Podcast

Episode 357

May 28, 2021

Allissa and Michael break down the steps you need to take to open a massage business.

Listen to "E357: How to Start a Massage Business" on Spreaker.
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EPISODE 357

Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

Quick Tips

  • Hummingbird feeders are ENDLESS entertainment

Sponsors


Transcript: 

Sponsor message:

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Michael Reynolds:

Hey everyone, welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint Podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines:

I'm Allissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds:

And we're your hosts. Welcome. We are glad you are here as always.

Allissa Haines:

We sure are. What do you got to tell us this week, Michael?

Michael Reynolds:

Well, we're going to continue our reviews again for the month here. So let me grab our latest review that we're going to share on the air. So as a reminder, if you're not following along, we are sharing a review every episode this month and whoever's reviews gets picked, yeah, that was really bad grammar. So the person whose review we pick and read can reach out to us, let us know it's theirs and we will schedule if you want a 30 minute complimentary consultation for your business so we can brainstorm any challenges you're having in your business or just hanging out and say hi, whatever you want. So this review is from Mountain Massage, Mountain Massage is the username on Apple Podcasts.

Michael Reynolds:

And the review says, thank you, I love Allissa and Michael. I have been in LMT for five years and I've been running a private practice for three years and listening to the Massage Business Blueprint Podcast for the last year. My business is more organized financially and my networking game has gotten better because of what I've learned from this podcast. I always appreciate their content because like many massage therapist, I'm not a natural business person. I also enjoy Allissa and Michael's bantering. I've learned so much from Massage Business Blueprint, thank you so much for continuing to provide an excellent podcast and I love the new podcast formats. So we appreciate that Mountain Massage, thank you so much. And thanks so much for saying that you don't hate our banter, we appreciate that.

Allissa Haines:

We super appreciate that. Thank you.

Michael Reynolds:

We try to keep it to a minimum but, I mean, we're friends to go way back so there's always going to be a little bit of bantering. So thanks to Mountain Massage. Reach out to us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com if you would like to set up your complimentary business consultation with us, we would love to chat. All right. What are you reading Allissa?

Allissa Haines:

I have been listening. There is a podcast called Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard is I think his name, I might be doing that wrong, I don't know, he's an actor. He started this podcast a while back, it's very kind of like the Marc Maron Podcast, it's really great interviews. And Dax and his podcast partner Monica have interviews with super famous people about really interesting topics. And they had Prince Harry on last week and probably two weeks ago once this episode airs. And as most of us know, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are super big advocates for mental health awareness and education and care and it was a really, really good episode.

Allissa Haines:

It was so interesting to hear him talk a little bit just about the constraints of being in the royal family but not in a whiny way. It was a really interesting look at how he has become so aware of his privilege and how he's traveling to all these different areas, has really informed his work in advocacy and how his wife being black and being on the receiving end of so much horrifying racism in the UK and here in the US too and has led to their exit from royal life. And I did not know that he flew Apaches in Afghanistan and dealt with some PTSD himself and he talks about different kinds of PTSD. He really does not like to talk about the good stuff he does, but he talked a little bit about the organization to provide care to two soldiers with PTSD. It was a great episode and I don't listen to a lot of these particular episodes, but I am infatuated with the royal family stuff, especially Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah, I noticed that.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah, I mean, seriously, I could look at slide shows of Royal tiaras worn at Royal weddings over the past 300 years, I could look at them all day. And I think it's fascinating and interesting and I think what Prince Harry has done and is doing is really remarkable. So anyhow, that is what I was listening to. There's always this beginning of that particular podcast where Dax and Monica do a whole bantery thing for quite a while, 20 minutes or so, I skipped through that, it annoys me. So I hear people who are annoyed by our banter, I get it. So anyhow, it was really good and everybody should listen to it.

Michael Reynolds:

Cool. Thanks for sharing. All right. Before we move on, let's show some love to our friends at ABMP.

Allissa Haines:

Yay, they've got CE courses you will love. Available for purchase or included for free with membership in the ABMP Education Center at abmp.com/ce. You can explore hands-on techniques, complete ethics requirements, discover trending courses like addressing health disparities in communities of color with wellness approaches with Dr. Nicola Finley. I lost my breath, it's such a long class tittle.

Michael Reynolds:

I'm at the edge of my seat.

Allissa Haines:

With Dr. Nicola Finley. All ABMP memberships include 200 plus video-based on-demand CE classes. They've got a great new series of CE socials that are live events and you my friends can learn more at abmp.com/ce.

Michael Reynolds:

Awesome. All right. I am thrilled about our topic today because it is awesome.

Allissa Haines:

It is pretty awesome.

Michael Reynolds:

It is how to start a massage business.

Allissa Haines:

I feel good about it. So this is also a blog post on our website but if you're not a ready kind of person, you like to listen to things or listen to things as well as read them, I put together a kind of step-by-step almost linear kind of guide to the steps you need to take to start a massage business. Because there's not a lot of cohesive resources out there and that is because things are different from area to area. So some of these tasks kind of happen concurrently and some need to be in a specific order and we're going to try to be super clear about that. But that order can also change depending on the rules in your state and locality and how they handle licensing and permitting and things like that. This can feel a little overwhelming at first but the good news is that thousands of massage therapists have done this before you, the steps to starting a massage business are totally doable and most of these tasks only need to be done one time at the beginning and then just renewed by mail or something.

Allissa Haines:

So if you start to get overwhelmed, realize that this is a process and it's not like you're going to have to go through this process every year or anything. So first step, your name, what are you going to call this business. You can totally use your name, I did that for years. I operated as Allissa Haines Massage Therapist for the first 12 years of owning my business until I rebranded to Haines Massage, clearly not particularly imaginative but it worked. You can also choose a business name that reflects the community that you want to serve. So our friend Sarah specifically serves runners and her business name is Knead to Run Massage Therapy and that knead is K-N-E-A-D. So it's punny but not cheesy and it makes sense for her particular niche. You can also figure in geography, so you could be your city name massage or whatever, but you want to be smart about the specifics. So for example, I worked for years in an office that was called Kelley Boulevard Chiropractic but it was only located on Kelley Boulevard for the first few years.

Allissa Haines:

And then it moved and it was on another street and it was a little bit confused and people were a little bit confused trying to find the place sometimes. So a city or regional name could make sense for you, Hudson Valley Massage might make sense but be sure to consider your lifestyle and your future. If you know that you're going to move to the suburbs in a couple of years and probably move your practice, you shouldn't name it your city name massage and keep that in mind. That said a location-based name can also provide some stability. Our friend Rianne created Relax Wichita and it's fantastic, it super works for her. Before she even started her massage practice, she started this online presence of teaching people self-care and specifically self-care for entrepreneurs and it was a really great way to slowly start her new business in a new area.

Allissa Haines:

After you've got your name you're going to need to think about your business type. Now the default business type that happens the second you start accepting money for massage is a sole proprietorship. This is your default business type if you never file a form or do anything. Sole proprietors are responsible for recording their own income and expenses and you report that to the IRS on a Schedule C with your personal tax return. And when you are a sole proprietorship the business is an extension of you, it's kind of part of you as a person, it's not a separate entity on its own. You can change that by creating an LLC, a limited liability company. In some States, it's called something else if you're a healthcare practitioner, if you're in one of those states you probably already know this. So this establishes your business as a separate identity and it gets its own tax ID number.

Allissa Haines:

So when you sign a lease I would sign it as hainesmassage.com, pardon me, as Haines Massage and when I open utilities for that location, I'm giving them not my social security number but my businesses tax ID number, that LLC's tax ID number. So I'm sorry I would sign that lease as Haines Massage LLC. So if you are an LLC and someone sues you, they likely can't take your personal house as part of that settlement. There are cases of exceptions in that but you're going to talk to a business attorney if you're doing all this. If your business shuts down and goes bankrupt, typically the owner's personal assets will not be seized to pay debts. So if you're a sole proprietorship and your business goes under, people you owe money to can absolutely try to seize your personal assets to pay debts, it's different if you've created an LLC. Now it gets a little confusing sometimes because an LLC can file taxes in two ways.

Allissa Haines:

You can file them just like a sole proprietor does with the Schedule C or you can opt to file taxes as an S corp and that's a little bit different that requires some more intensive bookkeeping and certain protocols for running payroll and what you're required to pay yourself to go through payroll. You actually become an employee of that S corp as well as an owner so for some businesses an S corp can lower your tax liabilities. So they're kind of two different things, an LLC creates a separate entity and then you can decide how your tax filing is going to work, one of two ways when you create an LLC. So do you need an LLC? Maybe. Yes, no, maybe, no one can really decide that for you. In some states it's super cheap to create an LLC so it's a no-brainer, it's a great way to protect your personal assets you should just do it. In some states it's super expensive to form an LLC so you may be better off just buying a bunch of extra insurance.

Allissa Haines:

So it's worth a conversation with a business attorney in your state to decide if your situation warrants it. Also after you're making a certain amount of money and you want to be able to file it as an S corp, then you need to just do the LLC so you can file as an S corp. So it's also a great conversation to have with your tax preparer and they will probably be able to send you to a great business attorney for the best guidance in your state. We have a whole podcast about LLCs with an attorney and I'll put the link to that in the podcast notes. Okay. So you've got your name, you've got your business type. You have filed for an EIN, which is an Employee Identification Number, that's your next step. Sometimes it's also called a Federal Employee Identification Number, you need this both as an LLC or if you're a sole proprietorship. What it does is this EIN gets used in place of your social security number when you're dealing with business money and forms and such.

Allissa Haines:

So if I'm a sole proprietor, which I am, and I go do some onsite massage job for somebody who's paying me, I need to give them a W-9 Form. So I don't want to put my social security number on this form that I'm going to give to some stranger that I'm working for, so I can use my EIN. And yeah, that's it, it protects your social security number if you're a sole proprietorship. And if you're an LLC, it is the tax identification number for that entity because remember an LLC is separate from you so it gives your business a whole separate tax identity. You get it free through the IRS website, do not pay for an EIN. If you Google it, there's a whole bunch of predatory sites that are going to want you to pay 300 bucks. You don't need to do that, you can get it right through the IRS website, we'll have the link for you. All right, you got your name, you got your business type, you got your EIN.

Allissa Haines:

Hey, you should probably get a logo. It's okay to start up without one but you should definitely put figure out a logo on your schedule for a few months from now. If you have some tech skills or design background, you can probably create a starter logo for yourself in either Canva or there's another, Michael, what's the other logo making thing you've been using with people?

Michael Reynolds:

Logo Crisp. It's really an expense. $34 for a logo at Logo Crisp.

Allissa Haines:

Right? So you can use that. I know that Vistaprint has logo makers, I don't like them, but it's an option for super cheap. When you have a few bucks and you can do it, we love 99designs for logo creation. It's actual designers that give you mock-ups and bid for the job, not really bid because you pay a flat price no matter what, but they offer up designs in line with what you've written and told them about your business and you can run a little logo kind of survey contest and pick your top five and your friends can vote on which one they liked the best or whatever. But the thing about that process is that it's super short, it takes a week from start to finish. So if you're lagging and you're overthinking your logo, it can be really nice to use 99designs and just get it done professionally.

Allissa Haines:

Okay. So now you get your logo. So now, where are you going to work? What's your location? Are you going to rent an office space? You got to figure that out. Are you mobile? You need to know about all of the licensing and permitting in your state and town before you sign a lease. There are a lot of factors that go into renting a whole office from who cleans the common areas, who's responsible for snow removal and landscaping, where's the smoking area, is it right next to your treatment room window, all kinds of stuff like that for your location. We have a whole bunch of podcast episodes and articles about that like how to negotiate your lease, what to consider when you share a space with other therapists, what do you need to consider when you rent your initial space, we will put the links to those in the podcast notes and if you need to dive into those you can.

Allissa Haines:

You will probably also need a business permit or certificate from your town or city, sometimes this is called a DBA, a Doing Business As certificate. Most localities will require some kind of inspection from a zoning or a building inspector. You've got to check with your town or city clerk, they are usually the people that have all the information or they can send you to the right department for that. You might also need separate licensure or permitting for a massage establishment. So you've got to know if your state or your locality regulates MTs and how they do that. It can be really helpful to have some conversations with current business owners in your area, but do be aware that just because someone's been running a business for a long time does not mean they're doing it right.

Allissa Haines:

I've had a lot of people in a Massachusetts group say a lot of things that they think is fact that absolutely has never been written in our licensing or regulations. So always verify any advice you get with your licensing and regulation documents and your town or city clerk. So obviously this is different for everyone, it's really hard to be specific, but look into this before you sign any leases because I have seen people get locked into a three-year lease for an office that they could not get license for massage, it totally happens. So meanwhile, maybe before or after this whole lease thing, you have opened a bank account, hopefully let's do that. If you decide to form an LLC, you can open your business bank account as soon as you have that paperwork, if you are a sole proprietor you might need to wait until you have a location and you have your business certificate or your DBA certificate in hand.

Allissa Haines:

So either way do some shopping around at local credit unions and some small banks in your area to find the one with the best services and the lowest fees and the good online interface and that's what you need to do about bank accounts. You will probably have to pay the first few business bills, like maybe your deposit for rent out of your personal accounts, you want to make sure you're keeping track of that. Again, some of these things happen concurrently, some of them overlap or change order depending on where you are. Okay, your online business presence and communication methods. You got to get a website, you need to buy a domain name and get an email address through that domain name. So we love Google Workspace for this, it's six bucks a month. You can buy a domain for 12 bucks a year and then upgrade your account to a workspace and that will give you an email address attached to your domain.

Allissa Haines:

So mine is allissa@hainesmassage.com and it works through Gmail just like a free Gmail account. Only you get some more features, which is when you upgrade to the $6 a month your whole Google Workspace becomes HIPAA compliant so that's awesome. You may also choose to have a separate phone number for your business. There are plenty of options to bring a second line into your current phone, we tend to prefer Google Voice and Sideline. I kind of skipped the part in the online business presence which is you need a website. So there are a lot of resources for that, there's super cheap options and DIY options like Weebly or Wix or Squarespace. We encourage you to do a free trial on one or two of them, see what works for you.

Allissa Haines:

If you have the cash you can hire a designer. We certainly have referrals, if you need them email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com, so that's factor to your website. And again, your phone line, do you want to just use your current number or do you want to keep that for personal? Do you want to use an app you can put on your smartphone, so you don't have multiple devices? There's a whole bunch to do with the rest of your business identity. You've got to think through what kind of massage you're doing, who you want to serve, what are your services, offerings and prices, and how are people going to reach you. I don't want really people calling me so my phone number is not that easy to find, I ask people to email me or use the contact form on my website. So when you put all of that information together you'll have your business name, your address, your niche.

Allissa Haines:

So mine is massage for people with cancer. You'll know what kind of services you offer, 60 and 90 minute massage. And you'll be able to very clearly tell people how to reach you via your website or email address or whatever. We mentioned briefly the website, it's important, you should have one, not going to talk for three hours in a podcast about that you already know it, but we have some more expansive information in that on our blueprint website. And again, I'll put a link to that in the podcast notes. Once you get your website together, you definitely want to create a Google My Business profile. Google is in love with itself, they love themselves. If you embrace the Google My Business tools that they give you within your Google My Business profile and you literally can Google, Google My Business profile and create one.

Allissa Haines:

And it gives your website a little more weight on the search engine so it will come up a little bit higher when people are looking for a massage in your area. You create a profile, you can post to it regularly, we have a whole podcast episode with a Google expert for more ideas on your search engine optimization, when you're ready to dive into that do so. Finally and this is the last thing because sometimes I think it's the least important, is printed materials. So once you have your business name, you have your contact information, you've got a website address, you can get a business card printed. And you could get a business card printed before that too, if you wanted to get started but didn't have all the groundwork laid, and that's fine but do it super cheap. Don't spend a ton of money, spend like five bucks on Vistaprint and get some.

Allissa Haines:

And then you can feel bad about throwing them away and upgrading when you have all your business info. Use Vistaprint, if you want fancier cards you can use a site like Moo cards and keep them simple. Use your logo, use the same color schemes and fonts as your website. Resist the urge to list every specific type of massage you do, keep it really honed into your niche. Your website is the place people will go for lots of more information don't need to clutter your business card with that. It should have your business name, your name, your address, phone number, website, that's really all it needs. If you have an ambiguous business name, make sure massage is written on the business card somewhere. So for example from Rianne, Relax Wichita, she might say Rianne Chavez massage therapist or it could be a tagline of massage for busy entrepreneurs or something like that.

Allissa Haines:

If it gets really complicated, again, just put massage therapist as your job title. It's weird to just leave your business card in random places, what you really want to do is give them to people as you talk to them and tell them about your business and then they in turn will hand it to somebody and say, this is a massage therapist I met who I think could be really good for you. So it doesn't have to say everything about your business all the time. And those are the basic steps to starting a new business. I know that we kind of ran through it but for people who aren't going to sit and read a big long blog post, I wanted you to know there is a cohesive piece of information that walks you through the steps.

Allissa Haines:

Once you have that foundation built, you're going to move on to learning more about marketing and business finance and networking and client relationships, which sounds again, really overwhelming, but can be really, really fun. And yeah, a little soft sell when you're ready to take all those next steps, we have a huge archive of blog posts and podcast episodes on the website and we have a premium community where we help each other do all of these kinds of things and share our experience and give guidance to each other. Michael, that was my marathon of how to start a new business. I'm done.

Michael Reynolds:

Love it. Thank you. Yeah, many people don't like to read and I'm one of them. I like to listen more than read so very useful. Thanks so much.

Allissa Haines:

You bet. I'm just going to put the link to the big blog post here in the podcast notes and that's got all of those other links I was telling you about in there.

Michael Reynolds:

Right on. All right. Before quick tip time, let's give a shout out to our sponsor jojoba.

Allissa Haines:

Yay, jojoba, I love jojoba. I love jojoba specifically because it doesn't go rancid, it doesn't contain triglycerides like most other massage products do so it won't go bad. And this makes jojoba a great carrier for essential oils as well because you can fill up your little eight ounce bottle and throw your lavender in there and your jojoba is not going to go rancid and ruin your expensive lavender. It's non-allergenic so I can use it on any client and every client without worrying about an allergic reaction. You our listeners can get 20% off the price of the product when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. So for our quick tip, this is very interesting. Tell me more about hummingbird feeders.

Allissa Haines:

People, hummingbird feeders are endless entertainment, hummingbirds are awesome. If you live in an area of the country that gets hummingbirds, get yourself a hummingbird feeder, put it out in front of your front window in your front yard or outside any window and you will love it. It's a cumulative thing, once they learn it's there they will keep coming back. Okay, and here's the thing about hummingbirds, they remember from generation to generation because they migrate North at the end of spring and summer and then they migrate South in the fall. But let's say, I had Joe the hummingbird here last year and he finished his migration South and had a couple of hummingbird babies and Joe is dead now because they don't have a huge lifespan, but his babies come up, his babies remember the migration and remember where our feeder is.

Allissa Haines:

What. Okay. And also I can discuss that, and I don't know if this is factual this is just what I've been told. But anyhow, we started putting hummingbird feeders up I think two years ago and we kind of follow the migration patterns online. You can just Google when do hummingbirds come to my area? And it's usually around mother's day, but we knew that the first week in May we had to get the feeders up and we have had constant hummingbird action for the last couple of weeks. And we actually put five or six feeders out all over the place and you fill them with a sugar water solution and you do need to be on top of it and refilling them with fresh solution every, I think at least once a week, maybe a little more, Google it, but they're awesome and they're pretty and we see the little baby ones and we've got some adult ones and they fight a little bit, they're a little territorial and I'd have to just say, hummingbird feeders are endless entertainment.

Michael Reynolds:

Wow. I'm happy for you and your hummingbird feeders, I may have to get some.

Allissa Haines:

Thank you. Well, I put one outside my office window but it's a little bit in the thicker woods, it's not so much an open area. So I've only seen one or two there so far but they will learn and then there will be many.

Michael Reynolds:

Good to know. All right. Well, hey, thanks everyone for joining us today, we appreciate you being a listener. Don't forget to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and we may pick yours for the next one if we continue doing this, I think we may, we may or may not, I don't know. But anyway, please review and we'll see. So you can find us on the web at massagebusinessblueprint.com. You can email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. And thanks again for joining us today, have a great day. We will see you next time.

Allissa Haines:

Bye.

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