So you've decided it's time for a change in your career. Maybe you have been working in a massage studio, or maybe a friend inspired you to go into the field, or perhaps you decided you want to become your own boss. Where do you go from here? How do you start a massage business?
Starting a massage business may seem like a daunting task, but we're here to help. By learning these key items, you can successfully start a massage business. First, get certified and then create a business plan. From there, you'll need to define your clientele and develop a marketing plan to reach them and grow your business.
First thing first. Complete your massage therapy license and get certified. Most states have regulations for massage therapist licenses and certifications. Depending on the state, it can take you anywhere from 330 to 1000 hours of training. You can see the list of State Boards here to learn what specific requirements are in your state.
Create a Business Plan
Now that you’ve decided what you want to do, it's important to make a business plan on how to reach your goals. When starting a massage business, one of the first things you'll want to do is create a budget and evaluate your cash flow to make sure your new massage business is feasible. From there you'll want to take steps to grow and protect your business.
Create a Budget
While making your business plan, one key area to focus on is your budget. While this doesn’t have to be complex, it should be more than guessing how much money you will make. There are easy guides and templates that you can find online to help you get started. These guides will help you walk through the specifics that you should list in your budget.
Your budget is very important when you are starting your business for a couple of reasons. When you are starting a massage business, you may need to get a small business loan to get started with start-up costs.
Most likely you will need to present a business plan and budget. The budget will not only let you know how much you anticipate you will need for the loan, but it will show your expected profits and your plan to budget for paying back the loan.
A budget will also let you forecast trends and as your business continues over time, you have the ability to adjust for more accurate numbers. This will allow you to look into expanding and help with decision making for your business.
Decide Where You Will Locate Your Practice
As a sole proprietor, you have the freedom to choose where you work and what environment fits your massage business best. Most massage therapists choose one of the following four options:
- Professional Office Space
- Client Home/Office
- Hospitality Industry - Hotels, Cruise Ships, Resorts
There is the traditional option of working in a therapist's office space. While that is a great professional option, there is the expense of rent, utilities, and upkeep of a space like that. These costs can be lowered by sharing a space with other sole proprietors.
Another option is to work from home. Nearly 30% of massage therapists work from a home office. This allows you to save on rent and a commute to work. However, there are a few factors to consider when choosing how to start a massage business from home.
- How will you separate your workspace from your living space?
- Do you have others in your household or a neighborhood setting that could attribute to a noisy work environment?
- Will you be comfortable having people you do not know enter your house?
With almost 60% of massage therapists working at a client’s home/office, this is the most common practice for entrepreneur massage therapists. Key factors to evaluate when looking to be a mobile massage therapist include:
- Considering commuting costs
- Having a mobile massage table/chair
- Transportation available to take your work with you
Get Insurance for your Massage Business
Now that you know how to start a massage business, it is time to protect that business. Having massage therapist insurance will allow you to do what you do best - take care of clients. Now you can practice without the worry of a claim disrupting your business. Professional and general liability insurance is available through BBI without any additional membership fees.
Now that you have your massage business plan set up and ready to go, it’s time to develop your marketing plan. Your marketing efforts may shift as your business grows, but it's important to maintain marketing efforts at all times. Marketing for your business can be fun! Just take your enthusiasm for your business and showcase that in your marketing efforts.
Building a Brand
You know that you want to work for yourself and that you want to help alleviate clients' pain through massage therapy, but now what? When you are first starting a massage business, you will need to come up with a name and a brand to support that name and how you want your business to be represented.
Your brand represents you just as much as your actual work does. While giving the best massage you can is key to repeat clients, having a consistent brand will help you attract new clients. A consistent brand strategy helps you make key business decisions by aligning your goals with what you are actually putting into place.
This guide walks you through step-by-step instructions on how to research and decide on the brand that best fits your business. With examples from recognizable brands, it is easy to take the lessons and apply them to your own massage therapist business.
Building a Website
This is one of the most crucial things that you can do when starting a massage business. Most potential clients will search you online before booking with you to check your credibility. Now the best part of this is that you can do this yourself or hire out. These platforms have easy to use templates for you to create your own site:
But if this is outside of what you are comfortable with, you can hire out this service.
Your website can not only showcase your credibility, but it is a good way to stay in front of your clientele. If you feel comfortable with it, you can allow scheduling through your website and free up more of your time. Scheduling apps you can use on your website include:
You can also connect your social media through your site and allow clients to see you through different mediums.
Social media is a great tool to attract new clients and create brand awareness.
Again when starting a massage business and finances are tight, this is a way to grow that you can easily manage. In order to make the most of your social media, post on a consistent basis by utilizing scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Remember it is so important to keep your messaging the same! When you are first starting your massage business, take the time to reflect your brand in your social media by utilizing the same colors, fonts, and wording that is found on your website and other advertising. This will help familiarize your customers with you and your brand.
Don’t shy away from asking your clients to engage with you on social media. Especially when starting your massage business. You can ask them to leave reviews, share posts, and tag referrals. But the best way to do this is to give them engaging and shareable content. Figure out what your clients and potential clients are looking for and find a way to incorporate that into your social media content.
Go for Referrals
Ask your clients to help you grow your business! The cheapest way to grow your book of clients is to get referrals and repeat business. If you are working from home, this might be one of the best and most comfortable ways to grow your business. It allows you to pre-filter who you allow in your home because you will know any new clients through mutual contacts.
The first step of getting referrals is to provide an amazing massage. If your clients enjoy the massage they receive, they will be more inclined to come back and more likely to refer friends and family. So not only will you be able to ask for referrals, but it is more cost-effective to maintain a client than it is to acquire a new client.
That’s a big win/win!
You can also start a referral program. Through this you can incentivize your clients to give you referrals by giving them gifts for each referral, starting a punch card for a free massage, or giving them a discount off their next massage. Make sure to stay in compliance with any local or state regulations so you can keep a legal practice.
Now that you have learned how to start a massage business, it is time to go out and do it!
You have the skills and now you have the resources to start your massage therapist business. Remember to protect your massage business by getting massage therapist general liability insurance.
Contact us today if you have any questions regarding your insurance options.
By Andi Uderjohn
Andi is a Marketing Communication Specialist for BBI.
Andi has her degree in Marketing from the University of Utah. She has written content in a variety of industries including insurance, financial services, and for general contractors. When Andi is not working, you can find her watching sports (Go Duke!), taking a spin class, or binge watching Criminal Minds... again.