Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2009

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THE ALL-IMPORTANT BUSINESS PLAN Having a sound business plan is a solid business decision for everyone. You may not think you need a business plan if you're a solo practitioner, if you only do outcalls, or if you aren't borrowing money to start your business, but prepare one just the same. If you're already a business owner who hasn't reached the level of success you'd like to achieve, revisiting your strategies by creating a new plan and implementing fresh ideas into your business will help you meet your goals. A business plan is a written summary of the purposes, goals, and strategies for starting a business. Your business plan will be as individual as you are. A childless person's plan may vary greatly from that of a parent with young children. A 50-year-old massage therapist switching careers may have a much different plan than that of a 20-year-old therapist just starting to work. People have different priorities and different ideas about what constitutes success. RESOURCES FOR PLANNING Showing up at a bank to borrow money without a written business plan would be just as irresponsible as showing up without any proof of identification. Even if you're borrowing start-up money from your parents, they should have the expectation that you have a concrete plan for your business, including a plan to repay the loan. The Small Business Administration, your chambers of commerce, and professional massage associations are good sources for sample business plans and financial forms. The process really isn't as difficult as you may think. THE COMPONENTS OF A BUSINESS PLAN A well-thought-out business plan is composed of several important components including an executive summary, a list of business objectives, a mission statement, company strengths and highlights, a breakdown of company ownership, a start-up budget, product and service information, a market study and survey analysis, and a statement about the marketing strategies you intend to implement. A business plan begins with an executive summary; however, it's best not to write that summary until you've completed the rest of your plan. When you are satisfied with the bulk of the plan, write the executive summary to pull the key points together as the introduction to your plan. Business objectives are concrete goals; for example, gaining one new customer daily, or selling $1,000 worth of gift certificates every month. People who choose the healing arts as a profession usually have an objective other than money—such as the desire to help people—but we all want to make a comfortable living, too. Refining your goals will help you carry out your objectives. Your motivations for going into business will shape your mission statement, which is a concise statement of your goals and purposes; for example, "The mission of Sunset On-Site Massage is to provide massage therapy to elders with respect and compassion, at their location, at an affordable price." The keys to success section of your plan should highlight the strengths that will lead your business to profitability, striking a balance between enthusiasm and realism. A loan officer doesn't want grandiose projections of profit right away; a potential lender would probably expect most businesses to operate at a deficit the first year and might immediately turn down your plan if you're making wild claims of instant profits. connect with your colleagues on massageprofessionals.com 19

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