How to start a mobile beautician business
Whether your passion is beautifying hair, nails or skin, learn how to become a mobile beauty therapist and bring your services to the public with this guide
The key steps to take when setting up a mobile beauty business are:
In the UK, beauty is big business.
According to analytics firm GlobalData, the health and beauty sector will be the country’s fastest growing over the coming years, and is predicted to be worth £26.7bn by 2022.
But it’s not only the industry’s market value that’s progressing. Though new salons do continue to pop up, the ‘Uber effect’ has made its mark on beauty and the on-demand-loving public are increasingly looking to get their hair styled or nails decorated at home, in the time slot that works best for them.
While such services mean convenience and comfort for the customer, this low-overhead business model means good things for beauty therapists and cosmetologists too.
Without the financial burden of renting and running your own salon, for instance, you’ll be able to launch with significantly less starting capital. You’ll have more wiggle room to charge competitive prices, in turn attracting more customers to you.
Not only that, but practising as a self-employed beauty therapist means you don’t have to quit your day job to get going. Instead you can test the market, visiting clients at weekends and during the evening. Then, as demand for your services grows, you can consider taking the plunge and going full-time.
It may be worth considering seeing if you can get a Start Up Loan (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) to help you with financing, and mentoring to start this business idea. You'll also need to think about registering your business, either as a sole trader or as a company - if a company, then Smarta Formations (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) are an organisation that can help you set up.
Of course, not just anyone can succeed as a beauty professional. As well as the relevant qualifications (see section four) and skill sets, you’ll need good communication skills so you can explain your services clearly to clients, as well as punctuality, patience, attention to detail and a friendly demeanour.
If this sounds like you, becoming a mobile beauty therapist could be your perfect business opportunity. Read on for our step-by-step guide to setting up a mobile beauty business.
1. Mobile beautician business ideas
The first thing to get straight is which mobile beauty services you’ll be offering to clients. These might include:
- Hairdressing and/or styling
- Nail technology
- Makeup artistry
- Eyebrow waxing, threading or microblading
- Eyelash tinting or placing eyelash extensions
- Waxing or electrolysis
- Giving facials
The services you offer will depend on your skill set, experience and the qualifications you hold or plan to earn (more on those in section four).
You might choose to really hone in on one of these skills, making it your specialty and offering a range of options in that area, or you might decide to offer a few different services.
Remember that you can always add more to your repertoire as you grow – down the line you might decide to hire another mobile beauty therapist who can take over particular services (see section seven).
You might also consider tailoring your services for a particular market – for example, offering hair and makeup specifically for weddings, events or performances.
Conduct market research and find your target market
Carrying out market research and a target market analysis is a crucial step when starting any business. Having an in-depth understanding of the beauty market in your local area, as well as who your target customer is, will prove invaluable when it comes to developing and marketing your start-up.
Conduct market research by looking into the beauty businesses operating in the region you plan to:
How many are there? Are they small or large? How do they work and make money? How successful are they? Which services do they offer and what are they missing? Who are their customers? Are there more beauty businesses launching than there are shutting down in your area, or vice versa?
Analyse your target market by answering similar questions about the group of people you’re aiming to sell your services to:
What’s their age range? What’s their typical income? Which local beauty businesses do they currently use, and why? How often do they use them? What are they looking for in a beauty therapist? Knowing all of this will help you to better reach your target client (see section six).
You can find detailed advice in our guide to calculating the size of your target market here.
2. Mobile beautician branding
Coming up with strong branding is a crucial part of setting up a business. Your brand identity should be reflected in everything you do – from your name and logo to your marketing messages, website, social media posts and more – representing your business’ tone, purposes and values.
Whether you’re a freelance makeup artist or offering mobile manicures, your distinctive branding will help to separate you from other businesses and give customers a clear perception of your business, what it offers and the experience they can expect to have with it.
Mobile beauty business names
One of the key stages of branding is coming up with a name for your business. It’s important that the name you choose is:
- Unique, and in no way similar to the other beauty businesses out there (you don’t want customers to confuse you for someone else!)
- Easy to spell and pronounce
- A good representation of the tone of your business and consistent with your branding. If you aim to offer a luxury experience, for example, consider a name that denotes high quality and class. If you’re taking a fun and friendly approach, consider a more personable name.
If you’re stuck for ideas of what to call your business, get your creative juices flowing with the following prompts:
- What’s your speciality service? Would you want your name to make it clear?
- Can you summarise the experience you want to give your clients in a single word or phrase?
- Can you think of any puns, rhymes or a play on words relating to your services?
- Would you like to include your own name (or nickname) in the business’ name?
Once you’ve settled on a name, you’ll need to get it registered so that it can’t be nabbed by anyone else. You can check whether your business name is available – and dissimilar enough to the others out there – using the government’s Companies House register.
Mobile beauty branding concepts
Of course, your business’ name is just one part of its branding. When it comes to devising a full concept, from colour schemes to tone of voice, your market research and target market analysis will be pivotal:
Consult your target market
It’s absolutely key that your branding resonates with and appeals to your target client – otherwise there’s little point in having it.
So, try to get into your target customer’s head for a moment. What are they really looking for in a mobile beautician? Which communication styles resonate with them most keenly? What imagery and tone best represents the experience they’re seeking?
Try sharing some ideas with trustworthy people who fit your target demographic and see what they think.
Examine your competitors
Find out which mobile beauticians your target market have used and examine their branding, taking inspiration for what’s working well for them.
It’s crucial that you do not simply copy what they’re doing, as you’ll want to stand out from them (and you don’t want them to make any legal claims against you). Rather, try to pinpoint why it is that your target customer is drawn to them – how is it that they’re relating to them successfully? – and put your own spin on it.
3. Your mobile beautician business plan
A massively important document, your business plan should lay the foundation for your start-up and provide a guide for how you’ll operate.
Although writing one will take time, the process will make you plan – in-depth and in advance – how you’re going to address the many aspects of running a mobile beauty business, helping you to make the most of the opportunity and be the best you can be.
As a mobile beauty therapist, your business plan should include:
- A description of your business’ concept, goals and the services you’ll offer
- How much you’ll charge for your services
- An analysis of the beauty market in your local area, including your competitors
- A description of your target client and the marketing strategies you’ll use to encourage them to use your services
- Any plans you have for hiring back office staff or more beauticians
- A SWOT analysis (what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your beauty start-up?)
- Financial forecasts, potentially including a profit and loss statement, sales forecasts and cashflow forecasts, a break-even analysis and a capital requirements budget.
You can download a free business plan template, developed by the government-backed Start Up Loans, from our business plan advice guide here.
Remember, once you’ve finished your plan, don’t simply stick it in a drawer never to be seen again. It should be continually updated as your business progresses to reflect any changes you make to your services, the way you work and the strategies you adopt.
Mobile beauty qualifications
To become a beautician, you’ll need to gain at least a Level 2 or Level 3 beauty services qualification covering the specialties that you want to offer (this may mean getting multiple qualifications so you’re trained up in all of your services).
Most colleges offer a range of NVQs, but you could also look into specialist beauty schools such as CIBTAC (Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology) and CIDESCO (Comité International d’Esthétique et de Cosmétologie).
Often you’ll be given the option of completing your qualification on a part- or full-time basis, but if you’d like an alternative to this, you could undertake an apprenticeship and gain your qualification (as well as real-world experience) on the job. Look into local salons and beauty businesses to see what they offer in this respect.
Once you’re qualified, registering with a government-recognised organisation such as the Register of Beauty Professionals will acknowledge you as an industry professional, showing clients that you’re trustworthy and have the skills needed to do a good job.
Mobile beauty licenses
Before you can get going as a mobile beautician, you’ll need to obtain a license from your local authority or council which permits you to practice. Each authority might have different regulations, so get in touch with them to find out what they require of you.
Don’t forget to share each of the beauty services that you plan to perform and find out whether any additional licensing is required for you to carry them out legally.
And it goes without saying, but if you’re planning to drive your own vehicle to get to your clients you’ll also need a valid UK driving license.
Mobile beauty insurance
As with any business, while practising as a mobile beautician you’ll need to be covered for all circumstances. It’s definitely not worth risking it without insurance; in fact, many clients won’t seal the deal with you if you don’t have it.
Here are the mobile beauty therapist insurance covers you’ll want to get:
You’ll find that some industry organisations, such as The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC), offer tailored insurance packages (sometimes at discounts), so it’s worth looking into these – especially as you’ll then be able to display their logo on your website, showing clients that you’re covered and good to go.
Another important thing to remember is that you’ll need to register as self-employed with HM Revenue & Customs. For further details on how to register for National Insurance, income tax and VAT, check out our article on registering as a sole trader or freelancer.
5. Equipment and transport
The equipment needed to be a mobile beauty therapist
Talent is obviously key, but every artist needs their tools. Research your chosen services thoroughly to make sure you’re stocked up on every single thing you’ll need to perform them fully, and to a high standard.
While equipment, tools and supplies may turn out to be one of your biggest outlays, you really don’t want to cut corners here and order something cheap that won’t work very well or last very long. That being said, don’t spring for the first pricey, premium product that you see.
Look into recommended and reliable suppliers who can sell you wholesale products, and before selecting your equipment be sure to read product reviews written by other beauticians to see what they think of particular brands and ranges. Find out whether there is a brand that tends to be used as the industry standard.
Just remember to keep on top of your inventory by planning ahead and ordering new supplies before the ones you already have run out.
You’ll doubtless need a lot of things to perform your services, so you should also look into getting a sturdy carry case, or a collection of carry cases, so you can keep everything safely in top condition and carry it to and fro easily. You might also want to get a tool belt or an apron with a pocket so that you can keep your most-used bits and pieces to hand.
You’ll also need the equipment necessary for taking payment. While many people will expect to pay their mobile beautician with cash, the ability to accept card payments too will put you a step above your competitors in today’s increasingly cashless society – especially if customers will be paying large sums for your treatments. This will mean getting an EPOS system.
To find the right EPOS system, you can simply click this link to compare prices today.
Get stocked up on business cards so you can easily share your contact details with potential clients. And always leave one with your existing customers so they have a reminder of your services – and something to share with their friends or family.
It’s in the name: a mobile beautician who travels from client to client will operate at their best only if they have a cost- and time-effective way of getting around.
Lugging all of your equipment onto a bus will be far from comfortable, so it’s highly recommended that you use a car – or even a van, if you’ve got large items like tanning facilities, waxing beds or mobile spa equipment to transport.
As stated in section four, you’ll need a valid UK driver’s license if you want to make the most of your business – and you’ll also need to make sure your vehicle is insured to be on the road.
6. Marketing a mobile beauty business
When you hop from client to client and don’t have a physical salon for people to come across on the street, getting your name out there becomes all the more important.
In this, the internet will be your best friend, but more traditional methods are also worth trying. Start out with the following marketing techniques – but make sure you monitor how effective they are, so you can ditch the ones that yield no results and focus your efforts on the ones that do.
Have a strong online presence
Potential clients won’t entrust any aspect of their physical appearance to you if they’re not confident you’ll do a great job. So, first and foremost, they’ll want to see what you can do – and the first place they’ll look is the internet.
Set yourself up with a high-quality professional website, packed with photographs of your past work. Make sure it’s optimised for search, so it’ll appear near the top of the results list if someone searches for a local beautician on Google.
You’ll also want to launch social media accounts. Instagram and Pinterest are excellent tools for such a visual sector as beauty – ask clients if you can take a picture of their finished look to share on social, and document your successful practice goes. Just make sure you’re sharing high-quality photographs with great lighting.
Seek out the beauty hashtags that your target audience tend to use and be sure to use them too – this will make it easier for users to find you. Social channels a great place to experiment with competitions, initiatives and special offers to encourage shares, so get creative with them!
Remember, social media is all about engagement, and that goes both ways. Be sure to respond to any customer queries and comments. If you’re on Facebook, you might also try finding locally-based groups in which beauty services are shared and discussed, or that are popular with your target demographic, and share your offering with them.
Learn more about the ins and outs of devising a social media strategy here.
Try traditional advertising
In addition to the above, you might want to try taking out an advert in a local newspaper or magazine – just do your research and pick publications that your target audience reads.
Alternatively, you might find that leaflet drops are more effective – print a set of professional-looking leaflets detailing your services, prices and perhaps a special offer, and pop them through some local doorways.
If you want something larger scale, firms such as Royal Mail can help you with leaflet distribution campaigns that get the word out.
Sign write your vehicle
By getting your logo and contact details pasted onto the vehicle you use to travel to and from clients, you’re effectively turning your car or van into a mobile billboard which advertises your services wherever you go.
Get listed in online directories and deals sites
It may be worth your while to have your services listed in an online directory – a website customers will visit to search and find mobile beauticians in their local area.
Sites such as Beautyfinder.co.uk, Hairandbeautydirectory.co.uk and Hairdressersandsalons.co.uk offer such lists, but it’s also worth finding directories which focus on your specific services, such as nail art or spray tanning.
Similarly, you’ll find that plenty of voucher sites, such as Wowcher and Groupon, offer beauty deals. These sites gain a lot of traffic, so listing a deal or discount for your services on them might afford you a lot of interest from potential customers.
As your business grows in popularity, you may find that you need to hire another beautician to also serve clients under your business’ name. Similarly, at some point you might decide you’d rather have someone else take over the marketing, operational or financial aspect of your business.
Hiring is a great opportunity to find someone who’ll help your business to progress, so identify where you most need help and think about the level of experience you’d like somebody in that role to have.
If you’re seeking a fellow beautician, think about whether you want them to be trained in performing your established services, or whether you’d want someone with different skills who can expand your business’ repertoire.
Once you’ve settled on the role, you’ll need to get the word out about the vacancy. Try:
- Sharing the opportunity on social media
- Posting the vacancy on job seeking sites such as Indeed.co.uk, and sites specifically for beauty professionals
- Detailing the role on your website
- Asking for recommendations from clients, friends and family
When you’ve received some promising applications, narrow them down and invite the best to interview. Think carefully about the role you’re looking to fill and plot out a series of questions that will best illustrate whether a person is suited to the job or not. You might also want to make sure they have a passion for, and understanding of, the beauty sector.
Remember, if you’re hiring a fellow beautician you’ll need to make sure they have the correct qualifications and can work to a high standard, so ask to see examples of their work. It’s also important that they’re able to communicate clearly, and have attention to detail and a friendly and approachable demeanour.
Taking on an apprentice
Alternatively you might decide you’d like to hire an apprentice, giving an aspiring beautician the opportunity to gain real-life beauty therapy experience and training with you while they study for their qualification.
The easiest way to go about this is to register with an apprenticeship training agency (ATA), which will recruit, employ and arrange training for an apprentice on your behalf. Alternatively, you’ll need to choose a course and training body and organise an agreement with them to take on an apprentice from their cohort.
Once you have an apprentice lined up, you’ll need to devise an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with them, detailing how long you’ll employ them for, the training you’ll provide, and what will be expected of both you and them.
Government funding is available to businesses who take on apprentices, so get in touch with the National Apprenticeship Service to find out what you’re eligible for.
Becoming a self-employed mobile beauty therapist is a fantastic business opportunity for people who are creative, attentive, friendly, good at communicating, and have a passion for beauty.
And as the UK population slowly begins to ask for everything on demand – and social media becomes an increasingly powerful tool for beauty start-ups to get noticed – there’s plenty of potential for you to do well in this industry. Good luck!