Starting a Business in Israel
Hebrew:הקמת עסק בישראל
My name is Yochi. I began my journey into the beauty industry because I was fired. I always loved this industry, I just never thought about taking that first step into it.
Being self-employed in the beauty industry is the best option for success. I do hair styling, I’m a bridal makeup artist, wig stylist and beauty school teacher.
I had no work experience in this field, but I did study and graduate from accredited beauty schools before opening my business.
I have been in the business world for over twenty-five years and was self-employed many years ago in the field of business consulting and development.
You can have a business, in Israel, that depends solely on English speakers, but you MUST be able to communicate effectively and properly, in Hebrew, with all the government authorities (taxes, “social security” – bituach leumi, banks etc.), and NOT DEPEND on others to communicate for you. So knowing Hebrew is an absolute must. Knowing Russian is a huge advantage in many fields in this country as well!
I did some intensive market research before I went into business. I saw what beauty industry-related businesses were open in my geographical area (Netanya to Zichron) and saw that someone with native English language skills, like me, has an even larger audience. By incorporating the needs of the religious/ultra religious community I could increase my customer base even more. I started my business with a wide range of services and as time went on, I narrowed and focused my business to the bridal beauty area which is the most lucrative. At the same time, I widened my geographical area and now serve almost the whole country as I travel to my clients (for weddings)!
My client base started with women (religious and not) in my area – providing hair cutting and coloring services, as well as wig services and sales for religious women and women with health problems. I quickly added other skills that also helped draw clients with other needs.
With time, I saw that financially this was not as viable a business as I had hoped so now I focus my attention on the bridal business which is far more lucrative. I give a full list of beauty services to brides and their bridal parties.
I saw I had very little competition vis-à-vis wig styling. However, the bridal industry is huge and cut-throat. My differentiation is my knowledge of wedding planning, my English and Hebrew communication skills and my ability to provide all my services in the privacy of the bride’s home. All of these skills together with my interpersonal skills contribute to my business being quite unique.
I had a very sketchy business plan before starting up. I am now taking a full year marketing and sales course specifically designed for the beauty industry. This has really helped grow my business from the inside out!
Setting up my business was a process over time. First, I did a course in hairstyling. Towards the end of the first year I hired a graphic artist to create my logo and first business card. Of course I had to register with all the government authorities as well. I have an extensive computer and art/graphics background (and one of my sons is a computer programmer). I created my first website and every site since. I am about to design a new site but am going to be working with professionals who will take care of the SEO and online advertising. I started taking my first clients – all friends – most of whom are still my loyal customers! about four months after I graduated. After about half a year all clients were paying customers. As I take more and more courses, I became more proficient and add on services.
My first premises were in an empty bedroom in my house. This saved me a lot of money. I still work out of home. I continue to keep all overheads to a minimum and have the freedom to travel to customers without leaving my business unattended. I did not need any employees to start up and that was a saving too.
My marketing and advertising efforts; I had an ‘open house’ when I officially started the business and also relied on word-of-mouth. I advertise in a variety of media – both big and small. Some of it I pay for and some of it is free. With the help of the course I am taking, I am now understanding the need for advertising via social media. I have a blog as well. I plan to begin paid online advertising in the next month or so.
My original investment in my business was about 70,000 NIS (my pension savings) including courses, set-up, electrical equipment and furniture, studio set-up and supplies (my makeup bag has about 10,000 NIS worth of supplies in it at any one time). The cost of the website, domain and the like was minimal as my son did most of the back office work. I have kept to my budget and did not spend more money than I planned.
My husband is a silent partner. He is only connected to the beauty industry through me, but is involved in all decisions from pricing to design and nearly all my photography. I trust him and my business and its success affects him as well!
I worked as a bookkeeper many years ago – we’ve been here since 1979) – so I have a handle on bookkeeping and dealing with government offices. The first time I was self-employed I had an accountant – but as I now work with women and not large companies, I do not need to deal with an accountant – at least at this point.
My former accountant was an Anglo. He had been in the country for years and could do US and Israel taxes. He was also an old friend of my husband’s from his Bnei Akiva days.
I pretty much understood the Israeli tax system before I started. But really NO ONE ever does completely. You always need to be up-to-the-date on the rules. I am happy to say that the tax offices have gotten much more user-friendly and efficient. I have never had a problem finding a friendly person to talk to. I sometimes had bad experiences with the clerks, but often I simply do my reporting online and drop-off envelopes where necessary. I have always gotten everything I needed on time and as required by law!
I am a workaholic so I work a lot of hours. As my business grows and develops I’ll have to put in even more.
If my business were to fail, what would I do? It won’t. I have too much invested in it. I am always developing new skills. Even today, to ensure a steady cash flow, I teach English do translating and writing.
Would I do it all again? Yes! In a heartbeat!
My advice to anyone wanting to start a business in Israel; take it slow, do your homework, ask for help, know that every business has its ups and downs and competition, learn from your mistakes and for crying out loud: enjoy yourself doing it.