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 tattoo parlor. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

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. Remember, a plan also includes selecting the best tattoo supplies as you need to be forecasting your business for the long run, and ensuring client satisfaction. 

What are the costs involved in opening a tattoo parlor?

First, you’ll need a workspace. Some artists cut down on costs by working out of their home. If you’re thinking about taking this route, consider two things: many states prohibit home studios due to health regulations, and it’s more difficult to establish yourself as a professional without a storefront.

When choosing a location, research the areas you are considering. Are they already saturated with tattoo shops? What’s their reputation and what other services do they offer? Pick a location that has a good deal of foot traffic. You never know who will walk through you door and inquire about a that custom piece they’ve been considering.

What are the ongoing expenses for a tattoo parlor?

Aside from the standard overhead expenses incurred from running a storefront, your only ongoing expenses are marketing and supplies. You’ll go through a lot of gloves, ink, and cleaning supplies on a daily basis. When first starting out, artists report spending an estimated $600-$1,000 per year on supplies.

Who is the target market?

This varies from shop to shop. Some studios accept walk-ins and have standard art hung on the wall for clients to choose from. They accept custom jobs, but the bulk of their income is supported by walk-in traffic. Others are looking for more inspiration in their work. They have put in their time in the tattoo business, and reserve the right to turn down any piece that doesn’t represent the brand they’re building for themselves.

How does a tattoo parlor make money?

Owners earn their income by tattooing permanent art on their customers. Generally several artists share studio space. They either pay rent to the owner, or pay the owner a commission on each piece they do in the shop.

How much can you charge customers?

Customers are typically charged an hourly rate, although some projects are inked for a flat fee. Hourly rates range anywhere from $80-$350. The longer you’ve been in business and the more of a name you make for yourself, the more you can charge.

How much profit can a tattoo parlor make?

Successful tattoo artists have reported making less than $15,000 their first year. However, as you make a name for yourself and your shop, the potential is there to make well over $100,000 annually.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Many tattoo shops expand their goods and services to more than just tattooing. To make your business more profitable you could:

  • Offer piercings
  • Sell jewelry for piercings
  • Sell local art
  • Carry an inventory of aftercare products
  • Work out of your home (if this option is legal in your state)
  • Many parlors host special events for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Both parties win: breast cancer survivors can get a custom piece to cover their scars, and you gain exposure to a whole new set of clientele you might not otherwise have met.

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 Tattoo Parlor Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

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