Time to Go Out On Your Own?
OK. You graduated from massage school with flying colors. Everyone tells you you have mad skills and that you’re the most fabulous therapist on the planet. So… does that mean you’re ready to start your own massage practice?
Do I Have What It Takes?
Working for yourself takes special skills and personality traits. Before you make your decision, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I a risk-taker? (That doesn’t have to mean bungie-jumping – just that you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone).
- Do I have business experience or at least “a head for business” (and am I willing to learn whatever business skills I need)?
- Do I have the resources to support myself while I build my practice?
- Am I willing to put in the time it’ll take to market and build my business, working long hours if that’s what it takes?
- Am I organized? I mean really organized?
- Am I self-confident?
Here are a couple of good articles that go into more detail about the qualities a good entrepreneur needs:
And here are a couple of quizzes you can take to see if you pass the “entrepreneur test”:
The Entrepreneur Test for a Small Business Owner
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t “pass” these quizzes. Arguably, the MOST important component is passion. If you are truly inspired to start your own business, you can acquire the skills you need.
It’s a Business
But realize that a massage therapy practice is a business just like any other. If you choose to be self-employed, your business and marketing skills will be just as important as your massage skills. Here are just a few of the shoes you’ll need to fill (either on your own or through outsourcing):
- Marketing and sales
- Operations management
- Customer service
- Billing (if you take insurance)
- Information management and record-keeping
- Human resources (if you plan to be more than a one-person operation)
As a general rule of thumb, if you spend 20 hours a week actually performing massage, you can count on spending at least an additional 20-25 hours performing the other duties involved in running your business. So if you’re charging $70 for an hour of massage, you’re really making a maximum of $35 per hour when you consider the time spent managing your business.
Then there are the expenses (and this is by no means a complete list):
- Space rental
- Advertising and networking
- Self-employment taxes
- Accounting (either the cost of a program if you do it yourself, or the cost of using an outside service)
- Office supplies
I don’t want to discourage you from starting your own practice. Lots of therapists do it very successfully. If you truly have an entrepreneurial spirit, a passion for “doing it yourself,” and the stick-to-itiveness to carry out your plans, you should do great!
But if some of the above gives you pause, no biggie. There are many ways to make a good living as a massage therapist.
If you choose to work for a massage clinic or spa, they’ll usually pay you either a set rate or a percentage for each massage you do. For example, if they charge $70, they might pay you 50%, or $35.
I hear you thinking – “But I’m doing all the work!! Why does the clinic get so much of the money?”
Wait. That 50% is actually not bad. You have to look at what they’re providing. Do they do all the scheduling and promotion? Do they provide all of the supplies and laundry facilities? Do you get paid time off? Some clinics will even contribute to your continuing education. In other words, do you just have to walk in, do your sessions and leave? If that’s the case, you’re in pretty good shape.
If you’re on your own, you have to pay for all that stuff. So if you decide to get a job, make sure you know what’s provided, what’s not, and whether you have to do any of your own promotion and marketing (which is not that uncommon).
So it’s just a matter of deciding which works best for you. If your passions and personality don’t lead you to strike out on your own, you can find a happy “home” in a clinic, spa or office setting.
I wish you success in your journey, wherever it takes you!