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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

3 Things Massage School Didn't Teach You About the Business of Massage and Why {Guest Post by Hillary Arrieta, LMT}

Owning a massage business is hard. There are many moving parts and massage school didn't cover any of them. It's true that massage training did not prepare us for all of the difficulties we come across on a daily basis. 

As a massage educator, I've heard the complaints for years. "Why didn't we learn this in massage school?" Or "my school didn't prepare me for this." It can be a sobering reality to find out that once you're out of school and in "the real world" you will need ADDITIONAL information, training, and resources to make it in this profession. 

Whether you choose to become an independent small business, buy a franchise, or work for someone else, you'll probably need more training every year just to stay up to date on your education. You'll need even more education to master your craft as a business owner. 

I've compiled a short list of things massage training didn't teach you about the business of massage and why, along with helpful resources to get you pointed in the right direction. 

1. How to do taxes, file a business structure, and manage finances. 

Massage therapy training is just that. We train you to be thoughtful, skilled massage therapists; not bookkeepers, business lawyers, or accountants. These are special skills all on their own and you'll need to build a team of qualified professionals in these fields to help you. People in these professions have degrees and have gone to college for many years to know what they know. Obviously, teaching you this in massage school is impossible and totally inappropriate. All small businesses work with pros to make things run smoothly in their businesses and so will you. Get some good referrals from trusted friends and start building your team. 

Which brings me to number two:
2. How to be a small business owner. 

Massage school isn't business school (duh!). That's okay because there are many resources out there to help you learn this new set of skills. Some of my favorites are which is a mentoring group of retired business owners who volunteer their time and skills to help small business owners thrive. How awesome is that? 

Chances are good that you have a group near you. They also host frequent business oriented workshops. 

I also got a lot out of web marketing classes online. I always recommend Marie Forleo's programs and all her free content on YouTube. She gives solid, classy advice and has some great suggestions that have really helped me in running my practice. I also highly suggest The Right-Brained Business Plan by Jennifer Lee. She really helped me put together a beautiful plan that was both creative and practical. 

3. How to be a good manager. 

Being a good manager of time, people, and tasks are really important skills in the business of massage. We have to manage our clients, our session times, and all of the endless "to do's" while running our massage businesses. This can be overwhelming. Add in a few employees and that can be even more overwhelming. 

Massage school doesn't carve out time in the already jam packed curriculum to prepare you for this. The hard truth of the matter is that not everyone is cut out for this part of owning a practice. 

Once you've discovered that your personal constitution is hardy enough to take on this level of business ownership, it's time to dig deeply into self-awareness and self-development (Yikes!). Finding a mentor or emulating a leader that you admire can be a great way to learn.

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, and Donald O. Clifton.

About the author:
Hillary Arrieta is a massage therapist and massage educator in the Dallas, Texas area. She owns Gaia Bodywork and specializes in barefoot massage. You can find out more at

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