If you’re a nail tech focused on independence and growth, starting a nail salon business is a great way to flex your creativity and earn more money.

With the nail salon industry on the rise — amassing more than eight billion in annual revenue in the United States alone — now is the perfect time to open up your own nail salon.

In this guide, we’ll answer the big questions you might have about starting a nail salon business, such as:

Our step-by-step guide will give you the confidence you need to get your own nail salon up and running in no time!

But first…

How Much Does It Cost to Open Up a Nail Salon?

There are a lot of factors to consider when calculating the cost of opening up a nail salon, such as location and size.

While the exact costs will vary depending on where you’re starting your salon, here’s a quick list of expenses to expect. 

Nail Salon Startup Costs:

Location & Lease/Mortgage

No matter where you’re located, your lease (or mortgage if you buy a space) will be a big chunk of your budget. 

And while it may feel like a hefty investment, the location you choose can be crucial to attracting new clients.

Renovations & Decorations 

Small or large, renovation costs may need to be factored in for items like flooring, lighting fixtures, and furniture.

Licensing & Permits

As with any business, you’ll need the appropriate licenses and permits to operate a salon. This includes: business license, cosmetology license, and health department permits. 

(We’ll get more into the details of obtaining licenses and permits later on below.)

Equipment & Supplies

Investing in the right equipment and supplies for your nail salon can be a crucial part of your success. 

Equipment such as pedicure chairs, nail stations, drying lamps, and ventilation systems are a necessity. 

You’ll also have to think about purchasing a good variety of nail polishes, gels, tools, and other supplies, depending on the services you offer.

Marketing & Advertising

When it comes to marketing and advertising your nail salon, you’ll need to consider website costs, online booking software (like Schedulicity 😉), social media campaigns, business cards, and the potential cost of advertising in local directories. 

Operating Expenses

Ongoing operational costs include utilities, insurance, professional fees, cleaning supplies, and maintenance of equipment. 

Staying on top of these expenses will ensure your salon runs smoothly.

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Ultimate Guide to Salon Booking Software

In this guide, we’ll share a comprehensive breakdown of the best booking apps for salons — to help make your research a little easier.

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How to Open Your Own Nail Salon Business in 10 Easy Steps

Now that we’ve covered the costs to expect when opening up your own nail salon, let’s get into all the steps you need to take before you open your salon doors.

  1. Build a business plan
  2. Pick a business name
  3. Obtain licenses and permits
  4. Start a business bank account
  5. Set up accounting
  6. Find your salon location
  7. Purchase equipment and supplies
  8. Design your salon brand
  9. Choose an online scheduling software
  10. Create an online presence

1. Build Your Salon Business Plan

Salon business plans are essentially an outline for how you plan to start your business, and they include information like your target market, financial plans, marketing strategies, and more. 

Here’s a quick checklist of what to include in your salon business plan

✔️Cover Page 

For your cover page, be sure to include the name of your business, your name, phone number, email address, and any other contact information you’d like to include. 

✔️Executive Summary

This is a concise overview of your business plan, letting readers know what topics you’ll be covering throughout the business plan.


Lay out how your business will be structured and how you plan to make your salon business successful. 

✔️Market Research

Market research involves getting to know your competitors, and it’s an important step in developing your business strategy.

Search for nail salons in your area — how would you find them? Where would you look?

Also, check out the other salon websites to learn more about what nail services others are offering and how much they’re charging.

✔️Marketing Plan

When coming up with your marketing plan, ask yourself:

  • Who is my ideal client?
  • How will you get their attention?
  • What marketing avenues will you use?
  • Social media? Local advertisements?

✔️Operations Plan

Lay out what your day-to-day operations will look like. What systems will you have in place to help you manage your salon?

What equipment will you need?

And don’t forget about your online scheduling software!

✔️Financial Plan

To conclude your business plan, add in a solid breakdown of your projected numbers, such as your budget, initial investment, and projected profits.

Explain how you plan to make your nail salon profitable.

2. Pick a Name for Your Nail Salon

It’s your salon, and you want the perfect name, right? One that clients will remember — one that’s uniquely you.

So when brainstorming the name of your salon, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is it easy to pronounce?
  • Is it memorable?
  • Does it represent you well?
  • Are there similar salon names in your area?

3. Obtain Licenses, Permits & Insurance

Making sure your new nail salon business is legal is an important step.

There are a few licensing and insurance requirements to keep in mind.

Licenses & Permits

  • Register your business name: The Small Business Association (SBA) has the details you need to get your business name registered. 
  • Get your EIN: Your Employee Identification Number acts as a social security number for your business, which is needed for tax purposes.
  • Secure your business license: Each state will have different requirements for your business license, so be sure to check your state’s regulations to receive your business license.
  • Get your cosmetology or beautician license: If you’re looking to start your own nail salon business, you may already have your cosmetology license. But if not, you’ll need it, so be sure you’re licensed in each state you’ll be working.


Insurance requirements may vary state to state, but there’s no doubt you’ll need it. And there are at least two types of insurance you’ll likely need:

  • General Liability Insurance: General Liability covers claims that could come up in your day-to-day operations, such bodily injuries that your business may have caused.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: Business Interruption helps cover you for loss of income in the event you’re unable to carry out business as usual due to an unexpected event.

4. Start a Business Bank Account

Opening up a bank account for your nail salon business ensures that your personal assets are separate from your business assets.

It also makes accounting easier and simplifies things come tax season.

Pro Tip: Got tax questions? Don’t miss our Ultimate List of Tax Prep Resources for Small Business Owners to get the answers you need. 😉

5. Set Up Accounting

The nail salon business can involve a lot of cash transactions, so having a solid accounting system in place can be a life saver.

Some scheduling software, like Schedulicity, can help you keep track of payments — cash, card, or otherwise — but for a more robust accounting system, it might be worth exploring options like QuickBooks or AccountEdge Pro.

6. Find Your Salon Location

Choosing your salon space can be a fun undertaking! Plus, you get to decorate it, too!

When finding your location, consider the following factors:

  • Budget
  • Ease of access
  • Foot traffic
  • Ambience

You’ll also want to consider all the equipment you need for your nail salon and be sure the space will accommodate all the tools you need.

7. Purchase Equipment & Supplies

Purchasing equipment and supplies for your nail salon might be a hefty upfront investment, but the right tools can make a huge difference.

To get your nail salon up and running, you’ll need the following pieces of equipment.

  • Manicure Stations: Include comfortable chairs or nail desks for clients and nail technicians.
  • Nail Care Tools: Nail clippers, cuticle pushers, nippers, files, and buffers.
  • UV/LED Nail Lamps: Lamps are required for curing gel nails and ensuring long-lasting manicures.
  • Nail Polish Racks: Nail polish racks will help you organize an extensive nail polish collection.
  • Pedicure Chairs: Designed with built-in foot baths and leg rests to provide maximum comfort during pedicure sessions.
  • Pedicure Tools: Including foot scrubs, pumice stones, and callus removers for effective foot care.
  • Manicure & Pedicure Supplies: Such as cotton pads, towels, bowls, and disposables like gloves and masks for hygienic practices.

8. Craft Your Salon’s Brand

A lot can go into building a brand for your nail salon, but at its root, your salon brand is a way of translating your passion — and who you are — into something recognizable and absolutely you

There are a few steps to take when crafting your salon’s brand…

  1. Define Your Mission
  2. Define Your Target Clients
  3. Cultivate Your Brand
  4. Be Consistent

Pro Tip: If you really want to dive into the details of building your brand, check out our Free Guide to Building a Salon Brand.

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Social Media Marketing 101

Deep-dive into trends, tools, and hashtags that will take your brand – and small business – to the next level.

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9. Choose an Online Scheduling Software

No doubt about it: Your clients are going to want to be able to easily book with you online. 

So you’ll need to invest in a scheduling app that works for your business and your clients.

With an intuitive calendar, marketing tools, and payment processing all in one place, Schedulicity is the go-to scheduling app for a ton of successful nail techs.

Pro Tip: Check out all the details on Schedulicity and other top-tier scheduling apps by exploring our Ultimate Guide to Salon Booking Software

10. Create an Online Presence

The more you work to build up and grow your salon, the more clients will see it, and the more likely clients will begin to recognize and remember your salon. 

Think about what makes your business unique, then focus on that as you utilize all the online avenues you can to spread the good news about you and your brand new nail salon.

Get your business out there by utilizing the following channels:

Are you starting your own nail salon and in need of an online scheduling app? Schedulicity has you covered!

With appointment schedulingmarketing tools, and payment processing, you have everything you need to run your salon business — all in one place!