How to Start a Nail Salon Business

How to Start a Nail Salon Business

U.S. nail salons bring in more than $5 billion in revenue annually. These specialty beauty salons have been around for years. But the industry is still growing, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for new entrepreneurs to break in and offer unique services and experiences. If you’re interested in getting started with your very own nail salon, here’s a breakdown of the steps involved.

How to Start a Nail Salon

Create a Plan for Your Business

Meg King, salon and spa consultant for Empowering You Consulting said in an email to Small Business Trends, “The first step is to spend time creating a clear vision of your business. Yes, it should include how many stations, your menu of services, a detailed list of what you need along with what it will cost you to open. But another important step in creating a clear vision… one that is often overlooked, includes answers to these questions. What do you really want? How would do you define the culture you want to have in your business? What type of team members do you want to hire? Who’s your ideal client? The clearer we are on all the details the better we can manage our business plan for success.”

If you’re not sure where to start with your nail salon business plan, you might check out the Professional Beauty Association’s business blueprints, which are customizable plan templates available to association members.

Make Industry Connections

Ideally, some form of state-approved education and experience in a successful salon before jumping into your own business. You might also consider connecting with an industry consultant or finding a mentor who can help you understand what the day-to-day operations of a functioning nail salon look like. Groups or trade organizations like PBA can also help you gain valuable insights about the industry as a whole.

Obtain Permits and Licenses

The legal requirements for nail salons vary by location. But you’re likely to need a building permit, business license and state-approved training in order to officially open your business. If you’re not sure what is required in your area, connect with a local business attorney or check with your local government.

Analyze Your Finances

PBA Brand Manager Erin Walter said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “There are numerous financial considerations to take in to account when looking at opening a business and it can be helpful to meet with a financial planner to navigate through some potential obstacles.”

Specifically, you’ll need to determine what you can afford in startup costs, what your business expenses will be and how much you think you can earn on an ongoing basis. Some of PBA’s business blueprints also offer insights into financial considerations like budgeting, compensation and credit card policies.

Find a Suitable Location

Before you can put many of the other aspects of your business into place, you’ll need to find a location for your shop. Ideally, it should be someplace centrally located and easily accessible for your target customers. However, this will also depend on your budget and space requirements.

Create a Service and Price List

Nail salon prices and services can vary widely. You might stick with just the basic manicure and pedicure, but you could also offer artificial nails, gel manicures, arm massages or various other spa services to your menu. Carefully consider what you and your staff will be able to provide and do some research on pricing to help you create a full menu of services.

Source Supplies

For a nail salon, you’ll likely need chairs, tables, nail polish, sanitation equipment, and various spa supplies. You may also want to carry a small inventory of nail products that customers can purchase. Shop around with various brands for your nail salon equipment and inventory so you can get the best possible value, while also considering the items that are likely to be most popular with your target customers.

Set Up Administration Processes

The day-to-day operations of your business will be significantly easier if you put processes into place early. Determine how you’ll schedule appointments, collect payments, manage payroll and nurture relationships with customers. Put software and other tools in place to make these things easier so when you get up and running, you can easily show your team how everything should be run.

Hire Nail Techs

Most nail salons have multiple nail technicians or other specialists on staff so they can offer services to multiple customers at once. You’ll want to find people who are trained and skilled in their area of expertise. But don’t forget to take personality into account as well. The conversations that take place during manicure and pedicure services are often a huge part of the customer experience. So you’ll need to look for people who are able to provide exceptional service to your target customers.

Promote Your Services Locally

When all those items are in place, you need to start actually promoting your business around your local community so potential customers can find you. Place local ads online or in print. You might also consider getting on social media and using some special events or promotions to build buzz early on.


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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions
  1. It is about thinking of a way to meet your market’s needs in a unique way so that they’ll go to you because of your unique services.

  2. Great post! Thanks for sharing the information and keep up the good work.

  3. I’m thinking of having a nail salon business someday and offer Silver glitter nail strips to my valued customers. I agree with you that it would be best to consult with a mentor who is an expert in the type of industry. You’re also right about the importance of communicating with a local business attorney regarding the requirements for building permits and licenses.