Top 10 tips for starting your own massage therapy business

Would you like to start your own massage business? Like the idea of taking control, making something your very own and creating your own employment? Providing you have enough get-up-and-go and the commitment to see things through, running your own business could become an extremely positive and rewarding experience for you. Here are 10 top tips you’ll be glad to know about.

1. Become certified
When it comes to massage you’ll have to be fully qualified before you can lease out a room and pop a plaque on the wall. You need to complete either a Certificate IV in Massage or a Diploma of Remedial Massage. If you haven’t already received these, you can read more information here about massage courses at Sage Institute of Massage.

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2. Get aligned!
There are lots of different massage associations out there, and some require certain qualifications before you can apply to join. This is a good thing, becoming a member will give you credibility. Additionally, there are some associations that will be compulsory to join if you want to get a rebate with HBF and other private health insurance funds.

We suggest you check out the following two Australian member associations:

  • Australian Association of Massage Therapists –
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society –

3. Get an ABN

Before starting a business, you’ll need to register for an ABN. Don’t worry, once again this is a relatively simple process. Check out this site for more information:

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4. Now the fun stuff: choose & register a business name

It can be great fun coming up with a business name, however, think carefully as names are important. You want it to be easy to remember and catchy enough not to forget, but certainly not silly. And don’t try to be too clever. Unusual spellings, e.g., ‘Jooleys Massage 4U’ or ‘Mar-V-lous Massage’ are likely to not give the impression you’re after and just may come back to bite you like a bad tattoo. Similarly, names simply too difficult to pronounce like ‘B’hada’ or ‘Shathabhisha’ may mean something amazing in Sanskrit, but it just might not fly when someone is desperately trying to find you on Telstra connect. Remember: keep it real, and keep it memorable.

When it comes to registering a business name, this is a relatively easy process, but it is recommended that you apply with a couple of different name options up your sleeve, in case they refuse your first choice.

5. Register with as many health funds as you can
Many clients will want to claim their massage with their health funds so they can receive a rebate. To make this possible, you’ll need to contact each health fund and fill out the appropriate form to apply for a provider number. If your application is successful, you will receive a unique number which the health funds used to identify you when they are processing the rebates back to your massage clients.

6. Allow time and money for marketing
Creating a budget for marketing is essential for almost every business, particularly when you start out. However, we cannot stress enough that you need to be careful in this department and don’t get too excited throwing money around. Before you invest in any marketing idea, think it through, read any data on the success of the marketing campaign (e.g. if it’s a newspaper ad or online directory see what the readership is) and don’t make the mistake of thinking that the more you spend, the more you’ll make. It simply isn’t true!

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There are some recommended types of marketing that you may wish to look into though:

  • Build a basic website. This needn’t be elaborate when you are starting out. Today there are some fantastic platforms out there that enable you to literally build a website yourself. Check out or for two great examples. You don’t need to be an IT expert to get this together, but if you do run into trouble you could always look for someone local that could give you a hand. Check our beginners guide to building massage websites for more.
  • Social media. It’s also a good idea to open up a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account (you can connect the two so whatever you post on Facebook will go on to Twitter) and make sure you have a Google Plus local page. With Facebook, you may consider some Facebook ads, but again go slowly and carefully and keep track of the results. Remember, Facebook is 90% entertainment so make sure your posts are entertaining and shareable. Don’t go overboard with promotion or people will simply ‘unfriend’ you. If you’d like to read more about this, check out one of our previous articles: Facebook for your massage business: a guide to getting started
  • Cheap flyers & business cards. This may seem old-fashioned, but for local businesses this method works. Word-of-mouth is great for marketing, so if people have your business cards or some type of promotional material in their wallet, they can easily share it with their friends. Likewise, cheap flyers can be dropped around local businesses and cafes, and before you know it you have customers who will tell their friends and work colleagues and so on…

If you’d like some more tips on how to market your massage business, check out our blog “7 small business marketing ideas for your massage business (that won’t break the bank)“.

7. Find an affordable commercial space
If you’re ready to find a property, rather than working from home, remember that you do not need shop frontage. Certainly a good location that is quiet, easy to get to, has parking and public transport nearby and is close to shops is a good idea. Remember to shop around and don’t be shy when it comes to negotiating with your landlord.

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8. Furnish your clinic
When it comes to tables and other furniture, check out second-hand options first. You may be pleasantly surprised at what’s available out there. Have a look at Gumtree or eBay and see what deals are to be had.

9. Keep all your receipts in a safe place
Take the stress out of tax time and keep all your receipts filed away neatly. You can even keep your bookkeeping expenses down by using clever bookkeeping software like Xero to keep on top of your accounts.

10. Get your first customers and have them running back for more!
Once you’ve got the important things in place, it’s time to get massaging. So enjoy your time with your clients, do a great job and remember that repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising is the cheapest and best way of building a business.

There are way too many myths surrounding business ownership, mainly spread by well-intentioned friends and co-workers. Some involve terrible tales of woe, filled with toil and trouble, paperwork, long hours and diminishing returns. Others look through rose-coloured glasses, seeing only a dream of total fulfilment, financial reward, and flexible hours, while quietly dreaming up the speech they’ll give at their Telstra businesswoman-of-the-year award. Take it all with a grain of salt. Running a business is not brain surgery, but you simply have to take it seriously, offer a fantastic service and above all – make sure you enjoy yourself.

Sage Institute of Massage – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.

Vicki Tuchtan

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