How to start a nail salon in South Africa

Find out everything you need to start a nail salon in South Africa.

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How could you start your own nail salon?

Running a nail salon business can be an exciting venture, and your passion for nails could make you a good living. We want to bring you all of the information you need to inspire you and get you on your way. So, we spoke to Laura, who owns Beaut Nail Bar, and she shared her first-hand experience with us. 

Get practical insights from Laura, who answered popular questions about starting a nail salon.

What personal qualities do you need to start your own business?

“I eat, sleep and breathe my business. You need to be consistent and focused. You need to be willing. Be passionate about it.”

What challenges have you experienced starting a business?

  • “The first challenge was not having a boss to fall on. So, it all fell on me. For example, I'm a bit awkward when it comes to money, putting prices up and people challenging prices. 

  • “Also, finding the right place to be when I first started was a challenge. I moved quite a lot, which was very horrible because every time you move you lose clients. So, that was challenging finding that the suit suitable spot where I was happy and my clients were happy. 

  • “I'm quite the creative type but don't enjoy the social media side of it. I had to force myself to really do social media.

  • “Dealing with more stress was another challenge. You don't stop thinking about work because it's never enough. So, yeah it's 24/7 stressful.”

What are the benefits of having your own business?

“You own your time, and you can be flexible. I don't have to ask anybody when I want to go away. I don't have to explain certain things.

"You are your own boss. You answer to yourself.”

What are the disadvantages of having your own business?

“You don't have a set salary if things are tough. So, you're more stressed compared to having a full-time job.

"You don't stop thinking about work because it's never enough. So yeah, it's 24/7, like even going away is stressful. When you're away you constantly thinking about the fact that you're away and you're not seeing clients.”

What advice do you have for people starting nail salons?

“My advice is just to do it. Even if you start small, if you have to have a job, start running your own business for two to three days a week.

"Make a little progress and see how it goes. Don't be scared. Just go for it. That's what I did and stay strong.”

How did you fund your business at the start? 

“So, I had savings to pay for my main certificate with Odyssey. Then my husband gave me money to start off with. He paid for three gel colours, three acrylic colours and my base products. The business grew from there.

"I did not put any more money into it from there. I just basically let the business pay for itself and pay for its extras.

“I've opened up a nail salon a few times because I've moved around and moved overseas, and I came back to South Africa. I did the same thing. I put a little bit of money into the business, and I built the business from there.”

What makes South Africa great for starting a business?

“SA is is good for a small business. Overseas there are lots of things you have to abide by. You can pretty much do anything here if you put your mind to it. So I feel SA is not as restrictive as overseas. 

“I found that overseas clients were less demanding than South African clients. South Africans work hard, and we just expect good things and expect good work ethics.

"South Africans’ standard of work shows from my experience going overseas. I stood out because of the quality of service I provided my clients. The quality of service I was giving was because that's what my South African clients expected.”

Is it worth it to have a business in South Africa?

“I think it is worth it. I think you need a couple of things going for yourself today. It's definitely better to have more control over your own destiny in a sense but having a small business doesn't always mean that you're surviving.

"So it just depends on the person and on what it is that you're doing. I do feel being independent is a good thing if you can make it work.”

Laura had interesting things to say about starting a nail salon. Do you still have questions? Then, read on to learn more.

Learn more about starting a nail salon business

Trying something new, like starting a small salon business for the first time, isn’t easy. But don’t stress – it will be okay in the end. Just be patient with yourself and hang in there while the adventure unfolds.

Are you passionate about people?

Working on a client’s nails is only part of the service of a successful nail technician. It is a social experience where you have entertaining chats with your clients, and they leave your salon feeling great not only because of their great nails.

Also, as a business owner, you will need to deal with all kinds of situations in a friendly and professional way.

Where are you going to have your salon?

This is super important because everything is about the location. It’s no good being tucked away from all the bustling crowds and hoping to make a living. Make the spot central for easy access by clients.

For example, having a salon in a mall would ensure much traffic goes past your front door.


Research is important

Find out if your idea is the right one to start a business by looking at what it can offer and if it will satisfy the needs of the close-by market.

  • There may be gaps that your future salon's services should include. You may have to tweak your salon's nail services to meet those market needs. In this way, your business can do well.

  • In an ideal situation, any business wants to provide unique services that no other business can offer. But in the real world, this is not always true. What are the main nail grooming needs in your area?  Offer the nail services that will make you money.

  • By carefully finding out the strengths and weaknesses of your close-by rivals, you can adjust your small business to make it as competitive as possible.

  • Find out competitors' pricing to work out your own pricing. 

  • Next, you need to make your service as attractive as possible.

  • Find out from successful salons what makes them tick.

  • Finally, you can take some steps to encourage customer loyalty.

Experience &  clients

Working at nail salons will give you the needed experience to run your own business in future.

Also, not only should you start a salon having good work experience, but an existing client base will help your business make money sooner and more often in the early days.

Get your marketing right

  • You need a website, and you need to grow your business in the online space.

  • You could streamline bookings with a website booking feature.

  • Word-of-mouth does wonders, but you need to push harder to get enough money coming in to grow your business.

  • Social media and Google Search can do the trick. Start off spending small amounts and spend more only when you start seeing the results. Always ask your new clients where they heard about your salon? 

  • While more reputation management, keep a close eye on your online reviews and do everything you can, within reason, to keep them great.

Are you ready to get started? Get more info about how to start a business in South Africa.

Get in touch with Yoco before you start

Once you have found the spot and have furnished it, you need to think about how your customers will give you that hard-earned cash. This is where Yoco is outstanding with its card machines. Yoco has card machines that are great for when you first start and for when your business grows. You can also create the Yoco Link in the Yoco App for those customers who want to pay without using a website. If you need any advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we would love to assist you.

So, do you feel inspired to start your own nail salon? Does it sound like the best move for you? Make your move, whatever it is.

Source: Five Factors to Consider Before Starting Your Own Nail Salon Business

Yoco Card Machines and Online Payments

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