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How to Start a Massage Therapy Business in 10 Steps

Table of Contents

young woman having face massage relaxing in spa salon
The massage therapy industry is booming and is a great way to earn a living. People like going to massage therapists, one of the main reasons massage therapy is a growing industry. With good reason: Massage can be an effective treatment for back pain and headaches, stress relief, anxiety relief, and improved sleep.  Researchers have found that massage therapists have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than the general population. If you’re looking for a career that helps others feel better about themselves (and their health), then consider starting a massage therapy business!

1. Get massage certifications.

Massage therapists must be certified by a professional association, such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Certification is not required by law, but it will help attract clients and establish your reputation. Massage certification is also beneficial if you plan to offer services in states other than where you are currently licensed, be sure to check out the states licensing and certification requirements. Certification is not expensive and can be completed online; however, some massage therapy schools offer certification programs that include hands-on training. If you opt for an online option instead of seeking out a school with hands-on training options, make sure that the program contains adequate fieldwork components before committing yourself financially or academically (if applying to an accredited college).
massage therapist giving girl swedish massage

2. Come up with a business plan for your massage practice.

Once you’ve decided to start a massage therapy business, it’s time to get serious about the planning process. You’ll need to consider many factors in creating your business plan, including:
  • What equipment and supplies will I need?
  • How much money will I need as startup capital?
  • Where will I find my first clients?
  • How much should I charge for my services?
Creating a business plan for your massage therapy business will help to create and stay on track with your goals.

3. Set up your finances.

Money basics like expenditure and record-keeping ensure you are keeping your business healthy. Proper planning is crucial whether you want to start with your capital (savings, assets, etc.) or secure funding elsewhere for starting a massage business. Whatever you choose, ensure that you’re debt-free before you start. Opening a separate business bank account and getting a credit card helps keep your personal and business financial records separate.  Before starting your massage therapy business, you must register for various state and federal taxes. You’ll first have to get your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Then you can register for taxes according to state guidelines. 

4. Find clients and keep them.

It’s essential to keep your skills current, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Stay in touch with clients who will be honest about their experience and let you know if things need improvement. Also, check local massage therapy organizations for continuing education classes and workshops, which are typically affordable or accessible. You’ll also want to develop strong relationships with other massage therapists who can refer clients to you when unavailable. Create an effective referral network by ensuring everyone knows your business’s services.
Beautiful burning candles with stones and essential oil on table in spa salon

5. Decide where you will work.

Sole proprietors can choose where they work and what environment suits their massage business. Massage therapists most commonly select the following four options:
  • Office Space for Professionals
  • Home
  • Mobile – In the Client’s Home or Office
  • Hospitality Industry – Hotels, Resorts, Cruise Ships
If you decide to work from your home, consider these questions: 
  • Will you be comfortable having strangers enter your house?
  • Can you separate your work area from your living space?
  • Do you have family in your home or a neighborhood setting that could contribute to a noisy work environment?
60% of entrepreneur massage therapists work at a client’s home/office. Key factors in evaluating when deciding to be a mobile massage therapist include:
  • Costs to commute to and from appointments 
  • Having a portable massage table/chair
  • Proper vehicle to take your work with you

6. Building a brand.

You know you want to work for yourself and help alleviate clients’ pain through massage therapy, but now what? When starting a massage business, you must develop a name and a brand that supports how you want your business to be represented. A consistent brand strategy helps you make critical decisions regarding your business by aligning your goals with the message you want to communicate.

7. Legal requirements for a massage business.

A massage therapist may have to pass certification examinations to receive a license to work in a specific state or city. The exams generally cover some scientific terminology about the human body. You may have to answer questions about massage techniques as well. Additionally, there are ethical questions and client communication. Passing the exams is a process that takes time to complete. Organizations that monitor these exams claim that only about two-thirds of people who take the exams will pass.
couple getting hot stone massage

8. You can make a career out of doing something you love!

The great thing about massage therapy is that once you get started, there are many ways for you to grow as a therapist. With the proper training and product knowledge, they will put their skills to good use in no time. If you are passionate about massage therapy, it’s the perfect career path. 

9. Get social.

Social media is an excellent way to attract new clients and create brand awareness. Again when starting a massage therapy business and finances are tight, this is an affordable and easy way to grow. Remember, a consistent message is key! When starting a massage business, take the time to reflect your brand in your social media. You can utilize the same colors, fonts, and wording on your website and other advertising. This builds instant brand recognition with customers, both new and current. 

10.Get insurance for your massage business.

Now that you have the steps to start a massage business, the last step is to protect that business. Massage therapy insurance will allow you to do what you do best – take care of clients without worrying about a claim disrupting your business. Professional and general liability insurance is available through BBI without additional membership fees.


Use these 10 simple steps on how to start a massage therapy business as a guideline as you navigate starting your own massage therapy business. We wish you the best of luck as a new business owner!

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