Start a Personal Styling Business by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your Personal Styling Business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
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 Personal Styling Business?
Perhaps the most attractive thing about opening such a business is that it costs so little. Many personal stylists meet their clients at the clients' home or business, so you do not need to pay for any expensive overhead. Ultimately, you can start this business for around $3,000. Of that, $500 should go towards a professional website, $2,000 should go towards local advertising (via newspapers, radio stations, etc.), and $500 should go towards online advertisement. The biggest early obstacle is to get your name out there, which is why most of the initial money is going towards advertisement.
What are the ongoing expenses for a Personal Styling Business?
A key factor of this business is that there are almost no ongoing expenses. For instance, you will spend about $100 a year maintaining your website, and you will pay varying amounts driving around and meeting clients. Similarly, you will pay varying amounts for any makeup or hair care products you need for a particular client's needs. However, you will typically either charge the client for those costs or adjust your prices to reflect those costs, so these do not cut into your bottom line.
Who is the target market?
While many people will want your services, the chief market is young professionals. These are up-and-coming people for whom image may be a deciding factor in both their professional and romantic aspirations.
How does a Personal Styling Business make money?
You will ultimately decide whether you wish to bill clients by the hour or to bill them by session.
How much can you charge customers?
How much you charge depends on your experience, the client's needs, and your business model. If you charge hourly rates, you'll likely start out charging $20 to $50 an hour or $150 to $200 or so for a session (which may last most of a day). As you grow in experience, you may consider raising your rates (it's not unreasonable for a professional stylist to charge over $100 per hour and $1,000 or more a day), but you should also keep the local economy in mind: you don't want to price yourself out of business.
How much profit can a Personal Styling Business make?
It's difficult to assess how much profit you can make, as there are unknown factors such as how many clients you will have and what you will be charging them. Someone charging $50 per hour who manages to work thirty hours per week, for instance, can easily make $78,000, and the lack of significant overhead means that the majority of this is profit. You can also supplement your business by advertising services such as personal shopping and even creating a blog about your experience in which things like referral links help drive your profits.
How can you make your business more profitable?
As mentioned above, you can become more profitable by embracing side business opportunities that range from personal shopping to blogging. You can (and should) raise your rates as time goes on and your experience grows. Finally, you should consider expanding the area you serve: someone who is willing to service several cities in the area will inevitably build more clients than someone serving only one city.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Personal Styling Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your Personal Styling Business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
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?.
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:
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
- 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.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported 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 guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
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.
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.
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.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a personal stylist business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
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.
For 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.
Personal stylist businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.
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.
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How to promote & market a Personal Styling Business
As mentioned before, it's worth spending money on radio and newspaper advertisements to help build a community reputation, but much of your advertising will be online. You should advertise extensively through your website and create various social media pages: these forms of advertisement are cheap and free, respectively, and you can supplement these activities through paid online advertisements. Ultimately, the product you are selling is image-based, so online advertising is ideal because it lets you show off your skills with makeup, hair, and fashion makeovers.
How to keep customers coming back
In addition to the advertising methods outlined above, you should consider doing some initial consultations for free (or at a reduced rate). This will create grateful early customers who effectively become your brand ambassadors. You may also consider some traditional sales techniques such as offering discounts or even free sessions after someone has purchased enough sessions. Fortunately, retention is built into the business: someone who loves the look you give them will typically be eager to come back for more.
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.
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.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start A Personal Styling Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
This business is ideal for someone who has personal and/or professional experience in categories such as fashion, hair care, and makeup. It is also good for those who are already part of a network that may include actors, broadcasters, and anyone else who regularly requires personal styling before media appearances. Finally, it's a good job for a “people person,” as you may spend extensive amounts of time with very different kinds of clients.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a Personal Styling Business?
Your exact daily activities may vary based on the changing needs of diverse clients. Generally, however, you will meet with clients for an initial consultation, agree on a particular look and style, and then facilitate the client's style makeover. To this end, you may need to shop for clothes, makeup, and other supplies, and then help the client with everything from makeup application to fashion coordination in order to perfect their look.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Personal Styling Business?
As mentioned before, any previous personal or professional experience in the fields related to a personal styling business are very beneficial. This includes any formal educational experience in these categories as well. Finally, being part of a network that includes cosmetic stores and related businesses can help provide an opportunity for cross-promotion and brand awareness early on.
What is the growth potential for a Personal Styling Business?
The growth potential of this business is decent, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that the related fields of hairdressing and cosmetology are expected to grow by ten percent between 2014 and 2024. This also gives you a kind of marketing edge as well, as you can point out to prospective clients that a visit from you is like a visit from three different specialists rolled into one.
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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.
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 Personal Styling Business?
If possible, practice your personal styling skills on friends and family before starting your own business. Try to get consent from some early clients to create very striking “before/after” images that you can advertise with to show how you can transform someone's image. Consider building relationships with things like local clothing and makeup stores so that they promote your business and you steer clients towards those businesses.
How and when to build a team
The nature of this business means you are likely to keep doing it solo: the appearance of having a personal stylist is a large part of your brand and appeal. However, if you become successful enough (and busy enough), you may consider hiring other stylists to work under your banner.