How to Start Your Esthetics Business

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Esthetics is a rapidly growing industry as more and more people, particularly aging baby boomers, embrace the art of self-care for an improved appearance. Operating an esthetics business can be an effective way to build a thriving business that serves your local community.

What Services Do Estheticians Provide?

Esthetics, sometimes spelled “aesthetics,” is a blanket term that refers to a wide range of health and beauty practices. However, it is important to note that estheticians are not considered to be health care professionals, even if their job title is “medical esthetician.” The services estheticians provide include but are not limited to:

  • Makeup application
  • All types of massage therapy
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Laser hair removal
  • Light therapy
  • Waxing
  • Threading
  • Face and body wraps
  • Facials 
  • Aromatherapy
  • Chemical peels
  • Body scrubs 
  • Laser skin rejuvenation
  • Pore cleansing

Become a Licensed Esthetician

In every state, estheticians need to be licensed by the state cosmetology board in order to legally perform esthetics services. Previously, estheticians practicing in Connecticut were not required to be licensed, but this recently changed, and as of July 2020, any esthetician wishing to practice in Connecticut must be licensed to do so by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

The requirements for becoming a licensed esthetician vary from state to state. In every state, though, the process begins with completing an accredited esthetician training program that involves classroom study as well as hands-on training. The number of hours required to complete an esthetician program varies from state to state, with most states requiring 600 hours. After completing a program, an esthetics student must take a final exam in order to be licensed by the state.

If you are already a licensed esthetician and want to open or join an esthetics business in another state, you may be able to start working without having to take any new classes or another licensing exam to become licensed in your new state. Transferring an esthetician license is done through a reciprocity agreement, and each state has its own requirements regarding esthetics license reciprocity with other states.

Research Your Local Market

Esthetics is one business area that’s generally limited to brick-and-mortar service providers. Unless your esthetics business is purely focused on selling skin care and makeup items over the internet, you need to design your business around your local market’s needs. Take time to build a customer persona and research how that ideal customer is currently being served by the esthetics services in your city and the greater region.

As you research your local market, take note of:

  • The popularity of esthetics treatments among the people in your market

  • Which segment of your local market spends the most time and money on esthetics treatments — note their age range, socioeconomic range, gender and service purchasing habits

  • How many other esthetics businesses are currently operating in your market

  • Which esthetics services are not currently offered in your market

  • Customers’ pain points related to health and beauty services in your market

  • How much other esthetics businesses in your market charge for the services you plan to provide

Create an Esthetician Business Plan

Once you’ve determined there’s room in your market for a successful esthetics business, the next step is to create an esthetician business plan. An esthetician business plan shares many similarities with other types of professionals’ business plans. In a business plan, a business owner takes note of everything to know about the business that is necessary for himself, his partners and the business’s investors (and any future buyers if he chooses to sell). This includes:

  • The business’s physical location
  • The services the business provides
  • Information about the business’s market
  • Information about the demographic the business serves
  • The business’s day-to-day operation plan 
  • The business’s budgets 
  • How the business is funded
  • How the business is marketed
  • How the business is incorporated
  • The business’s leadership team
  • The business’s projected earnings and expenses
  • All the business’s equipment and other assets
  • Whom the business will employ and how many people it will employ

Once you have a clear business plan in place, register your business with the IRS and with your state. This renders the business its own taxable entity and is a necessary step for nearly any privately owned business operating in the United States. Depending on your state, you might register your business with the secretary of state’s office or with your state’s department of commerce. You will also need to obtain professional liability insurance to cover any claims your business will potentially face.

Find a Suitable Business Location

Because esthetics services have to be performed in person, you’ll need to locate an appropriate space to operate your business. When you crafted your business plan, you likely determined whether you will rent space, purchase space or operate the business out of your home. Generally, home-based esthetics businesses are smaller businesses that offer limited services, whereas larger businesses that offer many services operate out of spas and beauty salons.

Find a location that’s convenient for your prospective clientele and that provides the square footage and amenities you need. It can be helpful to carry an esthetician room checklist with you to every visit of prospective locations, as this will make it easy to quickly determine whether each building has the equipment you need.

Renovate Your New Business Location

Unless the building you purchase or lease was previously a spa or another type of esthetics business, you will probably have to renovate the space. To open by your target opening date and stay within your budget, make sure you budget time and money for renovations. Obtaining permits and having interior work performed takes time and can be expensive.

Once all the plumbing, carpentry and electrical work has been completed, it’s time to decorate and furnish the space. Use your esthetician room checklist to ensure that each room is appropriately equipped for its use, such as an aromatherapy diffuser, a massage table and laser machines for laser treatments. The esthetician room checklist can also include decor notes for each service’s room, such as certain color palettes or placement of plants to create a calming mood.

Hire a Team for the Business

Before your business opens, you need to have a qualified team ready to operate it. Unless you’re planning to work as a solo esthetician, your team needs to include multiple qualified estheticians with diverse skill sets. Other roles to fill include receptionist and custodian. Depending on the size of your business, you might also have to fill other roles like IT and security.

You can find qualified employees by posting job ads to social media and employment websites, like Indeed. You can also work with a staffing agency to have people with the skill sets you need sent directly to you. Additionally, you may be able to work with a local esthetics school to connect with recent graduates who are looking for employment.

Market Your Esthetics Business

The final step in launching a new esthetics business is marketing it. Marketing should begin long before your business opens its doors. If your target demographic knows about your business before it opens, they’ll anticipate it eagerly and discuss it with their friends, driving more business to you. Ways to market your esthetics business include:

  • Social media ads targeted to your local community
  • Flyers
  • Radio ads in your local market
  • Coupons for discounted services in local mailers
  • Billboards

Just like marketing needs to start before a business opens, it needs to continue long after the business has opened. Continue running social media ads and promotions to keep your business in your audience's mind, and give customers an incentive to return.

References

About the Author

Lindsay Kramer has been a full-time writer since 2014. In that time, she's experienced the ups, downs and crazy twists life tends to take when you're launching, building and leading a small business. As a small business owner, her favorite aspect about writing in this field is helping other small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs become more fluent in the terminology and concepts they face in this role. Previously, she's written on entrepreneurship for 99designs and covered business law topics for law firms.