How to Open a Nail Salon

manicuring fingernails in beauty salon image by Alena Yakusheva from

Nail and other beauty salons are thriving businesses--as of 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that personal appearance workers such as nail technicians will have employment growth that is much faster than average when compared to other professions. This means that opening a nail salon is a good business bet. Anyone can open a nail salon, even if they are not a nail technician themselves. The process of opening a salon requires going through legal hoops and planning carefully, but nail salon doors can open in nine simple steps.

Decide what kind of nail salon you would like to open. For instance, will your salon be mobile? Will the nail services be priced and designed for everyone or for only upscale clientele? Will you purchase a salon from someone or build from scratch? How big of a facility will you need, and what other services (e.g., aromatherapy) might you provide aside from nail care?

Decide what to name the salon. Check with the Secretary of State to see if the name you want already is registered by someone else. Register your salon name with the Secretary of State if no one else already has selected it. Your registration name also is known as "Doing Business As (DBA)," "Fictitious Name" and "Assumed Name." Once you've registered, obtain your Federal Tax ID, register with the State Revenue Agency, and obtain your business permit from the state.

Write up a business proposal for the nail salon. Include information such as why your nail salon is needed, what it will cost, how you intend to operate it and how many nail technicians you'll employ.

Contact potential donors and funding organizations and use your proposal to obtain monies to cover your startup costs. Take out a loan from a bank or the Small Business Administration if needed.

Contact your local authorities (e.g., your zoning commission) and your State Board of Barbers and Cosmetology to find out what other permits and licenses you will need to operate the nail salon. File for those licenses and permits and obtain authorization to run the salon from these organizations. You cannot run a salon without this authorization without risk of shutdown or fines, so adhering to all state board rules and regulations is absolutely imperative.

Buy business insurance.

Order and install nail salon inventory such as chairs, tables, polishes, brushes, acrylics and dryers.

Place advertisements and conduct interviews to fill the nail technician positions for the salon. Hire only applicants that have a nail technician/cosmetology certificate and license, as most states require all nail technicians to have these credentials.

Prepare for the inspection of your nail salon that the State Board of Barbers and Cosmetology will conduct. Generally this inspection occurs just prior to the opening of the salon.

Advertise the grand opening of the salon. Place ads online or in newspapers, stand on the street and give out free samples of nail products or put up fliers with coupons. Contact anyone you know in the cosmetology/personal care industry who can get the word out, including hair stylists, dermatologists and makeup artists.


  • Nothing will kill a new nail salon's chances of success more than reports of dirtiness or unhygienic practices. Thus, before your salon opens its doors, make sure you have reviewed OSHA standards on health and hygiene in a nail salon. It's beneficial to provide all employees with OSHA training, even if they are certified in their field, as regulations frequently change. Inspect your salon periodically to make sure that it is compliant with these standards and establish protocols on how to reprimand employees who are not following the guidelines.



About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website,, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.

Photo Credits

  • manicuring fingernails in beauty salon image by Alena Yakusheva from