings app for clients to schedule appointments directly through your website.

  • Describe your offerings: Provide detailed descriptions for each product or service, including size, fragrance, color, warnings and usage tips, if applicable. Consider creating an FAQ page to address common questions.

  • Set competitive prices: Factor in production costs, labeling and packaging, and aim for a profit margin between 25% and 50%. Adjust prices based on market response.

  • Set up online payment processing: Integrate online payment services like Wix Payments and PayPal to easily accept payments online. Offer multiple payment options to streamline the checkout process and help customers feel confident about their purchases.

07. Build your brand

When launching a new business, it’s also important for you to consider what essential assets round out the heart of your brand. You’ll want to draft up a compelling mission statement, define your core values, your business ethics and establish your brand’s voice. These elements shape your business identity and further resonate with your target audience.

Brand recognition takes repetition and consistency, and when you combine branding with a positive shopping experience, customers are more likely to shop with you again.

08. Source and manage inventory

Whether you choose to dropship your products or purchase them wholesale, always take the time to research your sourcing options. Determine what aspects are most important to your business and your target market. Consider the following when selecting a supplier:

  • Quality

  • Price

  • Minimum order quantity

  • Shipping speed and cost

  • Customer service

  • Reputation

  • Fulfillment services

  • Product variety

Also, don't be afraid to contact potential suppliers directly to negotiate terms. You may be able to work out a deal.

Choose a product mix that aligns with your target market and business niche, and start by curating a small selection of products. As your business grows, expand your inventory based on customer feedback and sales data.

You’ll also want to implement an inventory management system to track product inventory, sales and reorder points. For example, Wix eCommerce makes it easy to successfully manage and track your inventory right from your website dashboard.

Effective inventory management is crucial for maintaining optimal stock levels, meeting customer expectations and maximizing profitability. Regularly review and refine your inventory strategies to adapt to your market's needs and drive the success of your beauty business.

desktop inventory management system

09. Provide excellent customer service

This point cannot be stressed enough. By providing excellent customer service, you entice your shoppers to visit your store again. Stay responsive to customer feedback and continually improve your products based on their needs and preferences.

Consider creating a Customer Service Credo to list your service expectations for your team. For example:

  • Respond to customer inquiries or complaints promptly, take ownership of issues, proactively work toward a solution and follow up to ensure a satisfactory resolution.

  • Listen attentively to customers, understand their needs and concerns while showing empathy and making them feel valued and heard.

  • Provide personalized interactions with customers, address them by name and consider their preferences or past interactions with your business.

  • Treat customers with respect, courtesy and professionalism at all times and use a positive and friendly tone, even in challenging situations.

  • Provide clear and concise information, avoiding jargon or technical terms that may confuse customers.

  • Go above and beyond to meet customer needs by offering additional assistance, recommendations or special considerations when appropriate.

  • Encourage and actively seek customer feedback to understand areas for improvement and then implement changes to enhance your products, services or overall customer experience.

  • Delivering consistent customer service across all channels and touchpoints while maintaining a high standard of service quality.

10. Promote your business

There are several ways to promote your business. Start by identifying your unique selling points, then determine which methods (such as social media campaigns, email marketing or influencer partnerships) align best with your business. From there, develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that not only attracts potential customers but also engages, nurtures and converts them into loyal advocates of your brand.

Below are some easy ideas to get you started.

  • Promote your brand on social media: Select the platform where your target market is most active, create a business account and share high-quality photos and short videos showcasing your products in action.

  • Build an email list: Add a sign-up link on your website, urging social media followers to visit and sign up (you can also incentivize them with a sign-up bonus or coupon). Utilize newsletters for feedback, product announcements, tips and driving traffic to your website.

  • Utilize paid advertising platforms: Create paid ads on Google or your preferred social media platform, setting clear goals and defining your audience. Engage potential customers with captivating visuals and persuasive copy, and leverage data insights to optimize marketing strategies for maximum ROI.

  • Expand your reach through local marketing: Participate in local shows, events or offer to host in-home parties with special host bonuses. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce for additional resources for new businesses in your area.

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