Starting a massage business is an exciting and rewarding endeavour. You can do the thing you love, whilst having ownership over your hours, the way the business is run and your path to success. It also takes a lot of work: from finding a location to building a client base. If you’re interested in starting your own business but now sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our top tips!
Self-care is a growing industry, with more people committing money, time and energy into looking after themselves. Massage, whether remedial, sport-related or relaxation, is a big part of this trend, as people start seeing the benefits in these services. These may be:
- Health-related, including the alleviation of neck, back and shoulder pain
- Related to mental health, including reduced levels of anxiety and depression
- A decrease in stress levels
- An increase in general happiness and relaxation
Running a business can be extremely rewarding, but it also comes with stress, sacrifice and considerable risk. We’ve covered the essential steps to get your massage business started, but the most important thing to have is a passion for what you're doing, and a drive to succeed. With these (and a bit of luck), you'll have the fortitude to go on even in the hardest of times, when you long for the days of boring office work.
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1. Check your qualifications
Whilst you don’t have to be a qualified massage therapist to practice massage in Australia, having the skills required to perform a safe and high quality service makes a world of difference. If you’ve ever had a questionable massage, however, knowing that the therapist may not have been qualified probably explains a lot.
Though you may not legally need the qualification, there are several significant reasons to obtain yours:
- You can register with a health fund
- You will learn the correct massage technique
- You’ll be able to better diagnose clients, as well as run a safe and hygienic business
- You’ll be more employable should you choose to work for another company
- You’ll attract more customers and be able to charge at a higher rate
- You’ll be able to advertise as a trained professional
At a minimum, we recommend applying for the Certificate IV in Massage Therapy Practice and/or the Diploma of Remedial Massage. You can find a range of different organisations that offer these qualifications online.
2. Register with an association
It’s not essential to register with an association, but it is highly recommended. Upon joining, you’ll have the opportunity to increase your network, stay across new information and training, connect with other industry contacts and experts, get access to discounted rates for insurance and more.
Start by checking out non-profit Massage and Myotherapy Australia or The Massage Association of Australia, both of which offer business listings, liability insurance and high-quality industry education.
3. Set up your business essentials
These include choosing and registering a business name, setting up an ABN, registering a domain name and registering your company. Business.gov.au breaks down everything you need to start a legitimate business in Australia. Read more here.
4. Write your plans
At a minimum, you’ll need a business plan, marketing plan and financial plan to get your ideas in order. These don’t have to be too long, but they should map out what you propose to achieve with your business, how you’ll fund it, your projections, and other key details. It is important to determine how you will fund your business and set a budget for the necessary expenses.
To ensure success, it is essential to have an accountant and an effective strategy for reaching the right clients. A great niche to target is real estate clients, as they can be a great source of income. This article provides advice on how to do so, such as utilizing online and offline channels, networking, and offering referral incentives. Additionally, purpose-built software like Landlord Studio can help you provide industry-specific reports and instill confidence in your clients. Following this advice can help you grow your niche and attract the right real estate clients.
If writing a long business plan isn’t your style, check out Lean Stack’s Lean Canvas, a simple, one-page document that takes under 20 minutes to create. Read all about this innovative method, here.
5. Scout a location
Your budget will guide your decision when it comes to location, but there are many other things to consider. Will your business be inside a shopping complex? What are your ideal opening hours? What does your desired client look like? Also consider:
- The demographic of the area, including local residents’ ages and income levels
- The size of the suburb
- The size of the population
- Foot traffic
- Parking options
- Opening and closing hour requirements of the area
- Proximity to public transport
- Rent, strata and other costs
- Council approval for your business
- Competitor businesses
- Building visibility
- Signage opportunities
- Local sanitation services
- Current infrastructure flexibility
- Lease terms and requirements
6. Select your services
There are so many types of massage services, and your experience, resources, equipment and qualifications should guide you towards the ones most appropriate for your business. Types of massage include, though are not limited to:
- Relaxation, including Swedish, pregnancy and hot stone
- Deep tissue and remedial
- Sport and physiotherapy
- Reflexology, trigger point therapy and acupuncture
- Shiatsu and Thai
- Lymphatic drainage
Pro Tip: choose your niche. The most successful businesses offer expert services in one thing, while the less successful ones offer a whole range of services, none of which are performed very well.
7. Purchase equipment
The space you secure for your business will determine exactly what you need to buy, have installed or set up. You might be fortunate enough to have found a space that was previously a massage salon, or you might be starting from scratch. Regardless, you’ll no doubt need to purchase many number of things, and possibly fitout the space to suit your needs.
Things to consider for the fitout:
- A reception space, including a desk, chair, computer, decorative pieces and accessories
- A kitchenette or staff room
- A bathroom for clients and staff, that may need to include a shower option if your services list includes scrubs and the like
- A security system
- Air conditioning and heating options
- A laundry space (or a laundromat option nearby)
Equipment to consider for your space:
- Marketing materials including signage and business cards
- Adjustable massage beds/chairs
- Towels, blankets and other linen
- A footroll
- Cleaning products and sanitisers
- Oils, creams and other products
- Candles or other room scenting options
8. Register with health funds
You’ll need to research different types of health funds to determine exactly what you need, as each fund has different requirements for eligibility. As a general rule, most only accept therapists with a Diploma of Massage Therapy, and you’ll need to join an association and secure a provider number to get started. More information on how to register here here.
9. Connect with local businesses and build relationships
You’ve probably noticed discounts and special offers at local businesses you frequent, where purchasing from one means receiving a bonus or discount from the other. This is a great way to cross-promote services, particularly for a new business like yours.
Ask the businesses nearby if they’d be interested in setting up a customer incentive program, and offer their employees a discount on all your services to kick things off.
10. Set up scheduling
Upvio’s features can be custom-designed, and include recurring services, staff hours, customer reminders and many more.
For example, you can easily add massage services to your booking page by visiting the Services tab and filling in the details.
If you’re starting a business on your own and don’t have a marketing background, don’t despair. There are so many fantastic resources online that will help you get started, including Neil Patel’s blogs, Buffer’s content and the LinkedIn Premium tutorials.
Furthermore, you don’t need a large budget to see results online. Start with setting up a business page on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and ask your connections to spread the word. From there, experiment with discounts and special offers, incentivising your Instagram or TikTok followers to share your posts with others for a chance to win a prize.
Don’t forget to set up a Google Business Page, regularly update your website and keep checking in with local businesses to see how you can help each other.
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12. Keep learning
As anyone who has started a business knows, it’s a process that involves constant learning, growing and changing. While your business plan should map out what you hope your business will look like, your original vision will likely look very different to what you business evolves into. It’s a normal part of the journey, so you might as well embrace it, be flexible and stay open minded.
How to Find the Perfect Location for your Massage Business
Massage Business 101: Location, Location, Location & How To Choose One Medium
Starting a business guide
The Massage Association of Australia
Massage Association of Australia
The Association of Professional Therapists
Massage & Myotherapy
Don’t Write a Business Plan. Create a Lean Canvas Instead
10 Benefits of Massage Therapy