Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2009

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The Components of a Business Plan A well-thought-out business plan includes several important elements in this order: • An executive summary. • A list of business objectives. • A mission statement. • The keys to success: strengths that give your business the potential to thrive, including the experience and professionalism of the staff , availability of services, plans for mutual referrals, and location. • Company highlights: specifi cs about how your business will stand out from other similar area businesses. • Company ownership: biographical information about the owner(s) of the business. • A start-up budget: projected income and expenses for at least the fi rst year. A fi ve-year plan is ideal, because it shows you intend to have growth and staying power. • Information about the services and products your business will off er. • A market study and market survey analysis. • A statement about the marketing strategies you intend to implement. as possible. Performing community service, for instance, is a no-cost way to get your name out there, as is cultivating mutual referrals. In addition to mentioning the advertising opportunities you plan to explore, don't overlook mentioning the things you'll do to spread the word without spending money. Obtain pricing from the advertising venues you plan to use before writing this part of the plan so you have a realistic idea of what ad space costs before deciding how much money to budget for it. REVISITING AND ADAPTING YOUR PLAN You'll need to revisit your business plan regularly to see what is working out and what isn't. Adjust as needed. Bear in mind as you're trying to adhere to your start-up budget, you must pay for your necessities fi rst before you spend a lot on advertising. Marketing your business won't help you if the power gets cut off for lack of payment. Keep your operating expenses as low as you can while you're getting established, and avoid using credit cards to pay for advertising or anything else that can't be classifi ed as an asset. You may have to adapt your plan because you haven't quite gotten the number of clients you had planned to have—or because you got a lot more! In a small town where there isn't much competition, you might fi nd yourself overwhelmed with more clients than you can handle. If you're lucky enough to be in that situation, don't tell people you can't take any new clients; ask them for their phone numbers and tell them you'll put them on your waiting list. Maintaining a waiting list means you'll have backup for replacing lost clients. Moreover, telling people you have a waiting list gives the impression that you must be someone really special and talented if you have people waiting to get an appointment—and you are, aren't you? If you revisit your plan often, by the end of the fi rst year you'll have a really good picture of whether or not you met your goals and projections. Staying on top of it will serve you well as you plan for the future. Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009) and One Year to a Successful Massage Therapy Practice (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008). This article is adapted from her third book, A Massage Therapist's Guide to Business, that will be published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins in 2010. She is the owner of THERA-SSAGE, an alternative wellness clinic of over a dozen practitioners of diff erent disciplines, and continuing education facility, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Visit her website at www.thera-ssage.com. Laura Allen is the author of Plain & Simple connect with your colleagues on massageprofessionals.com 21

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