Are you passionate about tattoos and interested in turning it into your profession? You're not alone! The tattoo industry is growing rapidly, with an estimated worth of $3 billion in 2020. This growth is expected to continue, making it a great time to start your own tattoo shop business. But where do you begin? Fear not! This article will guide you through the 10 essential steps to open your own tattoo shop and make it a success. Whether you're a tattoo artist yourself, or you're just interested in running a tattoo shop business, this checklist will help ensure that you cover all the bases and set yourself up for success. So get ready to dive in and turn your dream of owning a tattoo business into a reality!

1. Create A Mission

The first step in opening a tattoo shop business is to create a clear and concise mission statement. This should outline your business goals, values, and the services that your shop will offer. A well-written mission statement will help you to remain focused and committed to achieving your goals, while also giving your customers and employees a clear understanding of your business.

  • Tip: Spend time researching other successful tattoo shops and their mission statements.
  • Tip: Make sure your mission statement reflects your unique style and approach to tattooing.

Once you have your mission statement, it's important to create a business plan that outlines how you will achieve your goals. This plan should include details about your target market, marketing and advertising strategies, pricing and profitability, and any staffing or operational concerns.

You can use this plan to secure funding, attract investors, or simply keep yourself on track as you work to build your business.

  • Tip: Create a comprehensive budget that includes all the costs associated with opening and running a tattoo shop business.
  • Tip: Be realistic about your timeline and don't underestimate the amount of work that will be required to get your business up and running.

With your mission and business plan in hand, it's time to start looking for a location for your shop. This should be a space that is easily accessible to your target market, has plenty of parking and foot traffic, and meets your budgetary needs.

Consider the physical layout of the space as well, as this will impact how you set up your equipment and workstations. Keep in mind any zoning laws, permitting requirements, or other regulations that may impact your ability to operate your shop in a particular location.

  • Tip: Consider creating a floor plan for your shop to help you visualize how you will set up your workstations and equipment.
  • Tip: Consult with a real estate agent or lawyer to help you navigate the legal requirements of leasing or purchasing a commercial property.

Once you have secured a location, it's time to start outfitting your shop with the equipment and supplies you'll need to operate. This includes tattoo machines, needles, ink, power supplies, sterilization equipment, and workstations.

Take care to choose high-quality equipment and supplies that will ensure your customers' safety and satisfaction. Look for suppliers that offer warranties, training, and ongoing support for the products you purchase.

  • Tip: Consider purchasing equipment from a reputable supplier that specializes in tattoo equipment and supplies.
  • Tip: Make sure you have all necessary permits and licenses to purchase, store, and dispose of needles and other potentially hazardous materials.

With your shop outfitted and ready to go, it's time to start building your team. Hire experienced tattoo artists with unique styles and specialties that complement your own. You'll also need support staff, such as receptionists and assistants, to help you manage your business and keep things running smoothly.

Take care to create a pleasant and professional work environment that prioritizes customer service and safety. This means investing in training and ongoing education for your staff, as well as creating clear policies and procedures for handling customer complaints and safety concerns.

  • Tip: Consider offering apprenticeships or internships to aspiring tattoo artists to help build your reputation and cultivate new talent.
  • Tip: Create a employee handbook that outlines your expectations, policies, and procedures for your staff.

Finally, it's time to start marketing and advertising your shop. This includes creating a website and social media presence, attending tattoo conventions and local events, and offering promotions and discounts to attract new customers.

Remember to prioritize customer service and satisfaction in all your marketing efforts, and to maintain a positive and professional reputation within the tattoo community.

  • Tip: Create a memorable and eye-catching logo to help your shop stand out from the competition.
  • Tip: Invest in quality photography to showcase your work and create a portfolio that can be shared on social media and your website.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Tip: Consider offering recurring events, such as 'flash days,' where customers can choose from a selection of pre-designed tattoos at a discounted rate.
  • Tip: Don't be afraid to take on unique or challenging tattoo projects to build your portfolio and showcase your skills.
  • Tip: Stay up-to-date on the latest tattoo trends, techniques, and equipment by attending workshops and training sessions.

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2. Research Competitors

One of the most crucial steps in opening a tattoo shop business is to research your competitors. By doing so, you can gain valuable insights into their operations, such as their pricing, services, and marketing strategies. Here are the steps to help you research your competitors effectively:

  • Identify your competitors: Start by finding other tattoo shops in your area. Use online directories, search engines, or even social media platforms to create a list of at least five competitors.
  • Analyze their services: Visit their websites or social media profiles to understand the kind of services they offer. This way, you can have a better understanding of what kind of tattoo shops operate in your area and adjust your service offerings accordingly.
  • Check their pricing: Knowing your competitors' prices is essential. By doing so, you can determine how much you should charge for your services to remain competitive while still making profit.
  • Review their online presence: Check their website, social media accounts, and review sites such as Yelp or Google reviews to see what customers are saying about them. Pay attention to the positive reviews as well as the negative comments. This information can help you make informed decisions about how to improve your services.
  • Visit their physical location: Although most of the research can be done online, visiting your competitors' physical shop can provide essential insight. You can see how they set up their shop, what equipment they use, and get a general feel for how they run their business.

Tips and Tricks

  • Consider visiting your competitors' shop during peak hours to see how they handle the influx of customers.
  • Check out their artwork portfolio to get an idea of the type of tattoos that are popular among customers in your area.
  • Join industry-specific associations or online forums to learn more about your competitors and stay up to date on industry trends.

By following these simple steps, you can gain the knowledge and insights necessary to make informed decisions about your tattoo shop business. Remember that every business is unique, so take these insights and adjust them accordingly to fit your specific needs and goals.

3. Put Together A Business Plan

Before opening your tattoo shop, it is essential to have a comprehensive business plan. This plan will help you identify your target market, determine your pricing strategy, and outline your overall business objectives. Here are the essential elements of a well-structured business plan:

  • Executive Summary: This should give an overview of your tattoo shop business, highlighting the main goals you want to achieve.
  • Company Description: Describe what your business is all about. What services will you offer? What will make your tattoo shop unique?
  • Market Analysis: Research your target market, competitors, and industry trends. This information will help you make informed decisions about how to run your business.
  • Organization and Management: Outline the structure of your business organization and the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
  • Service or Product Line: Describe in detail the tattoo services you will offer, such as custom designs, body piercing, and tattoo removal.
  • Marketing and Sales: Develop a detailed marketing and sales strategy, including your pricing strategy, advertising, and promotional efforts.
  • Financial Projections: Outline your projected income and expenses for the first few years. This should include startup costs, overhead, and monthly expenses.
  • Funding Request: If you need any funding to start or run your tattoo shop business, describe the amount you require and your funding sources.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Be as detailed as possible when putting together your business plan.
  • Make sure your plan is feasible and realistic. Do not include unrealistic revenue projections or other information that cannot be achieved.
  • Get feedback from people you trust and listen to their feedback. This can help you refine your plan and make it even better.

Taking the time to put together a well-structured business plan will help you make informed decisions and stay on track once you open your tattoo shop business. It is also essential if you plan to seek funding from banks or investors.

4. Develop A Financial Model

Developing a financial model for your tattoo shop business is crucial to the success of your business. Your financial model will help you understand your costs, potential revenue streams, and profitability. It will also help you secure financing and attract potential investors. Here are the steps you need to follow to develop a financial model for your tattoo shop:

  • Identify your startup costs: This includes everything from rent, utilities, equipment, supplies, legal fees, and marketing expenses. Make a list of all the expenses you will need to cover before opening your tattoo shop.
  • Determine your pricing strategy: Research the prices of other tattoo shops in your area and decide on a pricing strategy that will make you competitive but also profitable. Consider charging per hour or per tattoo.
  • Estimate your monthly expenses: Once you have identified your startup costs and pricing strategy, calculate your monthly expenses. This includes rent, utilities, supplies, and wages for employees.
  • Forecast your revenue: Based on your pricing strategy, estimate how many customers you can reasonably expect to have each month and calculate your potential revenue.
  • Calculate your profits: Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly revenue to determine your profits. This will give you an idea of how much money you can expect to make each month.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Always be conservative in your revenue forecasts. It's better to underestimate your potential revenue than to overestimate it.
  • Make sure to include a contingency fund in your startup costs. Unexpected expenses are bound to come up, and you need to be prepared for them.
  • Consider outsourcing some of your non-critical tasks, such as website development or social media marketing, to save costs.

Developing a financial model might seem daunting, but it's an essential step in opening a successful tattoo shop business. Your financial model will help you make informed decisions and stay on track financially. It's worth investing the time and effort to ensure that your financial model is accurate and comprehensive.

5. Secure Funding

Now that you have a complete business plan, it's time to take the next step towards opening your tattoo shop - secure funding. There are several options available when it comes to financing your tattoo shop business.

  • Personal savings - if you have saved up enough money, you can use your personal savings to finance your business. This is the easiest and less risky option as you do not have to worry about paying back money.
  • Investors - you can approach potential investors who are interested in investing in your business. However, this option comes with its risks as you will have to share a percentage of your profits with them in the long run.
  • Loans - there are several loan options available such as traditional bank loans, SBA loans and personal loans. However, keep in mind that you will have to pay back the loans with interest and should only opt for this option if you are confident in being able to make the payments.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Have a solid financial plan in place before approaching investors or applying for loans.
  • Consider getting a business partner who can contribute to the financing of the business.
  • Explore alternative financing options such as crowdfunding or grants.

Regardless of which option you choose, it's important to ensure that you have a well-planned financial strategy in place. This includes forecasting your expenses, calculating your break-even point and estimating your profits.

When making financial decisions for your business, it's important to always keep your long-term goals in mind. Remember that securing funding is just the first step towards launching your business - the ultimate goal is to achieve profitability and success.

6. Find A Suitable Location

One of the key factors that can make or break your tattoo shop business is the location. It's important to find a place that's easily accessible to your customers, provides enough space for your operations, and is in a good neighborhood. Here are the steps you can take to find a suitable location:

  • Research the areas where your target customers are located.
  • Look for a location that's visible from the road and has a good amount of foot traffic.
  • Consider the size of the location and make sure it's big enough to accommodate your equipment and staff.
  • Check the zoning requirements and make sure the location is approved for a tattoo shop business.
  • Budget for the location and take into account any additional costs such as utilities, maintenance, and rent.
  • Consider the competition in the area and try to locate your shop in an area with less saturation.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Consider opening your shop in an area with a high population of young adults, as they are more likely to get tattoos than older age groups.
  • If you're opening a tattoo shop in a coastal area, consider offering ocean-inspired tattoos to cater to the local clientele.
  • Try to find a location that's close to other businesses that complement your services, such as piercing shops or body jewelry stores.

Remember, finding the right location for your tattoo shop business can take time and research, but it's worth the effort to ensure the best chance of success.

7. Obtain Necessary Permits & Licenses

Before opening a tattoo shop, it is crucial to ensure that you have obtained all the necessary permits and licenses to operate your business legally. Here are some of the licenses and permits you may need:

  • A business license - This is a basic requirement and allows you to operate your business within the state or city.
  • A zoning permit - This permit ensures that your shop's location complies with local zoning laws.
  • An occupancy permit - This permit confirms that your shop is safe and meets all building codes and regulations.
  • A health department permit - This permit is essential for your shop to handle and dispose of medical and biological waste properly.
  • A tattoo artist license - This license is mandatory for all tattoo artists working in your shop, and it ensures that they have the necessary training and skills.

It is crucial to research your state and city regulations to determine which permits and licenses are necessary for your tattoo shop. Obtaining these will not only protect you legally but also give your customers peace of mind that they are in safe hands while getting a tattoo.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Make sure to keep all your licenses and permits in a visible location to show transparency to your clients
  • Consider hiring a reputable attorney who specializes in business law to help you navigate the legal process more smoothly
  • Building relationships with local officials and health department inspectors can be beneficial in the long run

8. Hire Staff

Hiring the right staff is crucial for the success of your tattoo shop business. Your staff can either make or break your business, so it is important to hire individuals who are not only skilled in tattooing but can also provide excellent customer service.

Here are some important steps to follow when hiring staff for your tattoo shop business:

  • Create job descriptions: Before you start hiring, create detailed job descriptions for each position you will need to fill. This will help you attract and find the right candidates who have the necessary skills and experience for the job.
  • Post job openings: Post job openings on relevant job boards, social media platforms, and your website to attract potential candidates. You can also consider reaching out to local tattoo schools and apprenticeship programs.
  • Conduct thorough interviews: Once you receive applications, conduct thorough interviews to get to know the candidates better. Ask questions about their experience, skills, availability, and interest in the industry. You can also ask them to bring a portfolio of their previous work to the interview.
  • Check references: Always check references to ensure that the candidate has a good track record and is trustworthy.
  • Offer competitive salaries: Offer competitive salaries to attract the best talent and make sure that the salaries are aligned with industry standards.
  • Provide training: Provide ongoing training to help your staff improve their skills and keep up with the latest trends in the industry. This will help keep your staff motivated and committed to providing excellent service to your customers.
  • Set clear expectations: Make sure to set clear expectations for your staff from the beginning, including performance standards, work schedule, and policies and procedures. This will help create a positive work culture and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Consider offering benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off to attract top talent.
  • Ask for referrals from current staff members to find potential candidates who are already known in the industry.
  • Consider offering opportunities for growth and advancement within your business to keep your staff motivated and committed to your vision.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you hire the right staff for your tattoo shop business to provide excellent service to your customers and help your business grow and thrive.

9. Buy/Lease Equipment/Supplies

Opening a tattoo shop requires a significant investment in equipment and supplies. Having the right tools and materials is crucial for producing high-quality work and ensuring customer satisfaction. Here are some essential items that you should consider purchasing or leasing:

  • Tattoo Machines: The cornerstone of any tattoo shop, tattoo machines come in various types, including liner, shader, and color packer machines. Consider investing in high-quality machines from trusted brands to ensure a smooth and efficient operation.
  • Tattoo Needles: You'll need a variety of needles, including round shaders, magnum shaders, and flat/curved needles, to create different types of tattoo designs. Make sure you purchase needles that are compatible with your machines.
  • Inks: High-quality inks will ensure that the tattoos you create are vibrant, long-lasting, and safe for your clients. Choose inks from reputable suppliers and make sure they meet safety standards set by regulatory authorities.
  • Disposable Supplies: Items like gloves, razors, and ink caps should be disposable to reduce the risk of contamination and ensure hygienic practices. Stock up on these supplies to ensure you have an ample supply on hand.
  • Furniture: Your shop should have high-quality furniture, including tattoo chairs, workstations, and storage cabinets, to create a comfortable and efficient workspace for your artists.
  • Other Supplies: You'll need a variety of other supplies, including stencil paper, transfer solutions, and aftercare products, to provide a complete tattooing experience for your clients.

Pro Tips:

  • Consider leasing equipment to keep your upfront costs low. Leasing can also allow you to upgrade your equipment as needed to stay current with industry trends.
  • Buy in bulk to take advantage of discounts offered by suppliers.
  • Invest in high-quality products, even if they cost more upfront, to ensure better results and happier clients in the long run.

Opening a tattoo shop requires a significant financial investment, but having the right equipment and supplies is essential to your success. Take the time to research and choose the best options for your budget and needs to create a high-quality and successful tattoo shop.

10. Promote The Business

After all the hard work of setting up your tattoo shop business, it’s time to promote it and get the word out there. You can have the best shop in town, but if people don’t know about it, you won’t make any money. Here are some steps to take to promote your new business:

Create a Website: In this digital age, having a website is crucial. Your website should have your business information, location, hours of operation, services offered, and contact information. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly as most people access the internet on their phones.

  • Social Media: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are excellent tools to promote your business. Create a business page on these platforms, post pictures of your work, and engage with your followers.
  • Email Marketing: Collect customers’ contact information, including their email addresses. Send them regular newsletters with your latest work, promotions, or sales.
  • Paid Advertising: As a new business, you can benefit from paid advertising. You can use Google Ads or Facebook Ads to reach your target audience and promote your services.
  • Partnerships: Partner with other businesses in the area that complement your services, such as piercing or hair salons. Collaborate on marketing efforts, cross-promote each other’s services, and offer packaged deals.

Tip & Tricks:

  • Offer a referral program to reward customers who bring in new business.
  • Create a loyalty program that rewards repeat customers, such as a discount on their fifth visit or free touch-ups.
  • Host events like tattoo parties to attract new customers and encourage repeat business.

Remember, promoting your tattoo shop business is an ongoing effort. Keep your marketing strategies fresh and innovative to attract new customers and retain loyal ones. Good luck with your new business venture!
In conclusion, starting your own tattoo shop business can be a fulfilling and lucrative venture. With careful planning and thorough execution of each step, you can set yourself up for success in this rapidly growing industry. Remember to create a clear mission, research your competitors, put together a comprehensive business plan, and develop a financial model that will help you secure funding. Find a suitable location, obtain the necessary permits and licenses, hire staff, and buy or lease equipment and supplies. Once you've accomplished these important steps, it's time to promote your business and show the world what you have to offer. With an estimated worth of $3 billion in 2020, the tattoo industry is waiting for you. So embrace your passion for tattoos and turn your dream into a reality.

Excel financial model

Tattoo Shop Financial Model
  • 5-Year Financial Projection
  • 40+ Charts & Metrics
  • DCF & Multiple Valuation
  • Free Email Support