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How to Start an In-Home Nail Business

  Reviewed by: Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA
  Written by: Andra Picincu      Updated November 21, 2018
Woman at spa with well manicured nails

The nail care market is blooming. In 2017, there were nearly 400,000 active nail licenses in the U.S. alone. California, for instance, was home to over 7,897 nail salons and 100,909 nail technicians. Men and women alike use these services to make sure they look sharp. If you're planning to launch your own business, one of the best things about working as a nail technician is that you can work from home. It's not necessary to open a salon and pay thousands of dollars in rent unless you want to. But you still need to have adequate equipment and comply with the laws. Additionally, you need to invest in marketing your business since you'll have less exposure than a nail salon.

What's the Industry Like?

Start by researching the local market. Try to determine what types of nail services are widely available so you can come up with something different. Depending on your skills and preferences, you could offer:

  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Fiberglass nail extensions
  • Acrylic extensions
  • Gel extensions
  • Nail art
  • Silk wraps

Check out other nail salons and technicians in your area. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, see what equipment they use and how they price their services.

Get Educated

Approximately 54.9 percent of nail technicians have been working in this business for more than nine years. If you're just getting started, consider working at a salon before launching your own business. Attend industry events, seminars and workshops. The more you know about the nail business, the better your chances of success. Also, make sure to stay on top of the latest industry trends.

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Obtain Licenses and Permits

Home-based salons are allowed in most states, but beware of any regulations and restrictions before getting started. For example, you may be required to have a separate bathroom and a separate entrance for clients. Some states don’t allow in-home nail businesses to hire employees other than family members. You might also need special parking permits. Call your state board of cosmetology to find out what laws apply in your city.

Nail technicians are required to obtain licenses. Depending on local laws, you can either complete a course by participating in a nail technician apprenticeship or through a nail technology program. These courses teach you about personal hygiene, nail care products, tools, sanitation, sterilization and other key aspects of the work. You can specialize in specific services, such as nail extensions, sculpting procedures and hand massage techniques.

Make a Business Plan

Next, decide what your in-home salon will look like and how much you will charge for services. In addition to the basic services, you can maximize your income by selling nail care products. Another option is to offer luxury manicures and pedicures, mini-manicures and nail parties. This allows you to fill any gaps in the market and meet the ever-changing demands of your clients.

Determine the costs required to start your business. After all, you don't want to welcome clients in the kitchen. Dedicate a separate room to nail care services. Try to create a relaxing atmosphere that reflects your style and sets your business apart. Also, decide how much time you can put in. Even if when your business is up and running, you'll still need to spend at least a few hours on marketing your services, doing accounting work and cleaning.

Make sure your fees meet the industry standards. Just because you're working from home, doesn't mean you should charge less. Your prices must be based on your expertise, not on your location. This will position your in-home salon as a professional business in customers' minds.

Invest in Quality Products

Search for brands and manufacturers that specialize in nail care products. To keep the costs low, consider buying wholesale supplies – just make sure they are of high quality. Many stores offer free samples so you can test the products before purchasing larger quantities.

Buy the Right Insurance

You may already think you are covered for insurance purposes because you have a home owner's or renter's policy. But these policies do not offer sufficient coverage for home-based businesses. It's not just the cap on business equipment either —if a client is hurt on your property, you need business insurance to cover the injury since home insurance excludes business liabilities.

Promote Your Business

Marketing is an ongoing activity, so get creative and come up with different strategies to promote your nail business. Since you're targeting local clients, launch advertising campaigns on Google and social networks. Distribute flyers and brochures in your city. Try to partner up with other local businesses to spread the word about your services. For example, exchange marketing materials with local hair care salons, spas, massage centers and makeup studios. Attend networking events dedicated to women and give out business cards.

Consider setting up a website that targets the local market. You may want to work with a graphic designer who has experience working on similar websites, or you can try making your own website with a template-driven service like Wix.

Most importantly, make sure you meet or exceed customer expectations. In the nail care industry, word of mouth is the best advertising.

About the Author

Andra Picincu is a digital marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience. She works closely with small businesses and large organizations alike to help them grow and increase brand awareness. She holds a BA in Marketing and International Business and a BA in Psychology. Over the past decade, she has turned her passion for marketing and writing into a successful business with an international audience. Current and former clients include The HOTH, Bisnode Sverige, Nutracelle, CLICK - The Coffee Lover's Protein Drink, InstaCuppa, Marketgoo, GoHarvey, Internet Brands, and more. In her daily life, Ms. Picincu provides digital marketing consulting and copywriting services. Her goal is to help businesses understand and reach their target audience in new, creative ways.

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