Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Nails Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a profitable nails business in 11+ steps. From finding your niche to marketing your services, we've got you covered. Start today! #nailsbusiness #profitable #startabusiness

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 02, 2024

nails business image
This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

Starting a nails business requires a thorough understanding of the market to ensure your services meet the demands and preferences of your target customers. A comprehensive market analysis will help you gauge the competition, identify trends, and understand customer needs, setting a solid foundation for your business strategy. Below are key steps to conduct an effective market analysis for a nails business:

  • Research the local demographics to determine the potential customer base, including age, income levels, and beauty spending habits.
  • Analyze competitors in the area by visiting their salons, reviewing their service offerings, pricing structures, and customer reviews to identify gaps in the market.
  • Examine current industry trends, such as popular nail styles, eco-friendly products, and innovative nail care services, to inform your business offerings.
  • Conduct surveys or focus groups with potential clients to understand their preferences, desired services, and what they value in a nail salon experience.
  • Assess suppliers for nail care products and equipment to ensure quality and cost-effectiveness, while also considering the benefits of partnering with reputable brands.
nails business image

Are Nails businesses profitable?

Yes, nails businesses can be profitable if they are managed well. Factors such as quality product and service, competitive pricing, and good customer service are key to ensuring a successful business. Additionally, having a strong marketing strategy and building a loyal customer base can help increase profits.

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2. Draft a nails business plan.

Creating a solid business plan is essential for the success of your nails business, as it will guide your decisions and help you secure financing. It should outline your business goals, strategies, and the steps you need to take to achieve them. Consider the following key components when drafting your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Offer a brief overview of your business, including your mission statement, services, and basic information.
  • Market Analysis: Research nail industry trends, identify your target market, and analyze your competition.
  • Services and Products: Detail the types of services (e.g., manicures, pedicures) and any retail products you plan to offer.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: Explain how you will attract and retain customers, including pricing, promotions, and sales tactics.
  • Operational Plan: Describe the day-to-day operations, including location, facilities, equipment, and staff requirements.
  • Management and Organization: Define the business structure, ownership details, and the qualifications of your management team.
  • Financial Projections: Provide financial forecasts, including startup costs, funding requirements, and profit and loss projections.

How does a Nails business make money?

A nail business typically makes money by charging customers for services such as manicures, pedicures, and nail art. Some nail businesses also sell nail care products to customers, such as nail polish and files.

3. Develop a nails brand.

Starting a nails brand is an exciting venture that requires creativity, planning, and a strong sense of the market. As you move into the development phase, focus on creating a brand that stands out and resonates with your target audience. Here are some key steps to help you build your nails brand:

  • Define your brand identity: Choose a name, logo, and design theme that reflects the style and ethos of your brand, ensuring it appeals to your intended customer base.
  • Research your market: Understand the preferences and needs of your customers, and identify what makes your brand unique compared to competitors.
  • Source quality materials: Select high-quality nail products and materials that are durable, safe, and align with your brand's values, such as eco-friendliness or luxury.
  • Develop a cohesive product line: Create a product range that offers variety while maintaining a consistent brand experience, from nail polishes to treatments and accessories.
  • Establish an online presence: Build a professional website and engage on social media platforms to connect with your audience and showcase your brand's personality and offerings.
  • Plan your marketing strategy: Craft compelling marketing campaigns that highlight your brand's unique selling points, using influencers, collaborations, and promotional events to gain visibility.

How to come up with a name for your Nails business?

When it comes to naming your nail business, creativity is key! Brainstorm a few words that capture the essence of the services you offer and the vibe you want to create. Once you have a few ideas, start combining words to create unique and memorable names. Research similar businesses in your area to make sure your name stands out and doesn't clash with existing businesses. Once you've narrowed down your choices, take a step back and listen to your intuition--the right name will stand out and will feel like the perfect fit!

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4. Formalize your business registration.

Starting a nail salon requires not only skill and creativity but also a solid legal foundation. The fourth step, formalizing your business registration, is crucial for setting up your salon's legal structure, ensuring compliance with laws, and protecting personal assets. Here's how to navigate this process:

  • Choose a business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation) that best suits your needs, considering factors such as liability, taxes, and operational complexity.
  • Register your business name with the appropriate state agency; this is often the Secretary of State or a similar entity. Ensure the name is unique and meets all state requirements.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax purposes, especially if you plan to hire employees.
  • Apply for the necessary business licenses and permits; the requirements vary by location but typically include a general business license, a cosmetology establishment license, and a health department permit.
  • Check with your local city or county about any additional requirements or zoning laws that may apply to your nail salon business.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore key resources designed for nails entrepreneurs aiming to gain insights on market trends, enhance operational efficiency, and strategically grow their businesses:

  • NAILS Magazine: A leading publication offering the latest in nail trends, business tips, and techniques for professionals. Visit NAILS Magazine.
  • Provides comprehensive information on the nails industry, including forums and articles for nail technicians and salon owners. Visit
  • Salon Today: Focuses on business operations, growth strategies, and leadership for salon and spa professionals, with a section dedicated to nails services. Visit Salon Today.
  • Mintel: Offers detailed market reports and analysis on the beauty and nail salon industry, highlighting consumer trends, market growth, and competitive landscapes. Access requires subscription. Visit Mintel.
  • The Professional Beauty Association: Provides industry research, education, and networking opportunities for beauty professionals, including nail technicians. Visit The Professional Beauty Association.

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for nails.

Starting a nails business requires not just skill and creativity but also compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. To ensure your business operates legally, acquiring the necessary licenses and permits is crucial. Here's a list of the essential steps you'll need to take:

  • Research local regulations: Check with your city or county government to understand the specific licenses and permits required to operate a nail salon in your area.
  • Obtain a business license: Apply for a general business license to legally conduct business within your city or state.
  • Secure a cosmetology or nail technician license: Most states require nail technicians to have a professional license, which typically involves completing a certified program and passing an exam.
  • Comply with health and safety standards: Get a health department permit to ensure your salon meets sanitation standards to protect your clients' health and safety.
  • Check for additional permits: Depending on your location, you might need additional permits, such as a building permit if you're constructing a new space, or a fire department permit to ensure safety compliance.
  • Consider professional liability insurance: While not a permit or license, obtaining insurance can protect your business from potential legal claims.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a nails business?

Depending on the location, the specific licenses and permits necessary to run a nails business may vary. Generally, these businesses need a business license, any local health department permits, and any other applicable professional licenses. It is recommended that you check with your state or local government for additional information regarding specific requirements and regulations in your area.

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Starting a nails business involves several key financial steps to ensure a smooth operation and sound management of your finances. One of these critical steps is opening a business bank account, which will help you keep personal and business expenses separate. Additionally, securing adequate funding is essential to cover startup costs, inventory, and ongoing expenses. Below are some tips to guide you through these financial milestones:

  • Research banks that offer business banking services and compare their fees, services, and customer support. Choose the one that best suits your business needs.
  • When opening a business bank account, make sure to have all required documents on hand, such as your business license, employer identification number (EIN), and personal identification.
  • Consider the different types of funding available, such as business loans, lines of credit, or investors. Evaluate the terms and select the option that aligns with your business plan and financial capacity.
  • Create a solid business plan to present to potential lenders or investors, highlighting your business strategy, market analysis, and projected financials.
  • Explore grants and small business programs that may offer financial assistance with fewer repayment obligations.

7. Set pricing for nails services.

Deciding on the right pricing for your nail services is crucial to attract customers while ensuring your business is profitable. Consider your costs, the local market, and the quality of services you provide. Here's a guide to help you set competitive and fair prices:

  • Analyze Costs: Calculate the total costs of products, labor, and overhead to ensure your prices cover expenses and yield a profit.
  • Research Competitors: Look at the pricing of similar services in your area to ensure your rates are competitive.
  • Price for Quality: If you're using high-quality products or offering unique services, don't be afraid to charge more.
  • Tiered Pricing: Consider a tiered pricing model for different levels of service, such as basic, premium, and luxury.
  • Special Offers: Introduce introductory prices or bundle deals to attract new customers.
  • Adjust Regularly: Regularly review and adjust your prices based on costs, demand, and customer feedback.
  • Transparent Pricing: Always be transparent with your pricing to build trust with your clients.

What does it cost to start a Nails business?

Initiating a nails business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $11500 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your nails business.

8. Acquire nails equipment and supplies.

Starting a nails business requires careful selection of high-quality equipment and supplies to ensure your services meet professional standards and client expectations. As you embark on this exciting venture, here's a guide to acquiring the essentials you'll need for your nail salon.

  • Nail Polish and Gel Polish: Invest in a wide range of colors and finishes from reputable brands to cater to different client preferences.
  • Acrylic and Gel Nail Supplies: Purchase a variety of acrylic powders, gels, brushes, and sculpting tools for artificial nail services.
  • Sanitization Equipment: Ensure client safety with an autoclave or disinfectant solutions for tools, and single-use items like files and buffers.
  • Nail Art Supplies: Stock up on nail art tools such as dotting tools, stickers, decals, and rhinestones to offer creative designs.
  • Manicure and Pedicure Tools: Acquire cuticle nippers, clippers, nail files, and foot baths for basic nail care services.
  • Furniture and Comfort: Select ergonomic chairs for clients and technicians, manicure tables, and comfortable waiting area seating.
  • Lighting and Ventilation: Invest in good lighting for precision work and a ventilation system to maintain air quality.
  • Point of Sale System: Choose a reliable POS system to manage appointments, sales, and client records efficiently.

List of Software, Tools and Supplies Needed to Start a Nails Business:

  • Nail polish
  • Nail art supplies, such as glitter, sequins, nail striping tape and rhinestones
  • Nail files, clippers and buffers
  • Cuticle pushers and cuticle nippers
  • Hand and foot spa supplies, including moisturizing cream and foot scrub
  • Scratch-resistant topcoat and base coat
  • Wooden sticks for cleaning and pushing back cuticles
  • Filing and buffing tools
  • Manicure and pedicure sets
  • UV/LED nail lamps
  • Invoicing and accounting software
  • Point of sale software
  • Booking software
  • Marketing software
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective masks
  • Disinfectants and sanitizers
  • Disposable towels and liners
  • Disposable nail files and buffers
  • Tablecloths and towels
  • Storage containers and shelves
  • Reception area furniture
  • Client chairs
  • Lighting fixtures

9. Obtain business insurance for nails, if required.

Securing the right business insurance is an essential step in protecting your nail salon against unforeseen events. It can safeguard against liabilities, property damage, and other risks associated with running a nails business. Below are key points to consider when obtaining business insurance:

  • Identify the types of insurance required for a nail salon, such as general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, and workers' compensation.
  • Consult with insurance agents or brokers who specialize in small businesses or the beauty industry to get tailored advice for your specific needs.
  • Compare quotes from multiple insurance providers to ensure you get comprehensive coverage at a competitive price.
  • Consider the scope of your services and any unique risks your business might face to determine additional coverage options, like product liability or business interruption insurance.
  • Review the terms and coverage limits of each policy carefully to make sure they meet your business requirements and comply with local regulations.
  • Maintain and regularly update your insurance policies to reflect any changes in your business operations or services offered.

10. Begin marketing your nails services.

Now that you have mastered the art of nail care and established your business, it's time to attract clients and grow your brand. A solid marketing plan is key to making your nail services known in the community and beyond. Here are some effective strategies to kickstart your marketing efforts:

  • Develop a Brand Identity: Create a memorable logo and choose a color scheme that reflects the style of your nail business. Use these elements consistently across all marketing materials.
  • Launch a Website: Set up a professional website showcasing your services, prices, and a portfolio of your work. Include an online booking system to make it easy for clients to schedule appointments.
  • Use Social Media: Create accounts on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest where you can post before-and-after photos, share customer testimonials, and engage with potential clients.
  • Offer Promotions: Attract new customers with introductory offers, discounts for referrals, or loyalty programs for repeat clients.
  • Network Locally: Attend community events, collaborate with local businesses, and offer your services at local charity events to increase visibility.
  • Encourage Reviews: Ask satisfied clients to write reviews on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp to build credibility and attract more clients.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a nails business?

  • Nail polish
  • Nail art supplies, such as glitter, sequins, nail striping tape and rhinestones
  • Nail files, clippers and buffers
  • Cuticle pushers and cuticle nippers
  • Hand and foot spa supplies, including moisturizing cream and foot scrub
  • Scratch-resistant topcoat and base coat
  • Wooden sticks for cleaning and pushing back cuticles
  • Filing and buffing tools
  • Manicure and pedicure sets
  • UV/LED nail lamps
  • Invoicing and accounting software
  • Point of sale software
  • Booking software
  • Marketing software
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective masks
  • Disinfectants and sanitizers
  • Disposable towels and liners
  • Disposable nail files and buffers
  • Tablecloths and towels
  • Storage containers and shelves
  • Reception area furniture
  • Client chairs
  • Lighting fixtures

11. Expand your nails business.

Expanding your nails business is an exciting next step that can lead to increased revenue and a broader client base. As you prepare for this growth phase, it's crucial to focus on strategies that will enhance your business's reach and reputation. Here are some key points to guide you through the expansion process:

  • Introduce New Services: Offer additional services such as nail art, gel extensions, or advanced manicure techniques to attract a wider range of clients.
  • Enhance Online Presence: Update your website, engage more on social media, and consider online booking options to make it easier for clients to reach you.
  • Invest in Marketing: Use both digital and traditional marketing strategies to promote your nail business in your local area and beyond.
  • Train and Hire Staff: As demand increases, hire skilled nail technicians and invest in their training to maintain high-quality services.
  • Retail Nail Care Products: Sell nail care products to provide an additional revenue stream and encourage at-home maintenance between appointments.
  • Collaborate with Other Businesses: Partner with local businesses to offer joint promotions or package deals that can introduce your brand to new customers.
  • Seek Customer Feedback: Regularly gather and act on customer feedback to ensure you're meeting their needs and expectations as you grow.