Expert Advice for Business Beginners

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) estimates that 92% of massage therapists identify as sole practitioners. If you are, or hope to be, self-employed, there are many business aspects to consider beyond the applied practice of your skillset. Determining services, leasing space, buying massage tables and massage supplies and obtaining insurance are just a few initial steps. This article will share additional considerations for running your profitable venture in the healing arts.

The massage industry is estimated as an $18 billion and growing market but many talented massage therapists are struggling. This is not due to lacking ability or work ethic but can be attributed to scarcity in business knowledge. Experts estimate that the average small business owner spends 85% of a typical day on tasks directly related to running the business. This leaves a mere 15% for your actual trade. Prepare to focus on business skills that will comprise more of your time and energy than the applied practice of your chosen modality.

Building a business necessitates taking the proper steps to adhere to government regulations, legal obligations, tax laws and making money. As a sole proprietor, you wear all of the hats – it’s complicated and never ending. You will take care of the day-to-day details as well as coordinate long term planning. Seek professional advice and qualified counsel.

Start with a clear vision and set your intentions. Why are you a therapist? How much money do you need to generate for your services? How many clients will you see in a day? Write all of your specific goals down, review them regularly and update. This is the best way to gauge where you are, where you hope to be and the trajectory.

Be genuine and live your message. Incorporate the healing work you offer in your own personal life. Self-care and injury prevention are vital to your business. Eat well, get enough sleep and exercise, and balance your life with nurturing relationships.

Research and develop a marketing plan. Where do you wish to practice and is this an ideal location? Are there regional, economic, or social barriers? Demographics are invaluable, and you must know your potential and current clients. How will you reach your audience? Which approaches are successful?

Network and be an active part of your community of practitioners by joining professional organizations. Mentors can offer advice and refer you to valuable resources. Skill sharing, participating in industry fairs and volunteering can develop mutually supportive alliances and grow your reach.

Finally, remember that it can take years to become established and solvent. Lack of confidence, self-doubt, criticism and failure are all issues you will face. There’s a lot of inner work, and you must acknowledge and accept your insecurities and limitations, and push through your worst fears. Go slow, be aware and take your time – there will always be a learning curve.

Visit for more information about establishing a legal entity, marketing tools and free/inexpensive seminars available in your area. AMTA created an extensive resource for small business beginners - check it out at

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