To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, Best Practices, in the June 2011 issue. Article summary: Chris Pikosky, 42, specializes in sports and medical massage. He has traveled throughout North America working with elite professional athletes from the NHL, NFL, NBA, ATP and PGA, in addition to maintaining a successful medical massage practice in a clinical, outpatient physical therapy setting for the past 16 years.

Q: How do you define business success?
A: In life and in business, people have choices when it comes to obtaining elective specialized services, such as massage therapy, how they spend their time and their hard-earned money. If you provide a service and people are in line to receive this service from you personally because they believe in the value of your services and that they are a worthwhile investment, then you have achieved business success.

When you have earned the trust and respect of your clients and peers alike based on your quality of physical skill, care, commitment, compassion, integrity and results, you have achieved business success.

Q: What are the top three things you credit for your business success?

A: 1. Developing a well-rounded educational and physical skill set pertaining to massage therapy. I found this step critical and at the very foundation of building business success. I obtained multiple certifications in bodywork techniques, styles and theories of practice. I read somewhere that if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.

Developing well-rounded protocols meant I had more tools in my toolbox, which enabled me to get better results with clients. Better results with clients equates to business success.

2. Establishing and nurturing relationships with a client-referral base in the physical medicine field. I was able to demonstrate to orthopedic physicians, pain-management physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors and human-performance specialists that my massage services were of value to their patients.

I did this by setting measurable and definable functional goals for their patients, achieving those goals and documenting them in form of a massage therapy progress note. This process contributed to my success immensely because it gave me credibility.

3. Being goal oriented. To be successful, you have to set short- and long-term goals. Even more important than setting goals is having a concrete plan of action on how to follow through with reaching your goals. When you set goals, success doesn’t happen by accident, it happens on purpose as a result of purposeful action.

Q: What was the best business decision you made?
A: Creating and developing a website. A website gives you instant global exposure. It puts you and your business on the map.

Potential clients and referral sources are all Internet savvy these days. A website is an excellent way to showcase your business, your educational and professional background, your accomplishments and services. It does so in a manner that is more creative than a simple résumé can. If I meet a potential client or referral source and hand her a card with my website on it, she can view my background at her leisure. I don’t have to get into a long, face-to-face self narrative or even pitch her. The website says it all.

Q: What was the worst business decision you made?
A: I delayed starting my own business because I was afraid to take a calculated risk. We all like our comfort zones and the familiarity they bring; however, nothing in life or business that is worthwhile and rewarding is risk-free. In order to grow personally and professionally, at some point you have to take risks. Anything that stifles your personal or professional growth in the long run will leave you unfulfilled—and then not only will you suffer personally as a result, your business will suffer as well.

Q: Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
A: Winning a Stanley Cup Championship with the Los Angeles Kings and continuing to grow and develop my massage and human performance business.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a massage therapist?
A: Using your hands, intentions, knowledge and skill set in a meaningful way to help others feel better—and the appreciation in your clients’ eyes when you do so.