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How to Start an Essential Oils Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start an Essential Oils Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$4,500 - $10,000

Revenue potential

$78,000 - $390,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$39,000 - $78,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

The global essential oils industry is booming, expected to nearly double by 2028. The popularity of essential oils stems from their many health benefits, such as inflammation reduction, and deeper sleep, and their ability to kill bacteria and viruses. They are made from the extracts of many different plants and herbs, including lavender flowers and rose petals. They can be made at home, so you could ride the wave and make some good money by selling them online. You’ll also be helping countless people feel better!

But before you start brewing up your healing concoctions, you’ll need to learn the ins and outs of starting an essential oil business. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide lays out all the entrepreneurial insights you need to get your business off the ground.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting an essential oils business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you. 

Pros

  • Creative Work – Design and make your own unique oils
  • Good Money – Essential oils can sell for high prices
  • Flexibility – Work from home, set your own hours
  • Promote Wellness – Provide essential health benefits

Cons

  • Strict Regulations – You’ll need to get required licenses and permits
  • Education Needed – Making high-quality essential oils can be complicated

Essential oils industry trends

Industry size and growth

essential oils industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the essential oils industry include:

  • Essential oils as functional fragrances are popular, meaning oils worn as fragrances but with a function, such as anxiety reduction.
  • Essential oils that contain cannabidiol (CBD) are growing in demand due to their cognitive enhancement benefits.
  • Companies like Young Living Essential Oils are using proprietary processes to create oils that are free of synthetic chemicals.

Challenges in the essential oils industry include:

  • Supply chain issues are making it difficult to get some ingredients and causing price fluctuations for those ingredients.
  • Essential oils companies that claim their product has a certain medical benefit put that oil into a drug classification, making it subject to FDA regulations. This means that businesses that choose to make these claims need to then manage their packaging and processes to comply with those regulations.
essential oils Trends and Challenges

How much does it cost to start an essential oils business?

Startup costs for an essential oils business range from $4,500 to $10,000. Costs include a distiller and supplies. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully make and sell your essential oils online, including: 

  • Oil distiller
  • Bottles, labels, packaging materials
  • Essential oils, carrier oils, fillers
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Distiller for oils$2,000 - $4,000$3,000
Bottles, labels, and packaging materials$500 - $1,500$1,000
Essential oils, carrier oils, fillers$500 - $1,000$750
Total$4,550 - $10,600$7,575

How much can you earn from an essential oils business?

A 15 ml. bottle of essential oils sells for an average of $15. Your profit margin after the cost of making them should be about 50%. 

In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell 100 bottles a week, bringing in $78,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $39,000 in profit, assuming that 50% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you ramp up your marketing, sales could climb to 500 bottles a week. At this stage, you’d rent a production facility and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to 20%. With annual revenue of $390,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $78,000.

essential oils business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for an essential oils business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Gaining the skills and knowledge needed to create essential oils
  • Competing in a saturated market

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting an essential oils business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research essential oils businesses in your area and online to examine their products, price points, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a business that makes pure essential oils directly extracted from the plants, or from ethereal oils. 

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as essential oils for aromatherapy, lavender oils, or lemon oils.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

You’ll just need to determine what oils you want to develop and create a product list. At some point, you could open a salon that offers aromatherapy treatments. 

How much should you charge for essential oils?

The average price for a 15 ml. bottle is about $15. After your cost of making and packaging the oils, you should aim for a profit margin of about 50% or more.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad, but it may tend to be a younger demographic you can find on TikTok or Instagram. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a production facility. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
essential oils business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm an Essential Oils Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “essential oils” or “aromatherapy oils”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “The Essence Room” over “Calming Lavender Oils” or “Eucalyptus Essentials”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create an Essential Oils Extraction Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Highlight your essential oils business’s mission to provide a diverse range of high-quality, natural essential oils and related products for health, wellness, and aromatherapy.
  • Business Overview: Describe your business’s focus on sourcing, producing, and selling essential oils, including pure oils, blends, and aromatherapy accessories.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of products offered, such as single-note essential oils, therapeutic blends, diffusers, and skincare products infused with essential oils.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the demand for essential oils, identifying target markets like health-conscious consumers, wellness practitioners, or aromatherapy enthusiasts.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your products and branding to other essential oil companies, focusing on your unique selling points like organic sourcing, custom blends, or packaging.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for reaching customers, including e-commerce, wholesale distribution, or partnerships with wellness centers.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and qualifications of your team, particularly in areas like herbalism, product development, and business management.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the process of essential oil production, from sourcing raw materials to bottling and distribution.
  • Financial Plan: Provide an overview of financial aspects, including startup costs, pricing strategy, and revenue projections.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary documents such as product catalogs, supplier agreements, or detailed market research to support your business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to essential oils businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your essential oils business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding an essential oils business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Essential Oils Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting an essential oils business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your essential oils business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as LS RetailVend, or Retail Pro, to manage purchasing, inventory, and invoicing.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using services like WordPressWix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Educational Content on Social Media: Leverage platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to share informative content about the benefits and uses of essential oils, creating engaging posts, infographics, and short videos to educate and attract potential customers.
  2. Partnerships with Wellness Influencers: Collaborate with wellness and lifestyle influencers who align with your brand values to reach a broader audience, gain credibility, and tap into their followers’ interest in holistic living.
  3. Create Limited-Time Bundles: Increase sales by offering limited-time bundles or exclusive packages, encouraging customers to try a variety of essential oils and discover their unique benefits at a discounted price.
  4. Host Virtual Workshops and Classes: Organize online workshops or classes where participants can learn about essential oils, their applications, and the overall wellness benefits, fostering a sense of community and promoting your products.
  5. Customer Testimonials and Success Stories: Share genuine customer testimonials and success stories through various channels, including social media, your product packaging, or email newsletters, to build trust and showcase the positive impact of your essential oils.
  6. Seasonal Promotions and Gift Sets: Create seasonal promotions and special edition gift sets, capitalizing on holidays and events to drive sales and offer customers unique, themed essential oil collections.
  7. Local Farmers’ Markets and Events: Participate in local farmers’ markets, health fairs, or community events to connect with customers face-to-face, allowing them to experience your essential oils firsthand and ask questions.
  8. Subscription Box Services: Introduce a subscription box service that delivers a curated selection of essential oils to customers regularly, offering convenience and a continuous source of revenue while showcasing the diversity of your product line.
  9. Referral Programs: Implement a referral program where existing customers can earn discounts or exclusive products for referring friends and family, creating a word-of-mouth marketing strategy that leverages personal recommendations.
  10. Collaborate with Spa and Wellness Businesses: Partner with local spas, yoga studios, or wellness centers to have your essential oils featured in their services or sold in their retail spaces, expanding your reach within the wellness community.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your essential oils business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your essential oils business could be: 

  • Pure essential oils for your overall wellness
  • Lavender oils made only with plant extractions
  • Reduce your stress and anxiety with soothing essential oils
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running an essential oils business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in essential oils for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in essential oils. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for an essential oils business include:

  • Essential oils Makers – help make essential oils
  • General Manager – ordering, inventory management, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run an Essential Oils Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Now is the perfect time to start an essential oils business and get in on a market that is poised to double in the coming years. You can start from home for a small investment and make a good living while helping people improve their wellness. It’s an opportunity that can offer many rewards to you, as a business owner.

You’ve started in the right place by learning the business, now it’s time to get your equipment and supplies and launch your new career as an essential oils mogul!

Essential Oils Business FAQs

How profitable is an essential oils business?

Profit margins on essential oils are good, usually about 50%. The key is to find some way to make your oils and your business unique so that you stand out in a crowded market.

How can I learn to make essential oils?

You can learn to make essential oils, use essential oils in aromatherapy, and become a certified aromatherapist through the School for Aromatic Studies. Courses are self-study and cost about $650. You can also take less expensive courses on Udemy.

What makes an essential oil high quality?

Several factors contribute to the quality of essential oils, including the purity and authenticity of the plant source, the method of extraction, and the quality control measures used during production. 

Can I start an essential oils business from home?

Yes, it is possible to start an essential oils business from home, although it may require significant time and effort to establish the business and build a customer base. To start a home-based essential oils business, you will need to research and source high-quality essential oils from reputable suppliers, establish a strong online presence through social media and a website, and develop marketing and sales strategies to attract and retain customers.

What are the different methods of extracting essential oils from plants?

There are several methods of extracting essential oils from plants, including steam distillation, cold-pressing, and solvent extraction. Steam distillation is the most common method of extraction and involves using steam to vaporize the essential oil from the plant material. 

How can I market and promote my essential oils business to attract customers?

To market and promote your essential oils business, you can focus on building a strong online presence through social media, search engine optimization, and online advertising. You can also participate in local and regional markets and craft fairs to showcase your products and generate interest. 

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How to Start an Essential Oils Business