How to start a massage therapy business

How To Start a Massage Therapy Business in 2024

Starting a massage business is an exciting venture that can be incredibly rewarding, both professionally and financially. It provides the opportunity to help people, while running your own business and being your own boss. The idea of starting a massage business from scratch may seem daunting at first. But with the right guidance and resources, any therapist can learn how to start their own practice. It involves more than just having a massage table and knowing how to give a great massage!

How do I start a massage business? You can start a massage business by first doing your research and coming up with a plan, and then completing your plan one step at a time. The steps to successfully launch a new massage business include conducting market research, writing a business plan, developing a marketing strategy, choosing a location, getting a business license and permit, and purchasing initial equipment and supplies. By following a good plan step by step, you can be up and running quickly.

In this article, you’ll learn all the steps of launching your own massage therapy business in 2024. It covers the entire process, from refining your business idea to being ready to start working with new clients. You’ll also find tips on how to select the right location and reduce your initial expenses. We’ve put together a massage business checklist which you can download to guide you through the startup process.

10 steps to start a massage business

The most important part of building anything is laying a strong foundation. This is true whether building a home, a relationship, a career, or a business. Starting any business can come with its own unique challenges. But with the right combination of research, planning and commitment, you can turn your dream of running a successful massage business into a reality. Whether you are just out of massage school, or are an experienced therapist, completing these 10 steps can help ensure the success launch of your new business.

Idea and concept

1. Create your initial business concept

Most people who dream of starting their own business will first have to address the challenge of coming up with a good business idea or choosing between several good ideas. Since you already know that you want a massage business, you are already well on your way. So in this first step, you just need to refine your idea and figure out what type of massage practice you want to create.

The more clearly you can visualize what your ideal massage practice will look like, the more likely it is to succeed. Some questions you should ask yourself include:

  • What types of services will you offer?
  • Do you want to specialize in a certain niche (types of massage or bodywork)?
  • Where would your ideal practice be located?
  • What types of clients would you like to work with?
  • What problems do you want to solve for your clients?
  • What is your reason for wanting to start your own massage business?

Be as specific as possible when imagining your ideal practice. You want to create a massage business that inspires you. Also, make sure your business goals align with your personal goals. You don’t want to end up with conflicting goals. For example, if your business goal is to build a thriving massage practice that is your main source of income, but your personal goal is to travel a lot or live a nomadic lifestyle, then you must decide which goal is most important to you.

Now it’s just a matter of reverse engineering your end goal to figure out the best way to start. Establishing some short-term goals and milestones will help guide your decision-making during the first 6 months. It is ideal for your short-term and long-term goals to line up like dominos, so that each bit of progress leads you closer to your end goal.

Also, start considering if you want to offer general massage therapy, or if you want to specialize in a certain type of massage such as sports massage, hot stone massage, medical massage, Thai massage, chair massage, or lymphatic massage. Specializing in a niche can help you differentiate your business from other local businesses.

You could also choose to specialize in marketing your services a specific target market such as athletes, pregnant women or trauma survivors. It can help to create and ideal client persona, also called a customer avatar, to help understand the needs of these clients.

Once you have decided on the types of services that you plan to offer, it is important to find out what regulations exist for operating a massage business in your state and local area. You may need certain licensing, certification or permits depending on where you live and which services that you plan on providing.

Market research for massage business

2. Conduct market research & competitive analysis

Now it’s time to research your local market to identify the best opportunities for a new massage business in your area. The point of this step is to determine the viability or feasibility of your business idea, and determine the likelihood of succeeding. This is called a market analysis or feasibility study, and can help you understand the current supply and demand for massage in your area. Market research and competitive analysis are two types of market analysis.

Market research is a process that helps businesses understand their target market and the market space in general. It involves collecting relevant data on customers, competitors, and the massage industry itself, to form an accurate picture of where the company stands. This type of research can help companies identify what goods or services they should offer to best meet customer needs and be profitable.

The goal of market research is to provide insight into how different segments of the population view a product or service offering. The information gathered can be used to create strategies for pricing products, launching campaigns, and selecting appropriate media channels for advertising. Companies can also use it to determine which aspects of their offering are most attractive to consumers so they can focus their marketing efforts accordingly. Furthermore, market research allows businesses to develop new ideas based on consumer feedback and evaluate existing products or services in light of current trends.

Competitive analysis is a specific type of market research that helps massage business owners and marketers understand their competitors’ strategies, strengths, and weaknesses. It is a process that evaluates the performance of competitors within an industry in order to identify opportunities for improvement. With competitive analysis, it’s possible to gain insight into how your business’s product or service stacks up against your competition.

Competitive analysis involves researching your competitor’s products and services, prices, marketing strategies, customer service policies and more. This research provides valuable data that can be used to improve your own product or service offerings. Additionally, you’re able to identify areas where there may be untapped potential for growth in your industry. By understanding who your competitors are and what they’re doing differently than you, you can make adjustments quickly to stay ahead of the curve.

It’s a good idea to find out what other massage businesses are in your area and which ones currently provide similar services to what you have in mind.

  • Are these businesses successful or are they struggling to find customers?
  • Are there unmet needs or opportunities to differentiate your practice?
  • Is the local market saturated?

Your market research and competitive analysis can be as simple or comprehensive as you want to make it.

Keep in mind that your competition comes not only from other massage therapists (direct competition), but from other types of local service providers (indirect competition). For example, if you want to offer general relaxation massage for stress reduction, your potential clients have many alternatives to choose from to help them solve their stress problem. They could get a massage, or they could go to the gym, go run in the park, talk with a counselor, eat, drink, sleep or whatever else they perceive as being a solution for their stress. *Focusing on solving a more specific problem usually means you will have less competition.

SWOT analysis

SWOT Analysis

It can also be beneficial at this point to perform a SWOT analysis. This is a tool than can help a person or business identify and analyze their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It involves self-reflection on your individual strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your business idea. There are many free templates online to guide you through performing a SWOT analysis.

The first two steps of the business start-up process will help you identify your competitive advantage. The term competitive advantage refers to the factors that give your massage business an edge over the competition. These factors increase your likelihood of succeeding (e.g. attracting new clients, getting more repeat business, earning massage referrals, etc.). Examples of a competitive advantage could include a great location that is convenient to your clients, existing relationships with potential referral partners, NCBTMB board certification, a specialized massage certification or advanced skill that is in demand, a business culture that appeals to your market, a good reputation in your community, and quality service.

Business plan for massage therapy practice

3. Write a simple & practical massage business plan

Creating a well thought-out massage business plan is essential for any business to succeed. An effective business plan outlines the goals and objectives of a business, and the strategies and tactics that the business will use to achieve them. It compiles the information that you gathered in steps one and two, and basically serves as a road map for success. A well-crafted plan can help you identify key areas that need attention, where to allocate resources, and how to mitigate risks.

No two business plans are the same. A plan for self-funded solo practitioner will be very different from a business plan for starting a million dollar destination spa that will require investor funding. The key components and sections of a traditional business plan include:

  • Executive summary is the first section of a traditional business plan. It provides a quick overview of the most important information in your plan. The executive summary serves as an introduction to potential investors, providing them with critical facts about the company, its goals and objectives, a short description of products or services that will be offered, financing needs and strategies for success. It should include the company’s mission statement, a brief statement of how the company plans to achieve its goals, a brief summary of key competitors in the marketplace, and financial projections. It should also address any risks associated with launching or operating the business as well as highlight any unique strengths that could help it stand out from other companies in its industry.
  • Company description outlines who you are as a company and what services or products you provide. It should provide a clear picture of your current position in the marketplace and how you aim to grow your business over time. The business description should include an overview of your industry, target market, competitive landscape, and any key partnerships or strategic alliances that may be relevant. Additionally, it should focus on why you are uniquely positioned to succeed in this space, such as a unique therapeutic massage service or expertise in a particular specialty. Be sure to list any special skills or qualifications that can benefit your business and show how they will help drive value for your clients.
  • Market analysis and strategy is an important component that outlines the context in which your massage business operates and how it competes with other businesses in the same industry. It should include comprehensive data and research on your target customer base, existing competitors, and other factors that can influence success. Through an accurate market analysis, you can identify potential opportunities to expand your business and effectively tailor your strategy to meet changing markets. When conducting a market analysis for a business plan, it’s important to research consumer trends and demographics in order to gain insight into consumer preferences within the industry. You’ll also need to analyze common pricing models used by competitors and assess their strengths/weaknesses compared to yours.
  • Competitive analysis outlines the strengths and weaknesses of your competition, which gives you the opportunity to anticipate their actions in the marketplace and better position your offering in comparison. It also helps you to remain relevant in today’s ever-evolving market by providing insights on how you can be different from competitors and where opportunities may exist. The competitive analysis should focus on all aspects of your industry: technological developments, production costs, marketing strategies, pricing models, new products and services offered as well as customer service approaches. It’s also useful to examine various financial metrics such as return on investment (ROI) or client acquisition cost (CAC).
  • Marketing plan and sales strategy is an essential part of any effective business plan. It outlines how you will reach your target audience, build brand awareness, and increase sales. (More details about marketing plans in Step 4).
  • Management and organization description outlines their team’s qualifications, roles and responsibilities. This section should also include an organizational structure chart that clarifies who reports to whom. This section of a traditional business plan is more relevant to a large company than it is to a small massage practice.
  • Products and services description is a concise explanation of what each product or service is, how much it costs, who your target customer is and why your offering stands out from competitors. Additionally, include any additional benefits that come with that product or service that may not be immediately obvious. For instance, if you plan on selling spa or self-care products, list all its features and explain how those features can benefit your clients.
  • Operating plan is a comprehensive section that outlines the day-to-day operations of your massage business, its staffing needs and associated costs. This section should also provide information about legal requirements such as occupational safety regulations that management must consider.
  • Financial projections section provides an overview of how much money the business expects to make in the next few years. It estimates expected income as well as expenses. These projections assess potential risks and rewards associated with starting and running the business. Also, having accurate financial projections can help you better manage cash flow so you don’t find yourself stuck without money when unexpected expenses arise.

A business plan is a tool, so it should be functional and practical. You really only need a traditional business plan if you intend on trying to get funding from a lender or investor. If you plan on self-funding your new massage business, it is better to have a simple business plan that you can actually use to guide your decisions, rather than an over-complicated and overwhelming plan that takes a long time to write. For this reason, most therapists should just create a simple plan such as a 1-page business plan which you can create quickly. There are many different templates online that you can use for inspiration.

Business Model Canvas template

Business Model Canvas

Another simple and useful alternative to the traditional business plan is the business model canvas. The Business Model Canvas is an effective tool for entrepreneurs and business owners that helps to identify what is needed to create a successful massage business. This well-known template uses a single page that is divided into blocks that each represent a key component of a business strategy. These sections are: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners and cost structure.

Step three of the startup process is a good time to decide on your business name and what type of business structure you want to have (sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, etc.).

Massage Marketing Plan

4. Develop your marketing plan

A marketing plan is an organized and comprehensive document that outlines the strategies, objectives, and tactics that your business will use for a specified period of time in order to achieve your marketing goals. It is an actionable, strategic document that serves as a framework for developing and implementing your marketing strategy. An effective marketing plan should include detailed market analysis, competitive research, objectives, target markets, strategies and budgeting.

Since you’ve already figured out much of this information in previous steps, creating your marketing plan is simply a matter of compiling the details into a usable plan. The end result will be a comprehensive marketing plan that will guide your decisions when marketing your practice. Just like a business plan, there are many different ways to write a marketing plan. The main thing is to create a plan that is useful to you. Components of a good marketing plan often include:

  • Market research
  • Target market
  • Marketing Goals & Objectives
  • Description of services
  • Marketing strategies
  • Pricing
  • Brand
  • Marketing budget
  • Metrics

Unique Selling Proposition

Your marketing plan should also describe your unique selling proposition (USP), which refers to the unique and specific benefits or advantages that your business, products or services can offer to your target market. These benefits are what differentiates you from your competition, and will compel potential customers to choose you over other providers. An effective USP will help attract new customers while also helping them make informed decisions regarding their purchases. It can also assist in building brand loyalty and strengthening relationships with existing clients.

In order to identify your USP, you must first understand what makes your offering stand out from other massage businesses. This may include things like quality, price, customer service or convenience – anything that sets you apart from the competition and gives customers an incentive to purchase from you. Once identified, this information should be clearly communicated through all aspects of your marketing materials.

Massage therapist calculating business finances and budget

5. Figure out your financials

Starting a massage business is an exciting venture that many therapists dream of. But like any new business, it’s important to remember that it does require some startup capital. You’ll need to factor in the cost of setting up and running your practice, from getting equipment and supplies, to renting office space, getting licenses and permits, or paying other start-up costs. There are several good accounting and bookkeeping software options for massage therapy businesses to help you manage your income and expenses.

It’s important to assess your personal financial situation before making any major investments so you can be sure you have enough capital to get started without taking on debt. In most cases, it’s best to avoid getting a loan and going into debt when starting a new business. And because of the risk to lenders, it can be very difficult for new businesses to get a loan anyway. Therefore, most new massage businesses are self-funded.


Bootstrapping a business is the process of starting and growing a company with minimal external funding. This startup strategy relies on the entrepreneur’s own resources such as savings, investments from family and friends, and income from existing jobs. The goal is to get a business up and running without taking on debt or giving away equity in exchange for cash.

This approach requires creativity in finding resources for startup expenses, marketing, and the first few months of operations. Bootstrapping massage entrepreneurs often become adept at bartering services with others in order to maximize their limited resources. As an example, they may trade massage therapy services with an website developer in exchange for assistance with building a website for their practice. In addition, many bootstrapping business owners invest in automation tools that enable them to work smarter rather than harder.

Starting your own business can be an intimidating prospect, particularly if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. But the truth is that with some creative thinking, it’s possible to get started without breaking the bank. Here are a few tips for getting up and running on a shoestring budget.

  • Start small. Consider what you need to get your business off the ground and put together a list of essential expenses (like registering as an LLC or buying basic massage supplies) and then look for ways to minimize those costs.You can buy more massage equipment, and move into a larger office later, after you have the clientele to justify those expenses.
  • Don’t quit your day job. Starting your massage business in your spare time as a side-hustle makes a lot of sense for a brand new therapist who doesn’t have any clients yet anyway. Then you can shift more time to your business as your clientele grows. Some people live by the saying, “Leap and the net will appear”, but this is risky advice when it comes to starting a business.
  • Keep your overhead low. Consider starting with shared office space initially, instead of signing up for long-term leases. Starting with a mobile massage business (in the clients’ homes or corporate chair massage) can also keep initial costs down while being able to charge a premium for the extra convenience that you offer. Also, try to budget conservatively because it may take longer than you anticipate for your massage business to become profitable and replace your other income.

6. Make your new massage business official

By this point, you have a solid plan for how you will start your massage business. Now its time to make your new business official.

It is important to choose the right business structure for your new massage business. The most common business structures for massage include sole proprietorships, partnerships, and limited liability company (LLC). Each type comes with pros and cons, so it is important to do your research and seek legal advice if needed. In general, sole proprietorships are easy to set up but offer little legal protection for their owners. Partnerships are business structures with two or more owners who share responsibilities, profits or losses. LLCs offer some liability protection while still allowing flexibility in how profits are distributed among members. Any of these business structures will permit you to also offer some or all of your massage services as an independent contractor too.

For your business name, you could simply use your own name, as in Jane Doe, LMT. Or you can come up with a unique massage business name for your legal entity. To do this, you will simply need to ensure that your assumed business name doesn’t infringe on any trademarked names. You will need to register your new fictitious name with your Secretary of State. This is a simple process that involves completing a fictitious name statement, also known as a DBA (Doing Business As) statement. You’ll also want to make sure that the name you choose is available to use as a domain name for your website and social media accounts.

A business license grants permission from the state or local government for you to legally operate your business. In order to obtain a business license, your business must be in compliance with federal, state and local laws. The process of obtaining a business license can differ depending on which jurisdiction you will be operating in. Generally speaking, to obtain one, you must first register your company with the appropriate government agency (i.e., secretary of state) followed by registering for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). The next step is to contact your local government’s office of taxation or licensing department who will provide specific instructions on how to apply for the necessary permits and licenses needed for your particular type of business operation.

You will also need a massage license to practice in most jurisdictions of the US. A massage license is a professional license, and is an authorization granted by a government or regulatory body (usually the state board of massage) to allow an individual to practice a specific profession. This means that the person who holds the license has met the minimum requirements and standards for that particular field of work. In massage therapy, this usually means passing the MBLEx and completing an application with your state’s board of massage. Professional massage therapists typically must renew their license every 1-2 years. The purpose of a professional license is to protect both clients and professionals alike. It certifies that the individual has obtained proper education, training, and qualifications necessary for them to offer services safely and competently.

7. Choose a location

When starting a massage therapy business, choosing the right location is one of the most important decisions you will make. It can greatly affect how successful your business is and how quickly it grows. Finding the perfect place for your practice requires careful research, plenty of planning, and sometimes even a bit of luck.

There are many factors to consider when selecting a business location. It’s not just about finding the spot with the most foot traffic or the lowest rent; it’s about selecting the best location that will help your business grow and support its long-term success. Some characteristics of an ideal location for a massage business include:

  • Convenient to your target clientele. It’s ideal to be within 3-5 miles of where the majority of your clients live or work.
  • Easy to find. You’ll want a location that is easy to find and get to without getting lost.
  • Plenty of convenient parking. This is especially important if you plan on working with clients who have mobility issues.
  • Safe and inviting area. Many potential clients won’t be interested in trying out a new massage practice if the local area or building itself looks run down.
  • Near related businesses. It’s ideal to be near businesses with a similar clientele. For example, a salon, gym, health food store, etc.
  • Quiet area. Noise from traffic, construction, or other business that can be heard from the treatment room will negatively affect your clients’ experience.
  • Affordable. An expensive monthly office lease means you have to do more massages every month just to break even.

Fortunately, there are several different options for massage therapists to start a business on a limited budget. Many therapists choose to start their practice in a spare room in their home, or a mobile business where they travel to the clients’ home or business. Other therapists start by renting a massage treatment room at an already established business such as another massage or wellness practice, a fitness center or a salon. Still others may find an opportunity to share a room with other therapists, and reserving it for scheduled appointments. Each of these options can work well for a new practice that only has a few clients. You can find a bigger and better office space once your business growth and revenue can justify it.

Setting up the business side of a massage practice

8. Set up the business side

Now that your new massage business is official and you’ve chosen a location, it’s time to finish setting up the business side of your practice. Here are a few things that virtually all massage businesses will need.

Liability insurance

Part of every massage business’s risk management strategy should include purchasing massage liability insurance. There are several providers to choose from, and most massage insurance policies include professional liability insurance as well as general liability insurance.

Professional liability insurance, often referred to as errors and omissions (E&O) coverage, is a type of business insurance that protects professionals from claims made by clients for inadequate work or negligent actions. It can protect professionals such as massage therapists, lawyers, accountants, IT consultants, engineers and doctors from claims made by clients due to losses caused by their professional advice or services. This type of coverage typically provides protection for legal costs associated with defending against these types of claims even if the claim is groundless.

General liability insurance for business, sometimes referred to as “slip and fall insurance”, is an important asset for any business that wants to protect itself from potential legal issues. This type of insurance provides coverage for accidents, injuries, and property damage caused by the business or its products. It also covers libel and slander cases as well as copyright infringement and other intellectual property related claims.

Practice management system

A good practice management system can automate and streamline many aspects of running a massage business. You can choose an all-in-one practice management software or app that handles things like client scheduling, intake documentation, SOAP notes, bookkeeping, client management, marketing, and payment processing. Or you can choose a more compartmentalized approach and integrate only the tools that you need. You don’t need an expensive practice management software on day 1, and maybe not even for the first several months. But these tools will be worth the expense once your client base starts growing. That being said, you will need some type of point of sale (POS) payment processing system to allow you to receive payments through credit cards and other electronic transactions. And you will need a way to schedule your clients and maintain massage documentation.

Business bank account

A business bank account essential for small businesses, especially if you’re establishing an LLC. A separate account will help you keep your business and personal income and expenses separate. This will help you track and manage your finances, which is especially useful when it’s time to calculate and pay federal taxes on business income. Business owners can open a business bank account at most major financial institutions such as banks or credit unions. If you formed an LLC, the bank will ask for your Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you formed a sole proprietorship, then they will use your social security number instead. They may also ask to see your business license or other documents.

Form your business policies & procedures

Creating business policies is an essential part of establishing a new business. Clear, comprehensive policies help to define the company’s values, expectations and procedures for employees and customers. A properly crafted policy can protect a business owner from potential legal issues or disputes that may arise. Examples of useful policies and procedures for a massage therapy business include:

  • No show and last-minute cancellation policy
  • Late arrival policy
  • Payment policies
  • Misconduct / inappropriate behavior policy
  • Privacy policy
  • Informed consent policy
  • Right of Refusal policy

9. Acquire essential equipment & supplies

You will need equipment and supplies for the therapy side of your business as well as the office side once your business is ready to start receiving clients. Creating an amazing client experience and making massage clients comfortable is one of the most important things to ensure clients keep coming back. However, it’s a good idea to only purchase what you need for now. Every massage business is unique, but here is a list of common equipment and supplies for a new practice:

Therapy EquipmentTherapy suppliesOffice equipmentOffice supplies
Massage table & face cradleMassage oils, lotions & creamsFurnishingsPens & paper
Massage chairLinens and towelsComputerClipboard
Table cover/warmerMusicStorage for suppliesBathroom supplies
Space heater/fanTherapy toolsPoint-of-sale terminalCleaning supplies
BolstersPhoneMassage intake forms
StoolPractice management software
LightingLaundry washer & dryer

10. Create your marketing assets

Congratulations! By the time you reach this step you’ve completed 99% of what you need to open your massage business. Actually, you’re ready to start working with clients now. Step 10 is about creating marketing tools that will make your prospective clients aware of your new massage practice. If you’re tech-savvy and have some design and copywriting skills, you should be able to make many of these yourself. If you aren’t, there are many convenient and affordable options to get these marketing assets made. You’ll find many freelancers willing to do this work for you at a reasonable price at places like,,,, and many others.

  • Brand identity design
  • Business logo design
  • Business cards
  • Marketing brochures
  • Business website
  • Massage bio
  • Social media presence
  • Storefront signage

You don’t need to complete all of these right away. Just try to focus on the marketing assets that will make the most difference over the next couple of months. Spending a month actively marketing your services to potential clients in person will do more to build your practice than taking a month to build a fancy website. Having a great website is still a very important tool, but you don’t need it on day 1.

So there you have it. 10 steps to build a massage therapy business. Now let’s wrap up with a few tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and some additional resources to help you get started.

Tips for starting a massage business

There are many new businesses that never really had a chance to succeed because they failed to get off the ground in the first place. Identifying and avoiding these common pitfalls will increase your likelihood of success. Listed below are 9 tips that will increase your chances of successfully launching your new massage therapy business. These tips focus on starting a new massage business. For tips on how to growing an existing business, check out our article on marketing a massage business.

  1. Start by doing research and creating a plan. Massage entrepreneurs can increase their chance of success by following proven models and startup strategies. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Create a step-by-step business plan that fits your unique needs, and then follow your plan.
  2. Start lean. Use the bootstrapping strategies listed above and minimize your expenses. It is especially important to be frugal with expenses when starting out, before your business develops a cash flow. Be realistic with your finances and expected growth.
  3. Watch out for self-doubt. Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) as killed many fledgeling businesses. It can help to find a business mentor and surround yourself with a few people who have achieved success in similar businesses.
  4. Stay organized. Develop systems to help you stay organized. Later, as your massage business grows, automation of things like client scheduling, massage appointment reminders, and marketing tasks will become more important. Effective time management skills are valuable for any business owner.
  5. Make decisions well. It’s ideal to not waste time with small decisions that have insignificant consequences if you make a mistake. Try to avoid wasting time on irrelevant things. On the other hand, it is good to allow ample time to make big, important decisions, where making an error could cause painful consequences.
  6. Miscalculating supply and demand can cause big problems when it comes to making decisions about business expenses and where to focus your time and effort.
  7. Make your business unique. Find ways to make your business stand out. Being like every other cookie-cutter massage business will not give potential customers a reason to try out your services. As the saying goes, “The riches are in the niches“. A business that is “different and better” has the opportunity to earn brand loyalty, win repeat business, and turn clients into raving fans. Make sure that your brand appeals to your target market.
  8. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Small business owners often have to wear many hats, but there are some things that you should consider outsourcing. A few business startup tasks require specialized expertise and would be very time-consuming for new business owners to do themselves. For example, it can be cost effective to outsource building a website and designing marketing assets (brochures, logo, business cards, etc.). As your business and revenue grows and demands on your time increase, you may want to consider outsourcing other things like laundry, bookkeeping and insurance billing.
  9. Start simple & grow in stages. You can decrease stress and initial expenses tremendously by starting simple. Then scale up your business later by adding additional services, selling products, and targeting additional market segments if you want to. Every new element that you add to your business adds another layer of complexity, and creates an additional learning curve that you must go through.
Massage Business Startup Checklist page 1

Massage Business Startup Checklist

Download our free 2-page massage business checklist to guide you as you start and build your own massage therapy business.

Frequently asked questions about starting a massage business

How do I start a massage business at home?

Many therapists wonder about how to start a massage business at home. The process is essentially the same as starting a massage business at a separate office. You will still need to develop your business plan and marketing strategy, get a business license and professional license, have a business permit, purchase equipment, etc. The only difference is that you won’t need to find commercial office space to lease. This is actually a great way to start because it keeps your expenses low, and it eliminates commuting time. You will need to create a professional massage space in your home though. The more you can separate this from your personal living space, the better. It is ideal to have a separate entrance, dedicated treatment room and a separate client bathroom.

How do I start a mobile massage business?

Starting a mobile massage business is another cost-effective way to start a new massage therapy practice. Many therapists choose to this business model to begin their practice in order to keep overhead low. A mobile business can also be a good long-term strategy for therapists who don’t like to be cooped up in the same treatment room day after day. To start a mobile massage business, you will still need to complete all the steps listed above, except for finding a commercial office to lease. There are some additional considerations for a mobile business such as transportation, insurance, portable equipment, and selection of massage techniques that are practical in a mobile or onsite setting.

Do I need a license to open a massage business?

Yes. In most states in the US, massage therapists are required to have a professional license to practice massage therapy. On a more local level, most cities require businesses to have a business license and/or permit to run a massage business.

How much does it cost to start a massage therapy business?

The cost of starting a massage business can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The bare minimal expenses to legally start and operate a massage business include the costs of acquiring a professional license, a business license, and permits. There are many additional costs that go into getting a massage license (e.g. massage school, passing the MBLEx, etc.).

Do I need to have massage liability insurance?

While some jurisdictions may require practicing massage therapists to have liability insurance, many do not. However, it is strongly recommended to get massage liability insurance before working with clients since a lawsuit can end up being very costly, even if you win. Plus, massage insurance is very affordable and most providers offer additional benefits such as free continuing education courses.

How profitable is a massage business?

Owning a massage business can potentially be very profitable in the long run, but it depends on many factors. Variables that affect the profitability of a massage business include: location, number of clients and employees, service prices, expenses, amount of repeat business, and many more. It is not uncommon for an established, well-managed, and successful massage business to earn over $100K/year.

Why do massage businesses fail?

There are a few common pitfalls when starting a small business, and massage therapy businesses are no exception. A few reasons why massage businesses fail include poor marketing, not listening to what the clients want, taking on too many expenses, lack of commitment, and not having an effective plan and strategy for growth.

Resources for starting your massage business

There are several professional associations and organizations within the massage industry as well as general business resources that offer free tools and advice. Here are some additional resources to guide you as you start your massage business.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)



Rocket Lawyer

US Legal Forms

IRS Small Business Portal

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

National Association for the Self-Employed

American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)

National Business Association

America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Home Business Magazine

Power Home Biz

MBLExGuide does not provide legal or financial advice. The information in this article can be impacted by many unique variables. Always consult with a qualified legal or financial professional before taking action.

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