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How to start a nail business in 6 steps

How to start a nail business

Are you passionate about nail care, enjoy creating stunning nail designs and love helping people express their unique style? If so, starting a nail business could be the perfect opportunity for you. In this guide, we'll guide you through the process of starting a nail business, from developing your concept to creating a professional business website and implementing effective marketing strategies. We'll also address the challenges that come with running a nail business and provide actionable steps to help you overcome them

What is a nail business?

A nail business offers professional nail care services. This type of business typically provides a range of nail treatments such as manicures, pedicures, nail extensions and nail art. Nail businesses aim to enhance the beauty and health of nails while providing a relaxing and enjoyable experience for customers.

Why start a nail business?

Starting a nail business is a lucrative opportunity to make a career out of doing what you love. In 2021, a total of 163,600 manicurists and pedicurists were employed in the US. With a growth rate of 22% between 2021 and 2031 and no degree required, there’s significant incentive to consider joining this industry.

One of the advantages is the ability to start small with minimal overhead costs and gradually expand as you build a loyal client base. Flexibility is another key benefit of running a nail business. You have the freedom to determine your own working hours and customize your schedule to accommodate both your personal needs and the preferences of your clients. Whether you prefer operating during regular business hours or catering to evening and weekend appointments, you have the flexibility to adapt your availability accordingly.

why start a nail business

How to start a nail business

When it comes to starting a business in the nail industry, there are a few essential steps to follow:

01. Research the market and plan your business

Conduct market research to understand the demand for nail services in your community. Analyze the demographics, competition and potential customer base. Then, develop a business plan that solidifies your goals, marketing strategies, executive summary and operational procedures (see how to create a nail salon business). Consider your financial projections and whether you need to raise money for your business.

how to start a nail business, business plan

02. Choose your business structure and register your business

Select a legal structure for your nail business, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. Consult with an attorney or accountant to determine the most suitable option based on your goals. Register your business and obtain the necessary permits and licenses to operate legally. If you're unsure how to name your business and haven't settled on one yet, consider using a business name generator to come up with a catchy and memorable option.

register your nail business

03. Determine your services and pricing

Decide on the range of nail services you will offer, such as manicures, pedicures, nail extensions or nail art. Set your pricing structure based on factors such as the complexity of the services, local market rates and the cost of materials. Consider offering packages or loyalty programs to attract and retain customers.

04. Acquire the necessary equipment and supplies

Invest in high-quality nail equipment and supplies to provide professional and hygienic services. This includes nail files, buffers, UV or LED lamps, sterilization tools and a wide range of nail polish colors. Ensure you have sufficient stock to meet customer demands and maintain a clean and safe working environment.

05. Create an inviting salon space

Design your nail salon to be comfortable, clean and aesthetically pleasing. Consider factors such as comfortable seating, adequate lighting and a welcoming ambiance. Arrange your workspace efficiently, ensuring that it's equipped with all the necessary tools and equipment. Implement proper sanitation and sterilization practices to prioritize customer safety.

06. Provide exceptional customer service

Focus on delivering outstanding customer service to create a positive reputation for your nail business. Train your staff to be knowledgeable, friendly and attentive to customer needs. Offer personalized recommendations, maintain cleanliness and prioritize client satisfaction. Encourage customers to leave reviews and referrals to further enhance your business's reputation.

Thinking of starting another type of business? Check out some of these creative service business ideas to help get you started.

how to start a nail business

Is a nail business profitable?

The profitability of a nail business can vary widely depending on several factors, including your location, business entity and model, pricing strategy, competition, quality of service and your ability to manage costs. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the profitability of your nail business:

  • The location of your nail business plays a significant role in its profitability. High-traffic areas, urban centers, or areas with a target customer demographic can attract more clients and higher pricing.

  • Are you opening a standalone nail salon, a home-based nail studio, or offering mobile nail services? Each model has different overhead costs and revenue potential.

  • Assess the level of competition in your area. Offering unique services, exceptional customer service, or specialized nail art can help you stand out.

Nail businesses may experience fluctuations in demand based on seasons, holidays, and special events. Planning for these fluctuations in the business cycle can help manage cash flow.

What to keep in mind when managing your nail business

Operating and managing a nail business effectively requires careful planning and implementation of various strategies.

  • Invest in proper inventory and supplies management: Start by creating a comprehensive inventory management system to track nail products and supplies. This will allow you to regularly assess inventory levels and restock supplies to meet customer demand. Some examples of supplies needed for a nail business include nail polishes, gels, acrylics, nail files, buffers, cuticle pushers, sterilization equipment and disposable items like gloves and towels.

  • Use technology for efficiency: Implementing online menus or booking systems that allow customers to view services, pricing and availability will enable you to maintain better control over how your business is organized and managed. For example, online appointment scheduling for convenience is a great way to streamline client management and ensure you never miss an appointment. You can also consider using a payment processing app or software to facilitate seamless transactions and streamline financial operations.

  • Establish strong quality assurance processes: When it comes to running a nail care business, strict sanitation and hygiene protocols are essential to creating a clean and safe environment. This will also mean regularly inspecting and maintaining your equipment to ensure functionality and safety. At the same time, be sure to train employees on proper sanitization and disinfection practices to prevent the spread of infections.

  • Invest in employee training: Prioritizing providing comprehensive training to employees on nail techniques, customer service and salon protocols. Also, keep your employees and yourself updated on the latest nail trends, techniques and products through ongoing training and professional development.

What to keep in mind when marketing your nail business

Marketing your business is crucial for attracting new customers and building a strong brand presence. With this in mind here are some nail salon marketing tips for getting your brand out there:

  • Making a website: Create a visually appealing and user-friendly website to showcase your nail services, pricing and contact information. You can use a website builder like Wix to easily design and customize your site without extensive coding knowledge. Make sure to highlight your expertise, display customer testimonials and include an online booking feature to streamline the appointment process. Use Wix’s logo maker to create a logo that you can feature in all of your digital assets. (Check out these eyelash logo ideas for inspiration.)

  • Network to build a customer base: Attend local networking events, industry conferences and trade shows to connect with potential customers and suppliers. This will mean engaging in conversations, exchanging business cards and following up with individuals to build relationships and expand your network. You'll similarly want to participate in nail care industry events to network with suppliers, other business owners, and potential customers.

  • Invest in marketing strategies: Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that includes both online and offline strategies. Online advertising options include paid social media campaigns, Google Ads and targeted email marketing. Offline marketing techniques may include distributing flyers, partnering with local businesses for cross-promotion and offering referral incentives.

  • Harness the power of social media: Utilize social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to build a community around your nail business. Popular promotion tactics on social media include sharing high-quality images of nail designs, before-and-after transformations and behind-the-scenes content to engage potential customers. You can also run interactive campaigns like contests or giveaways to encourage user participation and generate buzz around your brand.

Examples of nail businesses on Wix

  • Lavish Press on Nails: Lavish Press on Nails offers Lavish nail extensions for your everyday looks. Their slogan: "Be different, be creative, look lavish is represented in their stunning and unique press on collection."

  • Pretty N Polished: Pretty N Polished is an appointment only nail salon located in Green Valley Ranch, Nevada inside Mystic Nail Collective. From a perfect paint job to intricate nail art, Pretty N Polished is up for the challenge.

Benefits of starting a nail business

In summary, starting a nail business can offer the below benefits:

  • Creative outlet: Owning a nail business allows you to express your creativity and artistic skills through nail designs, colors and trends. You can offer unique and personalized nail services to clients, helping them express their individual style (or if eyelashes are your interest, consider checking out how to start an eyelash business).

  • Flexibility and independence: As a nail business owner, you have the flexibility to set your own schedule and work independently. You can choose your clients, determine your service offerings and create a comfortable working environment that suits your preferences.

  • Growing demand: The nail industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, with a high demand for professional nail services. With proper marketing and exceptional services, you can tap into this growing market and attract a steady stream of clients.

  • Strong customer relationships: As a nail technician, you have the opportunity to build strong relationships with your clients. Regular appointments create a bond, and satisfied customers are likely to become repeat clients, providing a stable customer base for your business.

For more inspiration, you can check out these service business examples to help you get your creative juices flowing.

Challenges of starting a nail business

While starting a nail business offers numerous benefits, it also comes with its challenges. Here are a few common challenges to consider before jumping in:

  • Competition: The nail industry is highly competitive, with many salons and nail technicians offering similar services. To stand out, you'll need to develop a unique selling point, offer exceptional customer service and stay updated with the latest trends and techniques.

  • Initial investment: Starting a nail business requires an initial investment in equipment, supplies and salon setup. This can include nail products, salon furniture, tools and licensing fees. Proper financial planning is crucial to ensure you have the necessary funds to cover these operating expenses.

  • Building skills and reputation: Building a strong skill set and reputation takes time and dedication. It's important to continually improve your nail techniques, stay updated with industry trends and prioritize ongoing education to provide high-quality services that meet customer expectations.

  • Client retention: Maintaining a steady clientele can be a challenge, especially in a competitive market. It's essential to provide excellent customer service, offer a wide range of nail services and implement effective marketing strategies to attract and retain clients.

Things you need to start a nail business

To start a nail business, you will need a few essential items:

  • Equipment and supplies: This includes nail tables, chairs, nail lamps, and tools like files, buffers and clippers. You will also need to invest in basic supplies such as nail polish, acrylics, gels and other products.

  • Licenses and permits: Depending on where you live, you may need to obtain a license or permit to operate a nail business. Be sure to check with your local government to find out what requirements apply to you.

  • Business insurance: This will protect you in case of accidents, lawsuits or other unexpected events.

  • Marketing materials: You will need to create marketing materials to promote your business, such as a website, business cards and flyers.

  • A business plan: This will help you to outline your business goals, strategies and financial projections.

In addition to these essential items, there are a few other things that can help you to start a successful nail business:

  • Training and education: It's important to be trained and certified in nail care before starting your own business. This will ensure that you can provide your customers with high-quality services.

  • A strong customer base: It takes time to build a strong customer base. You can start by offering discounts and promotions to attract new customers. Once you have a few regular customers, be sure to provide them with excellent service and build relationships with them.

  • A professional image: It's important to maintain a professional image for your nail business. This includes dressing professionally, keeping your salon clean and organized and providing your customers with a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Starting a nail business can be a rewarding experience. With careful planning and execution, you can build a successful business that provides you with a good income and the opportunity to do what you love.

How much should you charge for nail services?

The amount you charge for nail services will depend on a number of factors, including your experience and skills, the type of services you offer, the location of your business and the demand for nail services in your area. In general, you should charge a price that is competitive with other nail salons in your area, but also allows you to make a profit.

Here is a breakdown of some of the factors that can affect your pricing:

  • Experience and skills: If you're a skilled and experienced nail technician, you can charge higher prices for your services.

  • Type of services: Some services, such as nail art and complex designs, may take longer and require more skill, so you can charge more for these services.

  • Location: Nail salons in high-traffic areas or major metropolitan areas can generally charge higher prices than salons in less populated areas.

  • Demand: If the demand for nail services is high in your area, you can charge higher prices.

Here is a sample price list for some common nail services:

  • Basic manicure: $20-$35

  • French manicure: $25-$40

  • Gel manicure: $30-$45

  • Pedicure: $25-$40

  • Acrylic nails: $40-$60

  • Nail art: $5-$15 per nail

You can adjust your prices up or down depending on the factors mentioned above. For example, if you're a skilled and experienced nail technician working in a high-traffic area, you may be able to charge more than the prices listed above. Conversely, if you're a beginner nail technician working in a less populated area, you may need to charge less than the prices listed above.

It's also important to note that you can offer discounts for packages or group services. For example, you may offer a discount for a manicure and pedicure package, or a discount for a group of friends who come in together.

Which nail business type is best for you?

Which type of nail business is best for you depends on your budget, lifestyle and preferences. Here is a brief overview of each type of business:

Nail salon

Working in a salon is a good option if you're looking for a steady paycheck and benefits. Salons typically have a large client base, so you can expect to see a regular stream of customers. You will also have access to the salon's equipment and supplies, which can save you money on startup costs.

However, working in a salon can also have some drawbacks. You may have to work long hours and deal with difficult customers. You may also have limited flexibility in your schedule, as you will need to work the hours that the salon is open.

Mobile nail salon

Starting a mobile nail business is a good option if you are looking for a flexible schedule and the ability to be your own boss. Mobile nail businesses are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer clients the convenience of having their nails done in their own home or office.

However, starting a mobile nail business does require some investment. You'll need to purchase a mobile nail salon vehicle and equipment. You may also need to obtain a special business license for mobile businesses.

Work from home

Working from home is a good option if you want to save money on overhead costs and have a flexible schedule. Working from home can also be a good option if you have young children or other family members that you need to care for.

However, working from home can also be challenging. You will need to be disciplined and organized to stay on track, as well as working hard to to market your business to attract clients.

Here are some additional tips for choosing the right type of nail business:

  • Think about your target market. Who are you trying to reach with your business? If you're targeting busy professionals, a mobile nail business may be a good option. If you are targeting families, a work-from-home business may be a better choice.

  • Consider your experience and skills. Do you have the experience and skills necessary to run a successful nail business? If you're new to the nail industry, you may want to start by working in a salon to gain experience.

  • Research the competition. What other nail businesses are in your area? How do their prices and services compare to yours?

  • Make a business plan. This will help you map out your goals and strategies for success.

How to start a nail business in a specific state

If you're looking to start a nail business in a specific state, here are some helpful resources:

Don’t see your chosen state here? You can use the search bar in the Wix Blog to find all the information you need. No matter where you promote your business, make sure to keep your branding consistent.

More business ideas to start

How to start a nail business FAQ

What do you need to start doing nails?

To start doing nails, you will need to:

  • Get the proper training and certification. This will show potential clients that you are qualified to do the job. You can find nail technician training programs at many community colleges and vocational schools.

  • Purchase the necessary equipment and supplies. This includes things like nail polish, nail files, buffers and UV lamps. You can purchase these items from beauty supply stores or online retailers.

  • Find a place to work. You can work from home, rent a booth at a nail salon or open your own nail salon.

How much capital do I need to start a nail salon?

Can you live off of being a nail tech?

Where do nail techs make the most money?

How many colors should a nail salon have?

What makes a nail salon unique?

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