Starting a Massage Therapy Side Business

Regardless of how healthy the local or national economies happen to be at any given point, consumers are always willing to invest in their health. Both active weekend warriors and relatively inactive citizens with chronic muscle or joint pain spend loads of money on massages annually. In fact, the industry generated $11.7 billion in revenue in 2014 and employed at least 300,000 massage therapists. If you’re looking for an evergreen entrepreneurial opportunity to exploit, launching a massage therapy side business is always a good way to diversify your revenue streams. Use the following road map to guide your efforts.

Select a Niche to Dominate

No matter how you plan on delivering your massage services, it’s important to pick out a sector of the industry to target in your immediate area. Whether you’re partial to Swedish, shiatsu, aromatherapy, deep tissue or hot stone massage, you’ll need to figure out your specialties beforehand. If you plan on employing other masseuses, you can offer a range of services more easily. Decide on what kinds of massage therapy to pursue as well as the demographics you’ll be targeting like athletes, chronic pain sufferers or even cancer patients.

Develop a Solid Game Plan

Once you’ve chosen a niche, it’s time to think about business models and finances. For instance, you could open a permanent location in a strip mall or travel to the clients’ homes to dole out massages. Consider whether you’ll be giving massages yourself or hiring others to do the grunt work. Optimizing pricing is critical at the outset. For instance, $70 per hour is pretty standard for a typical massage but it’s often too much for the average potential customer. Try to get per-hour prices down to $40 or less at the outset.

Get Educated and Certified

Even if you’re not going to be the primary masseuse in your new side venture, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the business. The American Massage Therapy Association is a great resource when it comes to educational institutions and general guidance. At least 44 states have either mandatory or voluntary local certification standards insofar as massage therapy is concerned. In many cases, the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam or MBLExgiven by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork is the gold standard for licensing in many U.S. jurisdictions.

Round Up Necessary Supplies

However you structure your business, there are a few supplies that you’ll need to stock up on. Clearly, things like massage tables, towels, oils and so forth are a must. Check out the aptly named Massage Warehouse for potential mainstays that you might want to buy in bulk later on. If you’re going to be using a mobile model, a van or truck with your company logo stenciled on the side is a must. Buy a decent sound source and high-quality speakers to play soothing music over massages to set the mood during sessions.

Lock Down Commercial Space

If you’re going to establish a massage therapy hot spot, commercial space is obviously a requirement. Most strip mall rentals can be retrofitted to create a great spa space if you’re handy with a crescent wrench and a circular saw. If you’re going to be driving to clients’ homes or offices to deliver massages, you’ll still need office space to crunch the numbers, store supplies and maintain gear. If you’re working from home, use a spare bedroom, basement or portion of the garage to organize your affairs. Have a portion of your space dedicated to setting up a computer, printer and storing files.

File the Required Paperwork

Depending on the state in which you reside, the paperwork obstacles that you’ll encounter will differ to a great extent. At the very least, you should form an LLC or other corporate entity. File the appropriate business licenses in your jurisdiction for tax purposes to avoid any problems from the authorities. Join a state-specific trade group as it pertains to massage therapy. It’s often wise to get insurance for your business in case somebody decides to sue for perceived damages incurred during a massage.

Launch the Enterprise Wisely

In the weeks leading up to your debut, it’s important to lay the groundwork so that your launch isn’t a failure. Give a few exhibition massages in a public or private setting to demonstrate skills and dedication to customer service. Printing out a few flyers to tack to bulletin boards is a smart play. A better way to go about the promotion process is with social media. Use Facebook and Twitter to announce and talk up your business before you get started. Give out coupons for free or discounted massages to get the ball rolling.

Market Your Massage Services

Getting your name out there is always tough no matter what you’re doing as a side hustle. Making your business highly visible is obviously a huge deal. Go with Google+, Facebook and Yelp for the immediate hits. Use Twitter and Instagram to go after casual customers. Something along the lines of Business Networking International is a great way to create B2B goodwill. Rely on local chambers of commerce to further solidify your business credentials. Local gyms and health food stores are great places to promote your name in a lasting way so that new customers are always asking about massage therapy services.

Build the Business Up or Out

Once you’ve gotten beyond the sink-or-swim point where revenues exceed expenses, it’s time to get serious. You can either expand horizontally or vertically depending on how you want to play things. For example, you could simply stay within your wheelhouse and hire more masseuses to deliver the same services you already do throughout a great geographical area. Alternatively, you could try to go for more lucrative markets. Some people are willing to pay $100 or more for a massage if you’re a respected name. There’s no reason why you can’t do both at the same time.

Future-Proofing Your Company

Even if your initial business model is a hit, there’ll always be a new up-and-comer that wants to take your customers. The massage business can be a fad-centric game where trends come and go. Insulate your outfit from those uncertainties by developing multiple streams of income. Branch out into putting on seminars and giving talks on massage techniques or general health. Write books about the benefits of massage therapy or the best ways to benefit from it. Just pay attention to the direction that the winds are blowing in and you can make money from massage therapy.

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