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Aromatherapy business owners sell their products online and/or from a physical location. Drawn to healing others physically, mentally, and spiritually, many retailers are also licensed aromatherapists, blending and bottling their own products.
Who is this business right for?
Aromatherapy is best suited to the individual who is passionate about healing others through the use of homeopathic products. They must have a thirst for continuously learning and growing, forever on a quest to discover new healing blends. While this business requires creativity, aromatherapy entrepreneurs must be disciplined enough to pay close attention to operational details, and innovative in expanding their ventures.
What happens during a typical day at an aromatherapy business?
The specifics of your day will vary, depending on how you structure your business, and what services you decide to offer. Most days will include the following activities:
- Collecting or purchasing herbs and flowers to be used in your essential oils
- Extracting oils
- Bottling oils
- Crafting various products
- Answering email and phone inquiries from potential customers, and fulfilling online orders
- Educating your customers and assisting them in finding the blend that meets their needs
- Following up with clients to ensure satisfaction and to receive feedback
- Working on your marketing strategy, and networking with others in the community
If you’re considering entering this industry, you have the advantage of being able to work with your passion, day in and day out. However, as with every business, there are also a number of administrative duties to attend to. Until you’re able to hire a trusted team to handle these tasks, you’ll need to take an active role in this aspect of the business as well.
What is the target market?
While everyone stands to benefit from integrating aromatherapy and essential oils into their daily life, there are some demographics that aren’t open to trying it. While you shouldn’t ignore marketing to men, the bulk of your business will come from open-minded women who are looking for alternatives to Western medicine. As part of your business plan, spend some time conducting market research specific to your area, in order to target more distinct demographics.
How does an aromatherapy business make money?
Your company will generate revenue through the sale of each individual product. Some entrepreneurs opt to host an online store only, while others offer a storefront for their customers to visit. If you offer therapeutic services, most professionals receive a tip, based on a percentage of the total charges.
What is the growth potential for an aromatherapy business?
This industry realized significant growth in 2016 and is expected to continue growing through 2022, reaching $11.67 billion in value. As long as you maintain consistently high-quality products and strive to educate the public on the benefits, you stand to exceed your long-term growth goals. In fact, some aromatherapists have found success through the sale of just one essential oil.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful aromatherapy business?
Whether you’ve decided to re-sell another company’s product or create your own oils, you’ll need to educate yourself on the intricacies of aromatherapy. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and NY Institute of Aromatherapy offer workshops and classes designed to help you form a relationship with essential oils, enhance plant intelligence, and sharpen your sensory faculties.
While not a skill per se, you should have heightened olfactory senses. This can be learned, but having a natural nose for it is beneficial. You’ll also want to have a deep understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and how the various scents affect the health and wellness of your clients.
To realize long-term success, sharing your passion through education is key. You should be confident in your teachings and have strong interpersonal skills; it’s important that each customer is able to relate to you on a personal level. While much of your time is spent working with the oils themselves, dedication and business sense are also critical. If this is your first time running your own company, consider signing up for a business class at your local college.
What are the costs involved in opening an aromatherapy business?
Your initial investment will vary, depending upon the specifics of your business. Most aromatherapists report start-up costs of $10,000 to $30,000.
A few items you’ll need are:
- Bottles, labels, and packaging supplies
- Business cards
- Essential oils, carrier oils, and fillers
- Many aromatherapists that create their own blends choose to grow their own plants. If this is part of your strategy, you’ll need a good deal of chemical free land that’s conducive to growing plants you wish to specialize in
- Distiller and propane source - purchased new, this will set you back approximately $15,000
- Sample products to distribute to potential customers and resellers
- Website - if your focus will be on online sales, your business’ website is not the place to cut corners
If your business plan includes maintaining a storefront, investment in your workspace will increase your expenses. Before committing to a location, conduct research to identify any market saturation, and which areas of town would be most receptive to your product.
Read our aromatherapy business purchasing guide to learn about the materials and equipment you'll need to start an aromatherapy business, how much to budget, and where to make purchases.
What are the steps to start an aromatherapy business?
Once you're ready to start your aromatherapy business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your aromatherapy business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your aromatherapy business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Get your first domain for only $0.99 with GoDaddy.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an aromatherapy business?
The following are some insider tips from experienced aromatherapists who have chosen to make a career out of their passion:
- Before getting started, consider what you envision for your business and lifestyle. What aspects of aromatherapy are you most passionate about, and how will you carve out a niche for yourself?
- Keep in mind that this type of business can take some time to grow. Be patient.
- Take the time to interact personally with your customers, and educate them without being pushy. Thank them for their business and follow up later.
- Network with other alternative medicine practitioners who complement your work. A reciprocal referral system is a great way to build a solid customer base.
- Blend your own oils!
How to promote & market an aromatherapy business
While aromatherapists are spread out across the country, it’s a tightly knit community. Attend conferences whenever possible, and focus on networking with fellow aromatherapists. This will offer you a strong support group, and also help with name recognition. Besides, you never know what you could learn.
As with every modern business, social media should be a critical component of your marketing strategy. Many aromatherapists have found success selling their products through Instagram and Pinterest. You can also regularly publish a blog on your website, and share it on social media platforms. The subject of your blogs should interest both current and potential clients, and help establish you as a leader in the industry.
In addition, request to be featured as a guest blogger on other well-known industry blogs. Readers will get to know a little about you and your business, and will be directed back to your website for additional information. An online newsletter is also a great way to reach people and inform them of the company’s latest news. AromaWeb is an online directory that lists aromatherapy businesses across the globe.
Once you have enough products, consider putting together a catalog. Visit local gift shops, boutiques, and health food stores to inquire about placing some of your products there. Leave a few catalogs with them and offer to host an informational session, where consumers can inquire about which oils would benefit their unique situation.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Attracting customers requires a strong knowledge of essential oils and various medical conditions. Consistently selling quality products, and showing empathy for your clients, will help you develop a loyal following.
How and when to build a team
If your products will be sold exclusively online, a team won’t be necessary when first starting out. As your business grows, consider hiring individuals to help manage and package orders.
If a storefront is part of your business plan, you might still be able to work solo initially. When the business is thriving, consider adding employees to your team. Just make sure each employee is knowledgeable, friendly, and relatable to your customers.
Entrepreneurs that plan on making their own oils should still start out as a one-person operation. Once you have the recipes down to a science, take note of the process, ingredients, and measurements. Only then should you consider building a team. Remember, the key is consistent, quality product.
Federal Business Licensing Requirements
This industry is currently unlicensed and unregulated for the practice of aromatherapy, as well as for the manufacturing of aromatherapy products.
The American Herbal Products Association provides unofficial guidelines concerning labelling and manufacturing of aromatherapy products.
The FDA regulates manufacturing practices of aromatherapy products, including labelling and packaging.
More information on regulations can be found here.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
How much can you charge customers?
Fees are based on services rendered and products sold, and will vary from client to client. An average aromatherapy session can cost anywhere from $45 to $110. Oils range in price from $5 to $165, depending on the ingredients used, the region plant matter originates from, and the method of extraction.
What are the ongoing expenses for an aromatherapy business?
Again, this will depend largely on how you structure your business. When only hosting an online store, your overhead costs are at a minimum. The business can operate out of a home office, making supplies, shipping, website maintenance, and marketing your greatest expenses.
A storefront will significantly increase ongoing expenses, as you’ll need to keep a more complete and diverse inventory. You’ll be facing the typical expenses that come with running a store, including insurance, payroll, and rent.
Once you get into blending your own oils, your supply costs will rise significantly. First impressions are critical, so put a great deal of thought into your product bottling and labeling. Custom labels can cost anywhere from $13 to $89 for 100 sheets, while bottles range from $115 to $238 per carton. The cost of plant material varies, depending on the region it was harvested from and its rarity. If you grow some of your own plant matter, proper land maintenance should be top priority.
Finally, you must invest both time and money each month into marketing your business. If this isn’t your forte, consider hiring a marketing company. Many offer basic packages that start at around $50 per month.
How much profit can an aromatherapy business make?
Successful aromatherapists have published a broad range, in terms of profit. Reports indicate anywhere from $30,000 to over $100,000 annually, depending upon the specifics of their business.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Getting started and making a name for yourself takes time. The following are a few strategies other professionals have implemented to ensure a more profitable business:
- Make a variety of products, such as lotions, soaps, sprays, massage oils, and pet care products
- Sell accompanying products, such as diffusers
- Sell gift baskets
- Teach educational classes - this can be done online or in person, and can cover a variety of topics
- Become an approved school through the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, where you can offer certification, advanced graduate-level training, and essential oil seminars for healthcare professionals
- Offer an essential oil bar, where customers can come in, seek advice, and blend their own oils