Starting a small business in beauty in the UK can be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to tap into a thriving industry. The beauty industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the UK, with a market value of over £30 billion, so it’s no surprise people are interested in how to start a beauty business.

There are several reasons why starting a beauty business in the UK could be a smart move. The beauty industry in the UK has been growing steadily over the last few years, with a range of beauty products and services becoming increasingly popular. From skincare and makeup to hair care and nail treatments, there are a range of opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start a beauty business in the UK.

It also has a large and diverse population, with a demand for products and services catering to different skin tones, hair types, and beauty styles, providing a ready market for a range of beauty products and services. With a population of over 66 million people, the UK is also one of the largest markets in Europe, providing a wide customer base for entrepreneurs to tap into.

The UK has a range of resources available to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. From government grants and business loans to networking events and mentoring programs, there is available to help entrepreneurs launch and scale their beauty businesses.

Finally, the beauty industry is somewhat of a recession-resistant industry, meaning that it is less affected by economic downturns than other industries. People still want to look and feel good, regardless of the economic climate, which means that the beauty industry remains relatively stable during periods of economic uncertainty even if cosmetics saw a slight dip during the pandemic while health and beauty products saw a slight rise.

With all of those reasons in mind, we’ve created this guide to how to start a beauty business in the UK, covering:

  • How to start a beauty business
  • How to start a mobile beauty business
  • How to start a beauty business online

How to start a beauty business

Starting a beauty business in the UK can be an exciting and rewarding venture, but it requires careful planning and execution. The beauty industry in the UK is worth billions of pounds and is constantly growing, making it an attractive sector for entrepreneurs. If you are interested in starting your own beauty business in the UK, here are some steps you can take to get started.

Conduct market research

Before you start your beauty business, you need to understand your target market and the industry landscape. Conduct market research to identify the gaps in the market and what customers are looking for. You should start by researching your potential competitors in your local area to understand their strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities for differentiation. This will help give you an idea of pricing, opening times and give you a sense of customer demand. You can also survey potential customers through polls on social media, surveys and chatting to people in the community to better understand consumer behaviour and preferences.

Develop a business plan

Once you have a good understanding of the market and your target audience, it's time to develop a business plan. Your business plan should outline your business goals, marketing strategy, budget, and financial projections. It should also include your unique selling proposition (USP) and how you plan to differentiate your business from competitors. Differentiation could look like a service you specialise in or have extra expertise in.

Register your business

To start a beauty business in the UK, you need to register your business with the Companies House. This includes choosing a business name, selecting a business structure (sole trader, partnership, or limited company), and registering for VAT if your annual turnover exceeds the threshold. You will also need to obtain the necessary licences and permits to operate your business legally. You can use the UK government’s licence finder to help you work out which licences you’ll need.

Set up your salon

If you plan to open a physical salon, you need to find a suitable location, lease or purchase the space, and equip it with all the necessary equipment and furniture. You should also invest in high-quality products and hire qualified staff to provide exceptional services to your customers.

Beauty therapists must hold a qualification from a recognised government body, such as a level 2 or 3 NVQ or equivalent exam, as well as specific qualifications for specialist treatments. You can find out more about how to get into this career or what to look for when hiring a beauty therapist on the National Careers Service website.

It is advisable to invest in at least one highly experienced therapist, especially if your background is primarily in business and not beauty. This will enable them to set the standard, give insight into services and help train up less experienced staff members.

As beauty is a service industry, excellent interpersonal skills are essential for your employees. Similarly, as the business owner, you must possess tireless people skills and stamina, regardless of whether you are an expert in beauty therapy or not. By providing a personal touch to customers' experiences, they will feel more at ease and are more likely to choose your salon over others offering similar treatments and prices.

Create a marketing strategy

Marketing is essential to the success of your beauty business. You need to create a marketing strategy that targets your ideal customers and clearly communicates your USP. At a bear minimum your marketing strategy should include a way to book your services. This can be either through a website or via a social media profile. You can then use these platforms to run advertising campaigns in the form of paid posts, show customers snippets of your work through short video clips and static images and interact with your followers. Websites are also great for showcasing testimonials, price lists, contact and business location information. You can also offer promotions and discounts to attract new customers and retain existing ones.

Launch your business

Once you have completed all the necessary steps, it's time to launch your beauty business. This involves announcing your business launch, hosting a launch event, and starting to offer your services. You should also track your progress and adjust your business plan and marketing strategy as necessary to ensure the long-term success of your beauty business.

How to start a mobile beauty business

Setting up a mobile beauty business can be an excellent opportunity to provide beauty services to clients in the comfort of their own homes. It can also be a flexible and convenient way to work, especially if you have other commitments, such as family or education. If you are considering setting up a mobile beauty business, here are some steps you can take to get started.

Determine your services

Before you start your mobile beauty business, you need to determine what services you will offer. Some of the most popular services include manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, and makeup application. You should also consider any additional services, such as eyelash extensions, tanning, or massage, that you can offer to make your business stand out.

At-home beauty treatments that you can offer include makeup, haircare, nail care, tattoos, piercings, and microblading. Offering makeup services requires stocking various products and you’ll need to really consider what type of makeup you’re comfortable doing, for example, wedding, prom or party. Hair treatments are also popular, but becoming a great hairdresser takes time and effort. Manicures and pedicures are less intensive salon mainstays that often include polishing or dyeing.

While learning to safely execute tattoos, piercings and semi-permanent makeup takes time, it is worthwhile as they are becoming more common. For example, if you offer services like microblading or powder brows, semi-permanent eyebrow tattooing techniques only offered in select salons, you could charge upwards of £100 per session. They both involve using a small needle to give customers well-defined eyebrows by adding pigmentation under the skin.

Get the right equipment

To start your mobile beauty business, you will need the right equipment. This includes a portable beauty bed or massage table, a range of beauty products, such as nail polish, wax, and skincare products, and tools such as brushes, tweezers, and scissors. You should also invest in high-quality transport cases to ensure that your equipment stays safe and secure during transportation. Keeping your equipment clean, sterile and in line with hygiene requirements is absolutely essential so you’ll also need to research how to store your tools and equipment.

How to start a beauty business online

You may also be considering how to start a beauty supply business online, selling products to customers rather than services. Here are some tips:

Create your brand

Creating a brand is essential for any business, including a beauty business online. Your brand should reflect your niche, personality, and values. Develop a unique brand name, logo, and visual identity that resonate with your target audience.

Create your website

Creating a website is crucial for any online business, including a beauty business. Your website should include information about your brand, products, prices, and shipping policies. It should also be user-friendly and optimised for search engines to improve your online visibility.

Establish your social media presence

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your beauty business online. Choose the platforms that are most popular with your target audience, such as Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. Create engaging content, interact with your followers, and collaborate with influencers to grow your social media presence.

Get the right payments technology in place

When you’re looking into how to start a beauty product business online, taking card payments is a crucial consideration, otherwise you won’t be able to sell anything from your website. Using Dojo’s tools means you can easily integrate a secure online checkout with your existing website seamlessly and keep your cash flow coming.