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How to set up a successful massage therapy business

Updated April 17, 2017

Having a massage therapy practice involves a lot more than just being accredited as a therapist. You'll need to follow a few basic rules in order to build a practice, maintain it through difficult times, and enjoy long-term success. Among other things, you'll need to learn how to build your clientele, grow it, and keep accurate financial records. A detailed plan of action is essential.

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  1. Decide if your massage therapy business will be stationary or mobile. That is, decide whether you want to operate it out of a single location, where clients come to you; or whether you will be visiting clients. Determine the intended clientele based on the type of massage training you received. Mobile massage requires less details in the planning phase, such as finding a rental space.

  2. You will also need to learn what licenses you'll need to operate your business, as well as what fees you'll need to pay. Local massage therapy associations can probably help in this area.

  3. If you want to have your own shop, find a location. If you prefer to practice mobile massage, procure reliable transportation. Consider sharing rental space with another practitioner to save costs when just starting out. Opening a home-based business is another option to cut down on overhead.

  4. Prepare business literature by generating it on a home computer or ordering ready-made documents at one of several online massage business supply companies. Make up or order business cards, brochures, client intake forms, and business expense and income forms. Optionally, purchase expense and income books in any office supply store. Designing them on a home computer has the added benefit of tailoring them to suit the specific needs of a massage business'.

  5. Prepare your massage space. Add soft lighting, an audio system and adequate room to set up a massage table and shelves to house towels, lotions, oils and other products. Design the space with privacy and comfort in mind.

  6. Market your massage practice. Put up a sign if possible. List the business in the phone book or Internet yellow pages. Join a local business association, and introduce yourself and your services to other area business that might be interested in cross-promoting. Send out e-newsletters to friends, family and clients obtained during massage school. Consider an introductory rate to draw prospective clientele and let them know about the services offered.

  7. You can also use word-of-mouth advertising by giving an incentive to current clients who refer new clients. Set up a website and put the site URL on all business literature and signage if possible. Continue marketing efforts at least once a week to keep your business in the forefront of people's minds.

  8. Tip

    Be professional, courteous and respectful at all times.


    Make cleanliness a priority for sanitation and comfort. If travelling to mobile massage locations, let someone know where you will be, how long you'll be there, and when you'll be done.

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Things You'll Need

  • Massage table
  • Lubricants
  • Towels
  • Sheets
  • Music
  • Business forms and marketing literature

About the Author

Leigh White

Leigh White currently owns her own business as a licensed massage therapist. She has been freelance writing for the past eight years, professionally and for a volunteer organization, in many areas, with an emphasis on natural health and alternative medicine.

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