Massage & Bodywork


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about your priorities and what you want your money to do, and making those decisions before that money comes in. Good cash-f low management allows you to adjust that plan as you go so it serves you and it serves your business. When you pay yourself with intention, you can make better decisions about the direction of your business and better decisions about your personal budget. Paying yourself well and consistently will also help you stay motivated, avoid burnout, and keep better boundaries in your business. Let's start with some basic financial terms—gross, net, and draw. Gross income refers to the total amount of money you collect from providing massage (and whatever else you do and sell). Net income is the amount you have remaining after paying all your business expenses. In sole proprietorships and LLCs, the amount of money you pay yourself is called an owner's draw. (If you have an S-corporation or C-corporation, payroll is a little different, but you know that already. The same intent and ideas apply, so keep reading.) 84 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 2 3 essential skills | BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS How Solo MTs Can Pay Themselves a Living Wage By Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds In massage school, many of us spent a lot of time thinking about intention. When we lay hands on a client, intent matters. Is our goal to impact the nervous system or facilitate change in the deeper soft tissue? Are we trying to stimulate the lymphatic system or relieve pain? Great bodyworkers clarify goals and intent at the beginning of every session. Far too many massage business owners do not apply that same awareness of intent to their money management. Many self-employed bodyworkers fail to pay themselves, or fail to pay themselves intentionally. This can lead to a lack of awareness regarding how much money a practitioner earns and how much of that money they take home. A massage therapist may be unaware of what they are actually making because they don't run and review reports monthly, or they live with a spouse or partner with whom they share a household budget and taxes. At tax time, lots of business owners are surprised by how much money they earned and wonder where that money went. (This happens when a business owner buys personal items and makes other nondeductible expenditures through their business account.) Or the reaction at tax time might be disappointment about how little a business owner made and took home. What does all this indicate? Lack of intention. The solution is cash-f low management—a f lexible system for making decisions about your money. Cash-f low management involves thinking K AROLINA-GRABOWSK A/PEXELS We get a little fussy with these terms because marketers often advertise, "You can make $100,000 as a massage therapist using my system!" when they're trying to sell you their business-building materials. They're talking gross income. But if you spend $45,000 on operating expenses and take home $48,000 after taxes after providing 20 massages a week for a year, that becomes a little less exciting, doesn't it? When a business owner is surprised or disappointed by those gross and net numbers, the cause is easily identifiable. They're not earning enough money (gross) or their expenses are too high, or both, making their net income low. UNDERSTANDING YOUR PAY Start by paying yourself on a schedule— weekly, every other week, or once a month, whatever feels best for you. It should be frequent enough that you really feel the fruits of your labor and that it matches your personal spending style.

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