Guide to Starting a Massage Business

While it may not be easy, starting a massage business can be highly rewarding and profitable. Learn more below....
Guide to Starting a Massage Business
Written by Brian Wallace
  • So you’ve decided it’s time to make a job move. Perhaps you’ve been working at a massage studio, or maybe a friend encouraged you to pursue a career in massage therapy and you’ve just earned your credentials but loathe the idea of working for someone else. Starting a massage therapy business can provide you with a high earning potential and high degree of personal freedom. While launching a massage therapy company may seem difficult, we’re here to assist you, with a simple step-by-step formula.

    Get Your Credentials in Order

    Massage therapist licenses and qualifications are regulated in most states. It might require anywhere from 330 to 1,000 hours of training, depending on the state. You may discover more about your state’s criteria by looking at the list of State Boards. Making sure your licensing is current is critical to protecting yourself and your new business from liability. It also sends a message of professionalism, which will help with attracting customers. 

    Aside from ensuring that your massage therapy licensure is up to date, you will also need auto insurance for independent contractors or business owners and a business license to do business in your locality. Check with your state’s Department of Commerce or Division of Corporations for an application and instructions. 

    Develop a Business Plan

    Having a business plan is like having a roadmap. You can keep revisiting it to ensure you’re on track to meet your objectives. What’s the “why” and “how” of your massage business? What makes you different from similar businesses in your area? What’s your pricing structure like? Who is your ideal customer, and how do you plan to reach them? What are your operating expenses? How will you market your business? These are all questions that should be answered in your business plan. 

    If you’ve never written a business plan, don’t fret. There are many business plan templates available online, often free of charge. Simply download one, review the sections, then get to work fleshing out the details of your business. 

    Create a Budget

    Creating a budget that lists your operating costs will help you determine how much start-up funding you’ll need. If you plan on establishing a brick-and-mortar massage therapy business for instance, you’ll need significantly more than you would need if you were starting a mobile massage business, which doesn’t require that you have your own workspace. 

    Having a budget will allow you to understand how much profit you’ll make based on the amount of business you get each month once your costs are deducted. If you need a small business loan to cover start-up expenditures, a budget will also help you forecast how you will pay back the loan as revenue starts flowing in. 

    If you’re new to business budgeting, you may not know exactly how to start. Fortunately, as with business plans, there are many business “Profit and Losses (P&L) templates available online. As your company grows, your budget will change too, including how you allocate money, so consider this a living document that you’ll go back to time and time again. 

    You’ll need to figure out the “P” side of your P&L once you know what your costs will be. Begin with a rough estimate of your earnings. Determine how many massages you can reasonably provide in a week. Let’s say you plan to do about five massages per day and want to work four days a week. If a massage costs $100 on average, calculate that by the 20 massages per week  you plan to do to obtain your potential weekly revenue. Then, double that amount by 52 weeks or however many weeks you plan to work during the year. Finally, simply split by 12 to determine your potential monthly revenue. However, this is not your profit. 

    “As a guideline, around 50% of what you make goes into the business and the other 50% goes home with you.” “So, if your monthly living expenditures are $2,000, your objective should be to make at least $4,000 each month,” notes Kelly Bowers, LMT, a Durham, North Carolina-based massage therapist and business trainer.

    Understand that whatever your earning potential is, getting there will take time. “You need to increase your customers. Plus, you’ll be spending a lot of money on promotion to try to get customers in the door,” Bowman adds. “So, it’ll take at least six months to break even, and it normally takes around a year.”

    Decide on Location

    As a solo entrepreneur, you have complete control over where you work and what atmosphere best suits your massage therapy practice. If you prefer to be placebound rather than offer mobile massage, some possibilities are working from a home office, securing a commercial space, or offering your services as a contractor to hotels, cruise ships, and resorts. 

    Many massage therapists operate their businesses from their homes. This saves you money on rent and eliminates the need to commute to work. A few things to consider include:

    • How will you divide your living area from your workspace?
    • Do you have other people in your house or in your area that might contribute to a noisy workplace?
    • Will you feel comfortable allowing strangers to enter your home?

    The upswing of providing mobile massage is that you don’t have to invite strangers into your home. And, the added convenience offered to clients, who don’t have to come to you, may allow you to charge on the higher end for your services. When considering becoming a mobile massage therapist, consider the following factors:

    • You’ll spend a considerable amount of time on the road
    • You’ll need a massage table that is easily portable 
    • Your vehicle will accrue a lot of wear and tear

    You might also be able to work out an agreement with a chiropractor or medspa whereby you rent space. That might be a less expensive alternative to getting your own commercial space, but may come with certain rules and restrictions, such as what days of the week or hours of the day they’re open, and what kinds of massage you can offer.   

    Get Massage Business Insurance

    It’s time to secure your massage company now that you know how to establish one. In addition to professional and general liability insurance, massage therapy workers’ comp insurance are absolutely essential for protecting you and your business, so you can focus on what you do best: taking care of your customers. Even if you don’t have any employees besides yourself, remember that massage therapy is a very physical job, where injury is always a possibility. If you are injured, a good workers’ comp policy ensures that your medical costs are covered so you can get back to work and grow your business quickly. Sure, it might seem like a big expense to purchase insurance up front. However, the second you need it, a good policy will pay for itself, saving you money and headaches. 

    Remember, success occurs at the junction of preparation and opportunity. So, be sure to spend the adequate amount of time, energy and money on the front end to secure your massage therapy business’ future. 

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