How to Start a Nail Salon Business

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Nail Salon Business Plan Template
Starting a nail salon can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful nail salon.

Importantly, a critical step in starting a nail salon is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Nail Salon Business Plan Template here.

16 Steps To Start a Nail Salon Business:

  1. Choose the Name for Your Nail Salon
  2. Determine the Type of Nail Salon You Will Launch
  3. Develop Your Nail Salon Plan
  4. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Nail Salon
  5. Secure Startup Funding for Your Nail Salon (If Needed)
  6. Secure a Location for Your Business
  7. Register Your Nail Salon with the IRS
  8. Open a Business Bank Account
  9. Get a Business Credit Card
  10. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  11. Get Business Insurance for Your Nail Salon
  12. Buy or Lease the Right Nail Salon Equipment
  13. Hire Quality Nail Techs For Your Retail Location
  14. Develop Your Nail Salon Marketing Materials
  15. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Nail Salon
  16. Open for Business

We’ve detailed each of the steps below to help you learn how to start a new nail salon.


1. Choose the Name for Your Nail Salon Business

The first step to starting your own nail salon is to choose your business name.  

This is a very important choice since your company name is your nail salon brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally, you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your nail salon:

  1. Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also, check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
  2. Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
  3. Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your nail salon business.


2. Determine the Type of Nail Salon Business You Will Launch

The next step is to determine the type of nail salon you will launch. The type of nail salon you choose will depend on your goals and the type of services you plan to offer. Some popular types of nail salons include:

  1. Full-Service Nail Salon – Full-service salons provide a range of services, such as manicures and pedicures, artificial nails, nail art, and waxing.
  2. Day Spa – A day spa offers luxury services, such as facials and massages, as well as manicures and pedicures.
  3. Express Service Nail Salon – Express service salons offer quick services at an affordable price, such as basic manicures and pedicures.
  4. Nail Bar – A nail bar is a modern take on the traditional nail salon with a focus on offering stylish services in a high-end atmosphere.
  5. Medical Grade Nail Salon – Medical nail salons offer more advanced services such as fungus treatment and removing ingrown toenails.
  6. Mobile Nail Salon – A mobile nail salon allows you to bring your services to the customer. This can be a great option if you are just getting started and don’t have enough funds to open a physical location.
  7. Pop-Up Nail Salon – A pop-up nail salon is a temporary location that you can use to showcase your services for special events or holidays.


3. Develop Your Nail Salon Business Plan

One of the most important steps in becoming a successful nail salon owner is to develop your nail salon business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.

To enhance your planning process, incorporating insights from a sample nail salon business plan can be beneficial. This can provide you with a clearer perspective on industry standards and effective strategies, helping to solidify your own business approach.

Your business plan should include the following sections:

  1. Executive Summary – This section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your nail salon.
  2. Company Overview – This section tells the reader about the history of your nail salon and what type of nail salon you operate. For example, are you a full-service salon or a day spa?
  3. Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the consulting industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
  4. Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing products or services like the ones you will offer?
  5. Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build a competitive advantage.
  6. Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
    • Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer 
    • Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
    • Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
    • Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your nail salon? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
  1. Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
  2. Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
  3. Financial Plan – In this section, you will document the financial projections for your nail salon. This should include your sales and revenue projections, cash flow statement, and your expense budget, detailing the nail salon startup costs.
    • What startup costs will you incur?
    • How will your nail salon make money?
    • What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
    • Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?

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4. Choose the Business Structure for Your Nail Salon

Next, you need to choose a business structure for your very own nail salon business and register it with the local County Clerk’s office and the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.

Below are the five most common business structures:

1) Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the nail salon and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.

2) Partnerships

A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among many nail salons. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a nail business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business. 

The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.

3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a nail business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include a lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.

4) C Corporation

A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a nail business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.

5) S Corporation

An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.

Once you register your nail business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.

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5. Secure Startup Funding for Your Nail Salon (If Needed)

In developing your nail salon business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business. 

If so, the main sources of funding for a nail business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding, and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a nail b business that they believe has a high potential for growth.


6. Secure a Location for Your Business

Having the right space can be important for your nail salon, business. You should look for a space that is located in a high foot-traffic area, has the right infrastructure and amenities, and fits your budget. When selecting a location, you should also consider factors such as parking availability, competition in the neighborhood, zoning regulations, and accessibility.

To find the right space, consider:

  • Driving around to find the right areas while looking for “for lease” signs
  • Contacting a commercial real estate agent
  • Doing commercial real estate searches online
  • Telling others about your needs and seeing if someone in your network has a connection that can help you find the right space


7. Register Your Nail Salon with the IRS

Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.

Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.


8. Open a Business Bank Account

It is important to establish a bank account in your nail salon business’ name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:

  1. Identify and contact the bank you want to use
  2. Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
  3. Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
  4. Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Nail Salon Business Plan Template and complete your business plan and financial model in hours.

9. Get a Business Credit Card

You should get a business credit card for your own nail salon to help you separate personal and business expenses.

You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.

When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.


10. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits

Every state, county and city has different business license and permit requirements.

Nearly all states, counties and/or cities have license requirements including:

  • General Business License: getting your Articles of Incorporation as discussed above
  • Sales Tax License or Seller’s Permit: for selling products
  • Zoning Approval: typically at the city or county level, this provides authorization for the construction or use of a building or land for a particular purpose
  • Food Service, Processing and/or Warehouse Licensing: to ensure safe food preparation
  • Local Health Departments Certification: to ensure the safe rendering of healthcare services
  • Fire Department Approval: a process by which the local fire department reviews and approves the installation of a fire alarm system.

Depending on the type of nail salon you launch, you will have to obtain the necessary state, county, and/or city licenses.

In addition to the business licenses required, in order to provide services to your customers, you may need to obtain additional professional licenses. For example, if you plan on offering manicures and pedicures, you will need to get a cosmetology license.


11. Get Business Insurance for Your Nail Salon

Other business insurance policies that you should consider for your nail salon include:

  • General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
  • Auto insurance: If a vehicle is used in your business, this type of insurance will cover if a vehicle is damaged or stolen.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
  • Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
  • Business interruption insurance: This covers lost income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.

Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs. 


12. Buy or Lease the Right Nail Salon Equipment

Most nail salon owners are surprised by how much equipment they actually need.

From the furniture to the lighting and decor, it’s important to choose pieces that will help make your salon relaxing for customers. You will also need salon equipment to provide nail services to your customers including:

  • Manicure tables
  • Pedicure chairs
  • Nail dryers and UV lamps
  • Nail clippers, drills, buffers, and cuticle pushers
  • Nail polishes, gels, and acrylics
  • Sanitizing products
  • Towels, cotton pads, nail polish remover, and other beauty products.
  • Sterilization equipment such as a UV light nail dryer, autoclave, and foot spa liners

Finally, you will need a cash register or point of sale system and software to manage your business. A POS system can help you manage appointments, ring up sales and track customer data.


13. Hire Quality Nail Techs For Your Retail Location

Providing quality services is the key to success in the nail salon business. To do this, you will need to hire experienced, qualified nail technicians who have experience in a variety of manicure and pedicure services within the nail salon industry

When interviewing prospective employees, make sure to ask about their experience and training background. You should also check for any certifications or licenses they may have.

Once you’ve hired your employees, it is important to provide ongoing education and training in order to keep them up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques. This will ensure that your salon is providing the best services possible.


14. Develop Your Nail Salon Marketing Materials

As part of your nail salon marketing plan, marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your nail salon.

The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:

  1. Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your nail salon. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials, and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
  2. Website: Likewise, a professional nail salon website provides potential customers with information about the products and/or services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
  3. Social Media Platforms: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your nail salon.


15. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Nail Salon

Most nail salons use specialized software to help manage their businesses. This software can be used to schedule appointments, track customer data, ring up sales and record inventory levels.

When selecting a salon software system, make sure it is easy to use and supports the features you need for your business. Additionally, ensure that the system allows you to accept payments remotely or via a mobile device.

Make sure that the system is secure and compliant with data protection laws such as GDPR. This will help protect your customers’ personal information and your business from cybercrime.

In addition to the specialized nail salon software, you will need accounting software to keep track of your finances. A suitable accounting software package should include features such as invoicing, tracking expenses, and generating reports.

You may need additional software for specific services that you offer at your salon, such as an e-commerce platform if you are selling products online.

Once all the necessary software is in place, you will be ready to open your salon for business.


16. Open Your New Nail Salon For Business

Now that you have obtained licenses, purchased supplies and equipment, hired qualified nail techs, created marketing materials, and setup the software needed to run your salon—it’s time to open for business.

Before your grand opening, make sure to advertise your new salon in local newspapers and on social media platforms. You can also reach out to local beauty and lifestyle bloggers to help promote your salon.

Once you’re open, ensure that you provide a welcoming atmosphere for your customers with comfortable seating areas and a well-organized reception area. It is important to provide excellent customer service to build long-term relationships and encourage repeat business.

Finally, keep track of your performance by monitoring key metrics such as customer satisfaction ratings, appointment times, and revenue. This will help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that your nail salon business is running smoothly.

Nail Salon Business Plan Example PDF

Download our nail salon business plan pdf here. This is a free nail salon business plan example to help you get started on your own nail salon plan.


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How to Start a Nail Salon FAQs

No, starting a nail salon is not hard as long as you have a clear plan in place and the right resources to help you.

Yes, you will need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits in order to legally operate your business. Regulations and requirements vary by state so it is important to check with your local government for specifics.

The most important thing to consider when starting a nail salon is developing a business plan that covers all aspects of the business, from marketing and promotional activities to staffing and operations. While experience in the industry can be helpful, it is not necessary to open a successful nail salon. There are plenty of resources available online that provide information on how to get started and guidelines for running a successful business. Additionally, having a strong network of industry professionals or a business mentor can help with advice and guidance. Finally, it is important to invest in quality equipment and products in order to provide the best services possible.

The most profitable nail salons are those that provide a variety of services and nail treatments, have knowledgeable and experienced staff, utilize quality products, and invest in marketing and promotional activities. Additionally, having a loyal customer base is essential for success.

The cost of starting a nail salon can vary significantly based on factors such as location, size, services offered, and so forth. Generally speaking, you should plan to have at least several thousand dollars set aside for startup costs.

Ongoing expenses for a nail salon will depend on the size and scope of the business but may include costs such as rent, utilities, insurance, payroll, supplies, and inventory. Additionally, marketing and promotional activities should be factored into your budget.

Nail salons have a straightforward business model providing services and products to their customers. Prices for services and products should be set based on market conditions and the costs associated with providing them. Additionally, additional revenue can be generated through promotional activities such as discounts or loyalty rewards programs.

Yes, owning a nail salon can be profitable if done correctly. To increase the chances of success, it is important to have a clear plan in place and the right resources to help you manage all aspects of the business. Additionally, investing in quality equipment and products will help ensure that customers are getting the best service possible.

Nail salons can fail for many reasons. Common causes of failure include inadequate funding, poor marketing, lack of customer service, and failure to keep up with industry trends. Additionally, not having the right resources and personnel in place can have a significant impact on the success of your business.

The cost of nail treatments and services will depend on several factors such as the location, quality, and type of service provided. It is important to research the market and competitors in your area to get an idea of what prices are reasonable. Additionally, offering discounts or promotional services can help attract customers and increase revenue.

In general, the most common nail treatments usually land within the following price ranges:

  • Basic Manicure – $15 - $30
  • Gel Manicure – $20 - $50
  • Acrylics – $25 - $55
  • Pedicures – $25 - $60.

However, prices may be higher or lower depending on the type of service and quality of products used. It is important to research the market and adjust your pricing accordingly.

You can download our nail salon business plan PDF template here. This is a business plan template you can use in PDF format.


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