How to start a beauty business

A comprehensive guide to building your beauty business from home.

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Running your beauty business from home is a great way to build a brand and connect with customers while keeping the costs down. While there are some things to keep in mind when launching and operating your new venture, we've compiled a simple step-by-step guide for you to follow. Read on to find out how you can get your beauty business up and running.

What is a beauty business?

A beauty business will provide services to make customers look and feel better. You can provide many services including hair styling and haircuts, makeup application, face and body spa treatments, manicures and pedicures, hair removal, cosmetic tattooing and false eyelash application.

How to start a beauty business

If you're starting a new beauty business, this step-by-step guide can help you figure out what you need to do:

  1. Pick your niche. With so many beauty businesses in the market, it's important to specialise in an area that you're skilled in. For example, you may focus on eyebrow services, manicures and pedicures, or makeup application. Or your niche might be in developing and selling particular beauty products.
  2. Develop a business plan and products. Write a business plan that outlines your expected income and expenses, market research and sales plan. As part of the business plan, you will also need to figure out how much up-front funding your business needs and the pricing of your services.
  3. Create a business name and logo. As a beauty business, you can trade under your own legal name or choose a business name that better reflects the image you want to communicate to your customers. If you choose a business name, make sure it is not already trademarked and available to be registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). As a beauty business, you may also want to hire a graphic designer or use these graphic design tools and services to create a logo.
  4. Consider loan options. Depending on your savings and the equipment you need, you may need to apply for a loan to start your business. If you can't get a business loan, there are also personal loan options available.
  5. Choose the right business structure. You can run the business as a Sole Trader, a Partnership or a Company. Each option has its own pros and cons which we have outlined below.
  6. Get approval from the council. If you intend to run your beauty business from home, you may need to seek approval from the local council. For example, if you provide body waxing, nail or cosmetic filler treatments in New South Wales, you need to notify the local council's Environmental Health Department before opening the business. The council can also carry out regular inspections.
  7. Check your rights as a renter. If you want to operate the business on your rental property, you should check your rental agreement to make sure you are able to do so.
  8. Consider other legal requirements. Ensure your advertising material is not false, misleading or otherwise in breach of Australian Consumer Law.
  9. Market your services. Your marketing strategy will depend on your specialty and target market. If you are primarily running your business from home, you should consider advertising your services with local community groups. If you're a mobile artist specialising in bridal or event makeup, you can use social media advertising to target specific groups.

beautician curling her client's hair

Skills needed to start a beauty business

Successfully building your beauty business requires empathy and tact. The general tasks of a beautician include analysing your client's needs and providing advice. You will need to recommend treatments, sell beauty products and handle sales transactions. The skills to start a beauty business include:

  • Customer service skills. Sensitivity towards clients is vital. You will be meeting with people who might be stressed about their appearance and look to you to help them. A beautician will also need to anticipate your customers' needs and recommend the services that would help.
  • Communication skills. As you will be recommending treatments to your customers, you should have the ability to explain complex beauty treatments clearly and have a good understanding of them.
  • Detail-oriented. Your customer should leave your business feeling completely satisfied. Your services can depend on how well-presented your client is. You should be able to apply your beauty skills for specific contexts, such as photography, filming and theatre.
  • Reliability. Earn your customer's trust. A client should be able to relax when they are at your salon.
  • Versatility. You should develop skills that can be versatile in different areas, like entertainment events, theatres, media industries and formal events.

Courses and qualifications

Most of the time, you don't need formal qualifications to provide beauty services. However, getting qualifications and doing online courses can help you fill gaps in your knowledge. For example, TAFE offers a Diploma of Beauty Therapy which covers body treatments and specialised facials, lash, brow and waxing services, manicures and pedicures, and makeup design and application. It costs approximately $4,200 if you are eligible for subsidy.

In some states and territories, you need to be qualified to provide hairdressing services. In New South Wales, you will need to get a Certificate III in Hairdressing in order to provide hairdressing services from your home.


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    Equipment and software needed to start a beauty business

    The equipment you need will depend on your beauty niche. If you're running a nail salon, you will need a selection of nail polishes and a table or bench big enough to allow you to comfortably work. If you specialise in makeup application, you will need cosmetics and makeup mirrors. If you provide mobile hair and makeup services, you may also need a vehicle to travel to and from your customers.

    For a basic home salon, your equipment could include:

    • Styling chairs
    • A table or bench big enough to fit two people
    • Mirrors
    • Lighting and magnifying lamp

    You may also need software to keep track of your business, including:

    Loan options for a beauty business

    Depending on the level of your savings and the equipment you need to buy up-front, you may need to get a loan to start your business.

    Our guide to small business loans can help you figure out which option is the best for you. Keep in mind some lenders will require you to have been operating the business for at least 6 months to a year, while other lenders will require a minimum annual turnover of at least $100,000.

    If you're just starting your business, you may need to think about getting personal loans. Before you apply, always make sure you're able to afford all repayments, including any additional fees or charges.

    Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
    Symple Loans Personal Loan

    From 5.75% (variable)
    1 to 7 years
    from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
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    Plenti Personal Loan

    From 5.43% (fixed)
    3 to 7 years
    $0 to $999
    You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.43% p.a. and 17.89% p.a. based on your risk profile
    A flexible loan with amounts from $2,001 and terms starting from 3 years. Interest and comparison rates calculated for a loan term of 5 years.

    ⭐ Finder Exclusive: Eligible applicants with excellent credit will receive rates starting from 5.43% p.a. (comparison rate 5.43% p.a.). Offer ends 30 June 2021. T&Cs apply.

    Citi Personal Loan Plus
    8.90% (variable)
    3 to 5 years
    You'll receive a guaranteed rate of 8.90% p.a. with a comparison rate of 9.18% p.a. if you're approved. Note: This rate may vary during the loan term.
    A credit limit up to $75,000 that you can continue to draw down over terms up to 5 years. Note: Monthly account service fee will be waived for applications submitted before 30 September 2021. The interest rate doesn’t change based on your risk profile, so you know your rate before you apply.

    Compare up to 4 providers

      How to structure your beauty business

      Now that you have decided on your niche and services, think about the direction you want to take your business in. In Australia, the business structures you need to know about are:

      • Sole Trader. A Sole Trader manages all aspects of the business. As the owner of the business, you can choose to employ workers.
      • Partnership. This business model involves two or more people setting up a business together. You should have a Partnership Agreement outlining how you will share income and control of the business. Sole Traders and Partnerships have minimal up-front costs but are liable to unlimited personal liability.
      • Company. A Company is a separate legal entity to the directors. There are initial registration costs, but it means you and other investors in the business are not personally liable for debts and other obligations of the business.

      When setting up your business structure, you should register your trademarks, your business, your business's name, and for goods and services tax (GST). You should also be aware of the regulations of dealing with beautician equipment, as well as the hiring and managing of staff.

      If you're using your home to run a beauty business, there are many laws and regulations to consider. A consultation with a lawyer can help you navigate these. For example, in some states you are required to apply for the local council approval if you're running a waxing or nail business, or other services that involve skin penetration procedures. If you're running the business from your rental property, you may need to check your rental agreement to see if you're allowed to do so.

      A lawyer can also advise you on your advertising material to make sure it is not false, misleading or otherwise in breach of Australian Consumer Law.

      In addition, you may need legal documents and policies to protect the business and staff if something goes wrong. Useful documents may include:

      • Service Agreement. Most beauty businesses will not have a written contract with customers for appointments. But for bigger projects, such as bridal makeup application and hair styling, you may sign a Service Agreement to outline the services you are engaged to provide and payment terms.
      • Cancellation Policy. Having a written Cancellation Policy can help you deal with the costs associated with last-minute cancellations and no-shows.
      • Privacy Policy. If you collect personal information about your clients, you will need a Privacy Policy. The Privacy Policy should detail your legal obligations in regards to how you will handle personal information.
      • Employment contract. Whether your staff are employed on a casual, part-time or full-time basis, a contract should cover the essential terms of employment, including start date, position and duties, hours of work, remuneration, probation, leave and termination.
      • Licence to play featured recorded music. If you intend to play music in your salon, apply for a permit to play featured recorded music, music pre-programmed by DJs or a pre-programmed music service.

      Sprintlaw, Lawpath, LawDepot, LegalVision and Wonder.Legal offer online legal services and legal document templates.

      If you're looking for something beyond a template or want your customised documents checked, you can hire a lawyer who can help make the legal documents clear and binding.

      A lawyer can also advise you on the rules and regulations regarding your industry. The Hair and Beauty Australia Industry Association helps businesses by providing expertise and tools to the hairdressing, barbering and beauty industry.

      Access legal services and documents online

      Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Free legal documents available?
      Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
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      Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
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      Legal123 offers a range of individual templates or document packages for consultants, app developers, personal trainers and more.
      Legal documents and templates, Legal guides, Legal advice
      $49 + GST per week
      $2,548 + GST
      Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.
      Law Central
      Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
      Free for the Silver membership
      Gold: $99
      You can view samples and create your own document for free with the Silver membership.
      Law Central offers a large number of legal templates for super, trusts, estate planning, employment and commercial uses.

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      Insurance for beauty businesses

      Having an insurance plan will protect you from financial risks. Here are some types of insurance to look into:

      • Public Liability Insurance. This insurance covers you in the event a customer, supplier or any other person is injured or causes property damage as a result of your business activities or negligence. Public Liability Insurance covers compensation and legal costs.
      • Professional Indemnity Insurance. Your customers will always seek out advice regarding treatments and services. Professional Indemnity cover protects your business from claims of negligence or bad advice.
      • Business Insurance. There's a range of other types of business cover that can protect you against the unexpected, as our guide explains.

      How to find customers

      One popular way of building your customer base is using social media to showcase your services. Create eye-catching pictures for Instagram and Facebook to attract customers. You can also build a portfolio by offering your services for a discount or offering your services to friends and family in exchange for photos and testimonials.

      You can also take advantage of online marketplaces, which include:

      • Airtasker. People looking for services will post details of a task they need done.
      • Oneflare. Get matched with consumers for specific services.

      How much should I charge my customers?

      Before putting a price tag on your services, research similar businesses nearby. Analyse your competitors to identify potential opportunities. You will need to take into account the going rates in your area, your budget, your time and your expertise.

      You should also remember expenses and the financial goals for your business. Always keep an eye on seasonal changes, inflation and competition from new businesses, and change your prices accordingly.

      Accept payments from your customers in person and online with Square's card readers, payment terminals, digital invoicing and e-commerce tools.

      Frequently asked questions

      Should I run my business from home or lease commercial space?

      When you run your beauty business from home, your initial investment will be significantly smaller compared to taking out a commercial lease. If you have set aside an area of your home for running the business, you may also be able to claim some tax deductions on rent, mortgage interest, insurance premiums and council rates. Having said that, it may not be possible to run a beauty business from home if you're renting and the landlord does not allow you to do so. It can also be more difficult to maintain a work-life balance if you're running the business from home.

      Should I purchase or lease my equipment?

      Look at the ongoing cost of leasing equipment to decide if it's right for you. Buying equipment has a higher up-front cost, but there will be a tipping point where leasing becomes more expensive down the track.

      Do I need a website for my beauty business?

      It's a good idea to have a website for your business. Your site can list your services, have a gallery of your work and feedback. Create a website that's easy to navigate, allows online booking for appointments and answers customer questions.

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