How to start a nail business in South Africa

How to start a nail business in South Africa

A nail business can be very lucrative when done right, this is a guide on how to start a nail business in South Africa.

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A lot of women love to get their nails done, even though some prefer conservative styles. Having beautiful nails makes a lot of women to feel more beautiful and confident. This means that there is a very big market for nail technicians.

This market will not go anywhere in the near future, there will always be demand for nail technicians. The barriers to entry for this business are on the low end, this means that you will face a lot of competition and have to work extra hard to stand out.

Get experience

You can’t afford to start this business without having any experience, you will do a terrible job and your clients will never come back. Fortunately, this is something I have personally observed. Most nail techs who don’t have any experience do a very terrible job; the nails come off within just 2 days and they aren’t even beautiful.

This is one area where you cannot afford to learn on your clients, most of them will not come back no matter how cheap you are. They would rather go to someone who will charge them more but do a good job.

Make sure that you first work at a nail salon as a nail technician before starting out your own business. You can also gain experience by being teaching yourself, unfortunately; you will have to practice on your friends and make sure that they know. Even your friends won’t want to pay for a terrible job.

It’s best not to charge them, you might spend some money on supplies but just take it as if you are paying for education. Most people don’t appreciate having their nails messed up and you just don’t want to put yourself in that position.

Get operating premises

You don’t have to have commercial operating premises; you can totally work from home. Most people who are starting out choose this option; working from home. This reduces your overhead costs but puts you at a disadvantage in marketing.

It’s always best to have a nail salon, which is situated in a busy area, it will make it easy to get clients. You will probably get enough clients to at least cover your rent and clients will be willing to pay more for your services.

Foot traffic is very important, imagining that 100 people walk directly past your nail salon every day, you should at least get 3 – 5 clients. Others will definitely notice your salon and make a mental note to check it out someday or will just come to it when they need to get their nails done.

Rent in the CBD can be anywhere between R7 000 and R13 000. It’s best to have enough money to pay rent for at least 3 months.

Register your business

You have to register your business; especially if you plan on having operating premises. You can get away with operating an unregistered business if you are working from home. A registered business makes it easier to have a business account; which makes it easier to track the finances of your business.

It currently costs R125 to register your business through the CIPC.

Market your business

This is going to be the hardest part; most nail technicians struggle with getting clients. Getting clients is so hard that you might think of quitting. Having operating premises in a good location should give you enough clients to cover your rent at the very least.

If you don’t have operating premises then you will have to market your business using other means. Digital marketing works best for this business, open social media pages and run paid adverts as well. Have an Instagram and Facebook pages where you post your beautiful work, run adverts to reach your target market.


This was a guide on how to start a nail business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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