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Should you start your own Massage Therapy Practice?

Many recently certified massage therapists choose to start their own practice. And why not? There is an inherent freedom and pride to running your own business, the money is often better as is the prospect for growth.

Regardless, as in all commercial ventures, there are distinct risks when building a business. Raising the initial capital to cover expenses for space, equipment and, perhaps most important, marketing can often prove difficult. Marketing can be especially complicated but it is paramount when starting your own practice. In simple terms marketing is the employment of any tactic that attracts and builds a client base.

Though many forms of marketing are costly and time consuming - it is important that a self-employed massage therapist practice patience - there are relatively easy ways to get the proverbial ball rolling.

Perhaps most important is to know what you want your practice to be. Ask yourself: Do I want to work with athletes or in geriatrics? Do I prefer Swedish techniques to shiatsu? Would I prefer to help clients relieve stress or heal from injuries? Do I prefer to work from an office or travel to the client? When you know whom, where and how you want to treat you can plan a marketing strategy accordingly.

Word of mouth, the cheapest, simplest and easiest form of marketing is, usually the most effective. If your initial clients like your work they will surely tell interested friends. Network with other massage therapists that you are not in direct competition with. If one of your clients needs the services of a reflexologist and your focus is deep tissue, refer them to a colleague. Reciprocation is a tested method of building a business.

More expensive, but equally effective, forms of marketing include various forms of print advertisement. Consider a personal website. An increasing number of potential clients search the web for massage therapists. An attractive site that promotes your business helps educate and build a patient base.

Even with the best marketing, a wealth of patience and the requisite enthusiasm, there are still risks. Message therapists who prefer to avoid the uncertainties and complexities of running their own business choose to contract with other operations. Spas, health care clinics, health care providers, hospitals, nursing homes and hotels and resorts all hire qualified massage therapists.

Conditions vary dramatically based on location and potential employer so be sure to understand the complete terms of employment up front. Will you be paid on an hourly or yearly basis? Are you compensated per client or per shift? How much does your employer charge the client and what is your percentage take? How many clients must you work on a day and what type of breaks are there between sessions?

Whether you choose to start your own practice or contract through another business be sure to research and weigh all the outlying factors in order to understand what the best fit is for you.

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