After years of working in someone else’s salon or from a home studio, you know the time has come for you to open your own nail salon. Figuring out how to start a nail salon can be tricky, but don’t be discouraged. These five key steps can help you get ready to launch your very own business.

1. Create a Business Plan

In order to open the nail salon of your dreams, you must have a solid business plan in place. How much will it cost to get started? Who is your target market? How long will it take you to break even? How many staff members (if any) do you plan to hire, and how will you educate and train them? These are just a few of the critical questions you should ask yourself when creating your business plan.

Stay organized and create a clear list of business goals, along with an estimated timeline of when you’ll have your location selected, your internal logistics figure out, your service pricing structure set and your products and merchandise stocked. The more detailed your business plan, the better your business foundation will be — and you’ll be grateful for that when your business is flourishing.

2. Obtain Permits and Licenses

Operating a successful nail salon often requires obtaining a few licenses and permits. In most states, nail salon owners are required to have a state-issued cosmetology license, and many states also require you to get a general business license, zoning permits and an employee identification number. Research your state’s specific requirements, and then add obtaining permits and licenses to your business plan to stay on top of it all.

3. Get Business Insurance

Obtaining property and liability insurance is essentially a way to protect yourself and your clients. If you plan to hire employees, worker’s compensation insurance might be necessary, too. Investing in business insurance now can save you money down the road, so take your time and do your research — you won’t regret it.

4. Set Up Accounting

When starting any kind of business, recording expenses and income sources is vital, so be sure to keep track of your salon’s incoming and outgoing money by hiring a CPA or using online software. The key to balanced books is organization and smart preparation, so take the time to open a business checking account to keep your business and personal expenses separate. Also, set up the proper internal resources for collecting credit card payments in-house so you can hit the ground running as soon as you open your doors.

5. Establish a Presence

Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to define your brand and establish a web presence. What does your brand stand for? What are the key differentiators that make you stand out from the competition? Think long and hard about these questions, then create a website and social media pages to capture your salon’s culture. Start sharing your nail art online to show off your skills and attract new clients.

Navigating the business world can be tricky, but thinking about these five key steps as milestones is a great way to track your progress as you learn how to start a nail salon. Be brave, be bold and follow these steps — you’ll be opening the doors to your very own nail salon in no time.