Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2009

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BUSINESS SIDE Experience can be presented in a positive light, regardless of what kind you have. If you've ever been self- employed, had a job, done volunteer work, been involved in extracurricular activities at school, or run a household prior to coming to massage as a career, name the responsibilities you've had and the talents and skills you possess. Mention the professionalism you bring to the job. If you have licensure, certification, registration, or whatever might be required in your state, mention that. If you practice in a state that has no legal requirements, stating your professional training and certification(s) can set you apart from others. Define the services you offer. Highlight anything that's unique about your services, such as offering a modality that isn't available nearby. Include something that makes your business different from your competitors, such as "Each person who receives a massage is encouraged to use our sauna afterward at no additional cost." If you plan to cultivate mutual referrals, note that in your business plan. It will be helpful to list the professionals you intend to collaborate with, such as, "I have mutual referral relationships with a chiropractor located in my community, and also intend to cultivate relationships with nearby physicians." Describe your location in the best possible light, such as parking availability, handicap access, and proximity to other goods and services. Mention anything that would make the location stand out: "Our business is located in the Historic District in the former Halifax Hotel that dates from 1849," or "Our business is located in the new medical building at 101 Main Street." Company highlights should briefly detail anything that makes your business accessible, market-friendly, competitive, relevant, and timely: "Our close proximity to the university and the sliding scale fees we plan to offer to students will help our business succeed." Introduce the owner(s) of the business. Include a resume, and write a short biography, but leave out childhood details unless they're relevant, such as "I grew up working every summer vacation in my mother's spa, which was a successful operation for more than 25 years until her retirement." START-UP BUDGET PROJECTIONS A preliminary budget has to be a part of your business plan. You'll have one- time expenses related to furnishing and equipping your office to consider; those costs are subject to depreciation over a period of years on your tax returns. Make a list of the things you need, set a budget for how much you can afford to spend, and shop around for the best price. Any tangible items such as property, equipment, or furnishings that you purchase for your business are assets. The money that you owe for a mortgage or other debt that you incur related to your business is a liability. Seeking advice from a financial advisor at the outset is wise. Even if your business loses money for the first year or two, you may still be obligated to pay self-employment tax, and you should be prepared for that. Construct your start-up budget and then let an expert pick it apart for you. He or she might notice an expense or a tax advantage you overlooked, and will tell you the most beneficial way for you to set your business up, either as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or one of the variants of a corporation, depending on your circumstances. If you're moving into an existing office, the utility companies will tell you how much the power, gas, and water have historically cost. Most 20 massage & bodywork november/december 2009 companies offer a budget option of paying a predetermined equal amount every month, and once a year will bill you or credit you according to your actual usage. For most business owners, the rent or mortgage payment is usually the biggest expense. When you're starting out, be prepared to pay that and other necessities such as the utilities, even when your business doesn't bring in enough money to cover it at the outset. Planning ahead is a necessity. Name the specific services and products you are going to offer in addition to massage. List them, along with other sources of revenue, such as retailing products, giving community education classes, or renting space to others for classes or meetings. MARKET STUDY AND SURVEY ANALYSIS A market survey analysis is a compilation of the results from your market study. If you are going to ask for a start-up loan, the bank will want to know you have researched the competition and the probable demand for your services. A market study can be as simple as looking in the phone directory, searching the Internet, and driving around town to see how many businesses of your type already exist, and then noting their location, the services they offer, their prices, and their customers. Visit the local chamber of commerce to pick up literature (cards and brochures) of similar businesses that are chamber members. Be bold and book an appointment; it's a surefire way to find out about the customer experience at other places. MARKETING STRATEGIES List the ways you intend to market your business. Your goal should be to get as much value for your marketing dollar

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