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How to Start a Massage Therapy Business

Madhushree Kelkar
If you are tired of your 9 to 5 routine, starting a massage therapy business will not only prove to be economically beneficial, but also act as a welcome change. Know how to initiate such a business, here.

Useful Tip

In the initial days, you will be treating people with all kinds of massages; however, as your business grows, it is advisable that you take up a specialization to streamline your business.
Massage therapy business has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Today, it is divided into various specializations like oncology massage, facial massage, chair massage, full-body massage, sports massage, Shiatsu, Thai massage, hot stone massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology, Swedish massage, aroma therapy, Balinese massage, etc.
Many massage therapists work in collaboration with chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, dentists, yoga gurus, etc., to provide help to their clients. This is one of the most lucrative businesses which require limited amount of startup investment.

Take Courses

It is important that you take courses in professional massage therapy before starting to practice as a therapist. There are many schools which offer good courses.
If you are studying or working somewhere and are unable to attend the program, check out the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) website for online courses. Acquiring a certification is a must as it will help establish your credibility.

Get Experience

Merely getting a certification is not enough to start a business. You must gain hands-on experience in the field. After finishing your course, it is advisable that you work as an intern at a massage therapy center to learn about the 'tricks of the trade.'
Ensure that apart from getting practical knowledge about various massage therapies, you also learn about dealing with customers, revenue generation, marketing, conflict solving, billing, taxation, etc. Nothing quite works like on-the-job training.

Find a Mentor

This is one business where it is advisable to get a mentor from a similar field to guide you. Find someone who inspires you through the success he/she has achieved in the massage business. Introduce yourself to that person, and tell him/her that you want to learn under his/her able guidance.
Finding a mentor is important as he/she will guide to take your startup venture in the right direction. Guidance from an experienced person can help you to take the right decisions at the right time.

Make a Business Plan

If you have worked with an established massage therapist, you will know about the nitty-gritty of the business. Also, study how your competitors are conducting their business. It will not only tell you about the functioning of the venture, but also help you to make a good business plan.
If you are availing a commercial loan, you need a foolproof business plan to impress the authorities. Hence, make a plan giving details of your profit projection, vision, expansion, allocation of resources, pricing policy, etc. Ensure that the plan will act as a guide for the success of your business.

Understand Your Target Market

You should conduct a study of your client profile to understand the details of the demographics.
You may be getting maximum number of younger clients who are females or baby boomers. It may so happen that your client composition may be dominated by clients who belong to the sports background. Having an understanding of your target market will help cater to them in a better way.


Come up with an attractive name for your business. Register your business as 'doing business as.' You will have to submit the incorporation documents related to massage therapy business with your State.
It is advisable that you hire an attorney to complete the process flawlessly. You will also have to open a business checking account and apply for an Employer Identification Number.
Check with your local, State, or Federal authorities for the licenses and permits that you will require to operate the business. Ensure you are abiding by all the tax and state laws pertaining to this business.

Arrange for Finance

If you are planning for a mobile massage therapy business, you may not require too much finance. However, if you are going to get a place of your own for conducting this business, you will have to avail a loan.
As it will be a startup and you will not have much initial investment, it is advisable that you apply for an SBA loan.
You can also avail a commercial loan from banks, but you may be asked for a heavy down payment. One more option for sourcing finance is to avail a credit union loan. If nothing works for you, borrow from your family and friends or find a business partner.

Scout for a Place

If you are planning to find a location for your business, go for a place which will boost your business, give you great exposure, and will have a lot of foot traffic. If you think that buying a place will cost you too much, you can rent out a facility.
Apart from this, you can also rent a place from another health care provider. Ensure that the place has a soothing and calming ambiance, and appears to be clean and tidy.
Don't forget to add relaxing music and fragrant aromas to make the entire experience of massage a pleasant one. During the initial days of the business, when you will not have adequate funds to buy or rent a place, service clients from your home or offer to visit them at their place. This can help save a lot of money.

Get Insurance

It is highly recommended that you consult a professional insurance agent to understand about your insurance needs. You will have to avail for coverage of commercial vehicle and property damage.
You may require to obtain workers' compensation insurance, health insurance, and dental insurance for your employees. If you are looking for cost-effective solutions, avail the small business health insurance.

Arrange for Supplies

This is one business which will require a lot of investment in the supplies like massage tables and chairs, linens, pillows and supports, stools, etc.
You will also need skin care products like massage oils, creams, etc. As people may be allergic to certain ingredients in your skin care products, ensure that you know about them before starting the massage.
Use high-quality products to avoid any kind of problems to the clients. Use disposable gloves, and disinfect the massage equipment and furniture from time to time to avoid any kind of skin rash or reaction.

Advertising and Marketing

Invest a good amount of money in advertising and marketing. Have online banners on various websites. Create a website giving details of all your services and packages.
Optimize the website for the right key words. Get your clients to write testimonials for you, and put them up on the website. Show photos of the facility as they will impress prospective clients.
Give ads in newspapers, but focus more on advertorials and giving interviews in the local newspaper as an expert in massage therapy; it will help garner a good response. Also, sponsor the local community programs and offer trial massages to promote your business. Try to make efforts so that you can optimally utilize your advertising and marketing revenues.


This business is heavily dependent on word-of-mouth marketing. Hence, ensure that you meet customer expectations all the time. This will make them give your referrals to their family and friends. Encourage your clients to 'spread the word' about your business.
Also, network with other similar businessmen and women in your community. You can form alliances for a joint venture and benefit out of this arrangement. As they will benefit from your expertise, you will reap the advantages of their reputation and credibility.

Promote Your Business

You will face tough competition from already-established massage therapists. Hence, apart from customer satisfaction, you will also have to implement innovative schemes for attracting new clients and retaining the existing ones.
You can offer loyalty discounts, free massage trials, and cost benefits on referral schemes. You can also offer short free workshops on facial self-massage to your clients.
You can also have a 'guarantee satisfaction' scheme where you may redo the massage if he/she does not like it or return his/her money back. Although few people will act difficult, this scheme will establish your credibility as a good massage therapist. This will help widen your customer base.

Hire People

When you expand your business, it will become impossible for you to look after all your clients on your own. Hence, at that time, you should hire other massage therapists to help you out.
Whether you hire trainees or experienced ones, you will have to retrain them according to your method of offering massage.
This is essential because the clients may be used to getting a certain type of massage from you which they will also expect from other people you hire. If the standards or quality of service are not met, they will move on to your competitors.
Remember that some women are apprehensive to get a massage from a male assistant; hence, hire employees of both sexes. Also, ensure that your charges are reasonable, and not overly extravagant. Take responsibility as the head of the business, and be accountable for its growth and success.