Can you identify with any of these statements?

  • I’ve just started my own massage practice, and I’m having trouble attracting clients.
  • I love providing massage, but I don’t know much about running a business.
  • I can’t seem to find a successful avenue for marketing my practice.
  • I just can’t make ends meet with the revenue my practice is generating.
  • I own a small massage practice, but I’d like to grow my business to the next level.

If any of these statements match your situation in running a massage practice, then you could likely benefit from increasing your business knowledge. In the bodywork industry, it’s common to find many practitioners who are excellent massage therapists, but who seriously lack business skills. 

If you’re an employee of someone else, this may work out fine. However, if you want to run your own practice, it’s essential for you to not only deliver a great massage, but also to successfully run your own business. Moreover, because we’re currently facing a major economic crisis, it’s more important than ever for you to have a keen business sense if you want to survive these lean times. In today’s competitive climate, it’s not enough to have a cursory grasp of the massage business—you need to be just as versed in business as you are in touch.

Unfortunately, while massage schools offer an extensive education in bodywork techniques, few adequately teach students how to be successful businesspeople. This leaves those graduates who want to launch their own practices wholly unprepared to face the cold realities of the marketplace.

The good news is you can learn almost everything you need to know about running your own business through continuing education. Even better, because learning business skills doesn’t involve any hands-on training, you can take nearly all of these classes through home study programs. Home study courses in business allow you to stay current with your licensing requirements, while building your practice at the same time.

The massage industry has grown exponentially over the past couple of decades, and because of this, you’ll now find dozens of home study programs devoted specifically to running a successful massage practice. Some of these programs are more generalized and cover all aspects of business management, while others are specialized to enhance your knowledge of a particular business skill, such as marketing.

Some business topics covered by home study courses include setting fees, advertising, billing, business plans, insurance reimbursement, attracting and keeping clients, networking, brochures and business cards, targeted marketing, renting vs. owning, retailing products, professional referrals and many more. If you aren’t familiar with all of these topics, there are several home study courses in business that will provide you with the knowledge you need.

If you’re running your own practice, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that as long as you provide a superior massage, the business side of the practice will fall into place and take care of itself. You wouldn’t dream of becoming a massage therapist without the proper training, so why would you ever go into business for yourself without a similar educational foundation?

Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail