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How to open a tattoo shop in 2023

How to open a tattoo shop in 2023: Step-by-step guide

Are you an experienced tattoo artist looking to start your own tattoo studio? Or maybe you're an entrepreneur who can see the potential in the tattoo industry and wants to get in on the action. 

Taking into account that the tattoo industry has not only successfully survived the hard COVID times but is expected to grow from $1.89 billion in 2022 to $3.55 billion by 2029, opening a tattoo shop may be a great opportunity to create a business that will be both financially rewarding and personally fulfilling. 

So, whether you're a seasoned tattoo artist or a newcomer to the industry, this “How to Open a Tattoo Shop” guide will provide you with valuable information and practical advice to help you turn your dream into a reality. 

Let's get started!

How to start a tattoo shop step by step

Starting a tattoo shop can be an exciting venture, but it requires careful planning, compliance with local laws and regulations, and a solid business strategy. If you are pondering how to open a tattoo shop, below are general steps to consider; however, these may vary depending on your location, so you should conduct additional research and consult professionals as needed.

1. Get a clear framework: begin with research

Researching before opening a tattoo shop is crucial. It may not seem like the most exciting thing to do, especially if you're an experienced tattoo artist who knows the industry. However, when working towards opening a tattoo shop, it's important to take the time to discover what customers want and what the competition is doing. This approach will help you get a clear understanding of how to build a thriving business with a proper unique selling proposition that attracts and retains clients.

And here’s what you’ll need to do for that:

  • Identify your target market. Think about who you want to attract to your shop and what they like. For example, if you want to attract a younger crowd, you might focus on creating tattoo designs that reflect the latest trends in pop culture; if you're targeting an older demographic, you might offer traditional tattoo styles that have been popular for decades.
  • Get to know your audience. Once you've identified your target market, it's important to find out what they really want. You can ask for feedback through surveys, social media research, or by talking to them directly.
  • Look at your competition. See what other tattoo shops are doing and what sets them apart. This will help you find your own unique selling point and create a business that stands out.

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2. Find the missing blocks: develop your tattoo shop business plan 

Once you've done your research on starting a tattoo shop, the next step is to develop a comprehensive business plan for your tattoo studio.

It doesn't have to be a huge document, but a business plan should be a roadmap for your tattoo business that will outline your goals, strategies, and financial projections to help you make informed decisions.

And here's what you should include in your business plan when considering opening a tattoo shop:

  • Executive summary — an overview of your tattoo business, including your mission statement, target market, and financial projections.
  • Company info — a description of your tattoo studio, including its location, services, and unique selling proposition.
  • Market analysis — information about your target market, competition, and industry trends, including customer demographics, market size, and growth potential.
  • Marketing strategy — your marketing and promotion plan, including advertising, social media, and networking strategies.
  • Financial projections — a detailed financial plan that covers your startup costs, revenue projections, and cash flow analysis.
  • Operations plan — the day-to-day management of your tattoo studio, including staff, equipment, and inventory management.

3. Execution: register your business 

Once you have a solid business plan in place for your tattoo shop, the next step is to register your business. 

The specific steps will depend on your location and legal structure, but here is the general procedure to follow:

  • Choose a legal structure. This will determine how you register your business and how you pay taxes. You can typically choose from several options, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC.
  • Obtain the required licenses and permits. Check with your local government to find out what licenses you will need to operate a tattoo shop legally in your area. This may include: 
    • General business license
    • Seller’s permit
    • Zoning permit
    • Health department permits
  • Register your business name. Choose a name that's unique, memorable, and easy to spell. Then, register it with the appropriate government agency in your area (the Secretary of State's office, the County Clerk's office, or the Department of Revenue).
  • Register your business. Depending on your exact location and in the process of figuring out how to open tattoo shop, you will need to register your tattoo studio with the proper government business registration office or department. In some states, it may be called the Secretary of State's office, while in others, it may be called the Department of State.
  • Obtain your employer identification number (EIN). After registration, you will receive a nine-digit employer identification number. It is given by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax purposes and filing returns. 

4. Manage your expenses: set up a business bank account

Managing your expenses is essential to making your tattoo shop a successful business, no matter what legal structure it operates under, but the requirements for opening a business bank account may vary. 

Thus, when opening a tattoo shop as a sole proprietor, it's not necessary to have a separate bank account for your tattoo studio, but it's still recommended to keep your personal and business accounts separate. For partnerships, LLCs, and corporations, it's mandatory to have a business bank account.

And here’s the process for getting one: 

  • Choose a bank. Research and compare different banks to find one that offers the services and features that are best suited for your needs, such as low fees, online and mobile banking, merchant services, business loans, and local branch access.
  • Gather the necessary documents. Depending on your legal structure, you'll need to provide documentation that proves your business entity. This may include a partnership agreement, articles of organization, articles of incorporation, or a business license. Be sure to check with your bank to determine what specific documents they require.
  • Apply for a business account. Contact your chosen bank to apply for a business account online or in person at a local branch. You'll need to provide your personal and business information, as well as the necessary documentation to prove your business entity. 
  • Deposit funds. Once your business account is approved, you'll need to make an initial deposit to activate it. This can be done by transferring funds from another account or depositing cash or a check at a local branch. 

5. Location: find the right place to set up your tattoo shop

Now that your tattoo business is fully registered and you're on the path of figuring out how to open a tattoo shop successfully, it's time to find the perfect location. This will help you attract new clients, keep them coming back for more services, and ultimately increase your profits. But where do you start?

Here are some things to consider when searching for the right location for your tattoo salon:

  • Demographics. Find a spot that your target customers can easily get to, like a place where lots of young people or tattoo fans hang out.
  • Visibility. Choose a location with high foot traffic, such as a storefront on a busy street.
  • Zoning. Ensure that the location you choose is zoned for commercial use and allows tattoo shops to operate in that area.
  • Competition. Look at what other tattoo artists are in the area and decide if there's enough demand for another one.
  • Costs. Think about your budget and make sure you can afford things like rent, utilities, and taxes.
  • Layout and size. Check that the space is big enough for your tattoo parlor, equipment, and tattoo artists.
  • Safety and security. Make sure the area is well-lit, easy to get to, and has a low crime rate.

Now that you've found several good location options for your tattoo shop, it's time to dig deeper and evaluate each one based on what matters most to you. Consider things like how much it will cost, how easy it is to get to, and whether the area feels safe and secure.

Once you've narrowed down your options, it's a good idea to visit each location in person to get a feel for the space and the surrounding area. This will help you make a final decision and choose the location that is best for your tattoo parlor.

6. Fill your shop with equipment & supplies 

Once you've secured a location for your tattoo shop, it's time to start filling it with the necessary supplies and equipment. 

Some key items you'll need to purchase include:

  • Tattoo machines. This is the most important tool you'll need, and you should invest in a high-quality machine that's designed for professional use.
  • Needles. You'll need a variety of needles in different sizes to create different types of tattoos.
  • Ink. Choose high-quality tattoo ink that is safe for use on the skin and comes in a wide range of colors.
  • Power supply. A reliable power supply is essential to ensure that your tattoo machine runs smoothly.
  • Furniture. You'll need chairs or beds for your clients to sit on or lie down on during their tattoo session, as well as a worktable for you to use.
  • Sterilization equipment. This includes an autoclave for sterilizing your equipment, as well as disposable gloves, needles, and other supplies.
  • Miscellaneous. This may include paper towels, razors, stencil paper, and other items that are necessary for running your tattoo shop.

Looking for suppliers and waiting for their replies can be quite time-consuming, but there's a way to simplify your search and get easy access to top-quality products. By registering with Suplery, you can connect to a vast database of beauty and tattoo suppliers in the US and quickly find the products you need for your tattoo studio, and order them online in just a few clicks. 

7. Set up an inventory management system

After you've ordered all the equipment and supplies you need to start tattoo shop, it's essential to have a system in place for managing your inventory to ensure that you have everything you need to provide your clients with the best service without any misunderstandings.

Here, it includes: 

  • Keeping track of your stock levels.
  • Determining the minimum quantity of each item you need to keep in stock to avoid running out.
  • Reordering supplies when you reach your par level.
  • Monitoring expiration dates.

This is where Suplery also becomes the go-to solution. It’s an online platform designed specifically for tattoo and beauty businesses that can help you manage your inventory easily and efficiently. 

Here are some of the ways it can help you:

  • Track all of your inventory and stock balances in real-time.
  • Prevent product shortages and excess stock.
  • Receive timely notifications when stock levels are low or when it's time to reorder.
  • Order products from the best beauty brands and suppliers.
  • Automate orders based on your usage history, existing stock, and safety stock amount.
  • Receive insights about your product usage and ordering.

8. Secure your tattoo studio: get business insurance 

After you've found the perfect location and stocked up on equipment and supplies, the next step is to protect your tattoo business with insurance. Tattoo shops face a variety of risks, such as liability for injuries or infections, damage to property or equipment, and even theft. Having the right insurance coverage can give you peace of mind and protect your business in case of unforeseen events.

And here are the steps to perform:  

  • Consider the specific risks that your tattoo shop may face to determine your needs. Some types of business insurance that may be relevant to the tattoo industry include:
    • General liability insurance is used to cover costs associated with lawsuits or claims made against your tattoo shop, such as property damage or bodily injury.
    • Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, can help you cover costs associated with claims of negligence or mistakes made by you or your employees in providing tattoo services.
    • Property insurance is used for costs associated with damage to your tattoo shop, such as from a fire, theft, or other unexpected events.
    • Equipment insurance is used to cover costs associated with damage or loss of equipment used in your tattoo shop, such as tattoo machines or other specialized equipment.
    • Workers' compensation insurance can help you cover costs associated with injuries or illnesses that occur to your employees while on the job.
  • Research and compare different insurance providers to find one that offers coverage that meets your needs.
  • Contact insurance providers to get quotes. Be sure to ask about any discounts that may be available for small businesses in the tattoo industry.
  • Review the policies you're considering to ensure that they provide the coverage you need and that you understand the terms and conditions, such as coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions.
  • Purchase the policy that fits you best!

9. Create your team: hire a skilled team for your tattoo shop 

As you start building your tattoo parlor business and preparing for your tattoo shop open, one of the crucial steps is to hire a skilled team of artists and professionals who can turn your ideas into reality. The hiring needs of your business may vary depending on its size and concept, but here are some positions you may need to fill:

  • Professionally trained tattoo artists
  • Receptionist 
  • Shop manager 
  • Marketing or PR expert 
  • Professional accountant
  • Cleaning manager

And here’s what your hiring process will look like:

  • Determine your staffing needs. Decide how many tattoo artists, receptionists, and other staff members you need based on the size of your shop, your budget, and your business plan.
  • Create job descriptions. For each of the positions, create a description that includes both professional requirements and personal qualities you will need in your business. 
  • Advertise the job openings. Use a variety of channels to advertise your job openings, including social media, industry job boards, and local classified ads. 
  • Screen applicants. Review resumes and portfolios, conduct phone or video interviews, and check references to narrow down your list of candidates.
  • Conduct in-person interviews. Meet with top candidates in person to get a better sense of their skills, experience, and personality. This is also a chance for them to see your shop and ask questions.
  • Check qualifications. Confirm that candidates have the necessary qualifications and licenses to work in your state or region.
  • Train and onboard new hires. Once you've hired your team, provide them with thorough training and onboard them into your shop's culture and processes.

10. Spread the word: market your business and build up a customer base

Congratulations on setting up your tattoo business and assembling a team of skilled artists and professionals! Now, it's time to let the world know about your business and attract a loyal customer base. 

And here’s how to approach it right:

  • Create a professional website and social media accounts. This will give potential customers a place to learn about your services, view your portfolio, and get in touch with you.
  • Offer promotions or discounts to attract new customers. This can include things like a free consultation, a discounted tattoo session for new clients, or a referral program.
  • Attend local events and festivals. There you can showcase your tattoo parlor and meet potential customers.
  • Collaborate with other local businesses. Collaborations with other companies, such as tattoo-friendly clothing stores or beauty salons, will help you cross-promote your services and get new customers at a low cost.
  • Utilize online directories and review sites. Place your company info and reviews on relevant web platforms to increase your visibility and credibility.
  • Consider paid advertising options. Placing paid ads, such as Facebook and Instagram ads or print ads in local publications, may help you build a constant and predictable stream of clients.

How much does it cost to open a tattoo shop

Opening a tattoo shop involves various expenses, with costs fluctuating based on location, size, and your overall vision for the shop. Generally, here are three main cost categories you should anticipate:

  1. Rent and Utilities: Depending on the area, rental costs can range from $1,000 to $5,000 per month. Utilities such as water, electricity, and internet will also contribute to your monthly overhead.
  2. Equipment and Supplies: Initial investment in quality tattoo machines, chairs, needles, inks, and sterilization equipment is crucial. This setup could range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the quality and quantity of equipment and supplies purchased.
  3. Licenses, Permits, and Insurance: Securing the necessary business license, health department permit, and professional liability insurance are mandatory. These costs can vary but expect to spend approximately $2,000 to $5,000 initially for all the necessary legal and protection measures.

These are broad estimates, and actual costs might vary; detailed research and planning based on your locality and business plan are vital.

Final thoughts on how to open a private tattoo shop

Starting a tattoo parlor may be a highly-rewarding venture, but it requires careful planning and preparation. 

To build a successful business and understand how to open a tattoo shop, you should conduct thorough research, develop a comprehensive business plan, and execute each step precisely: obtain the required permits, register your business, open a bank account, find a location, get the necessary equipment and supplies, set up the inventory management system, obtain insurance, and hire a team.

With the right tools and mindset, step by step, you can create a thriving tattoo business and build a loyal customer base. So take the leap, stay focused, and never stop learning and growing. Good luck on your journey!

Frequently asked questions

Is opening a tattoo shop a good idea in 2023?

Figures suggest that the global tattoo market is projected to grow from $1.89 billion in 2022 to $3.55 billion by 2029. So, opening a tattoo shop might be a good idea as the industry is expected to grow, and new trends are coming. 

How to open a tattoo shop?

Opening a tattoo shop requires the following steps:

  • Conduct industry and target audience research. 
  • Develop a business plan.
  • Register your tattoo shop. 
  • Open a bank account.
  • Choose a proper location.
  • Buy equipment and supplies.
  • Purchase insurance.
  • Hire the team.
  • Create and implement an effective marketing strategy.

How much does it cost to start a tattoo shop?

Opening a tattoo shop can normally cost between $20,000 and $25,000. However, it can exceed based on your size, services, setup, and marketing costs. On the other hand, costs for opening a small home-based tattoo studio may range between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on the equipment and supplies you need to purchase.

How to legally tattoo from home

It's crucial to keep in mind that tattooing from home might not be allowed in some places. Therefore, it's important to check your local laws and regulations before you start. But, if you can legally tattoo from home in your area, here are some steps you will need to take:

  • Research the permits or licenses you may need.
  • Set up a clean and safe workspace.
  • Invest in quality equipment.
  • Follow proper sanitation and sterilization procedures.
  • Obtain liability insurance.
  • Advertise and market your business.

What license do i need to open a tattoo shop?

To open a tattoo shop, you need a state tattoo license, local business license, and health department permit. Requirements vary by location, so check local and state regulations.

What do you need to open a tattoo shop?

To open a tattoo shop, you need inked ambition, an artful team, regulatory blessings, a skin-stained dream location, needle-sharp equipment, and a business plan etched with creativity and precision.

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Last updated on Jun 20, 2023

“What Changed” in this article? Everything. It's packed with the latest findings, the ripest data, and a fresh analysis you won't find anywhere else.

A subject-matter expert wrote the content, and reliable, official sources support it. Recent research has been incorporated to maintain relevancy and accuracy. Key sources and research references:

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