How to Start a Beauty Business

Beauty is big business. With the media pressure on women to look perfect, it’s no wonder companies like Ulta are seeing double digit growth year over year. If you’re looking to get a piece of the beauty business pie, now is a great time to start.

Small business startup is easier now than it has ever been due to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, DIY marketing sites like Vistaprint and free advertising on social media sites like Twitter and Pinterest.  Follow these steps to start your own successful beauty business:

Pick Your Approach

Are you a licensed cosmetologist looking to open your own salon or a sales professional looking to become a product consultant? The beauty industry is wide open, and you can apply just about any skill you have to starting a business in it. If you don’t have your heart set on a specific approach, do some research on beauty businesses in your target locale.

Interview salons, spas, friends and acquaintances about what’s missing in the local area and consider filling that void with your business. For example, if you notice the salons you visit don’t have a skincare line in their retail shop, starting a product consultant and distribution business might be your ticket. Have you heard your friends complain about not being able to get a decent manicure without traveling to the next town over? Open a nail salon.

Find Your Niche

Once you’ve decided on your approach, you need to find your niche. Finding your niche involves targeting your audience and determining your product and service profile — then crafting your business persona.

Consider the age and median income of your target audience. These factors will guide your product and service profile. Will your products and services be high-end or low-cost? Do you need to source products that are new and edgy or classic and well-known?

Once you’ve determined your audience and product and service profile, you can craft your business persona. For example, the spa in town already caters to well-to-do, middle-age women who are looking for high-end products and services. You can open a spa that caters to a younger crowd looking for lower-cost, cutting-edge products and services. Perhaps instead of offering a hot stone massage, which is very classic, you offer a chakra-aligning massage that incorporates healing crystals.

Lock Down a Location

The type of business you chose to start will dictate what kind of location is suitable. Brick and mortar? Mobile and online? A combination of both? Opening a physical location can be as easy as setting up a single-chair salon in your home, but if you need a larger or more visible space, be sure to choose your location carefully. Consider your niche when looking for a location. Should you be in a vibrant downtown setting or nestled in a suburban strip mall?

Mobile and online hubs will work for businesses like consulting or product distribution. You may not need a storefront, but will you need a storage unit or warehouse space?

If you are combining any of the three location options, aim for presentation consistency. When a customer finds you online, they should be able to recognize your shop when they walk in or your vehicle when you drive by because your design scheme online is similar to in-person.

Lawyer Up

Rules and regulations abound in the beauty business. Keep yourself legal by finding out what kinds of licensing and insurance you need to operate your business. Local, state and federal documentation will need to be filed in order for you to obtain a DBA, LLC or corporate status. Hiring employees will require you to have an EIN, or employer identification number.

You may not actually need to hire a lawyer to accomplish these tasks if your business is small and basic. Websites like LegalZoom can walk you step-by-step through obtaining an EIN and other business requirements. Once your business is up and running, though, be sure to keep up with license renewals.

Figure out Finances

A solid business plan will help you get the startup funds you need and help keep your spending on track those first few months of business. The business plan should include projected income as well as projected expenditures — don’t forget to include your own salary in the calculations! Use the business plan to negotiate with banks for loans and to gain investors. Crowdfunding is a viable option to raise startup funds if you aren’t on a tight timeline.

If finance is not your forte, hiring an accountant can save you a lot of headaches down the road. An accountant can help you with taxes — both paying and filing them.

Record keeping is of utmost importance. If you manage your record keeping well, you might be able to keep your own books and file your own taxes. There are several DIY bookkeeping options available — like QuickBooks — and recent versions of TurboTax make it easy for small business owners to file their taxes, too.

Source Your Products and Services

In order to turn a profit but still offer reasonable pricing to your customers, you will have to purchase wholesale. Your relationships with wholesale product providers and service specialists will be very important to your business. Being a good partner to the manufacturers and distributors will garner favor for times when you need it most.

An online business will also require a fulfillment services partner that can help you get your products to your clients in a reliable and timely manner. There are ecommerce giants out there that can offer your customers fast and free shipping, so you must be able to compete.

Campaign for Customers

All of the hard work you put into building your beauty business will be for naught if you don’t get customers! A good marketing campaign can drive business through your doors and to your website. You can choose to invest in professional marketing design or you can do it yourself online.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to branding. Having a recognizable logo in your store, on your website and on all of your marketing materials lends immediate professional credence to your business.

Marketing isn’t just about t-shirts and signs, however. It’s also about making offers that catch customers’ attention. Offers can be delivered via TV, print, radio and email. Choose the most cost-effective medium for your target audience.

Starting a business can seem daunting at first, but when it’s taken one step at a time, you can be successful. Let your passion and creativity inspire you and these tips guide you to opening your own beauty business.

Sarah Landrum

After graduating from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR, Sarah moved to Harrisburg to start her career as a Digital Media Specialist and a writer. She later founded Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals navigate the work world and find happiness and success in their careers.

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