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82 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j u l y/a u g u s t 2 0 2 2 Healthy Competition Don't Fear Competition—Use It To Grow Your Business By Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds "There's no such thing as competition" is a thing I've heard colleagues and massage instructors say. And it's a true sentiment in that viewing another business as competition is a mindset issue. At the same time, we've all felt that unhappy clench in the stomach when a new massage business sign goes up down the street. Or worse, right next door. The idea of losing current business or potential new clients to another bodywork business is jarring. It can trigger all kinds of fears about our financial future, skills, and worth. Denying that other businesses exist and that our target markets may overlap is not entirely helpful, but there are ways to look at the situation and come out with a renewed sense of self and motivation to grow. GROUND YOURSELF IN REALITY You're a good massage therapist—create some tangible reminders of that. What are the reasons your clients see you? What nice things have clients said about your work, and what positive results do they share when they come in for subsequent appointments? If you need to, write this down, revisit your reviews and testimonials, and get inspired. Once you've set that initial clench aside, get objective about the situation. MAKE FRIENDS (OR AT LEAST CORDIAL COLLEAGUES) Consider this other business: Is it another small one-person operation or a large spa or franchise? When we're talking about another small bodywork business, there is a lot of space for a happy professional relationship and cross-referrals. When a new business moves in, be a one-person welcoming committee. Call and ask if there's a good time to visit and see the place. Bring a plant. And when opening the conversation, lead with a desire to help and refer. "What kinds of clients should I be referring to you?" is a great opener, and be prepared to talk about your own target client. Emphasizing the differences between your businesses and the potential for collaboration and cross-referrals can take the tension out of the relationship and eliminate that competitive clench. If another business has been around for a while, you can lead in the same way: "We've been sharing this neighborhood for a while; I figured it's time we connect properly." Not everyone wants to make friends, and plenty of business owners operate from a sense of fear. So, if your attempts to be friendly and welcoming are not reciprocated, go on about your life and don't spend any essential skills | BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS

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