Business Education

How to Open a Nail Salon


Being a nail salon owner seems to be the ultimate dream, and who doesn't want that? It's easy to romanticize the idea of running a salon, but there are important factors to consider before you can do that. There's nothing wrong with dreaming, but you must be equipped if you want to make it a reality in the future.

If you're a nail tech curious about how you can open your nail salon someday, this will give you an idea. However, if you're ready to set the motion on your dream, this blog will be your handy guide. 


You might be thinking, how do I start a successful nail salon business? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not foolproof, and there's no magic solution that will guarantee you success, but you can achieve it with proper planning, determination, and guidance.


We want to help you pursue a new chapter of your career in the nail industry. Being a nail salon owner is a huge responsibility, and we want you to know all the critical information you'll need to get your dream salon up and running in no time!


Questions you should ask yourself:


Opening a nail salon is not an easy task. It requires numerous amounts of your time, resources, and energy. So before taking the plunge, you must take the time to self-reflect and ask yourself these crucial questions that can make or break the success of your future nail salon.

Are you capable of opening a nail salon?

Before anything else, ask yourself why are you opening up a nail salon at this point in your career? It can be dreamy to be an entrepreneur and have your own space to manage. Of course, we believe that you can do anything you put your mind to, but it's also important to be practical and realistic when planning to open a nail salon. 


Running a successful nail salon is more than just catering to clients and giving them nail art designs that are wow-worthy or cute. You need to have a solid business plan, finances, resources, and a strong support system to run your startup from the ground up.

You need to dig in deeper if you can work under pressure, handle all sorts of nail salon crises and have a good sense of leadership skills for your team. Of course, over time, you will develop skills and gain experience along the way that will make you an effective salon owner. 


Ask yourself why do you want to be a nail salon owner? 

Is there a deeper meaning behind your desire? Maybe you have a mission or a dream you want to fulfill? No matter your reason, it must be strong enough to withstand the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. 


For example, three brothers had a mission to give back to the community; hence iGel Beauty was born. 


They have manufactured high-quality, affordable nail products and built a strong Facebook community for their customers. Everything that iGel Beauty does is deeply rooted in that purpose to make a difference and give back. As a budding entrepreneur, you should also have a strong sense of why and believe in yourself when opening a nail salon.

Do you have the knowledge or experience to run a nail salon?

If you're a beginner and are taking nail classes right now, you might be preparing for your career as a nail tech and eventually to become a nail salon owner in the future. It's important to prioritize getting your license or certificate as a student.


If you're already an expert in the field, earning more hands-on experience working in a nail salon can help you further your knowledge in the nail industry, which you can use once you open up your nail salon. 


Knowledge is power, as they say, and if you already know the in and out of how a nail salon should work, see what the strengths and weaknesses your former employers do are. Then, you can use those insights to create a better operational system or management for your nail salon.


Becoming a nail salon owner is  more than just  being a highly creative person and a good leader. Your customers and team members should know that you know what you're doing and are someone to rely on when it comes to all things nail art and the operations of the salon itself.

What do you need to open a nail salon?

First things first, you need a solid business plan to see if your dream nail salon is feasible. A solid business plan can help you structure your needs and your resources before jumping straight into it. In addition, your business plan should give you an overall idea of how you want to make your dream nail salon come alive in a practical yet workable way. 


The business plan should help you see the difference between what you want and need for your nail salon, do you need fancy floor tiles, or can you go for a cheaper yet high-quality alternative? Is your nail salon COVID or crisis-proof? What suppliers or nail product manufacturers will you keep in touch with? How much does it cost to open a nail salon? How much budget will you need for the next six months once you open your nail salon? 


Your business plan should answer most of these questions when it comes to planning. It’s important for you to be equipped first hand on what resources you will need. It's also crucial for you to know if you have the right connections that can help you in the process of opening up a nail salon, from government or state permits to hiring your first employee. Everything should be in consideration during the initial planning.


Opening a nail salon checklist:

  • Nail technician license
  • Business license and legal papers
  • Business insurance
  • Equipment 
  • Location 

Steps you should do when opening a nail salon:

STEP 1: Planning: Mapping out your business 



  • To finance your starting business, you could use your savings, seek contributions, or apply for a loan.

  • Estimate the total startup cost.

  • Try to spend your money wisely. Remember, you're just starting out and spending a lot of money on unnecessary things can be your downfall. Make sure to purchase the needs over wants for your nail salon. Think about the long-term every time you spend money on things.

    Target Market

    • For whom are you doing this for? To whom would you like to cater? You have to consider your location as well. To appeal to nail enthusiasts, look for a location near popular spots for leisure like clothing stores, restaurants, gyms, and more.

    Customer Fee

    • After determining your cost and target market, you could piece together how much you could make. Full gel sets cost around $45-75, while full acrylic sets cost approximately $30-60. However, this all depends on where you are.

    • Some salons offer maintenance products as part of aftercare that you may opt to sell, like nourishing oil or hand creams. 

      Branding: Name & Aesthetic

      • Business name: The name of your salon depends on your overall goal; it could be posh, punny, sentimental, quirky, or a mix of the four.

      • Salon aesthetic or design: The overall ambiance sets the tone of your business. You want to make sure that your nail salon welcomes your customers and feels like home to them and everyone else. 

        This crucial aspect would help bring customers in and make them want to stay. You may even choose swatches or color palettes such as a cozy pastel color scheme, white with rose gold embellishments, or a fresh yet minimalistic vibe.


        STEP 2: Technical: Acquiring resources and nail equipments


        Legal Entity 

        Let's go to the serious or business aspect when running a nail salon.There are many business structures for a nail salon you can choose from. So it's better to run through each of them and decide which will suit your needs and budget.

        Here are the top four legal business structures for a nail salon

        1. Sole proprietorship

        A sole proprietorship is an excellent option for a startup nail salon since it's easy to manage, and the expenses are maintainable in the long run. Sole proprietorships and LLC are some of the most common business structures for a nail salon. You can find out more about what works well for you through this resource.

        2. Limited liability company (LLC)

        LLC is a flexible business structure for a newbie salon owner since it could be a single-owner or a multiple-owner. In addition, the business can be a separate legal entity to its owners. LLC is mainly recommended, and usually, nail owners choose this structure since it has plenty of benefits. If you want to find out more, you can read this article about LLC.

        3. C corporation or S corporation 

        Business legal structures and taxes can be confusing but don't fret since we're here to help you out! Corporations are business legal entities that help separate the legal entity of their owners but still be held liable to it. There are many types of corporations, and if you want to learn about them in-depth, here's a guide to enlighten you.

        4. Partnership

        The partnership is another business structure that you have to consider when opening up a nail salon. It has two forms, one for general partnerships and one for limited partnerships. Find out more about the partnership as a business structure here. Opening a nail salon through partnership has many factors to consider. If you're undecided, read this article to learn more.

        • Cosmetology License

        If you haven't secured your license yet, we suggest researching a cosmetology school near your area. Other states require nail salon owners to have a state-issued cosmetology license. Additional licenses you may file: a seller permits via the central business licensing association in your area. Try contacting your local business affairs board.

        • Taxes & Permits

        EIN (Employee Identification Number): business identification for tax bracket (U.S. citizens: you may fill up a form on the IRS website). You may also apply at the Secretary of State in your locality.

        • Business accounting

        Accounting can be daunting, especially if you're already working on opening up your salon; you have many things on your plate. However, business accounting should not be neglected since it can get you in trouble. It's best if you have an accountant to handle these matters for you while you're busy. Here's a complete guide on nail salon accounting and how you can do business accounting independently or with an accountant.

        • Business insurance

        The major goal of business insurance is to safeguard your nail salon against costly and unforeseen catastrophes. It is to ensure that you are debt free in the event of any issues you may encounter. Businesses require commercial insurance to assist cover the expenses of asset damage and liability issues. For your start up nail salon, it’s important to foresee the future and prepare. Here’s an article to help you see the policies you can choose from.

        • Startup Money

         It would be wise to open a separate account for your business; this would help maintain a budget while preserving your savings. Since you have already drafted the costs, you may now compare and adjust accordingly. Here’s a guide on how to handle your finances when opening a nail salon.

        • Rent, Furnishing, & Supplies

        Rent: Choose a location that would match your branding, aesthetic, budget, and target market.

        Furnishing: We've listed the basic necessities below. However, depending on the aesthetic that you're going for, you may definitely add other things.

        • Desks
        • Standing stations for technicians
        • Manicure tables
        • Reclining seats with footrests
        • Supply carts
        • Chairs (waiting area)

        Supplies: Best to keep an inventory of the following items to keep track of expenditure, especially the disposable items.


        STEP 3: Social: Running a successful nail salon


      • Hiring Employees

      • Hiring nail salon employees is so much more than having skilled nail technicians. Your employees would be representing your brand. They would accept appointments, make sales, and maintain the salon you built from the ground up. The last thing you want to do is hire nail technicians or team members who don't walk the talk. 

        You have to be strict or have a standard when screening your employees. Your employees should strike a fine balance of being creative and someone who can take charge when you're not around, someone who is reliable in the long run.

      • Providing strong customer rapport

      • This may be the most crucial aspect of the social part of your business. Building a long-term relationship with your customers sets the foundation of a thriving business. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing strategies to make your newly opened nail salon profitable. 

      • Marketing Online

      • Your start-up nail salon should have a strong presence online to boost your profits and long-term business goals. Today, most businesses from all industries are catering to clients through social media. Consider having a professionally made website. Hire creatives such as writers, photographers, web developers, social media managers, and graphic designers to help you extend your brand in the digital space. 

        Customers nowadays expect brands or businesses to have a website or social media sites up and running to trust its credibility and have accessibility to them. Suppose you're still running a startup, you need to make a noise and cater to more customers, and one way you can do that is by having an effective social media marketing strategy and proactive customer service online.



        Opening a nail salon is not a walk in the park, but with a plan, your dreams are at your fingertips! If you feel overwhelmed with the transition and need a helping hand, our iGel Beauty Facebook community is here for you. Join us!