No one is coming to rescue you

Got that? No one is coming to save you.

There is no knight on a white horse. You’re not gonna win the lottery. Praying isn’t going to pay the bills if you don’t get up and go to work, too. The spouse you married for love (but a little bit for security and money, too) could get laid off any minute.  Spiderman will not be swooping in to pull you from the wreckage of your business malaise. Say it with me, “No one is coming to rescue me.”

That’s a pretty frightening revelation, huh?* Just let that linger in the back of your head for a bit.

There are a variety of things we will do when hunger, housing, health are on the line. We will hustle to feed our kids and keep them clothed. We will deliver pizza into the wee hours if it means helping Dad pay for his medication.

However, we become complacent (not just fiscally, but in our emotional satisfaction) when we hit middle ground. We get lazy. We get stupid.

Here’s a common conversation in my world

Me: How many clients do you want to see every week?
You: Oh, 18-20
Me: How many are you seeing right now?
You: Um… well.. some weeks only I have 2 or 3 clients, some weeks I have 10 or 11.
Me: What are you doing to increase that?
You: Weeeellll… I sent out postcards to my old clients. I worked a few health fairs last month….
Me: How’s your website?
You: Oh, well, I really should update that a little… I’m so busy right now, I haven’t gotten to it. We had a tree fall in the yard and I’ve been cleaning it up. My parrot was sick so I’ve been staying home a lot. And I was running the book fair at my son’s school, that was such a project!!
Me: <<Sigh>>

Or in a class recently

Me: Raise your hand if you’re seeing as many clients as you want to.
Only 2 people out of 20 raised their hands.
Me: What’s your biggest obstacle to getting started with online marketing?
“Finding time to learn!”
Me: If you’re only seeing 5 clients a week, and your goal is 15, what the heck are you doing with that extra 10 clients’ worth of time? (Okay- there are some reasonable explanations here, especially if someone is maintaining another job while starting a massage business. But most of the excuses are BS. Total BS.)

See where I’m going with this?

All the marketing blogs, books, online classes, in-person workshops and savvy-tech tools in the world won’t help you if you don’t GET OFF YOUR ASS and do the work. And it’s up to YOU to do it. No one is coming to rescue you. Masses of clients are NEVER going to just show up begging for your services.  (Secret: even if someone did rescue you, eventually you would still end up back in the hole. It’s imperative that you LEARN how to dig out on your own.)

 

Knowing where to start can be hard, So here are some resources for you.

MassageNerd– Hands on stuff, business stuff, fantastic stock photos. Ryan’s got ’em.

Massage Sloth-Hands on stuff, and Ian’s Facebook page is a treasure trove of brilliant business tips and tricks, too.

Massage Business Blueprint– Yeah, this is my new project, so this is totally narcissistic. Deal. It’s a good resource. 

Will any of these resources be different for you?

Only if you are different. You need to buck up and say, “I want to do more, I want to do better.”

Only if you banish the “But I can’t because blah blah blah…” mentality and replace it with, “I’m going to learn this stuff, and I will be good at it.”

No one is coming to rescue you. The good news is, you can rescue yourself. Your call.

[*I want to make it perfectly clear that we’re talking about business crap, not real legit depression stuff, like I talk about often. If you are suffering from depression or other mental illness please be assured that someone is coming to rescue you. Go here and call or live chat with a professional who can help you right now, or refer you to an appropriate care provider in your area.]

For The Love Of Teaching Massage Therapy

FaceBookI started my teaching career January 2001, and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done!  I was hired on a Friday, received my books that day, and started teaching on Monday.  Let’s just say I didn’t sleep at all that weekend before I started, because I was reading all the books.  That first week of teaching, I kept asking advice from other instructors, and I got 100’s of different opinions on how to teach.

For the first month I taught right out of the book, will minimal lab in a technique class.  I only did it that way, because the person in charge of the massage program at that time told me it worked for her.  After that first month, I started to feel more comfortable and decided to add my flair.  Well, that was not acceptable to the Director of the program, and she kept having meetings with me to change the way I was teaching.

I was disappointed by most of the massage technique books at the time, that there were hardly any photos and mostly text.  How can you teach a technique class, with no instructions on how to perform massage techniques?  I decided to change that and started developing more techniques, besides the  ones I already knew.  I first drew the techniques (Not the greatest artist), but I knew what I was teaching, and it was easier for the students to remember them.  After a few years of using my drawings in one of my classes, I decided to up my game and took photos of the techniques.  That worked well, but some of my students were still having a hard time remembering them.  My last phase was to shoot videos of the techniques (2005).  Videos worked great, and I finally covered all my bases, so that my students could remember them.

CHOTHES117I quit teaching April 2012 to start working from home – managing social media accounts for many companies (The only reason I quit teaching, was because the director of the school was thinking about cutting the massage program).  It was a lot of fun working from home for the first few months, but then I noticed it was hard turning work off when I work from home.  I typically put in 14 hour days, and that was wearing me down.  My kids even text me…when they’re at home with me.  I’m more of an introvert, but I still need to be around people. 

Just a few months ago, a cosmetology school that was going to be starting a massage therapy program contacted me – and just last week that dream came true…I’m going to start teaching again!  I will continue working for the companies I now work for…plus adding more content to MassageNerd.com (Because I LOVE what I do), but I’ve had this small void in my heart for the past 3+ years, and it’s time to fill it with teaching!  The ONLY reason I started MassageNerd in 2006, was for my students and I will continue giving them the best education I can. Sleep, who needs sleep???

On a lighter note, my Wife wants me to get out of the house more. :) 

Dropping The Banhammer

 

Bob* was in his 60s. Southern accent. Tall and not a slight dude (from what I could ascertain upon our face-to-face meeting, as he was fully clothed).

Bob sat down in the reception area of my office, grasping the clipboarded intake form but not yet filling it out. His words came at me in rapid-fire progression.

“Now I get massages every week back home. Can I just use a towel to cover my midsection?” (I use bath towels instead of flat top sheets anyway, but the asking of this question raised a bright orange flag…or maybe it was pink. Fuchsia? Anyway, internal eye roll. Resume transmission.)

“OK, I booked a ninety minute service today, but I need at least thirty minutes of massage on my lower abdomen.”

 

SCCCRRRRREEEEEEEEEEECHHHH.

 

“I’m sorry Bob. I don’t do abdominal massage here.”

“Why not?! It’s the only way I can relax.”

“It’s my policy, no exceptions. I totally understand if you want to go elsewhere.” I ready myself to rise from my desk and escort him out of my office, but this guy is persistent. (Please forgive the bombardment of non sequiturs I’m about to lob your way, but this was my life last week.)

“I’ve been so stressed at work. I run six companies.” He pulls out his phone, points the screen in my direction and starts scrolling through photos of what I’m to assume are his crew and their work trucks.

“I got divorced in the ‘90s but I’ve been with my girlfriend for years. I’m leaving my business to her when I die.”

“I’m telling you this stuff so you’ll know some things about me.”

“I have two phones.”

“You really won’t do abdominal massage? How long have you been doing this?”

“You really won’t do abdominal massage? I don’t know what kind of massage you think I’m looking for.”

“You really won’t do abdominal massage? But I want to come in tomorrow and the next day too.”

“If you don’t do abdominal massage, what do you do?”

“When I was a little boy my mother would give me abdominal massages. It was the only way I could fall asleep.” (Mommy! An unexpected twist!)

“I’ll make it worth your time.”

“I’ll tip you really well.”

“One hundred dollars.”

“One time I was working with my crew in the woods and we got infested with ticks. I had to shave off all of my pubic hair but I didn’t realize I had to keep shaving it.” (This marked the turning point for me. Parasitic infections of the groin are not my area of expertise, and for good reason.)

“Bob, yeah, I’m not going to be able to help you.” I got up, keeping an eye on him, and made my way to the door. Still facing him I turned the knob and held the door ajar so he could exit. He did, but not before handing me his business card.

“In case you change your mind.”

“Bob, that’s not going to happen.”

Then I noticed that he had cleverly left his phone on my desk, so I exclaimed “Oh! Here’s your phone!” The last thing I needed was more alone time, here, with him.

I came to realize, partway through the convo, that Bob had called me several weeks prior from a different number (two phones!). During that phone call he wanted me to work “overtime” for “a really good tip” of “one hundred dollars” “if [my] husband didn’t mind”. Unfortunately for Bob, I was “booked”.

Adding to the absurdity was this: His persistence was completely unnecessary. In Vegas (as is true in many cities), you have so many happy ending options at your disposal you can’t throw a dead cat without hitting a rub and tug or rash for cash. I mean, Craigslist will bring the lower abdominal massage to you at no extra charge! (The explanation I’m going with is that some folks find my combination of profuse anxiety sweating and groundbreaking bathroom humor utterly irresistible.)

As a rejected Bob walked out the door and down the hall, I was prouder of myself than I had been in a really long time. Like a lot of massage therapists (or humans, even), in the past I’ve worked on people I should’ve fired five minutes into meeting them. Messed-up, battle-scarred people looking for a metaphorical punching bag. People who just make you feel shitty.

And I’m over it.

Call Mommy and have her pick you up.

End transmission.

 

*Not his real name.

Why Do I Laugh So Much?

I get asked that question a lot at massage conference, and my response is: “Life is too short NOT to laugh.”

Let me give you a little background on myself. Most of my childhood I didn’t laugh much, and suffered from Clinical Depression and OCD. I was give different antidepressants in my teenage years, and that seemed to make my moods feel blah! I even ended up in a Psychiatric Unit a few times in my teenage years.

I didn’t embrace my current personality, until I was going through massage school in 1997. I quit all my antidepressants while I was going through the program, and on my own decision. I was feeling better, and I found something that kept me busy, so I didn’t obsess as much.

I still suffer from depression and OCD, and I’ve learned to keep busy. OCD is who I am, and it’s helped my career over the past decade. I can’t do anything small, and I’m always thinking of ways to keep myself busy, so I delve into work. Now, I just need to find a balance between work and play.

I’m not looking for sympathy, and I just want people to find peace with their hiccups in life.

To quote my favorite T.V. show: “It’s a gift… and a curse.” – Adrian Monk

When at home, I’m  working  in the dark on my computer, playing Techno music, and trying to spend as much time with my family as possible. It’s what helps me keep my sanity.

If you want another perspective, I’m making up for lost time in the laughing category :)

The removal of stuff & the addition of goals

Stuff, goals, and decison-making skills.-or- Allissa pulls her shit together and makes decisions like an adult

There is a certain amount of clarity that comes with having very little. Minimalists know this. I don’t claim to be a minimalist (yet), but I’m getting better and better at reducing both the literal and figurative ‘stuff’ in my life.

I moved 6 times in the first 6 years after I left my husband. I took almost nothing with me when I left, and with each move I let go of more ‘stuff’. I let go of yearbooks, tshirts, holiday decorations, a wedding dress, 3 kick-ass vintage prom gowns. And so much more.

But I didn’t just dump property. I walked away from friendships that had run their course and family relationships that caused me pain at every interaction. 

I broke up with an organization I loved. I stood up to people who used that love to manipulate me into working too hard. I did the math and discovered that traveling and teaching actually cost and lost me money, even just driving 45 minutes. So I ended (most) teaching gigs. 

I cleared my plate. And it’s been wonderful. 

But here’s the best part: removing all the clutter helped me figure out what I do want on my plate. I figured this out almost by default recently. 

I’ve been making big decisions lately, about my businesses and financial life. I’ve spun up some big ideas and watched them get destroyed by reality (read: budgets). And my reaction to the losses, and to some successes, too, guided me to what my real goals are. 

1. Create a collaborative wellness center where independent practitioners can serve the community and thrive.

2. Build an online empire that helps massage practitioners attract more clients, make more money and improve their lives.

3. Pay off all my debt by December 2016. Every. Last. Penny.

Now I’m in this new and exciting adventure where I make a decisions based on my goals. And it’s great. Who knew? (You probably did. I’m just a little slow.)

Sure! It would be awesome to take a long weekend and zip over to Pittsburgh during the convention and see my AMTA friends! I considered it. But being away from my practice for 4 days instead of seeing clients and spending 20 hours in a car instead of writing is directly opposed to all 3 goals. So I’m not doing it. 

Yes! I would love to spend all night on the computer looking at fabulous women’s suits to pick out what I’m going to  wear to officiate at a wedding soon. But that doesn’t contribute to accomplishing any of the goals. 

(Lest you think I’m all about that dollah bill, know that I’ve got some good personal stuff going on, too. I got busted up pretty good by a long-time friend this spring, and dumped on my ass hard by a boyfriend shortly after. The first situation helped me identify the really wonderful friends in my life. And they’ve all carried me through the second. I’m a lucky, lucky girl. But I’m not ready to be making new personal life goals yet. K?)

And here’s the thing. This shouldn’t be an epiphany, right? We all know we should identify goals and strive to achieve them. No big whoop. And yet, when I made my first ‘based on my goals’ decision last week it was like  fireworks when off behind my head celebrating my brilliance. 

Now that I’m all knee-deep in my own adulting, I kinda want to know: What are the goals and guideposts that help you make decisions? 

And have you ever been epically wrong about a goal? Achieved it then realized you didn’t want it after all? I’m so curious. This is a whole new world for me. 

Tell me your stories!

Happy Endings and Icky Jokes: How to respond when it happens

IMG_3289One of the weirdest parts of being a massage therapist is the less-than-classy questions people will ask. It happens much less now than it did 10 years ago when I started in this business. But every so often I’ll get introduced to a new person, and the crass oaf will say. “Do you give happy endings?”

And we all have ‘that friend’ who (repeatedly) posts stupid massage jokes on our Facebook wall, because they think it’s hilarious. Ugh.

It can be tricky to handle these awkward confrontations. It can be trickier to handle these confrontations and not be a catty jerk who embarrasses and alienates the poor oaf. (Or maybe that’s just me?)

For me, it helps to have some scripts ready when these things come up. I need to think about what to say and practice it, so I don’t get all stupid or pissy in my response. And so I don’t just laugh and blow it off and feel like crap about my lack of response later.

So I checked in with a few friends and pulled together our favorite responses.

When you get the dreaded, “Do you give happy endings?” questions

“Weeell, no. Because I’m not a sex worker. I’m a trained and licensed health professional.”

I like to be clear, and use the actual words instead of catering to innuendo. It deflates the whole cheeky joke thing.

You can say it harshly and get all catty about it. But there’s not really a point to that. You want to gently but firmly educate someone without shaming them. Partly because you’re not a jerk. Also because they will understand and retain the lesson better if they are not made to feel stupid and defensive.

This is not the best time to go all out with a lecture on how disrespectful that little ‘joke’ is to all massage therapists. That becomes apparent when you say the words ‘sex worker’.

Once you get out that response, you have two choices. You can change the subject entirely, “So what do you do?” Or just keep talking and tell them about your work. “I’ve got an office in Plainville, mostly working with people who sit at desks all day then run marathons on the weekend.”

My friend Leslie says, ”Almost all my clients leave happy, but it’s never because of sexual services. That would be illegal and completely not what I do for a living. Happy endings are for Disney and the library. Sexual services are for prostitutes.” She’s got a kickin’ sense of humor and can pull that off.

My friend Ian responds, “Everyone gets one massage sex joke, and that was yours. You totally wasted it, by the way, I’ve heard way better.”

If it happens in the office, my friend Tracy likes to inform people that by asking that question seriously, they are soliciting sex, breaking the law, and setting themselves up for a call to the police. That’ll deflate their casual, stupid humor pretty quick and likely ensure it doesn’t happen again.

When the inappropriate jokes are virtual

There are equivalents to this silliness in the virtual world. People share junk like this all the time, and occasionally post similar ‘jokes’ on my profile, or even my massage business page.

You may be great at just ignoring these things. Or you may be like me, and feel that this teaching moment should be utilized.

This is a time for a private message:

I wanted to let you know that I deleted the link you put on my wall. I know you had only good intentions and thought I would find it funny. But I need you to know that I did not, and I think it’s important that you know why.

I take my job seriously. I have extensive training in massage, I maintain my licenses and certifications, and I run a business that serves my community.

So when you post a video that makes a joke, and an uncomfortable joke at that, about the services I provide, that’s a problem.

I would never want anyone to think those kind of shenanigans go on in my massage room. I would never want a current or potential client to see that on my wall and think I would be disrespectful of their comfort and privacy.

So I hope you understand why that ‘joke’ isn’t funny, and that you’ll consider not sharing things like this in the future. Not with me, or anyone. 


Yes, it’s wordy. But I think that response also strikes a nice balance of kind, informative, and firm.

How do you deflate these situations, without putting someone on the defensive, so it can be a useful exchange?

From a Negative to a Positive

One-day back in 1999 (my first year of owning my massage business), in walked an elderly gentleman. He didn’t look happy to be getting a massage. The first words out of his mouth were “My wife scheduled me for this massage, and I don’t want to be here.” He never received a massage before, and he seemed uncomfortable. I tried to change the subject, and asked him to fill out a health form. I then proceeded to ask him if he had any hobbies (People usually light-up when they talk about their passions). He said woodworking, of which I knew nothing about.

Portrait of aged teacher looking at camera with blackboard on background

After he’s done filling out the form, I looked it over and started asking him some questions. His wife booked him the massage appointment, because she was sick of him complaining about his back pain. I asked him about his arthritis, and he stated “I don’t have it much anymore in my fingers. I broke my fingers to take away the pain, and it helped.” As you are imagining, I had a shocked look on my face! He complained that a few months ago, his doctor put him on rat poison (That is what he called his blood thinners).

I explained to him what the massage process. He immediately stopped me when I told him he could undress to his comfort level. He said, “Why do you need my clothes off, when I only have lower back pain?” I let him know that sometimes the gluteal region can refer pain to the lower back, but he only took off his shirt (I was ok with that).

He did not speak at all during the treatment, and luckily it was only ½ an hour. I was emotionally drained after the massage. I wished that he would not book another appointment, and he didn’t.

A few weeks have passed, and I get a call from his wife. She wanted to book another massage for her husband. She said, he didn’t complain much about his back pain, after he saw me. I had mixed emotions. Should I deal with the negativity, again?

After a few days, he came in for his massage appointment. Now that I knew his personality, I tried some humor. I asked him is he still on his rat poison? He actually laughed! During the massage treatment he started to open up. I didn’t feel like he was sucking up my energy.

This is what I learned from this gentleman:

  • I learned a hard lesson not to take things so personally. I also incorporated more humor (when necessary), into conversations.
  • Every single client is going to have good days, and bad ones.
  • Always look at the brighter side, and not to feed into their emotions.
  • The more scenarios you run into, the easier it will be in the future to deal with them.
  • In massage school, you only learn a part of what you need in the real world. It’s a good start; so stay awake during your ethics course.
  • If a client doesn’t like you, or you couldn’t help them, they won’t come back. Just don’t take it personally
    .

So, the next time you have a negative client come in, just remember it’s probably not you!

Ryan Hoyme is the owner of MassageNerd.com and RyanHoyme.com

 

 

 

 

 

Body Slam These Body Scams

I’ve recently been the lucky recipient of two separate yet equally annoying scam attempts on my business phone line. Woot!

Take a look at this text message I received a little while back. You can see that the sentence structure and vibe seem more than a bit suspicious. At first I chose to reply in a professional manner, just in case this was an actual prospective client:text

Then their reply confirmed my suspicions, so I responded in kind:fu

This scam has been making the rounds among massage therapists, salon folk, personal trainers, etc. for years. If you engage with the texter the convo eventually morphs into a fraudulent credit card scam involving wiring money to the texter. Sometimes the scammer will engage via email as well, due to being “hearing impaired”. 

A friend suggested that we all make it a habit to reply to these scammers with pictures of goats, because why not? In support of this new campaign to Ram the Scam, I’ve designed a little something to blast back at these criminals. Please use, share and enjoy!

goataway

Scam #2 manifested as numerous phone calls from “merchant services”. Their phone numbers were varied and sometimes featured a local area code; sometimes they’d even leave a voicemail message that I wouldn’t return. 

I unintentionally answered one of their calls the other day. The scamming bozo on the line said he was from “merchant services” and wanted to send a rep out for a quick ten minute appointment so he could update my horribly out of date credit card processing equipment (that I do not currently and have never had…Square, baby).

I nicely told him that I don’t have an account with them, and requested he take my name off of their list so I don’t waste any more of their time. This rude asshat had the nerve to raise his voice and inform me that he got my number from Google so if I wanted to remove myself from the internet I could go ahead and do that. Well I never!

So I did him one better. I put myself on the do not call registry. [insert laughing goat meme here]

Then I researched the scam he was trying to pull. It involves “merchant services” switching your credit card processing activities over to their company without telling you they’re doing it. Apparently you can incur major fees by dumping your old company like this. So don’t. 

Have you got a scammy story to share? Please post it below (with farm animals, if you wish). 

I’m A Big Girl Now

I’ve been growing my little foot spa biz for over two years now. It’s currently at what I feel is a really good place number-wise for a part-time hands-on gig. I look forward to filling things out a little bit more in the upcoming year — booking more appointments further in advance if possible — but I’m happy with where things are right now, too.

I’ve also been engagin’ in a lot of learnin’ about potentially uncomfortable subjects recently, including cancer treatment, oncology massage, and death. I think I even finally know how I want my gravestone to look — complete with a refreshing sense of well-placed joy and excitement! (Cue the weird looks!)

bear

When I first became a massage therapist ten years ago, my retired insurance exec cousin told me I should look into disability insurance. What if I injured my tools? How would I support myself? Her questions were valid.

I ended up working at spas that provided disability insurance as a benefit, but those days are over. Being 100% self employed means I have to think about these things and put on my big girl panties. I have to do the things I dread.

This afternoon I visited my insurance rep, Mary. I’ve purchased my business, homeowner’s and auto insurance through her over the years, and she has always been super helpful. I told her I knew nothing about disability insurance, but I’d appreciate it if she’d talk me through it and present me with my options “in case my arm gets chopped off one of these days”. 

We had a lovely chat about the trials and tribulations of small business life and neighborhood gossip. Then she showed me that I could acquire disability insurance for as little as $23.13 per month. 

Tonight I’ll present my options to my better half and we’ll talk it over while we do laundry and watch Fringe. Being a grown up isn’t always easy, but it’s how things get done…and hopefully done right.

So, you’ve got a successful massage business. Why so anxious?

IMG_3289

Let’s get real
Being a business owner is scary. Being a single business owner even more so. And when you’re supporting a family? Holy geez wowsers that sounds terrifying. (Hats off to all of you raising kids and/or supporting a stay-at-home spouse. You are utterly badass.)

Yes, being your own boss is crazy-rewarding and has it’s own benefits. But it’s still scary as hell.

Most of us started our businesses with just the supplies and equipment from our schooling, slapping together ideas and action as best we could, learning as we grew.

The lucky ones had a business plan (and knew what to do with it). The luckier ones had previous careers that provided some necessary business skills. The smart ones researched the nitty gritty of every situation and made well-informed decisions that led to success.

However you got here, you’re here
You’re pretty well established, staying fairly well booked, and you’ve got the day-to-day tasks of running a business under control. Congratulations! You’ve arrived!

Except for that nagging, petrified little voice in the back of your head shrieking, “It could all fall apart in an instant!” Daily. Or maybe weekly. Or maybe just when you’re having that day where 5 clients call to cancel upcoming appointments and your week falls apart.

Why am I diving into these tales of woe? Because Cindy said, “Business is wonderful here, but my anxiety keeps me feeling like there’s a hidden shoe about to drop. [I’m] still struggling with looking ahead instead of behind despite being very solidly booked.”

And from the response her comment got, I can tell that’s a common problem for people in her situation. In some ways, it’s a good problem to have. It means you’re successful! But it kinda sucks the fun out of working for yourself.

For every fear, there is a solution to make it tolerable. Here are my go-to anxiety relievers. 

Have a go-to protocol for slow weeks, and make it easy
Look at the things that have helped you bring in clients in the past. Figure out what’s worked and what hasn’t.

For me, sending an email to my clients with a list of that week’s open appointments is really effective. But if I have to make an email from scratch every week, it becomes a whole big project. I’ll procrastinate and never actually do it. So I finally made a sweet last minute appointment template with all the links and buttons to my online scheduling. I can just drop a one-liner note in there to keep it fresh and send. It’s an easy, 10 minute task that’ll fill an appointment or two.

If you get a great response on Facebook, spend a few minutes making some adorable graphics in Canva and save them to your computer and mobile device. When you have a slow day or week, upload to Facebook with a headline and the link (or contact info) to schedule. That’s a five minute task when you already have the graphic ready.

If you still have too much time on your hands, I’ve got a few bigger tasks outlined over here on the At Peace Media blog. 

Just having a protocol in place can be comforting. Sure, it’s a slow week, but you know what to do to make it better. You’re in control.

Get some emergency savings
This is the thing we all know we need, but few make it happen. We need an emergency savings.

Because your car will need a new transmission the same month your second quarter taxes and license renewals are due. Your fridge will break the week that you pay for the kid’s hockey season including all new equipment because holy heck she just won’t stop growing.

Or you’ll just miss a week of work when you have the flu. You need a backup. And when you own a business, this is doubly true. You need a savings for living expenses and business expenses.

We should all have at least three months of expenses in the bank. Six to nine months is even better. If you don’t already have this started, it seems like a Herculean task to save That. Much. Money.

So, like most things that are big and scary, we put off getting started. Then it doesn’t happen. Then you jam your thumb and immediately have a panic attack over the notion that you could lose a few days of work and oh my god what if I break my leg I’m going to be homeless in a month my life is falling apart someone help me. Or maybe that’s just me?

Anyhow, the thing about accruing a solid savings is that it happens slowly. But when it happens, it’ll change your life. A whole layer of fear and anxiety lifts from your life. Really.

How to do it? Again, slowly. I recently got my act together and started building up a savings. I created a whole new saving account at an online bank. Every week when I sit down to pay bills, I transfer money from my local credit union to the savings. It’s super easy to do online and takes under five minutes. I force myself to transfer at least 5% of the last week’s income, I try to do more when I have busier weeks. If that seems impossible to you, start with 2%. Or if you take tips, transfer half of them. Something is better than nothing, and it’ll add up over time.

Having a cushion takes all sorts of stress off a slow week, an illness, or a busted water heater.

Get some cheerleaders
There will always be tough times in business ownership. Sometimes your preparedness won’t be enough of a comfort and anxiety will eat you up. Hopefully you’ve got friends and colleagues to lean on and talk you out of your funk. And if you’re a loner, the rest of us are right here.

How do you keep the anxiety from ruining the fun?