How to Start a Mobile Makeup Business
A mobile makeup business provides beauty services and products to its customers. Unlike makeup artists working out of a salon, mobile artists travel, bringing their tools and talents to their clients. They work out of residences, theaters, businesses, and production sites. Some mobile makeup businesses work exclusively with one brand, traveling across the country helping to market the brand’s products.
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Learn how to start your own Mobile Makeup Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a mobile makeup business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Mobile Makeup Business
- Form your Mobile Makeup Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Mobile Makeup Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Mobile Makeup Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Mobile Makeup Business
- Get Mobile Makeup Business Insurance
- Define your Mobile Makeup Business Brand
- Create your Mobile Makeup Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your mobile makeup business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a mobile makeup business?
If you do not have professional training, start there. Makeup school costs between $7,000 and $17,000, depending on what school you attend. The school you settle on should:
- Be accredited
- Offer students access to networking opportunities/events
- Provide career counseling
- Provide a starter makeup kit
- Assist each student in building a portfolio
While education can be expensive, it will lay the foundation for your career and is your most valuable startup cost. After that, you’ll just need to make a few more investments.
- Business licenses and permits - Some states do not allow mobile makeup services. Check your state’s rules before investing in this business venture.
- Logo, branding, and marketing strategy
- Makeup and equipment
The total cost for these items vary, but you can expect to spend between $500 and $1,500. Since each job will be at a different location, make sure you have reliable transportation and a business credit card that offers rewards for frequent travelers.
What are the ongoing expenses for a mobile makeup business?
Once you’ve made your initial investment in makeup, your business expenses will remain low. Depending on the type of work you do, you’ll spend $150 to $300 per month on makeup and supplies. Your marketing budget should cost $175 or less. Be sure to include a line on your expense budget for insurance and travel expenses.
Who is the target market?
Mobile makeup businesses have a large pool of potential clients to choose from. While you do not have to pigeonhole yourself into one niche, starting out with one focus will help you sharpen your skills. Potential target markets for makeup artists include:
- Wedding industry
- Film/movie sets
- Photo shoots for modeling agencies
- Fashion events
- Theater events
There are two things to consider when defining your target market. What type of work excites you the most? Where are your services most needed?
How does a mobile makeup business make money?
Mobile makeup artists make money by collecting a fee for their makeup services. Many businesses increase profits by selling makeup and supplies.
How much can you charge customers?
Pricing for your services will vary significantly from one project to the next. If you’re performing makeovers, session prices should be $40-$50. Some artists charge by the hour for their bridal services, while others offer bridal packages based on the client’s individual needs. If you plan to work on a movie set or photoshoot, your pricing will be significantly higher.
Your prices should match your skill level, time, and overhead expenses. Prices for projects requiring air travel should reflect travel expenses.
How much profit can a mobile makeup business make?
Business profits are directly tied to the type and number of projects you’re involved in each month. For example, let’s say your niche is makeovers. If you charge an average of $50 per makeover and perform 30 makeovers each week, you’ll bring in an average of $1,500/week.
How can you make your business more profitable?
To maximize profits, expand your business services. Rather than working as the sole employee, consider expanding your team to include other beauty services. Your team could also include members that focus on different niches within the industry. Just make sure each team member is trained, certified, and that their work positively represents your business’s brand.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your mobile makeup business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: 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.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: 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.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: 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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a mobile makeup business
Networking is the most effective way to build your brand in this industry. You can do this by joining associations, attending events, and reaching out to industry professionals. Connect with photographers, models, wedding coordinators, wedding venues, and hair salons.
An online presence is a critical component of your marketing strategy. A professional website, social media accounts, and a YouTube channel will help show how you stand out from the competition. You should also build a profile on freelance sites and industry-related online directories.
Many mobile makeup business owners collaborate with other mobile beauty professionals. This partnership enables you to pool client lists and share project costs.
How to keep customers coming back
Word-of-mouth advertising is integral to a makeup artist’s success. This is where your customer service skills come into play. Make sure every client is happy with your work. Treat them with respect and make sure you turn their visions into reality. Keep business cards on-hand at all times and pass them out to folks who are satisfied with your work. Ask them to write a review and share your work via social media.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Mobile Makeup Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
Mobile makeup business owners enjoy their work as a makeup artist but dream of the adventure and flexibility that comes with going mobile. They thrive on meeting new people and working in a different environment from one day to the next.
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Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a mobile makeup business?
As a mobile makeup artist, no two days will look exactly the same. One day, you’re working on location at a photo shoot, the next day you’re making sure the bride looks perfect on her wedding day.
When you aren’t traveling and providing makeup services, you’ll focus your energies on managing and growing the business. These tasks include marketing, website management, responding to emails/phone calls, and researching the latest makeup trends. Since a portfolio is a critical component of your marketing strategy, you’ll need to update and tweak it regularly.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful mobile makeup business?
Your business’s success is contingent on your skills as a makeup artist. Most artists have received formal training and are certified as a makeup artist (MUA). Some states require certification, while others do not.
Most mobile makeup artists work in the industry prior to venturing out on their own. This provides real-world experience and offers insight into the type of clients you wish to serve.
To ensure your business’s long-term success, you’ll need to be more than a good makeup artist. This industry serves clients from all backgrounds and with varying makeup needs. It’s important that you have strong customer service skills. This means being a good listener and communicator. Successful makeup artists have strong work ethics and communicate with confidence and respectful assertiveness. You will often run into unexpected challenges, so patience and flexibility are also important.
What is the growth potential for a mobile makeup business?
The global beauty industry reached over $483 billion in 2020, with those numbers expected to almost double by 2027. Demand for makeup services is high. Talented, driven artists have the potential to grow their business on a global scale. The only limitations are those you impose on yourself.
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Take the Next Step
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.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a mobile makeup business?
The most successful mobile makeup business owners are in a constant state of learning. They remain abreast of the latest makeup trends and work tirelessly to improve and develop their skills.
While it might be tempting to accept every job that comes your way, industry leaders caution against this. The beauty of being your own boss is that you set your own schedule. Take ownership of your career and only accept jobs that inspire and excite you.
Building your reputation will take time; do not expect it to happen overnight. Upon launching the business, consider dabbling in all areas of the industry. Offer your services for free or volunteer as an assistant for projects that interest you. This will provide insight into what type of makeup you’re more passionate about and will help in making important industry connections.
Joining industry associations is another effective business tool. You’ll make valuable connections, learn about industry events, and gain access to tools that can help kickstart your new business. Be sure to check out local professional beauty associations in order to build your network.
How and when to build a team
Many mobile makeup artists work alone. However, as your brand starts to gain traction, you might want to hire an assistant to help ensure each job runs smoothly. Consider hiring a makeup student for this position. If your vision for your business includes taking on additional artists, this is a great way to hire team members who will accurately represent your brand.
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