As a professional with your own massage therapy business, you have the chance to help the overall health and wellness of your clients. Massage therapists work in a variety of environments and with different types of clients, assisting them with everything from reducing stress to helping the body heal after certain types of injuries.

If you are interested in your own massage therapist business, you should know that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) claims that more than a third of massage therapists are self-employed. That makes this a promising and established field for those who want to work for themselves.

If you are ready to start your own massage business, here's what you need to know about building a business in this industry and setting yourself up for success.

Skills and Training Needed to Become a Massage Therapist

Throughout most of the country - 45 states and Washington, D.C. - massage therapy is a regulated industry. Many areas that do not regulate this profession at the state level will still have applicable rules and requirements at the local level.

In most regulated states, those interested in becoming a massage therapist will have to follow some type of postsecondary education program that will include:

  • A minimum of 500 hours of study
  • Courses that cover a wealth of information related to massage therapy, such as pathology and body mechanics
  • Study in massage techniques

After completing the courses required in your state from an accredited massage therapy program, you will need to demonstrate your knowledge to earn your license or certificate. Depending on where you live, you might also need to pursue continuing education credits.

As you go through the studies that prepare you for this exciting new field, you will also want to dedicate some time to cultivating personal skills that will help you better serve your clients. For example, clients will want to work with therapists who are:

  • Empathetic
  • Confident
  • Detail-oriented
  • Physically strong enough to provide the best possible services

Once you have earned your certificate, the time has come to start creating a business plan.

Outlining Your Massage Business

As you likely learned during your massage training courses, there are a variety of specialties that you can focus on as a massage therapist.

  • Relaxation and stress relief: You might choose to focus on helping your clients manage their stress and relaxing their bodies. Stress can easily trigger physical ailments, which makes this area of massage therapy extremely valuable.
  • Help after injuries: Massage therapists can also aid people alongside other injury-related professionals, such as physical therapists. They can help work the muscles and tissues and promote healing.
  • Relief during pregnancy: Massage therapists can also train in specific techniques to help expectant mothers with prenatal massages.

In addition, massage therapists can specialize in helping certain populations, such as:

  • Senior citizens: Massage therapists can work with those who are aging to promote their general wellness.
  • Athletes: Massage therapists are often employed by teams to provide sports massages, helping athletes care for their bodies and muscles so that they can give their best athletic performance.

Consider which types of massage you would like to include in your business model and the types of clients you will want to target. As you begin to plan the structure of your business, do some market research to learn about the demand for local massage therapists trained in that specialty.

You can also investigate common pricing in your area. This will give you a better understanding of how much to charge for your services. The national average for a massage is $100 per session, but that will vary depending on where you live. It will also vary between different types of massages, such as a Swedish massage versus a deep-tissue massage.

Use all of the information you gather about market demand, prices, and the types of clients you want to target to create a business plan that will help guide your business growth. You are now ready to start building your massage business.

Steps to Build Your Massage Business

Congratulations! Now that you have your business plan created, you are ready to take on the next steps toward building your business. These steps will help you form your business into a legal entity for your own protection and tax purposes and help you find your first clients.

Step 1: Choose a Business Name

Choosing a name can be an enjoyable part of the process for many new business owners. Select something unique and memorable so that your clients can easily find you. Your local government should offer tools to help you search for names that have not already been taken by another business.

It is also a good idea to cross-reference the name you want to select with available domain names. Finalizing your name only to discover that the domain is already taken can be frustrating and make it harder to build a well-branded website. Print this name prominently on business cards and any other branded materials.

Step 2: Determine Your Business Structure

Next, determine the type of business structure you want to use. You will have a few choices, in particular:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Corporation
  • Partnership

Each has its benefits and drawbacks in terms of how the business is governed, the tax rules related to the business's income, and how much control you have over the business.

You may wonder why you need to form a legal business when you'll be the only person working in the business. Forming a business, however, helps you present a more professional standing to new clients. It also helps protect your assets by keeping them fully separate from the business.

Step 3: Legally Form Your Business

Once you have a name and your desired business structure picked out, you will need to submit the required paperwork to your state government. The exact paperwork needed will depend on the type of business you selected and the state in which you will do business. However, you should expect to have drafted rules and guidelines that describe how your business will be run and how decisions will be made.

Step 4: Open a Business Bank Account

Once you have a legal business, one of your first agenda items should be to open a business bank account. You will need your business information and either your employer identification number (EIN) or Social Security number (SSN) to do so.

With a business bank account, you can keep the finances of the business separate from your own. You will also find it easier to make payments and receive payments as your business entity rather than as an individual. When tax time comes, it will also be significantly easier to separate what funds came from your massage clients to pay the business versus your personal income. Your massage business will have other expenses that need to be paid, so not all of the money that you've received for services will count as income.

Step 5: Get Insurance

It's important to get insurance for your business. This should be a priority on your list of startup costs. You will need to insure the physical office where clients will come to see you, if applicable. If you plan to go into clients' homes, you'll also need to make sure you insure yourself in another space. Liability insurance related to your professional performance will also be needed. This insurance helps protect you if something with a client does not go as planned.

Step 6: Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Business

Don't forget about the marketing efforts necessary to help clients find your business. When people want to find local businesses, the internet is one of the first places they look. Therefore, it's important to make yourself noticeable. You can do this in many ways.

  • Create a branded website. If you need help with a logo or a professional website, consider working with a freelance expert through Upwork or another platform that can help you create a WordPress site. Use massage imagery and language that helps capture the experience you create for clients.
  • Use social media platforms as a part of your marketing plan. You can promote your massage therapy practice, engage directly with potential clients in your target demographics, and entice them to try your services.
  • Have a presence on Google My Business. Make sure your profile is accurate, up to date, and has plenty of quality images that positively capture your business. You can also choose to claim your profile on review sites like Yelp.

Further, take time to nurture referrals and positive reviews. This can help you find new customers based on your performance for past customers.

  • Ask satisfied clients to leave online reviews on Google My Business or other popular review sites.
  • Offer discounts to returning clients if their referred friends schedule a massage appointment.

Non-Massage Tasks to Manage

In addition to your massage tasks, you will also have many non-massage tasks related to running your business. These tasks will help you manage your business's finances and make sure you are ready when tax time rolls around.

Your Invoices

You'll want to track payments from each client after providing your massage services. You can create and track invoices with small business accounting software like that from Skynova. If an invoice is outstanding, be sure to send regular reminders.

Your Business Expenses

You also need to track all of your business expenses. Track how much you spend on gas and the wear and tear on your car if you drive to clients' homes. If you make an insurance payment, a rent payment for office space, or you need to buy new equipment (e.g., a massage table, lotions, or massage oils), these should be tracked, as well.

Fortunately, Skynova's accounting software makes it easy to track all of your different expenses and receipts in one place through an easy interface designed for small business owners like you.

Free Up Your Hands With Skynova

Now is the time for you to move forward with your professional vision. You know what you need to build and manage your business. Get started and reach for your goals today.

As you build your massage therapy business, see how Skynova's accounting software can make it easy to manage all the different tasks associated with your business. With templates to create professional-looking paperwork and software products to help you balance your books, small business accounting has never been more straightforward.