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How to Start a Nail Salon Business Step by Step Guide

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Getting your nails done was an every-few-weeks thing for some of us, at least before the pandemic hit us hard! Trying to do nails at home has been an eye-opener for many in the lockdown. In fact, in 2024, there are so many people who can’t wait to walk into a great nail salon to get their regular manicures done.

Several nail trends in 2021 have made the prospect of a nail salon business even more promising this year. So if you think that you should start a nail salon business venture, you’d have many takers this year!

Steps to set up your Nail Salon Business

Nail Salon Business

Many aspects need to be considered to understand how to start a nail salon business:

1. Build on Fundamentals for your Nail Salon

  • Gain Real-Time Experience: Before building your nail salon, you should have some professional knowledge in this field. And, no, it’s not about the art itself, but rather the business aspects. Talk to nail salon owners and even employees, and try to understand how the business works. If you can work at some position in a salon as an intern or manager, you could get valuable intel about how things really work. Getting real-time experience in some capacity can be valuable when you start your own business.
  • Select Type of Nail Salon: To structure a proper business plan, you need to finalize your portfolio. What kind of nail salon do you want to be in? You can offer spa and nail services for a stress-relief kind of therapy. Or, you could focus more on premium nail art and solely on nail services. A nail and hair salon is also a popular option that many choose popularly. Start by thinking about what kind of nail salon you want before anything else!

2. Structure your Business Plan

Next up, you need a business plan. Structure different aspects of your business and plan out each aspect in advance. This includes initial finances, set-up costs, professionals you’d need, the location you’d operate from, and much more. A well-structured business plan should, in fact, include everything.

Right from the services you’d include to the pricing list and equipment needed – structure your business plan to include everything for an even minute reference when you need them. Have a look at this Nail Salon Business Plan Template to get yours started.

3. Decide on a Location for your Nail Salon

Think of a suitable place for your Nail Salon. Before that, figure out whether you are looking for a rental property or are willing to purchase something in a commercial area. For both sites, you need to follow certain protocols. Select a location whose environment is posh and clean, privacy from street noise is another factor, and you also need to check if it is viable for commercial use.

The catch with this is that you need to be very precise in selecting the place. For example, a place near shopping malls, restaurants, theatres, etc., can be a great pick. Location permits, commercial space licenses, and other factors are things that will come into play at a later stage.

4. Figure out your finances

To build any business, initially, you need some capital. For this, you can either invest personally or look for external options. A business loan is a popular way to go about it. If you have a solid business plan, it can be quite simple to apply for a loan. You can also consider getting independent investors on board.

To sort out your finances, it is important to have a clear-cut vision of your brand. Present this for loan approval, and investors, or implement the same with your own capital if you have a big budget.

5. Acquire Mandatory Licenses for Business

Mandatory Licenses for Business

In the US, nail salon owners need a permit license to define their business as legal. If you are looking to start a Nail Salon, it’s mandatory to carry a cosmetology certificate.  If you don’t have cosmetology certification, start researching the cosmetology courses you can take for this certification. The course curriculum is typically two years long; you can enroll and get the certificate.

Therefore, before building a nail salon business, collect all legal documents and prerequisites. To ensure the same, you can connect with legal associates to understand the norms more clearly. US residents also need to apply for an EIN to register their business on the IRS website.

6. Interior Creative Furnishing

Interior of nail salon

When it comes to a peppy nail salon, how it looks from the inside will have a significant impact. However, other than being ambient, your shop should also be functional. Here are some things that you can use for creatively furnishing your interiors:

  • Desk or Standing Tables
  • Manicure Tables
  • Reclined Seating chairs
  • Couches are available at the waiting area
  • Supply carts
  • Seats with footrest

Additionally, you can decorate the interior of your salon with some pleasant pots hanging from the ceiling downwards. You can even draw some wall paintings that depict the culture of art. For a nail artist, anything that showcases your creativity is a business move!

7. Assess equipment requirements and supplies

Equipment for Nail Business

If you’re going to run a professional salon, you definitely need some equipment and shop supplies. These can range anything from actual tools to other equipment for the shop.

For tools, the essential elements include- finger and toe separators, moisturizers, nail clippers, towels, files, buffers, and scissors. For equipment, gel nail dryers, lamps, and other nail equipment can be on your list.

Note down even the basic supplies to stock up your inventory on time. You can approach wholesalers to avail of these at less cost.

Additionally, you can provide magazines for reading in the lobby, handwash, and paper soaps for maintaining hygiene. These small things can give a nice touch to your salon!

8. Market your Nail Salon

For marketing your nail salon, take the creative route instead of funneling solely paid ads. People like to see what they’re going to get when it comes to art. An Instagram account with nail art pictures and videos can be the most impactful. Use customer images and sample nail art templates for advertising to relevant audiences.

For local marketing, advertisements and pamphlets can help give folks a peek into the new salon around the block. Try to maintain a good balance between paid advertising and organically reaching out to your audience on the basis of the nail art and services you offer. As for social media, if they see something they like, they’re likely to click!

Summing Up

All in all, a nail salon business is a great venture for those with the creativity to execute it! You don’t really need to know how to do a manicure or nail art yourself, but even the larger picture of the business can benefit from your creativity. A salon business is one that deeply relies on creative and effective marketing, the look and feel of the place, and much more.

Today, going to the salon is not just about self-care. People like to socialize in that space, hang out with friends getting nails done together, or just enjoy the zen feeling in a great salon with self-care. Upmetrics‘ various business plan examples can help you plan these aspects down to every detail and execute your vision to perfection!

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About the Author


Sudeshna Ray

Avid writer and content marketer, Sudeshna Ray, has created content for diverse premises including technical niches, business and marketing, finances, creative character sketches, and much more. Engineer-turned-Writer-turned-Marketer, she has explored several aspects of performance, lead generation and establishing a brand presence in the digital domain.

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