How to Start a Nail Salon Business: The Only Guide You Need

By Bazal Razzaq

Chief Editor

Updated: October 03, 2023

Editorial Note: We earn a commission if you use the services recommended on this page. Commissions do not affect our opinions or recommendations.

Nail Salon

The beauty sector provides excellent opportunities to creative minds who enjoy making connections with others. If you have the passion to help others in making their nails look fabulous then opening a nail salon will be a perfect business idea for you.

Nail Salon in the US generates over $5 billion every year. People spend a lot of money at nail salons for pedicures as well. There are approximately 56,300 nail salons and around 395,600 nail technicians providing services to the people.

The Nail salon industry faced a huge backdrop during the pandemic with a 19% decline in 2019-2020. It is expected to grow 9% annually every year since people have started returning to nail salons for nail-related services.

Benefits of Starting a Nail Salon:

  1. Easy to Start Have a legal business entity and arrange a license and insurance and you are good to start.

  2. Small Investment Huge Profit- A nail salon owner worries about operating costs only. The running costs are low and the rest is profit.

  3. Rewarding job- Seeing the happy faces of your clients after getting their nails done is indeed a reward. You come back home satisfied that you were able to help and satisfy your customers.

  4. Client Retention- Over a period of time, you develop great relationships with your clients. If they like your work, they will keep revisiting you over a long period of time.

People visit Nail salons to get perfect-looking nails which is not possible to achieve at home. A Nail salon provides services such as pedicures, manicures and customized nail treatments to clients.

Let us dive into the Nail salon business and decide if it’s the right business for you or not.

10 steps to start a Nail Salon in the US-

  1. Nail Salon Business Plan.

  2. Form a legal entity for your business.

  3. Register Nail Salon for Taxation.

  4. Open a Bank Account for Business and get a credit card.

  5. Set up accounts for your business.

  6. Obtain permits and licenses for a salon.

  7. Obtain Nail Salon Insurance.

  8. Define your Brand.

  9. Create a website for your business.

  10. Arrange a Business Phone System.

We have mentioned the steps below to start your own Nail Salon Business from scratch.

#1 You must have a clear plan before starting a new business. It helps you give clarity and makes you pay attention to every small detail.

To begin with, try to have answers to the following questions-

  • What will you name your business?

  • What will be the startup and ongoing costs?

  • Define the market you wish to target.

  • How much do you plan to charge your clients?

We have tried to answer these questions for you.

What will you name your business?

It is crucial to choose a good name for your business. You can research your business name by checking-

  • Business Record of your state.

  • Trademark records of State and Federal.

  • Social Media platform.

  • Availability of Web Domain.

We suggest you secure your domain name before anyone else does.

What will be the startup and ongoing costs?

Most of the nail salons are built in an area of 1,000 square feet approximately which costs between $75 and $125 per square foot. It makes the total build-out cost $75,000 to $125,000 for a 1,000-square-foot salon.

The entrepreneurs looking to incur less start-up costs for the salon can buy second-hand equipment from a prior salon owner or get the salon on lease. One can also search for a previously closed salon and start the business there.

Also, the business owners can look for a location where the property owner builds to suit. Under Built-to-Suit agreement the property owners construct the facility as per the tenant’s requirements after the tenant commits to a lease agreement.

The ongoing expenses for the nail salon include- employee wages, taxes, rent, supply costs, insurance and maintenance on equipment. It costs 2 and 8 percent of sales.

Define the market you wish to target.

The target market would be people who are conscious about their appearance, follow the latest fashion trends, and are financially well off. Most salon customers are men but they also provide services to men.

These salons charge money for services like pedicures, manicures, and other services. They also sell nail care products.

How much do you plan to charge your clients?

The nail salon businesses offer several services to clients at different prices. We have laid down the price range to have a brief idea-

Manicure: $15 and $25

Pedicure: $25 and $45

Other Treatments:

  • Full gel sets ($45 – $75)

  • Full acrylic sets ($30 – $60)

  • Silk nails ($10 – $15)

Fillers, polishes and repairs cost $3 (for some repairs) to $30 (for gel polishes).

#2 Form a legal entity for your business

The sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation are the common business structures. Having a legal business entity will protect you from being liable if the nail business gets sued.

You can establish your own Limited Liability Company and pay the LLC costs or use Best LLC services at an additional fee.

#3 Register Nail Salon for Taxation

You will be required to file state and federal taxes before you start your business. To register your business for taxes, you need EIN. It is easy to get the EIN from the IRS website.

#4 Open a Bank Account for Business and get a credit card

It is advisable to use separate banking and credit accounts for your business and don’t mix it with your personal account. It is done to ensure your personal assets (home, car, and other valuables) are not at risk. It is called piercing your corporate veil.

Open a Bank Account: 

A Business Bank account is essential to

  • Separate Personal assets from business assets.

  • Make tax filing and accounting easier.

Get a Credit Card:

  • Separate business and personal expenses.

  • Create the company’s credit history.

Apply for a business credit card at BILL.

#5 Set up accounts for your business

You must maintain the expenses and sources of income to track the performance of your business. Also, when your accounts are well maintained, it makes annual tax filing much easier.

#6 Obtain permits and licenses for a salon

The business owners must acquire certain permits and licenses to run the nail salons. If unable to do so your business will be exposed to heavy fines or can be shut down. You can acquire tax-related information from SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

The most common is that retail businesses must have a seller’s permit which allows the state to record and collect taxes from product sales.

  • Acquiring a license to play Music-

A blanket license can be obtained which allows business owners to play music from a large catalog of artists and recording studios. These licenses can be obtained from Performance Rights Organizations such as ASCAP or BMI.

#7 Obtain Nail Salon Insurance

If you want your business to operate safely and lawfully then you must acquire Business Insurance to safeguard the financial well-being of your

company in case of losses.

There are several Insurance policies for different businesses. If you are unsure of the risks your business involves, we suggest you get General Liability Insurance.

You can get Workers’ Compensation Insurance if your business needs employees to run it. If that’s the case, the state will ask you to have Workers’ Compensation Coverage.

#8 Define your Brand

You can define the brand by telling what the company does and how the business is assessed by the public. Try to build a strong brand name so that your business stands ahead of all the competitors.

#9 Create a website for your business

The next step involves creating a website to promote your business. We have listed below the reasons why you must have a business website:

  • All successful businesses have a Website.

  • Having social media is good but they alone can’t replace the business website.

  • Website-building tools like GoDaddy have made website building easy. You don’t need a web designer or developer to create a website. Other website builders are WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

#10 Arrange a Business Phone System

Arranging a phone set for your business is a good way to separate your personal life and business life. It provides your business legitimacy, and automation, and brings your clients closer to you.

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Frequently Asked Questions​ (FAQs)

A single nail salon owner can make $40,000 and $75,000 each year. Several salon owners are running multiple salons in different locations.

You can increase your revenue by upselling customers with additional services and selling nail care products. You can sell high-end products to your clients saying you want them to use the best products.

Since Nail Salons provide services in local areas, the target market should be the residents and workers in nearby communities. You can opt for word-of-mouth marketing to grow your customer database.

It offers services like manicures, pedicures, nail extensions, acrylic overlay, nail art etc.

We have mentioned the cost to hire additional staff below-

  • Receptionist(s) salary is $17,000 – $29,000 per annum.

  • A salon manager’s salary is $21,000 to $47,000 per annum.

  • Aesthetician’s salary is $23,000 to $56,000 per annum.

  • Manicurist’s salary is $20,000 to $50,000 per annum.

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