David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on April 25, 2021 Updated on November 26, 2023
$9,050 - $19,600
$150,000 - $375,000 p.a.
Time to build
1 - 3 months
$75,000 - $150,000 p.a.
Do you enjoy working with your hands and helping people relax? If so, then starting a massage business could be the right move for you.
Regular massage therapy can provide a host of benefits, from alleviating pain and promoting flexibility to reduced stress and overall sense of comfort and relaxation. How rewarding would it be to provide all this to your clients?
Of course, starting a massage business is hard work, and this guide walks you through all the steps required and gives you all the information you’ll need to achieve massage business bliss.
Let’s get started!
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
First, it’s a good idea to look at the industry as a whole.
Pros and cons
There are both pros and cons to the massage therapy industry. Let’s take a look.
Improve people’s health — and lives
You’re the boss — choose your clients and hours
Easy to scale by hiring employees
Simple model with constant demand
Building brand takes time
State regulations can be strict
Tiring, physical work
Massage industry trends
Like many industries, massage has experienced a dip during the pandemic. Today massage is coming back strong, and secondary markets like massage equipment and oils are also expanding, with the latter expected to grow 5% annually through 2030.
How much does it cost to start a massage business?
Starting a massage business could cost as little as $30,000, or more than $100,000 on the high end, with the average being around $50,000. For a basic non-therapeutic massage business, you could probably spend just $40,000 to get up and running.
Excluding the cost of acquiring, or leasing and renovating a studio, here’s an example on the low end:
Setting up a business name and corporation
$150 - $200
Business licenses and permits
$100 - $300
$100 - $300
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$1,500 - $3,500
$1,000 - $2,000
$5,000 - $10,000
$1,000 - $3,000
$9,050 - $19,600
This leaves $10,000 for your studio space, accessories, and other expenses if you allocate $30,000 for your startup expenses.
Keep in mind, if you’re planning to start as a sole practitioner you could run your studio out of your home, or make client house calls, and cut your startup costs down to just a few thousand dollars.
How much can you earn from a massage business?
The average one-hour massage session costs $100 and a typical full-time therapist sees about five clients per day. Working six days a week, you could see more than $150,000 in annual revenue and profit of $75,000, assuming a 50% profit margin.
As your brand gains recognition, you could hire two more therapists and attend to 12 clients per day. At this stage, you’d rent a commercial space, reducing your profit margin to around 40%. With annual revenue of $375,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $150,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
It’s always a good idea to be aware of any barriers that could stand in your way. Here are some potential barriers in the massage industry:
Massage therapy certification is likely necessary
Most states will also require licensing
Competition could be intense in your area
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you know more about the industry, it’s time to start crafting your business itself.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
It’s a good idea to scope out who you’ll be competing against. Since you and your clients won’t want to waste time traveling, you should look within your local area.
Find out what your competitors offer, their prices, and how they treat their customers. You can take this one step further by going in for a massage or treatment yourself to see what the experience is like.
Knowing all about your competitors will help you create a unique and competitive business.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as therapeutic massage.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your services
When it comes to massage services, there are three main types: therapeutic, non-therapeutic, and massage spa. It’s a good idea to decide first what type of services you’ll provide.
Therapeutic massage focuses on health benefits, and can include services like remedial massage or sports massage, which help release tissues within the body. Clients are often able to pay for therapeutic massage with a health fund or insurance.
Non-therapeutic massages focus more on relaxation, while also providing health benefits. These benefits include improved blood flow, reduced pain, and better sleep.
If you want to open a massage spa, you’ll need to incorporate a number of extra services. Besides massage, common spa services include facials, body treatments, and sometimes even hair and nail services.
How much should you charge for massage services?
How much you charge will come down to your location, the experience you provide, who your competitors are, and your ongoing costs.
For example, if you open a store in a location with a high average income, you’ll obviously be able to charge more. If you aim to provide more value, you might offer lower prices and attract more clients.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be the people most interested in your service offerings. For example, if you choose to open a high-end spa, your regular customers will likely have large disposable incomes. They could earn this income from stressful corporate jobs, hence the need for a relaxing spa day!
So your target market could be people with corporate jobs, and the best way to market to them would be in luxury lifestyle magazines and at high-end industry events.
Whatever services you offer, make sure you identify the right market for your services and direct your marketing accordingly. Otherwise, your business may not last long!
Where? Choose a location for your massage business
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home or travel to your clients to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a studio. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
Central location accessible via public transport
Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Here’s a rundown of the essential equipment you’ll need to create a relaxing and professional atmosphere in your massage business:
Comfortable and adjustable massage tables or chairs
Massage oils and lotions
Relaxing music and sound system
Heating and cooling system
Reception desk and seating
Step 3: Brainstorm a Massage Therapy Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
Including keywords, such as “massage” or “wellness”, boosts SEO
Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Relax & Revive Massage Studio” over “Thai Massage and Bodywork Studio”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Massage Therapy Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
Executive Summary: A brief summary of the entire business plan, highlighting key points and objectives.
Business Overview: An introduction to the massage business, including its name, location, and mission.
Product and Services: Explanation of the massage services offered and any related products.
Market Analysis: An assessment of the massage market, target audience, and industry trends.
Competitive Analysis: Evaluation of local competitors in the massage industry.
Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling massage services.
Management Team: Information about the individuals responsible for running the business.
Operations Plan: Details on how the massage business will operate, including location, equipment, and staffing.
Financial Plan: Projections of the business’s finances, including income, expenses, and funding requirements.
Appendix: Supplementary materials such as resumes, legal documents, or additional data to support the business plan.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to massage services.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your massage business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)– Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
Additional licenses you may need are massage therapy license, which commonly includes 500+ hours of education and an exam, and a cosmetology license, if you’re planning on opening a massage spa.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your massage business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
Management tools like Fresh, Booker, and SuperSaaS can help your massage business with everything from scheduling appointments and payments to reporting and analyzing data.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using website builders like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Your clients are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. One way to do is to write about topics related to massage and wellness. This not only helps with SEO but also establishes your expertise in the field.
Starting a massage business is an exciting venture, and a robust marketing strategy is key to attracting and retaining clients. Here are some effective strategies to consider:
Leverage Social Media: Create profiles on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Post regular updates showcasing your services, client testimonials, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of your massage space. Utilize Instagram Stories and Facebook Live to engage with your audience in real-time.
Develop a Referral Program: Encourage your existing clients to refer new customers by offering them a discount or a free session for every referral that books a service.
Collaborate with Local Businesses: Partner with local gyms, health clubs, and wellness centers. Offer their members exclusive deals and vice versa to tap into each other’s customer base.
Offer First-time Client Discounts: Attract new clients by offering a one-time discount for their first massage session. This can encourage people to try your services.
Utilize Google My Business: Register your business on Google My Business. This helps in appearing in local search results and provides an easy way for clients to find and review your services.
Host Wellness Workshops or Events: Organize events or workshops related to wellness and massage. This can position you as a thought leader in the industry and attract potential clients.
Create an Email Newsletter: Keep your clients informed about new services, special offers, and helpful wellness tips through a regular newsletter.
Implement a Loyalty Program: Reward repeat clients with a loyalty program that offers benefits or discounts after a certain number of sessions.
Utilize Paid Online Advertising: Invest in targeted online advertising through platforms like Google Ads or Facebook to reach potential clients in your area.
Professional Branding: Ensure your branding (logo, business cards, brochures) is professional and reflects the ethos of your massage business.
Offer Seasonal Promotions: Capitalize on holidays and seasons with themed promotions or packages, like a ‘Summer Relaxation Special’.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your massage business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your massage business could be:
Prepaid packages with a discount
Expanded services and specialized products
Advanced massages and body/skin treatments
Highest-level training and certification
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a massage studio, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in massage for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in the massage industry. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from home, you may not need any employees right away. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a massage business would include:
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Run a Massage Business – Start Making Money!
Just 10 minutes of relaxing massage could melt stress away, studies have shown. Demand for massage services is expected to grow further as more people seek ways to cope with stress and get relief from the ailments it causes. You could get in on the action and grab a share of this lucrative market by setting up your own massage business.
Now that you have the knowledge to start a business, you’re ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey and help a lot of people improve their health. It’s time to get to work and launch your own massage business! Best of luck!
Massage Business FAQs
How profitable is a massage business?
That depends on a number of factors, including your prices, services, popularity, and operating costs. While we don’t know what all of these numbers are, we can give you an estimate of what you could generate as a small business owner.
Thumbtack pegs the average massage session at $100, while WayUp’s research says that the average full-time therapist sees about five clients per day. If we put this together, you’d generate about $500 per day in gross revenue.
What supplies do I need to start a massage business?
You’ll need to organize a number of supplies before you begin your massage parlor.
Here are some of them:
Oils, creams, lotions, and balms
Decorations to improve the ambiance
Massage table and chairs
Sheets, pillows, and towels
Robes for your clients
Herbal teas (if you feel like improving your clients’ experiences even more)
Can you make a living from a massage therapy business?
If you put in the work, definitely! A full-time therapist can generate around $500 per day in revenue. This number is based on an average price of $100 per session and five clients per day.
Even if you charge $60 per session (which is on the lower end) and see five clients per day you’ll still generate $300 in revenue per day. So your first goal should be building a full-time client base.
Is massage a good side hustle?
Massage can be a rewarding side hustle for those with the necessary skills and qualifications. It offers flexibility in terms of scheduling and can provide an additional source of income.
How do I set up a massage room at home?
To set up a massage room at home, start by choosing a quiet and private area where you can create a relaxing environment. Invest in a comfortable massage table or mat and essential supplies such as clean linens, pillows, and bolsters. Consider factors like lighting, temperature control, and soundproofing to enhance the ambiance.
How do I get clients for a home massage?
Start by creating a professional online presence through a website and social media platforms. Showcase your services, qualifications, and contact information. Offer introductory promotions or discounted rates for new clients to encourage them to try your services.
How to Start a Massage Business
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Massage Therapy Business Name
Create a Massage Therapy Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Massage Therapy Business Licenses and Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Run a Massage Business - Start Making Money!
Massage Business FAQs
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