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Entrepreneur First, Massage Therapist Second?

Male Massage Therapist Writing Business Plan Growth Concept

Very few massage therapists choose this line of work because they love the business side of the job. But the fact that business isn’t your true calling doesn’t mean it isn’t a vital part of your business practice. Just as the body can’t function properly when it’s injured, a massage therapy business can’t last for the long haul if you aren’t keeping an eye on your finances, marketing and other basic operational concerns. Learning some basic business savvy can help you become an even better massage therapist.

The Business-First Approach

Sadly going to massage school and learning about essential oils and giving therapeutic massages aren’t enough on their own to succeed in business. Putting your business first can bring about some surprising benefits. That’s right: being a good business person can make you a better healer.

Before we get started, though, there’s one important thing to remember: being an entrepreneur first doesnot mean that you have to sacrifice any skill or professionalism in the massage therapy realm. No savvy entrepreneur would let their licence to practise fall by the wayside and don’t take this advice to mean that you shouldn’t care about being a good massage therapist. In fact, your ability to perform massage therapy in a legally compliant, skilful and effective way is your product. The type of massage you offer, whether it be a Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, or sports massage, and how you promote the benefits of massage are just as vital to your business.

When we talk about being an entrepreneur first and a massage therapist second, we mean that you should make every decision in your practice from a business perspective. What’s going to maximise value for your clients while delivering you the best return on investment? There may be some choices a massage therapist would make from a purely clinical or therapeutic standpoint that wouldn’t be a smart business decision. 


Facebook post from Vicky Ebel about setting and maintaining boundaries as a massage therapist


For example, a very caring therapist might offer services for free when a client tells a sympathetic story about what brought them in for a massage treatment. A business-focused massage therapist would find other ways to make the client feel cared for without cutting into the bottom line, like offering a discount on a package deal or sending the client away with a home treatment plan for no extra charge. In both cases, the therapist is able to care for their client, but the business-focused massage therapist is concerned both with the client and with their bottom line. This balance is essential for maintaining a healthy business without it you could find yourself unable to help anyone at all.... 


What Are Your Priorities?

What are your goals for your practice? It can be helpful to make a list. If your goals are all related to your clients and the type of care you want to provide, you’re missing out on some important foundational support. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t keep providing excellent care for your clients. It’s not selfish to include goals like “I want to be able to take 3 days off per week” or “I want to earn 25 per cent more this year than I did last year.” Looking out for your own health is responsible, not greedy.


Facebook post from Elizabeth Cassie Christensen about setting her prices



No matter how much you love your work, you can burn out if you don’t take care of yourself. Your business goals should include a basic amount of security and provide room for appropriate self-care. If you aren’t setting specific earnings goals, it can be hard to keep yourself on a steady, reliable budget that allows you to save and build in time to plan for your future. This is all part of the overall wellness required to keep you going, so don’t hesitate to get specific about how much you’d like to earn and how much time you need to take off each year to feel refreshed and ready to return to massage. You also need to ensure that you are scheduling in enough time each day to properly recover between clients


Facebook post from Bethany Stanley about scheduling break times between clients


We suggest saving 40 minutes between appointments find out why this can be the key to avoiding burnout as a massage therapists in our blog post

Getting Practical and Using Entrepreneurial Spirit to Your Advantage 

This kind of bottom-line thinking can be uncomfortable for people who are natural healers. So many massage therapists put others first. As a healer, you want others to feel comfortable. You may worry about losing long-term clients if you raise your rates. You might be concerned that moving to a more comfortable office space in a nicer part of town will make it harder for the kinds of clientele you like to serve to reach you. These are all valid concerns, but you shouldn’t let them stand in the way of vital business growth. 

Entrepreneurs have to be practical to succeed. They have to carefully watch their numbers and focus on optimising product costs with operational expenses, with their own salaries included in the column of operational expenses. This can be tough for massage therapists, but it’s the key to running a healthy business. Can you imagine a business leader like Bill Gates agonising over whether he was being unfair to his customers and underselling himself as a result? Not likely! Bill Gates earned his wealth by recognising his value and asking for what he deserved and now he’s the benefactor of one of the most effective charitable organisations in the history of the world: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

This isn’t to say that you need to try to become a billionaire massage therapist and start a world-changing philanthropic organisation. That’s an awfully high bar to set. The point is that being business minded isn’t necessarily in conflict with being charitable or living according to your values. When you’re successful, you can share your wealth without doing damage to your own well being. Raising your rates for new customers and those who’ve only been in to see you a few times can give you the breathing room to stay personally comfortable while keeping your rates where they were for a small handful of loyal clients who can’t afford higher prices. 

This is a practical approach that allows you to not only grow your business and earn more but also retain the loyal client base and, in return, are likely to send more clients your way through glowing referrals. Good entrepreneurs know that they won’t get far if they don’t have a loyal client base, and with a service like massage therapy, word of mouth is a very effective way of bringing in new business. 

Don’t let the idea of entrepreneurship overwhelm you. If you’ve been successfully supporting yourself as a massage therapist for any period of time, you’re already a good entrepreneur. Keeping your business thriving in the long-term just requires a bit more focus on the practical side of things.


Just remember..... 


Relax you got this meme with Morgan Freeman


Do you agree that as massage therapists we need to be business focused first? Let us know in our Facebook thread! 

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