In these tough economic times, people from all walks of life are being forced to think like financial planners in order to keep up with bills and hopefully plan ahead. For people who spend their working days as bankers or business managers, this skill might come quite naturally—or at least a bit easier than it does for others. As for practitioners in the field of massage therapy and bodywork, thinking like a financial planner is not typically an easy task right off the bat.

Fortunately for professional hands-on healers, there is plenty of continuing education available that addresses the financial components of running a massage therapy or bodywork business. Next time you consider enrolling in a continuing education class, perhaps you should not go straight for that new technique you have been hoping to add to your touch toolbox. Instead, it might be a good idea to get a better grip on your practice finances first.

One type of continuing education class that deals with such topics would be a course on accounting, geared specifically toward massage therapists and bodyworkers. Such a class might teach you to use a popular brand of accounting software, to be sure you are getting paid each and every time and to keep track of all possible tax deductions, as well as income earned. It is important to save every dollar you can, and sloppy accounting procedures can become a figurative hole in the wallet of hardworking massage therapists and bodyworkers.

Another business-based continuing education course to think about might be one that teaches the basics of marketing a massage or bodywork practice. This addresses finances from the other end of the spectrum. Marketing is an attempt to gain more clients and make more money, whereas classes on accounting typically focus on saving the business owner money through efficient procedures.

A good continuing education class on marketing usually teaches students how to hone in on the perfect audience for the specific types of healing touch they offer to the community. Pupils in such a class will likely learn not only where to target advertising for potential new customers, but also how to construct the content of such advertising.

In a marketing class, massage therapists and bodyworkers might even be given templates for advertisements, including brochures, fliers and press releases, which they can then customize to suit their own practices.

Marketing can also include the angle of educating the public as a means of drawing more clients. For instance, students in a massage- or bodywork-based marketing course might learn how to make presentations at local hospitals and doctors’ offices about the benefits of healthy touch.

Be sure to take your time researching the content of each business-based continuing education class you are considering. It is important to enroll in a course that will provide you with the knowledge you need to begin thinking a bit more like a financial planner during these tight economic times—either by building up the bottom line, tightening the belt or perhaps a little bit of both.

—Brandi Schlossberg