How to Successfully Manage Self-Employment as a Massage Therapist

Self-employment is an alternative work status in which you do not work for a business; you work for yourself. It has many benefits, including the ability to work the hours that suit you best, work where you prefer, new skills opportunities, and best of all, earn a good income.

Small businesses, including the self-employed, are crucial to Australia’s economy. As of 2019, companies with fewer than 20 workers accounted for about 2.3 million small businesses that employ about 4.9 million people.

Why self-employment is ideal for massage therapists

Starting a massage therapy business gives you far more flexibility than working for another company. It also allows you to choose your clients and develop specialties as you see fit.

Starting a business is time-consuming, and without business experience and commitment, you may struggle. Before you embark on this new path, ask yourself these questions, and if the answers are no, self-employment might not be the best option for you — at this time.

  • Do you have a business plan?
  • Do you need funding?
  • Are you able to put in long hours if necessary?
  • Do you have the equipment and supplies you will need?
  • Do you already have the skills you need?
  • Do you have the required certifications and licenses?
  • Do you have support, such as a mentor or business community, to help you or answer questions?

Don’t rush into your self-employment

With proper training, massage therapists provide comfort and peace of mind, which is another reason self-employment is a good choice for people in this career path. When one works in the corporate world, there is a lot of pressure to perform faster and more efficiently — it’s often life on a cost-cutting treadmill. When you work for yourself, you can set the pace that ensures serenity for both you and your clients.

Your happiness and well-being make you a better caregiver. Your clients feel it as you minister to their needs and address their pain. If you feel tense, this will be transmitted to your client, impairing the benefit they receive from the session. Removing tension from your life and taking control of your future can make you more content and enable you to provide better care.

The challenges of being self-employed

Many people choose self-employment without being prepared or understanding what is truly needed to be successful. Small businesses tend to be at higher risk of going out of business because they often do not have enough resources or money to see them through the lean times. When you’re the employee and the boss, this can mean you’re out of money and maybe even out of a job.

As a self-employed massage therapist, you go from having one boss to have lots of bosses — each of your clients becomes your employer. So, while you may not have a shift manager standing at the time clock tapping her toe, you will have clients that depend upon you to be prompt. Though self-employment provides you the flexibility to schedule sessions as you wish, you must have excellent time-management skills to ensure you stay on schedule, show up where you’re needed, and dedicate the time solely to each client’s needs during their session.

Should you work as an employee first?

One way to set the stage for a successful journey into self-employment is to start your career by working for someone else. Employment with other providers will give you exposure to running a massage business — both the good and the bad — and help you craft a business plan aligned with your personal goals.

A primary consideration for you should be the limited hours and skills a single person can bring to the table. If you’re working alone, the onus will be on you to meet all of your clients’ needs. If you’re working for someone else to learn the ropes, enrol in continuing education courses to improve your current skills and add new specialties.

Brushing up on your soft skills is crucial as a self-employed person. They include people skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy. They have a direct impact on the way you work. Soft skills are transferable, so what you learn while working elsewhere will be valuable when you strike out on your own.

Do what’s best for you

There are few things as rewarding in a career as starting and succeeding in your own self-employment. Massage therapists are particularly suited for self-employment status because the flexibility means they can treat clients in the setting of their choice, schedule appointments around other commitments, and build up the business only to the size they can accommodate thoroughly and professionally.

Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner, but if you think entrepreneurism is right for you, brush up on your people skills and massage skills and put yourself out there. Good luck!

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Cameron Aubrey

Cameron Aubrey has over 20 years experience in the massage industry, and leads the team as Course Director at Discover Massage Australia. Cameron holds a Diploma in Remedial Massage, and his expertise runs across a large range of massage techniques, particularly sports, Swedish and whole body massage.

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