Starting a home-based massage business is a relatively inexpensive venture, with little overhead and fairly low start-up costs. However, obtaining a steady stream of clients can take months. When possible, don’t quit your day job until you have begun filling your appointment book. Keep in mind that as a self-employed person, you will also be responsible for obtaining your own clients, paying your taxes and managing your expenses. Once you obtain certification, you can follow a few simple steps to help get your business off the ground.
Items you will need
- Business license
- Business cards
- Portable massage table
Contact your local licensing department and zoning authority to verify that you can start an at-home massage business. Then register your business and contact your current homeowner or renter’s insurance provider to learn what type of professional liability coverage is best for your business.
Evaluate your business expenses, such as the portable massage table, oils, candles, music and videos, as well as your bills to help you determine what you need to make in order to turn a profit. Contact massage therapists in your area to find comparable rates. Then assess how many clients you need to see each week to turn a profit. Once you know how many hours you need to spend with clients, you can assess how many hours you can devote to volunteering and obtaining clientele. As well, determine whether or not to sell massage-related products.
Purchase professional business cards and be prepared to hand them out at all times of the day. Take every opportunity to network with people, whether in the grocery store or at a hotel. Leave cards with front desk receptionists at every opportunity. Spark up conversations when possible.
Develop professional looking brochures detailing your specialty--whether it's traditional Swedish massage, deep tissue, sports massage, hot stone massage or reflexology--and drop them off with chiropractors, physicians and at physical therapy centers, college gyms, gyms, fitness centers, health food stores, tanning salons and hair salons. Include information on your use of quality oils and lotions, candles, scents and soothing music.
Consider working outside of the home once per week or month as a way to garner new clientele or supplement your income. Develop a professional sales pitch on the relationship between massages and employee productivity to present to business owners as a means of getting your foot in the door. Offer special events where you set up shop at a corporate location once a month during lunch hours. Ask the owner at your local gym or tanning salon or the head of your church if you can set up shop to help you further garner business. Offer to split the profits. If they won’t go for that, consider volunteering your time instead.
Find direct sales party hosts in your area and offer to hand out 5 or 10-minute massages to anyone who attends the party, in exchange for a reduced flat fee. Convince potential hosts that having you attend is a great way to draw in more visitors and that joining services provides greater visibility for both of you.
Invest in accounting software to manage your clientele, revenue and expenses. Purchase a merchant account that allows you to accept credit cards on the go. Offer discounts to clients who pay with cash.
Save all of your receipts. Visit the IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center ASAP to learn your tax liability and payment schedule.
If you elect not to hire a 24-hour answering service, be sure to answer your phone with your professional tagline and leave a professional message on your answering machine that directs people to your website (if applicable). Set a different ringtone for friends and family and answer any other call with your business information.
For safety reasons, it may be best to only take clients that have been referred or you have previously met.
- Lower body massage as part of a full body Thai massage. image by Deborah Benbrook from Fotolia.com