We LOVE listener questions and are delighted to tackle “Is Massage a Good Part Time Career” in this episode. Spoiler Alert: yes.
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.
MR And we’re your hosts. Glad you’ve joined us today. Welcome, welcome. Spring is upon us. I believe it. I am optimistic. I have faith.
AH I don’t because it’s like 52 degrees in my little backyard office right now.
AH And I’m freezing.
MR (Laughter) Come on; it’s coming.
AH It is. The crocuses are up and that’s really nice and we’re going to do yard work this weekend. Are you going to do yard work in your new yard, Michael?
MR Probably not. At least not right away. I’m not like a big yard work person. I know some people like love to putter around in their yards and stuff. And my father-in-law is like that. He has this garden, he likes to do all this stuff. It’s just not my thing. I’d rather do other things.
AH Then why did you buy a house with a giant yard?
MR Well, so we could play in it. I mean, I’ll probably do something. I’ll probably like eventually grow something, but it’s so far down my list of priorities with all that’s going on in my life that it’s going to have to wait.
AH All right. So you’re going to end up getting a letter from neighborhood association that’s like hey, can you clean up your yard, dude? Is that going to be you?
MR Fun fact, I was elected to the board of the HOA. (Laughter)
AH Of course you were. Of course you were.
MR (Laughter) So that’s fun.
AH Yeah. You know what? Okay. Sorry that y’all have to deal with this technical thing, but Michael, can you hear my okay because my computer —
MR Wow, you sound much better now.
AH Yeah, sorry about that. My — so everyone, I’m working on like a very old computer because my more current laptop has issues so I have to use, like, my backup computer, which I’m super fortunate to have. But one of the USB ports is, like, sort of broken. So anyhow. I fixed it. I apologize if I didn’t sound better earlier, but here we are. So this is a real life —
MR I didn’t realize how good you could sound until just now.
AH Thanks, that’s insulting.
MR I thought it was meant to be a compliment, but I guess it was more of an insult.
AH That was what we call a backhanded compliment.
MR Ah, backhanded.
AH Or backhanded insult. I don’t know. It could go either way, but whatever, guys. I finally got my headphones working. Michael, what’s our topic today?
MR Good heavens. What is our topic, indeed? Our topic is actually from one of our listeners. And the topic is is massage therapy a good part-time career?
AH Yay! And special thanks to — you know what? I didn’t get permission to use his name, so I’m not going to. But thank you to the listener and the reader who sent us a question. He is going to be leaving a career in law enforcement. He’s been full-time law enforcement for years and years, and he’s going to be retiring this summer. So he has a whole bunch of friends who are massage therapists, he has used massage therapy himself, he has found it helpful in maintaining his well-being, and is thinking of massage school and enrolling once he retires.
But it’s really cool, and I’m going to read a little bit of — so he asked me a couple questions about beginning a massage career a little bit, in mid-life, and some questions he should ask to be prepared for school, what he should do to be prepared for school, what could he do to make sure this is a career he really wants before he dives into school. So we talked a little bit about that. But what I loved is — was that — his final question. “Is massage a good retirement career? This may get your business hackles up a bit, but I don’t want to be ‘successful'” — and that’s in quotes — “in that I don’t want a full-time job. I’m retiring well and won’t be dependent on this new endeavor for a living. I’ve done the rough math and can cover basic overhead with what I would consider pretty part time. Am I being naïve launching a practice that will be small and based more on personal challenge, new experience, and serving folks instead of making a living? I know that one niche of interest is the first-responder community, and I” — he said some nice stuff about our podcast and he understands from reading our materials that it’s much more involved than putting a table in a small office and flipping a switch. He understand that starting a practice is hard work.
So I loved this question and I totally giggled when he said “this might get our business hackles up, but I don’t need to be ‘successful’ in that I don’t need a full-time job.” So we — Massage Business Blueprint and everything that I have done with and for massage therapists in the past decade has really been focused on independent, self-employed business owners, and specifically, full-timers, people who want to make a living at this. That said, you know, we have plenty of people who are part-timers and benefit from our resources, and I want to take this opportunity to point out that part-time massage therapists are great. It’s a — validated. It is a wonderful part-time career, and yay for the people who choose this career because it can be so flexible and available as a part-time job that allows you to fully focus on a full-time job that you may have or a family or any other kind of — I’ve got a friend who works full time, I think in mostly a volunteer capacity, for a non-profit organization and just does massage part time as his little supplemental income. And I love this question in so many ways. And to be able to be at mid life and to be able to retire from your full-time gig and know that you’re going to have a decent retirement coming in and to do massage as a service that supports itself but not have to worry about making a ton of income from it, I love this question. And validated. Part-time massage as a career choice or as a choice of service is amazing. It is how I want to retire. So I’m so excited about this question, obviously.
But I want to step back a little bit and I want to talk about who massage therapists are, like who we even are. And for that information, the AMTA actually does a wonderful industry fact sheet on an annual — oh, my goodness, guys. I just need to point out that there is a sign of spring. I am watching a woodchuck. He is coming right up to my office door right now.
AH I can’t take a picture right now or my microphone will unplug.
MR That took me by surprise.
AH I’m so sorry. But like I needed to tell you this. The woodchuck — I’m so excited we still have woodchucks this year. I’m going to get a picture of him later if I can if he’s still out. And then we’re probably going to hear him be under my shed in a second and that’s going to freak me out. So anyhow.
MR I thought you were going to be astounded that you were referencing AMTA. (Laughter)
AH I know. That too. No, this is — oh, he’s going back across to the swing set. Done with the woodchuck now. If anyone —
MR I think we need a video post about this to document all the (indiscernible) here.
AH I know. I can’t get up right now, though. I’m attached to my computer. But I’ll try to get a picture of him later. Oh, I’m so excited we have the woodchucks again this year. So anyhow —
AH (Laughter) Sorry, guys.
MR Best episode ever.
AH Sorry not sorry. Is this better than the time I told you how I threw up in my mouth?
MR This is ever better. This is even better.
AH So let’s go back to the — AMTA has a great industry fact sheet that they update — I don’t know if it’s every year or two years. But they do a great consumer survey and then they do a great survey of the profession. So I’m looking at the one that has some data from 2017. I don’t know if it’s the most recent one, but it’s the one that came up in the first search I did. So and they say — there’s a section of the survey that says — the survey results that says who is today’s massage therapist? So most massage therapist today are likely to enter the profession as a second career; predominantly female, 89%; and a median age of 46 years old. 22% were younger than 35 years old in 2007. So we tend to be a hint older than right out of college age. Most likely to be sole practitioners, which I love, and working an average of 19.5 hours a week providing massage. And that one always surprised me, like, to be averaging, you know, almost 20 hours a week providing massage. I kind of — it makes me think that maybe that part of the survey isn’t entirely accurate because it specifies “excludes time spent on other business tasks,” and I have a feeling that that survey question may not have been well formulated and a lot of people said that they — that was like — that included admin time. I don’t know. I could be wrong on that, but that’s just my general schtick.
So I love the notion of massage as a part-time career because there are so many people who come to massage later in their life and it’s a supplemental career. So I think this is a great question. And I also, like, I think that our numbers and how we come to massage really support the notion of — and the fact that it’s 89% female, I mean, massage in itself is a caregiving kind of gig, so that doesn’t surprise me. But being a self-employed massage therapist gives you flexibility that traditionally women have not been able to find in regular corporate workplaces. So I think it really supports — I think our numbers and our demographics really support the notion of massage potentially being a great part-time and flexible business model. So I love this.
And we’re going to launch into a little bit more information about how — why massage can be really good for part-timers. But first, Michael, who is our halftime sponsor today?
MR It is our friends at The Jojoba Company.
AH It is? Wonderful. I thought it was someone else so I have different notes up right now. (Laughter)
MR Really? It is in fact, jojoba. Our friends at The jojoba Company.
AH Oh and I’m so delighted because we just adore our friends at Jojoba..
AH (Laughter) So let me tell you a little bit why I love jojoba. And that’s not a shock to anyone; we talk about them all the time.
Sponsor message So I like jojoba because it’s nonallergenic. You can safely use it on any client and every client without a fear of an allergic reaction. It doesn’t go rancid. It’s non-comedogenic. And let’s just chat about this — The Jojoba Company is the only company in the world that carries 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba. And what that means is that some companies will try to extract as much jojoba as they can from the seed. Jojoba Company does a light press, called a first press, on the seed. They don’t get as much in quantity, but what they get is by far the most quality jojoba you’re going to find on the market. You can get 10% off — a 10% discount off of orders of $35 or more when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, J-O-J-O-B-A.
AH So that’s that. Thank you, jojoba. You are our long-time and every episode sponsor and we are delighted about that.
So let’s talk a little bit about massage as a part-time career. Clearly when you work for yourself you have flexibility in scheduling. So that’s really great. You can decide the couple of shifts or how many massages you want to do per day or per week. You can maybe do two a day a couple of days a week, maybe to do four or six massages a week. You can adjust that schedule to work for you. If you are reliable and responsible, you know, 98% of the time, but when you do have things come up and you have to reschedule clients, they will typically, knowing that your history of reliability, they won’t mind. Nobody’s going to fire you because you have to cancel one massage on them every — once a year you have to cancel because your kid gets sick or something wacky happens. It is — it can be so flexible in so many ways, and that’s really nice.
And the thing about massage is that it has a pretty low barrier to entry as far as equipment. When you think about like all kinds of service businesses — like if you were going to start a service business of, like, roofing, the equipment that you would need for that is off the charts. You’d need a truck, you’d need some kind of dumpster situation, you’d need skilled tradesmen, whatever, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, ladders and supplies and credit accounts for shingles and invoicing and all of these, like, massive business-y things. And even like for skin care, aestheticians, like, the kind of equipment and the supplies that they need requires a pretty big outlay of capital.
And with massage, especially part-time massage, the overhead — the entry overhead is so much lower. You need a couple sets of sheets — you don’t even need a lot of sheets. If you’re super part time, you need two sets of sheets because you’re probably not — only doing one or two massages a day and you can launder them in between. So you need two sets of sheets, you need an appropriate amount of towels for two massages. You need a massage table, which you’re probably going to get in school or you can get used fairly affordably. You know, you might need some online stuff like a website and scheduling, but you’re talking about $100 barrier to entry there. So it’s a really low overhead. There is overhead, but there is a low entry-level overhead. Depending on where you are, you could end up with up to $1000 of like licensing and permits, but that’s on the high end. A lot — most states, you’re talking a couple of hundred bucks. And a lot of the things you need to start a massage business, you will have as you finish school. You’re going to have half a gallon of massage oil to carry you through till you get paid for a couple of massages and you can buy a full gallon of jojoba that will last you two years because it doesn’t go rancid and you only use a very small amount because it’s such high quality, has wonderful glide, it melts easy, whatever. So anyhow — that was a tangent about jojoba.
So to bootstrap a massage business is not out of control. It’s not out of reach for most of us. The — if massage is part time, then it means you’re probably doing something else full time that puts you around other people, whether it be another job, whether it be parenting. It’s — and I note that because it means you probably already have a network that you haven’t thought to tap. So if you know other human beings on the planet, there’s really great potential if you’re going to start a part-time practice, especially a service-based one in a particular community, you probably have some contacts that you can utilize. And when you open a full-time practice and your goal is 20 clients a week and you start from none, it’s going to take you a while and some heavy duty networking and marketing to get to 20 a week. When your goal is four to six clients a week, with some active measures, you’re going to get there in less than six months, less than six months. If you really put some effort in, even part-time effort in, you’re going to get there a lot sooner, so that’s really, really nice.
And because of this low overhead, you probably won’t have a loss of money your first year unless you go crazy renting some super fancy office that you’re not going to share. But if you’re a part-timer, you’re going to be looking — maybe you’re going to do mobile, in-home stuff, maybe you could have a small office in your house. Yep, that’s a little bit more from permitting and stuff; you might have to do some — put a little bit of a cash outlay for that, but still totally bootstrappable.
Michael, explain for us what “bootstrap” means.
MR You self-fund. You’re not taking out loans, you’re not taking investment money or borrowing money; you are reinvesting money you make back into the business.
AH Thank you. Somebody asked us to define that a while back, and I realized I hadn’t done that yet.
MR Yeah, yeah.
AH So it’s not an insane outlay of money. And that’s — the final thing I wanted to point out that — where you are going to massage is, of course, the biggest hurdle. But if you can find a space to sublet, if you decide to go mobile, if you have an office in your home — if there is — and as a sublet it doesn’t have to be a massage office; it can be any of a variety of offices. If you’re super part time and you’re only going in two days a week, it’s not a huge deal if you have to move a room around a little bit and set up your table especially if you can work two days back to back. That would be amazing. You only have to set up your room once on like a Monday morning and pull it all down on Tuesday night if you just work Mondays and Tuesday. Or home-visit stuff.
So that’s the biggest obstacle is finding out where you’re going to practice, but If you can find a good sublet situation or mobile situation or in-home situation for you — like an office in your own home — that eliminates that issue or it solves that. That’s the biggest obstacle for part-timers. Or if you’re someone who likes to be in charge, you open an office and find some sub-letters so that your covering your costs and/or making a little bit money by providing a massage space for others, which is what I do and it’s pretty great. Again it’s a little more of a hassle than just a part-time thing, but could also be worth it and can be helpful.
So another bit I want to point out is that when you think about all the stuffs to start up a business, it’s really overwhelming, which is why I think a lot of us go into this completely naïve and that’s a good thing. If we all knew how much it was going to take right away, we probably wouldn’t do it. The effort it will take can be off-putting if you’re fully aware. That said, most of the stuff you only have to do once. You know, you’re only going to have to deal with a site inspection, like, one time to get your establishment license. You’re only going to have to get, you know, sit for your massage test one time. You’re only going to have to go through the hassle of getting a business permit and then a DBA, doing business as, bank account one time. A lot of the big stuff is a one-time effort for what could be, you know, a 15, 20 year part-time career. Because after you do the initial work, it’s just maintenance after that. You know, once you’ve hustled for six months or a year to get a base of, let’s say, six to eight clients per week, now it’s just maintenance. And that’s really nice. It’s — and that is part of what I think can make massage a really wonderful, part time, flexible career.
It is still work, but maybe that type of work is more valuable to you and important to you and rewarding to you and able — maybe you’re more capable of it than having a job where you need to clock in and out. Or you go work for Target and they’re going to change your schedule every week and you don’t know until Monday what your schedule for the following — starting the following Monday is going to be, whereas being self-employed, you get to make those decisions and further in advance.
So that’s my schtick. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with massage being a part-time career. I think it’s awesome. I think the notion of not needing income from it and just wanting massage to cover itself and give you a sense of service to a particular community, like, I aspire to that. So you’re not getting my hackles up. I love it. So thank you for this question. Michael, you have anything to add?
MR No, I agree. I love it. And I want to thank our listener for his service to his community. That’s awesome.
AH Yeah, and I think it’s just — he said we could use his question, but I don’t want to throw out details of his life. But I loved this question. I loved some follow-up conversation we have. I have a feeling some more podcasts will come of this. And I love seeing people make a real thoughtful, educated decision to enter massage as a career or as a sense of service or a combination of both, which I would suggest is that most of us do is that combination of both.
MR Right on.
AH I’m done.
MR Cool. Well, yeah, best of luck to our listener. We’d love an update down the road as well, kind of see what’s happening. So that wraps it up for today.
A reminder you can visit us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. You can check out our premium member community there, which is growing day by day. And if you have any questions or comments for us, email that to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will check it out for future episodes. If you have topics you want us to cover or questions, just like today’s questions was based on a listener, we’d love to hear your questions. So send it our way. Until then, have an awesome day, and we will see you next time.