Are you an esthetician looking to go solo or start your own business, but feeling overwhelmed about where to start? Don’t worry in this complete step-by-step guide we will get you on your way to starting your own thriving esthetics business!
Are you still deciding on an esthetics career? I recommend checking out my article on if it’s even worth becoming an esthetician first! I have been a solo esthetician for almost 9 years, and am now a busy mama! My goal is to share what I’ve learned along the way to help save you time and stress!
Whether you are a recent graduate who wants to have more control over your schedule or a seasoned esthetician looking to level up this guide is for you!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link
1. Define your Esthetician Business and create a (rough) Business Plan
The first thing you should do is decide what kind of esthetics business you are looking to develop. Do you want to be a solo skincare therapist? Are you trying to start your own waxing salon? Do you want to be a part of a salon suite?
Regardless of what you decide it is in your best interest to create a solid business plan. You can find free templates online like these from Hubspot.com or simply use this article and take note of your progress in a journal.
In addition to being the road map for your business, creating your business plan will help prove to yourself that you are serious about your new venture. In this article, the SBA maps out 5 reasons you need a business plan.
Once you’ve defined what your business will look like, and have a pen and paper handy, you’re ready to tackle the next step!
2. Register your Esthetician Business
One of the first steps you need to do is register your business within the state you’re doing business. Usually, you can find this information on your state’s Secretary of State website.
I started my business as a sole proprietorship, which is the easiest type of business entity to create. You can read more on the different types of business structures in this article here by the I.R.S.
You can always change your business structure as you change and grow your business so don’t get too hung up on this step. There are also services like Legal Zoom that help you get your business registered correctly.
I have used their services in the past to help me change my business structure to an LLC. The process was pretty simple and took the stress away from my worrying if I was doing it correctly or not.
Once your business is registered you can focus on getting your finances in order!
3. Organize your Finances
Establish your Budget
Arguably one of the most important variables in any new business is the budget. Starting an esthetician business can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be.
Your budget will vary greatly on what type of esthetics business you choose to start, but for reference, I started my solo esthetician business in 2017 with only $1000! Check out my FREE Esthetician Must-Haves Supplies List PDF to see what products I recommend for new esty business owners!
Having a budget will help keep you on track, and know how much you can/need to spend upfront. You can self-finance (this is what I did) your business, apply for a small business loan, or even use funds from other sources such as family or investments.
I recommend starting with as little debt as possible and keeping your expenses as minimal as possible too. Everything does add up over time, and if you keep your overhead low from the get-go you will be thankful for it in the future, I promise!
Open a Business Bank Account
It is essential to separate your business finances from your personal finances from the very beginning. Believe me, your future self will thank you!
You can either open a business bank account or open a separate personal checking account that you only use for business-related purchases(this is what I did when I first started, no EIN required!).
An EIN refers to an employee identification number and is used in place of your social security number for tax purposes. A business checking account will require you to have an EIN number to open one which you can apply for here on the IRS website.
Make a plan for your Accounting
I have seen it time and time again when tax time comes many estheticians are confused, nervous, and scrambling to get their accounting in order. Having a plan for your accounting from the beginning and keeping up with it throughout the year will save you time and stress when April rolls around.
4. Secure a Space to do business out of
Once you’ve established your budget it’s time to find a home for your business! You can’t start an esthetician business without having a place you do business out of!
Remember to stick to the budget you created when searching for places to rent. You’ll want to go off of your monthly income projections to decide how much monthly rent you can afford.
It is absolutely okay to start small and take on more risk as you grow. Starting from scratch especially if you don’t have any clients can be super scary, but it can be done!
I started my esthetician journey in California, and when I moved to Oregon I had no clients, but was able to build up my business and clientele within a year!
Solo estys often rent rooms out of massage practices, wellness centers, hair salons, salon suites, professional office spaces, and more! It is important to find the right home, and the right fit for your budget, service offerings, personality, and preferred location.
Some great places to start looking for sublease opportunities are Facebook groups for estheticians in your area, and even Craigslist! If you are looking to lease commercial property, and want a storefront Loopnet is a great resource to find commercial spaces for lease!
Finding the right space can take some time so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t finding what you’re looking for right away.
I initially started renting part-time, and the woman I subleased from was very accommodating and only charged me for part-time instead of full-time. It made everything feel more doable, and I eventually added on more days as my clientele and business grew!
It may take some time, but you should be able to find the right fit for your budget and overall situation.
5. Obtain Proper Licensing and Insurance for your Esthetics Business
Check Business License Requirements
You will want to check with your local licensing offices including your state’s esthetics licensing board, and city licensing authorities (for the city your business will be located in) to make sure you have all licenses that are needed. Licenses that could be needed are independent contractors licenses, facilities licenses, city business licenses, and more.
Obtain Professional Liability Insurance
As a new business owner, it is important to protect yourself with professional liability insurance for the services you offer. The chances of something happening are probably low, but having insurance will protect you, and your business in case of any accidents.
A couple of insurance companies I have used in the past are Hands on Trade Association and Beauty Insurance Plus. There are many other options available as well, but you will want to make sure the company you go with covers all of the services you are planning to offer.
Getting all of your paperwork in order can feel super daunting, but I promise once it’s done many of these things can be on auto-pilot or will only have to be done once a year!
6. Purchase Back Bar/Retail Inventory and Supplies
Choosing a skincare line whether it be for facials, waxing, etc. can feel overwhelming. Nowadays there are just so many different options to choose from. I recommend attending a trade show to research different companies for yourself.
A few things to keep in mind when choosing a primary skincare line to use as your back bar and to retail are price, availability, training, and ethics.
Another way to research different companies is to join esthetician Facebook groups, and simply search the group for the company you are curious about. Frequently someone in the group has an experience or review that’s already been shared in the group, and if it’s not feel free to ask it the group!
Finding reputable suppliers for your esthetician business is crucial for your long-term success. Using high-quality equipment and products is important to achieve maximum results for your clients, but also your business reputation as well.
For professional skincare lines, you will need to apply for wholesale account access. This can sometimes take a few days so make sure to factor in the application process, and shipment time when placing your first order for your new esthetician business.
If you’re looking for basic esthetician business supplies, be sure to download my Esthetician Must-haves Supplies List PDF! My list is geared toward new esthetician business owners on a budget, and is all things that I have purchased myself in the past!
7. Develop your Service Menu and Pricing
So here’s the thing… When creating your service menu make sure to choose services that you LIKE doing. Do not include services that you don’t like because ultimately it will show, and you will end up resenting them when they pop up on your schedule.
In most cases, less is more, and when you niche down on your services you can capture a more loyal group of clients.
When creating your service menu and pricing make sure to do market research on comparable pricing in your area. You don’t want to charge too much or too little. Make sure to take into account your experience level, product costs, and monthly expenses when working on your prices.
Most of all remember that you are worth it! You went to school to learn how to do these services, and the client is coming to you FOR A REASON.
8. Create a Website and select Scheduling Software
In this day and age, your business is nothing without a website. It is a MUST and should look clean and professional. Luckily there are many user-friendly website hosts and builders even for beginners.
In addition to a website, you will need reliable scheduling software. There are many options to choose from so make sure you research what will work best for your needs. I have used a few different ones, but my favorite by far is Square!
I use Square for my payment processing, invoices, email marketing, scheduling, online store, website, and more! I truly love how easy everything is with Square, and it’s great to have everything I need in one software.
9. Promote your Business
Once the heavy lifting of getting everything ready for your business is done it is finally time to start promoting yourself! Yay!
The easiest ways to start promoting your new business are through social media and networking. You can always try online ads, outdoor signage, and other options later, but these two are free and easy to get started!
I also recommend partnering with other wellness or beauty professionals so you can cross-promote each other’s services. I was always able to do this since I was located inside a massage center, and I was able to gain some great clients this way!
Promoting your business can feel intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it will feel like second nature! Remember, everyone you meet anywhere you go is a potential customer!
Creating any business from scratch takes a lot of work and dedication! A thriving esthetician business is no exception!
However, once you have everything established, and start building an awesome clientele everything will feel worth it!
I wish you the best of luck on your esthetics business journey!