So you are a budding massage student and you've been told by many that you are gifted. You're excited about your training, and then all of a sudden you realize it is way more than what you thought. You begin to doubt you can handle the workload, especially anatomy; however, you feel your "gift" will get you through. Exams roll in, and you are not doing well.
So, what's next? Study, study, study! You have a licensing exam to take and if you want to pass it, you better prepare. I am often surprised how many students graduate and do not pursue the final step of licensure because they lack confidence.
Months go by and you feel as though you are doing more studying than massage. When is the fun going to start? You'll hang in there a bit longer because you know you will be great at what you do. After all, relatives have said you have a great touch. You know you give a better massage than everyone else in class-or so you think.
Now the business classes have started. You find it boring. It can't be that difficult to earn money with the talent I have, right? Do I really need to pay attention to this? Nah. You want me to create a budget? A business plan? I'm not opening a spa, so this isn't necessary. Brochures? I'm not good at writing, and I'll just use business cards. Public speaking? No way. I won't need to do that, because I have a bunch of friends and family who already said I can work on them. I think I'll sleep in today.
So those friends and family, did they say they would pay you?
This may seem like a negative approach, but these are common responses I have heard from students and graduates over the years.
These massage students were not prepared for the endless hours of study and never liked the academics of school. They felt they could breeze through training and come out making a lot of money. A successful massage practice takes commitment and dedication as well as lots of networking.
If you are considering massage school or already receiving training, you should seriously pay attention to everything your instructors teach, especially the business aspect of your career.
Many massage therapists can't make a successful go of their practice because they do not know how to run a business. What they thought would be easy turned out to be devastating. In the end, they settle for less, work for poor wages or quit the profession.
I received a postcard in the mail recently from one of the larger schooling institutes that states massage is still the fastest growing health-care profession. What the postcard fails to say is it is also the toughest health-care profession, since we do not get hired like a nurse or technician. It is a self-employed health-care profession. We get hired as subcontractors, run our own business or at the least work for someone else for commission or low wages.
So where are all the people who should be lining up for my healing touch? The reality is you need to know how to attract them into your business. Your gift won't be helpful to anyone if you do not understand basic business.
Business 101: Ask your instructor questions-lots of them. Talk to other people in the profession. Find out what worked and what didn't. Take a public speaking class. Pay close attention to marketing strategies and how to develop a plan for success. Visit successful practices. What are they doing that you like?
Oh, you didn't sign up for this, you say? If you don't know how to market yourself, then hardly anyone will experience the benefits of your healing touch. Go to health events and community organizations to show your face, hand out your cards and give them a sampling of your gift. Volunteer your services. It doesn't cost you anything, and you may pick up a few clients. This is much cheaper than an ad. Sporting events can be fun, too.
Word-of-mouth works and it costs nothing.
Also, always show up to appointments on time. While some of us might be very professional, there are others who come and go as they please. When you wonder why you cannot keep clients, look at what you are doing or not doing. Would you wait for an appointment with someone if you had a busy schedule? Would you think more about their gift or all the things you need to accomplish in your day? Be professional. Respect your clients' time and needs.
The massage industry is a wonderful field. For more than 22 years, I have enjoyed many aspects of the massage world. My success was contributed to constant networking, working alongside medical doctors or nursing homes, pregnant clients and athletes. You need to know how to approach potential clients, speak to them and treat them. You will need to continue your education and learn the appropriate techniques and styles for the types of clients you want to attract.
Looking for just a simple home-based practice? Where will you get your clients? What considerations have you taken into account for your environmental setting? Are you disciplined enough to maintain boundaries?
I love the massage field. It has supported me financially, emotionally and spiritually. When I began teaching massage, more of my skills began to blossom. By learning from those smarter than I and listening to their advice, I didn't limit myself from learning only from the massage field; I reached out to the business world. There are many people that offer free classes on business.
If you want to share your gift, then learn about business and professionalism. Then you will have a gift that will keep on giving.
If you have any questions about starting a massage practice, please feel free to contact me. There are many great resources available, including Laura Allen's One Year to a Successful Practice and Cherie Sohnen-Moe's Business Mastery.