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Starting a beauty business: 5 simple steps

From business nous to investment costs, here’s five practical beauty business tips to help you launch a company that’s beautiful on the books

These are the basic steps you need to know to start a beauty business we cover below:

Potentially as lucrative as it is competitive, the UK’s beauty industry is loaded with success stories from nail chain and brand Nails Inc. to nationwide hair salon franchise Rush; this history of success combined with its estimated market value of £71bn a year makes launching a beauty salon or spa seem like a straight forward route to business success.

However this is not an industry to start up in lightly; it comes with high investment costs, considerable regulation and an even greater number of competitors – according to research by IBIS World there are 29,400 hair and beauty businesses in the UK.

Despite the hurdles, starting a beauty business also brings a wealth of benefits: you’ll have the opportunity to combine creativity with entrepreneurialism, to interact with people daily and to combine your passion for beauty and spa treatments with a (hopefully) profitable enterprise.

Startups has a range of guides to help you start in the beauty industry, including:

In all areas of the beauty industry – whether you are finding out how to become a hairdresser or how to open a nail bar – there are a few important things to bear in mind.

Here are our top tips to help you start:


Action point:
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1. Have the right business skills

With high start-up costs, employees to manage and an extensive list of rules and regulations; aspiring beauty entrepreneurs need to be as skilled in business management as they are beauty therapy.

Many salon owners get business training to enable them to effectively manage running a business and a team of staff. One way to stay on track and focused is to draw up a business plan as this will help you identify key costs, targets and a plan for the day-to-day running of the firm. On Startups.co.uk you can download a free business plan template.

You could also consider starting a mobile beauty business before setting up a physical shopfront as this will allow you to gain business and beauty experience without the initial investment of a premises and taking on staff – it will also enable you to build up a customer base, which will minimise risk when you’re ready to launch.

2. Beware of the masked rules and regulations

On top of qualifications, insurance and licences needed for treatments like massages, beauty treatments, saunas, sun beds, and manicures; aspiring beauticians also have to deal with a range of planning and premises regulations.

Start by registering your beauty salon or spa with the local authority and ask them for a list of the regulations you need to consider – for instance if you need to obtain planning permission for refits you want to make to the property.

Health and safety is another big consideration for spas or salons, so note all hazardous products your business uses and obtain hazard data sheets from the manufacturers – keeping everything on file in case of inspection. Check out the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Essentials, which will help you stay on top of safety laws.

For more details about the insurance issues you’ll need to consider, take a look at our article on beauty therapist insurance.

Or, if you’re looking to start a hairdressing business, you should take a look at our step-by-step guide to hairdressing insurance.

3. Be beauty budget savvy

As previously outlined, a salon or spa involves substantial initial investment as immaculate premises, high-quality treatments, and trained staff are needed from launch.

Overall your budget will depend on your business’ location (cost of rent and whether the store needs a total refurbishment) and its treatments: usually this can be measured in relation to the cost and complexity of the actual treatment – for instance equipment for manicures only costs a few hundred pounds whereas laser machines can cost thousands.

Tradeshows are a really good place to source new suppliers for products and equipment, plus you’ll make contacts that may be able to help in other ways. You can also look for second hand equipment but be cautious not to compromise on quality for price, as your business will pay for it in the long run.

It will take time to build up your customer network and salons/spa businesses usually see little return for the first year or two. Seeking finance to get you and your business through the first few years is worth considering (see above to take a look at a Start Up Loan).

4. Grow your network: Utilise the web

While it is important to do your market research and analyse the demographic of the surrounding area to help you understand how to target your local customers and what price to charge for treatments; having an online presence is a great (and inexpensive) way for you to showcase your talents and expand your network reach.

Setting up a website is now relatively easy with content management systems like WordPress making it even more accessible. You can take bookings, enquiries and list your pricing and services. Also starting a beauty blog/vlog, which are now massively popular (just look at our 2015 Young Entrepreneur Zoe Sugg’s success), and linking it to your online platform will help attract more visitors to your webpage and allow you to display your expertise and build a relationship with potential clients before they are even through the door.

Finally, combine your website with a selection of social media profiles, especially those which encourage sharing among followers, such as Facebook (acting like an online word-of-mouth) and image focused networks like Instagram and Pinterest that will allow you to post pictures of your previous work.

5. Business reputation is key: Hire the right beauty squad

The standard of service you offer is essential in getting customers to return and therefore the staff you hire is hugely important. Beauty therapists are required to have a qualification from a recognised government body, either a level 2 or 3 NVQ or exam equivalent, as well as specific qualifications for specialist treatments.

It’s worth investing in at least one very experienced therapist (both in terms of experience and qualifications), especially if your background is predominantly in business and not beauty, as they can pass on knowledge to less experienced members of staff.

Beauty is a service industry so you will want people with excellent interpersonal skills too. And the same goes for you as the business owner: beauty therapy expert or not, the owner of a start-up salon must have tireless people skills and stamina. By offering a personal touch to people’s experiences, they’ll feel more comfortable and will be more likely to choose you over the many others offering similar treatments and prices.


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For more information, take a look at our in-depth guide on how to start a beauty business or salon