Running a business in the healing arts requires you to have two distinct and separate skill sets: massage skills and business skills. It's just as necessary to master your skills as a massage therapist as it is to master running a profitable business. You learn one in massage school; it's up to you to learn the other.
The truth is many massage therapists are struggling to make a profit-even in an environment where there is a growing demand for massage therapists. It's not because they are bad at massage; most are talented and caring healers with a strong desire to help clients heal themselves. Yet, these therapists are struggling to make money in an unprecedented $18-billion-and-growing massage industry.
If we want to make money, build our business to its fullest potential and help more people, we need to take the initiative to learn and study from experts who know how to balance work in and on their massage therapy business.
Working on vs. in your business
There is an old adage that as a business owner you need to spend more time working on your business than working in your business.
Working on your business means doing tasks that help your business run and grow, such as accounting, marketing, planning for growth and expansion, ordering supplies, networking-everything you do to keep your doors open that does not involve working on a client.
Working in your business means doing your trade: massage therapy. At first glance, it seems the more time you spend working in your business, the more money you will make, particularly if you are paid hourly or per client. However, putting time in planning and expanding the business will ultimately lead to more clients, growth and profits. The working on the business is what generates leads and brings clients to you in the first place.
Let's look at a few steps you can take as a student to create an opportunity for success before you begin massaging clients.
1. Create an entrepreneurial mindset from the beginning. This tip is the most important because it will help you set your intentions for your business clearly and concisely. How much money do you plan to make? How many clients do you intend to see a week? Picture your ideal day. How does your business fit into your life? What are your clients like?
I recommend you write your intention down and review it on a regular basis. Be as specific as you can and have a clear vision for your business and how smoothly and profitably it will run.
2. Develop a marketing plan. Growing and marketing your massage business takes commitment and planning-but it doesn't have to be difficult at all. Marketing your practice will be easier and cost you less if you plan. Know your target audience, how you will communicate with them and what you will say. These three points will make up your marketing plan. Having a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your community environment, will help, too.
3. Understand the importance of consistency. Having an entrepreneurial mindset means being disciplined and consistent in all aspects of running your business, including your marketing, your appearance and your relationships with clients and others.
4. Surround yourself with mentors and role models. You and your business are either expanding or shrinking-it is a law of the universe. It is important to be part of a community of practitioners who support each other and provide networking and growth opportunities. It is vitally important to protect who you surround yourself with. You work hard to surround yourself with successful people-all it takes is one person to bring that down. Surround yourself with people who challenge you to evolve and don't weigh you down.
5. A competitive mindset is important. Be competitive with yourself more than others. Set milestones for yourself, achieve them and strive for another more challenging goal. Don't spend much time worrying about what everybody else is doing; spend your energy raising your vibration and bettering your business and goals.
6. The foundation of a successful business is having clarity about your purpose. Why are you here doing what you're doing? Know this. Why are you a massage therapist? On the other hand, while you may be passionate about massage, know that a business has one purpose: to be profitable. This is the sole purpose of your business and you need to run it as such. You may be here to help others; your business is here to make money.
7. Confront self-sabotaging behaviors. Keep your word to yourself at all costs. Make few promises and be sure to keep the ones you make. If you agree to spend half a day on marketing each week, do it. Procrastination does not build a business, discipline does.
It's important to recognize you are an entrepreneur and need to run and manage a business as well as see clients. Start learning and studying marketing and business skills now, before you open your business, so when you are ready to open the doors you will be prepared to make money from the start and will have built your business with a strong foundation.