Posted on September 22, 2021
Starting a business can be an exciting and rewarding venture. That’s why a lot of massage therapists choose to go into business for themselves. You might think all you need is a place to work and your massage therapy equipment, and in some respects, that’s true. However, if you want your business to reach its full potential, you need a massage therapy business plan.
In most cases, you don’t need a whole lot of capital to start a massage therapy business. Service based businesses usually don’t have a lot of overhead, especially when your hands are the most valuable pieces of equipment. If you’re working as an independent massage therapist, your business plan doesn’t need to be too complex. It just needs to lay out your intentions, goals and a plan for reaching them.
If you plan on bringing in partners, hiring staff or borrowing money, then your business plan will need to be more extensive. Your lenders will want to see your business plan before offering you any sort of financing. You don’t need a business degree to create a business plan. If you need help, there are a lot of free resources available. For additional resources check out the SBA or find and work with a business mentor.
It’s never too late to create a business plan for your massage therapy business. If you’ve been in business for a while and you don’t have one, now’s the time to create one. In fact, you should be reviewing your business plan on a regular basis.
What’s the biggest thing to consider before creating a massage therapy business plan?
When you’re a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the tasks of taking care of clients and keeping the clinic clean. Sometimes you get so busy, the business becomes a part of who you are. So, before you start creating a plan for your massage therapy business, you first need to have a plan for your life.
It’s important to know what you want your days, weeks and years to look like before you throw all your time and energy into your business. Your massage therapy business should support the lifestyle you want and help fulfill your financial obligations. Get clear on what your business needs to provide you, before you create a plan for your business.
Your massage therapy business plan needs to be realistic. So, be honest with yourself about how much time you can invest into your business, what you’re physically capable of, as well as what your true motivations are. There are no right or wrong answers here.
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself to help get you started.
- What are your current financial obligations, and how do you expect them to change over the next 1, 5, 10+ years?
- What are your current family and social obligations, and what changes do you anticipate in the future?
- What sort of lifestyle do you want to have?
- How much free time do you need to be happy and healthy?
- When do you want to retire?
- If you could create the perfect weekly plan for yourself, what would it look like?
- What are your health needs, and what does your overall well-being require?
- What sort of fulfillment do you want to get from your work or business?
- What contributions do you want to make to your family, community and the world?
- What are your core values? What’s most important to you?
You’ll be spending A LOT of time in and on your business. So create the culture, work ethic and identity of your massage business intentionally. Ideally, your business reflects your own values and intentions. Don’t waste the opportunity to create the perfect workplace. Your massage therapy business plan will lay out how exactly you intend to do that, plus a whole lot more.
How to create a business plan that supports your goals
Once you’re clear on what your business needs to provide you, it’s time to create some goals, if you haven’t already. Your business plan needs to be realistic; so keep your personal needs, abilities and limitations in mind when creating goals for your business.
Also, it’s not enough just to have goals. You need a specific, actionable plan for achieving them AND a deadline for getting them done. This is exactly what your massage therapy business plan is for.
One of the best goal setting strategies is the creation of SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Here’s an example of a SMART goal.
Within 2 years, my clinic will gross $75,000 annually by treating a total of 83 clients a month, with an average cost of $75.00 per session.
Let’s break this goal down. This is what makes this goal a SMART goal.
- SPECIFIC: $75,000 annual gross income
- MEASURABLE: 83 clients a month at $75 a session
- ACHIEVABLE: 83 clients a month is a realistic number of clients for a full time therapist to see
- RELEVANT: How much money you make matters
- TIMELY: This goal will be reached within 2 years
Once you have a goal like that, you then need to create an actionable plan that will attract enough clients to your business to reach those numbers. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
For every idea, plan or goal you create, you also need to create a strategy and a timeline for turning those ideas into accomplishments.
Every goal you set for your business should help create the work culture you want, reflect the identity of your brand, and add value to yourself, your business and your customers. If it doesn’t, you need to rethink your strategy.
Each goal needs a plan and a timeline. Having these benchmarks gives you something to measure your progress against.
Your goals should cover a variety of different timelines. Set short term goals that serve your needs today and lay the foundation for achieving bigger goals. Mid term goals help you reach new levels of growth and success over the next 1-3 years. Your long term goals will guide you toward achieving what you ultimately want to create.
Once you have a list of short term, mid term and long term goals, you’re ready to start creating your massage therapy business plan.
What’s supposed to be in your massage therapy business plan?
The purpose of creating a business plan for your massage therapy business, is to have a written explanation of:
- WHAT your business is
- WHY it exists
- WHO it helps
- HOW it works
- WHERE it is going
You can make this as simple or complex as you need. The ultimate goal is to create a plan that you are convinced will work.
How extensive your business plan needs to be depends on how many hands are in the mix. You’re primarily creating this plan for yourself. In some cases, there may be people you need to share your business plan with. If that’s the case, you need to elaborate more than you would otherwise.
Here’s a list of things to include in your massage therapy business plan, and the order in which it should be organized.
- Executive Summary
This is a summary of your entire business plan. If someone reads only one section of your business plan in order to understand your overall strategy and identity, it should be the executive summary.
The executive summary highlights the most important details of all the other sections in your massage therapy business plan. This section could be a few paragraphs or a few pages, depending on the depth of the plan you’re creating.
Tip: Write this section first to create an overall plan for your massage therapy business. Then build out each individual section using the executive summary as a guide. ALTERNATIVELY, you can write the executive summary last by simply combining the most important details from all the other sections.
- Overview and Objectives
In this section, you deep dive into the mission of your company. First you describe your brand, which is basically “who” your company is and who it serves. Then you list out what your company plans to accomplish right now and in the future.
This is a good place to highlight goals, values and your target market. All the details about who your ideal clients are and the value your business provides it’s staff, clients, vendors and the community can be included here.
Be specific. Use this section to create a niche and a purpose for your massage therapy business.
Tip: Now is a good time to take a look at the SMART goals you created. Include the goals you created for your business here. Focus on the goals that are geared towards your mission, style and purpose. The financial goals will go in a different section.
- Products and Services
This is perhaps the easiest and most straightforward piece of your massage therapy business plan. List out every service you offer and what it costs. If you sell products, include them here too. Explain what each product and service is, what it does, and the benefit it provides.
Tip: If you have designed a massage therapy website, you probably already have a list like this. Copy the list from your website to save time.
- Sales and marketing
In this section, explain how you will sell your services and promote your massage therapy business. Break down exactly how you’ll reach the clients your business was designed to serve, and how you will get them to buy from you.
List all your massage marketing strategies, and then explain how you will implement them. Include things like your company website, social media marketing, email marketing, networking, paid advertising and so on.
Tip: Think about the ideal client you described in your Overview and Objections section. Consider what this person’s struggles, desires and spending habits are. Then build your sales and marketing plan around that.
- Competitive Analysis
Every business has some sort of competition. In this section, make a list of all your competitors. Make note of who they are, what they do and who their customers are.
Next describe how you intend to compete with these businesses. Set yourself apart by describing what makes your business different from competing companies. This may be something that makes you unique, better or more specialized than the competition.
Tip: Other massage therapists are not your only competition. What other services or products may your potential clients be using instead of massage therapy?
This section breaks down how you do what you do. Organize everything involved in running your business here. Including, but not limited to, how you interact and engage with clients, maintaining your office space, and how you write your SOAP Notes.
Go into detail about everything. Explain how your business takes care of laundering linens, keeping the office clean, answering the phone, greeting clients, filing intake forms, and the methods of payment that are accepted.
Write out all of the things you’ll do to manage your client files, or simply indicate if you’ll use a program like ClinicSense to stay organized and automate the work for your business.
Tip: If you make this section a detailed step by step guide, you can use it to create training manuals for staff later.
- Management team
If your massage therapy business is a solo practice, you can skip this part of the business plan.
This section is for listing the members of your team, their roles and responsibilities. You can include a short bio for each person that highlights their background, education and expertise.
- Financial Analysis
This section is all about the numbers. Create a budget for your massage therapy business, and list the details here. Be realistic, and plan for unforeseen setbacks.
In addition to your current budget, you should also include future projections. As your business grows, it’s financial blueprint will change as well. It may not be possible to have exact numbers for future year sales, but it is possible to create future financial sales goals and estimations.
Tip: Review your SMART goals, and use the ones that relate to money here. Create benchmarks for your financial progress.
What do you do once your business plan is done?
A business plan isn’t something you do just once. Your business will change overtime. As things change, you’ll find that some parts of your business plan are no longer in line with your current goals. That means you need to update your massage therapy business plan on a regular basis.
Now that you have a business plan for your massage therapy business, you can use it to keep your business on track. It’s easy to waste time thinking up the same ideas again and again. All your ideas are now written down and organized. So now you can focus on getting things done, rather than wasting time thinking about how to get things done.
Use your business plan as a guide and a reference when you lose your way. It should ultimately be your map of how to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be. Maps are only effective if you get them out and study them. So don’t file your business plan away and never look at it again. Creating it is only the first step towards making it work for you.
It’s a good idea to set aside time once or twice a year to review and update your massage therapy business plan. When you do this, don’t forget to consider your own life, well being and personal goals, as well as your business goals. Make sure your business plans and your personal circumstances are still in alignment. If something is off, it’s time to make some changes.
The effort you put into creating a business plan for your massage therapy business should inspire you to take action and reach your true potential. A business plan can keep you from wandering astray, because the plan for getting from point A to point B is already mapped out. Keep it somewhere easily accessible so that you can pull it out whenever you need it.
Use the benchmarks in your business plan as a ladder you can climb. Each benchmark is a step towards achieving your goals. With each one reached, you gain momentum. Keep climbing to reach your biggest and loftiest aspirations.
Remember, your business should be designed to support your personal goals and values. Creating a business plan is an efficient way to think through and plan exactly what needs done to have the type of business you want. Once that’s in writing, it’ll be clear what your next action steps are, no matter where you are in your journey.
Your business plan should be dynamic, which means it changes with you and your massage practice. As you execute your plan, you and your business will undoubtedly evolve. That means you need to periodically make the time to sit down and update your massage therapy business plan. You don’t need to start completely over each time. You only need to revise the parts that are out of date. That part will be easy, because by then you'll really know what you’re doing.