To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Best Practices,” in the November 2010 issue. Article summary: LeAnn Earle, 40, became a massage therapist in 1994 after graduating from Wood Hygienic Institute in Kissimmee, Florida. She has additional training in facial and spa services, reflexology, herbology and colonics, and practices these techniques as well as deep-tissue massage in her massage practice, Massage Therapy Associates of Brevard, located in Merritt Island, Florida.

Best Practices: LeAnn Earle, MASSAGE MagazineHow do you balance your work life and your family life?

A: I feel as though I run a lot; however, my best strategy is to plan my day. I love The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey, which taught me to plan my day based on my roles in life: family member, business owner, friend to self (self-care). I notice when I take the time in the evening to reflect and plan the next day, I feel more organized and accomplish more of what matters rather then getting caught up in the trivial.

What is the best way to market a new technique to clients?

A: Give it away, particularly to regular clients. I am in nail-technician school to learn to do pedicures, because I really enjoy working with the feet. I plan to offer a complimentary manicure or pedicure to all my regular clients as a bonus with a massage, to get practice as well as to introduce my new service.

If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently starting out?

A: I would have learned Quickbooks faster; instead it took me seven years to gradually learn the program. I remember I used to spend hours and hours trying to do accounting, pay bills and update client ledger cards. I’m really thankful for Quickbooks, online bill pay from my bank, e-mail, Spa Booker and my Clientrax programs that keep me efficient and organized. When I started in business, some of these programs and services were not available—so in some regard, the good old days were tedious and time-consuming compared to what’s available today.

What was the best business decision you made?

A: Joining the chamber of commerce. I gain a lot of clients from attending chamber events. For my $300 annual membership fee, there are endless events to attend to meet new people and introduce myself.

What was the worst business decision you made?

A: The money I spent on some of the advertising I did in the past, which was extremely costly and not fruitful—such as phone-book advertising and the local coupon clipper that gets mailed to homes. I wish I had kept the money and gone to more chamber events or offered new specials to my current clientele.

In five years, where do you see yourself and your business?

A: I’ve been in the same place for 16 years, so I plan to continue what I’ve been doing. I enjoy learning new techniques and skills. In five years, I hope to be proficient in Medicupping, Kinesiotaping, pedicures and manicures.