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Look before you leap. Did you happen to look before you were called to a life of nails? Was it a genuine interest in profit or creativity? When you signed up for your first class at cosmetology school did anyone discuss all the financial possibilities?

What luck to discover that your talent and passion for nails can turn a healthy profit. How much money, exactly, are we talking about? We’re not talking crumbs. We are actually talking about a six figure income. With a plan and some simple goal setting, growing a prosperous business and living very well are absolutely within your reach. Hold on tight; here comes some math.


Track Your Income

The key to running a profitable nail business is to treat it like a real business and not a hobby. You can do this by making wise calculations from the start.

Your potential for earning is based on two things: your Average Price per Service x Number of Clients per Day. Create daily targets. It’s important to know what that looks like. Every single day, have a clear picture of what comes in and what goes out.

Track where your money flows with a spreadsheet. Do whatever is easiest. It might be a basic notebook and pen, a spreadsheet on your computer or use one of the many financial planning/banking apps. Keep these figures all in one place. Regularly review these financials before you attack the next work week.

Stay curious to what you are accomplishing and celebrate your business building momentum. Ask yourself:

  • How much money do I bring in right now?
  • How much money did I earn today, this week, this month?
  • What services bring me the most money?
  • What doesn’t bring in as much as I thought?
  • What is actually not worth it based on physical or emotional labor?
  • How much does it cost to run all aspects of my business?


These numbers will be the baseline for your income. You can always refine how you want to work and enjoy the fruits of your labor.


Put Aside Money for Taxes

The income numbers discussed here are your gross income. It’s everything you bring in before taxes and tips. Sad but true: not all the money you earn goes directly into your pocket.

Reach out to a trusted financial professional for advice on your business tax withholdings. To avoid a whopping unexpected tax bill, a safe and stress free way to manage your taxes is to set it aside as you go.

If you have $100,000 worth of living expenses, you are not making enough money if you earn exactly $100,000. You will either need to reduce expenses or increase income. That’s all we have to say on that.

How to Figure Out Your Earnings Potential 

A nail tech needs to ask themselves some crucial questions. How much money do I earn? How much money do I WANT to earn? There is a difference.

Another way to look at your bottom line is to work the numbers backwards. What would be your ideal salary? $50K? $80K? $100K? Now run the computation.

If you want to earn $100,000 a year, divide that by 52 weeks of the year. This equals $1923 per week. Now let’s figure out how many clients you need to earn that amount every week if your average service is $50. (Disclaimer: we think you should consider charging more than this figure when the time is right). 

Divide your weekly income by $50, the average service price. In this example $1923 (weekly) divided by a $50 (service)  = approximately 38.5 clients. Rounding up, how can you fit 39 clients in over a five day work week? This is approximately 8 clients a day. What if you want to condense your work week to 4 days on and 3 days off? You’d have to book an average of 10 clients a day.

Take advantage of the flexibility of this work. Does this look reasonable to you? What feels right in this regard is different for everyone and their comfort. Remember you can always tweak this by adjusting for a couple weeks for holidays and vacation.

Give Yourself a Raise

Missing your salary goals? It’s time to find a way to give yourself a raise. Routinely schedule one for the same time every year. Maybe every March you send your clients advance notice of a price increase. Update your price lists 30 days in advance and provide gentle reminders when they rebook with you. 

When you raise your prices, you don't need to ask your clients for permission. It is your right to do so as a business owner. You deserve to be compensated for your work based on your skills. You’ve found your own rhythm. You’re not the same nail tech from 365 days ago. In fact every set you’ve done this year has made you smarter, faster, better.

Year over year your talent increases. So why would you charge the same as when you first started? By just increasing your service price by $10 to $60 average price per service x 39 clients a week = $2340 weekly income x 52 weeks in year = $121,680 annual gross income without gratuity.

How to Boost Your Earnings 

Now you have a pretty clear road map to a comfortable income. Might there be anything else a nail tech can do to boost their earnings without adding too much effort? The simple answer is a $5 glitter or additional nail art upcharge.

Once you get your basic services down, now try to look at the bigger picture. When you introduce a $5 upcharge for glitter, it all adds up.

Here is the final computation for simple glitter art: $5 glitter x 20 clients a week (half your clients) = $100. An extra $100 a week x 52 weeks of the year = $5200 boost over your base salary.

Imagine what would happen if you started upcharging for more complicated specialty nail art and enhancements? This is what financial freedom looks like.

How Many Clients Do You Need?

What is the magic number for a full client book? We aim for 30 clients a week to start, and put them into rotation every 2-3 weeks. A full clientele is so important. You need 60-80 clients on a repeat 2 week schedule.

To cultivate a 100 person stable of clients takes time. Not everyone you work on will be a perfect fit or a return client. But you have a business plan and you have some serious hustle.

Now you need to get to the real work, nails and customer service. If you focus on the small tasks and just take one step closer every day, you will move closer to your goal.

By focusing on what you can control, like your attitude and hours of operation, we promise you’ll get there without becoming overwhelmed. Find the ones that love you and love nails.

Get active on social media to let everyone know you are here and practice your skills. Get faster without sacrificing quality. We always stress that technique comes first; speed comes second. Improve your speed over time. Soon enough you will have the luxury of time and the financial freedom to choose how you want to work. This kind of professional evolution happens one day at a time.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube,  HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU ACTUALLY MAKE AS A NAIL TECH which originally aired on July 22, 2021.