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How To Open a Massage Therapy Business in 9 Steps

Woman Receiving Massage

There are many different settings in which massage therapists thrive, including chiropractic offices and spas. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you could find the idea of owning your own massage business appealing. There are many different types of massage therapy practices, as well. Whether you're interested in starting a small business in your home, renting an office space, or traveling to clients' homes, there are a few critical steps that you can take to make your business a success.

Figuring out the type of massage therapy business that you want to run can be a great start to opening up your new business. Think about your goals, the demographics of your target audience, and the reasons why they'd choose to use your services. Many people seek out massage therapy for stress relief or medical reasons. Keep this information in mind as you begin planning a strategy for opening your own massage business.

1. Do Your Research

There are many important topics for you to research if you're thinking about opening your own massage therapy business. You don't want to skip this step and end up finding out about things you needed or should have done when it's too late.

Education and Certification

If you haven't already completed the required coursework at an accredited school, you'll need to look into massage therapy education. Typically, you'll be required to complete your training at a massage school, and then you can work on certification.

Most states have regulations regarding the certification and licensure of massage therapists. You have to meet the requirements to work as a certified massage therapist. Certification can come through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

Massage Industry

If you're not already working in the massage industry, it could be a good idea to conduct some market research. Familiarize yourself with your competitors, find out what massage business owners are charging for their services, and learn how profitable the massage business is in your area.

Learning about your competitors can help you brainstorm how you're going to make sure your business stands out. Generally, massage therapists charge $60-$100 per session. Pricing strategy can affect your cash flow, so think carefully about how your potential customers could react to your prices. Getting repeat customers and referrals is important, so you'll want to make sure your customers are satisfied with the fee for your service. You'll also need to make sure that your business can stay afloat. Many massage therapists make $40-50,000 per year. As a business owner, you need to keep expenses in mind when considering how profitable the business can be.

2. Choose a Business Name

Choosing a name for your massage business can be fun. Take your time and make a list of names that you think will be appealing to your target audience. Next, you'll want to check to see which names are available.

To see if the business names on your list are available, check out the business records in your state. Also, check the trademark database to make sure that you don't end up choosing a business name that is already trademarked. Your business name will be a part of your brand, so make sure that it is unique.

3. Create a Business Plan

There are a couple of good reasons to create a solid business plan before you start taking steps toward opening your own massage therapy business. One reason to create a business plan is that it'll help you to figure out your goals and how you can reach them. Between start-up costs and the costs of education/certification, it could take months or years for your business to break even. When do you expect to break even, and how do you plan to fund your business? If you plan to secure a small business loan, you have another reason to create a business plan. The bank or other financial institution from which you seek a business loan will likely require that you provide a business plan so that they can see how you plan to make your business a success.

What should you include in your business plan? Several items are commonly addressed in business plans, including:

  • Pricing strategy
  • Marketing strategy
  • Market research
  • Estimate of start-up costs
  • Estimate of ongoing expenses

Don't forget to include everyday expenses for massage therapy practices in your start-up and ongoing costs estimates. Common expenses include:

  • Lotions and massage oils
  • Massage tables
  • Sheets and towels
  • Robes

The type of business that you decide to run can also have a significant effect on your expenses. For example, massage business owners who choose to lease office space for their practice will have to include rent and utilities in their cost estimates. Massage business owners who opt for a home-based or mobile business may take on other expenses but avoid the cost of renting a space. It could cost $10-$20,000 to get your massage business up and running.

Insurance is another expense that you should consider when you're drawing up your business plan. Whether you're leasing a space or providing massage services in someone's home, you'll want to make sure that you have coverage if a client gets injured or suffers a loss. Shop around for a general liability insurance policy so that you can get the best rates for your business. Also, look into worker's compensation insurance for your employees. If an employee suffers a work-related injury, your worker's compensation insurance can kick in to cover their financial losses.

You should also include the type of business structure you'll use for your massage business in the business plan. The business structure that you choose can have tax and liability implications.

4. Pick a Business Structure

There are several different types of business entities that you can choose from for your massage therapy practice. The most common business structures are the sole proprietorship, the limited liability company (LLC), and the corporation.

How do you choose which type of business structure is right for you? Understanding the differences between the most common types of business structures can help you make this critical decision.

Limited liability companies and corporations differ from sole proprietorships when it comes to asset protection. Limited liability companies and corporations are considered separate entities, so the owners of these types of entities have personal liability protection. This means that their personal assets, such as houses and cars, are protected if someone sues the business. Sole proprietors don't have limited liability. If you run your business as a sole proprietorship, you could lose your personal assets due to a lawsuit.

You might be wondering why you'd want a sole proprietorship instead of one of the business structures that provides liability protection. A sole proprietorship is the easiest and cheapest business type. To form an LLC or corporation, you'll need to file paperwork with the Secretary of State (or other appropriate agency). You must also submit a filing fee, which varies from state to state. You don't have to go through this formation process if you choose to operate your business as a sole proprietorship.

Keep in mind that the type of business structure you have affects your tax treatment. For corporations, owners must file a tax return for the entity itself and a personal tax return. LLC owners have pass-through taxation, and sole proprietors also report their business income and losses on their individual tax returns.

5. Decide On a Home-Based, Mobile, or Brick and Mortar Business

Many new business owners are considering different ways to provide their products and services to the public. In the wellness industry, entrepreneurs are also branching out from the traditional brick-and-mortar business. Renting an office space could be an excellent fit for you and the clients you expect to attract. On the other hand, you might prefer to save on the costs of renting office space.

One option is to work from your own home. Another option is to run a mobile massage business. If you're interested in running a mobile massage business, keep in mind that you need portable equipment. For example, you'll need to make sure that the massage table that you use is easy to fold and transport into clients' homes. You might also need to get a van if you don't already have a vehicle that's large enough for your massage table, oils and creams, and sound system.

Although you'll avoid the cost of rent and utilities for office space if you have a home-based or mobile business, you could incur other expenses. For a home-based business, you might have to make modifications to your living space. For a mobile business, you'll have costs associated with travel.

6. Get a Business License

To make sure that you can lawfully operate your business within the limits of your county or city, you need to make sure that you have the proper licenses and permits. Local governments usually handle the issuance of business licenses at the county or city level. If you don't obtain the appropriate licenses and permits to operate your business, you could get fined or shut down.

7. Get a Business Bank Account

There are several benefits to keeping your business funds and personal funds separate when you run a small business. One good reason to keep funds separate is that it makes accounting much more manageable. Another reason to keep funds separate is to maintain any liability protection that you have. Although the LLC and corporate structures come with liability protection, there are ways for a creditor to reach personal assets under certain circumstances. This is called piercing the corporate veil. Keeping your business and personal accounts separate could help you keep your personal assets protected.

Also, consider getting a credit card or debit card that you use only for business purchases. It'll be easier to track your business expenses if you have a card that you use only for business expenses.

8. Put Together a Solid Marketing Plan

Word of mouth is a great way to reach potential customers, but you don't want to rely on just that. It would be best if you came up with a solid marketing plan so that you can promote your massage services to as many people as possible.

The internet provides many avenues for your marketing efforts. One of the first things you'll want to do is build a website. If you don't feel comfortable making a website on your own, you can use one of many websites that provide helpful tools or hire help.

Be sure to set up your social media accounts and establish a social media presence as soon as possible. You can use social media platforms to provide information about your massage techniques and services. You can also use social media accounts to interact with customers and inform them of any specials or discounts you're running.

You can also use signage, flyers, and business cards as part of your marketing plan. If you have a brick-and-mortar office, you can pass out flyers and cards to local businesses in the area. If you open a mobile massage business, then you can display your business name and logo on the side of your van.

9. Hire Employees

If you don't need help from the start, you might soon need help as your massage therapy practice grows. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to hiring staff.

How much are you willing to pay your staff? Do you need to put together a staff manual? Do you plan on offering benefits? Once you've thought through your requirements for the ideal candidate and what you're willing to offer them, you should be able to begin the hiring process.

Thinking About Opening a Massage Business? Get Advice from a Lawyer

You might not feel ready to make all of the crucial decisions you have to make to open a massage business. This could be because you still have questions. If you have any questions or feel unsure about your next steps, don't hesitate to contact a lawyer in your area.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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