How to start a beauty business—the ultimate guide

If you’ve ever wondered how to start a beauty business, then you’re not alone. Around 6,000 new apprentices enter the industry each year, and new beauty salons, brands and businesses launch on a monthly basis. They’re looking to capitalise on the booming global beauty industry.

You might be wondering where to start, or even where to start thinking about starting. But don’t worry, we’ve got you sorted.

Keep reading for our ultimate guide to starting your own beauty business.

What type of beauty business do you want to start?

The first question when you’re thinking about how to start a beauty business is what type of beauty business you want to start.

It’s a hugely diverse industry that’s filled with opportunities. Here are just a few examples of different types of beauty business:

  • salon or clinic space
  • beauty education and training
  • hair, beauty or makeup brand
  • mobile beauty services
  • beauty supplier
  • salon software
  • freelance makeup artist
  • beauty influencer

Think about your skills, strengths and experiences plus whether there are any gaps in the industry or big competitors that might be difficult to compete with.

Doing your research and understanding your audience is an important part of working out what type of beauty business you’re going to look at in more detail.

Whatever type of beauty business you’re planning on starting, there are some similar steps to take to get started so that you can understand what you need in terms of resources, people, space and finances. Along the way it’ll be a little different depending on the route you take, but there are definitely many similarities.

What resources do you need to run your beauty business?

The first step to starting your business is the planning stage. While you might not need a formal business plan, you might actually find it helpful to follow that format to give you some structure of what to think about.

Just want some tips on what resources to think about initially? Here are some of the resources, tools and equipment you might need to run your beauty business.

Finances

Having the financial resources in place is an essential part of running any type of business.

You need to think about how much money you’re going to need to launch and set up, and where those finances are going to come from. Are you going to pay for it yourself or are you going to get a bank loan or external investment?

Be realistic when you’re thinking about the money side of the business—it’s usually best to over budget than be too optimistic with the numbers. Things can be more expensive than you might think, and it’s always good to have a buffer.

If you’re going to be looking for funding or a loan, this is where you’ll probably need to pull together a business plan to share with your bank or investors.

Premises

The type of business you set up will depend on the type of premises you need.

If it’s a beauty brand or retailer, you might just need storage, such as a warehouse, or you might be able to store products on your existing premises. If it’s a salon space, then you need to think a bit more about where it’s located, footfall and the nearby transport you have. 

You also need to consider your budget for your premises too, and whether you’ll be renting out any space to recoup your costs.

Don’t forget to think about your rates and cost of running your business too. Even if you set up a salon business at home, there’ll still be running costs and licence costs to take into account.

Transport

For some types of beauty business transport won’t be a big deal, but if you’re a mobile practitioner or you do deliveries as part of your role then transport will be a crucial part of your operation. Think about what you actually need, the space you need and your budget when it comes to your transportation.

It might be that you don’t need to budget for transportation right now, but if you do remember to include ongoing costs like maintenance, fuel and insurance too. This will make sure that you’ve got the full overview of what it’s going to cost to run your business on an ongoing basis.

Equipment

Whatever beauty business you set up, you’ll need to think about equipment.

Your equipment could be anything from a laptop and printer if you’re a beauty retailer, or specialist treatment equipment if you’re in a salon.

It’s likely that you’ll need equipment to be able to run your business day to day, so think about the costs associated with this and what you actually do need in order to run your business.

At the beginning when you have lots of outgoings and planning, it might make sense to keep your investment to the essentials. You can always buy new equipment and products as your business grows.

Stock

Again, this does depend on the type of business you set up.

If your business is going to be a beauty brand or retailer, then you’ll need to have stock that you’re selling. This means some planning on timelines, deliveries and budget. You won’t be able to sell products without actually having them available to ship—your customers will expect speedy delivery (which is another thing to consider if you’re sending out products).

Remember to take things like taxes, customs charges and currency exchange into consideration. You also need to ensure that you find a reputable supplier that you can actually trust to provide you with quality products that’ll keep your customers coming back.

Staff

You might start out doing everything yourself, which might be ok initially. However, it’s likely that as your business grows you’ll need to either think about recruiting staff or investing in people, tools or services that are going to make everything easier for you.

Increasing your team may be as simple as working with an accountant or someone to handle your marketing, or it might be employing staff to work in your salon.

Think about whether you want to employ staff or you plan to hire out space to people to work in your premises on a self employed basis. This is really common in the beauty industry, especially when it comes to working in a salon.

Website, social media and marketing

Whatever type of beauty business you decide to start up, it’s likely that you’ll need either a website or social media pages set up (or both), as well as things like a business email and tools to market your business.

Depending on what you need your website to do, it might be worth looking at hiring a professional to set it up for you rather than trying to do it yourself. There’s an initial outlay but you might save yourself stress and mistakes later on.

When it comes to marketing, think about your target audience and where they’re likely to find you. There’s no point investing heavily into a platform where your target audience won’t actually be so choose how you market your business wisely.

What else to consider when you’re setting up a beauty business

How high certain parts of your business planning are on your priorities list will ultimately depend on what type of beauty business you’re thinking of setting up. There are some other important factors you also need to consider.

Products and services you’re going to offer

You need to make sure that whatever you’re going to be offering or selling is in demand. If it’s beauty treatments and services, that there’s a market for it in your area and that there’s an audience that you’re targeting. It’s also worth understanding what the prices for those services are in your area, and if you’re still going to be making a profit once you take everything into account.

The same goes for if you’re selling physical products. You need to make sure there’s a demand and that you have something unique that you can offer, rather than something that already exists out there.

How you set up your business

Some types of business will make more sense to be set up in a certain way.

You can always seek further business advice on which would be the right decision for you, from either your accountant or a business adviser.

Here’s a brief overview of the main business types you can set up in the UK:

  • Sole trader—you will take all the profits but will also carry all the financial risk.
  • Partnership—this is a business owned by at least two people.
  • Limited company—the main advantage here is that you won’t carry all the financial risk.
  • Franchise—as a franchisee, you would pay an existing beauty business to use their established business model and operate under their name.
  • Renting a treatment space or room—this means you would be running your own business as a self—employed person from someone else’s salon premises.

Regulations

You need to be aware of the legalities behind offering beauty services to clients, or of selling beauty products to customers.

There are a number of different regulations you need to follow for all aspects of a business, from providing services through to packaging and delivery. 

It’s important to make yourself aware of the ins and outs of the regulations and processes that relate to your business (or pay someone else to be completely responsible for it—ideally as a business owner you should have an awareness at least).

On top of qualifications, insurance and licences for treatments like massages, beauty treatments, saunas, sun beds, and manicures—if you’re in the salon business, you also have to deal with a range of planning and premises regulations. There are also things like local salon licensing and a licence to play music or show TV programmes in your salon space. There are extra regulations to think about if you’re selling products.

Your policies and processes

Whatever the beauty business you’re in, you’ll need some policies and processes in place. Whether that’s the booking process for your clients, returns policy for your sales store or a cancellation policy for your mobile beauty services. It provides clarity, avoids confusion and sets out the expectations for both sides of the business pages.

Don’t wait until there’s a problem to put a policy or process in place. Think about it ahead of time so there’s no ambiguity or confusion around what you offer and what everyone’s responsibilities are during the situation.

Insurance

You will want to ensure your hair and beauty insurance covers all the treatments, services and products that you offer.

If you’re running a salon, your beauty therapists must be properly trained and qualified for the treatments they provide, otherwise your insurance will not be valid.

If you’re employing staff, you will want to consider that for your business insurance too. This is a total business essential, and isn’t something that you should wait to arrange until after you’ve started or after you’ve already run into a problem that you need insurance for.

If you need a quote for your , Ripe can help you find out more about what you need.

Accepting payments

Whatever you’re offering, you’ll need to take payments, whether that’s through an ecommerce platform, card reader, cash or direct deposit.

Thinking about how you’re going to manage payments ahead of time can make it way easier than chopping and changing as you go. Be clear on how you accept payments and make sure that your customers are aware.

Check the costs for some types of payment acceptance as this will eat into your profits, so understand how the payment types you choose may affect your business.

Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.

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