About Andrea Lipomi

Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist, esthetician and nail tech who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

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.

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.

Songs for Weird Massage Therapists

As a Spotify user, the playlist feature comes in pretty handy.

By “handy”, I mean I’ve actually put together a collection of songs having to do with touching, rubbing, or those silly things found at the distal ends of our forearms.

Although several of these tracks were originally meant to be filtered through the speakers of our sex-crazed society where sensuality is inextricably linked to ejaculatory pursuits, please take a moment to push all boning references aside. Listen to these songs purely from the perspective of a massage therapist, and I promise you’ll be tickled. 

In case you aren’t able to access Spotify, here’s a list of the tracks currently included on Songs for Weird Massage Therapists. If you can think of more that might be a good fit, please list them in the comments section below this post. (And to those of you who helped with the initial lineup, thanks!)

1. I Want Your (Hands On Me) – Sinead O’Connor

2. Both Hands – Ani DiFranco

3. Too Much Time On My Hands – Styx

4. Slow Hands – Interpol

5. Clap Hands – Tom Waits

6. Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron

7. Invisible Touch – Genesis

8. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ – Journey

9. Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me – Susan Sarandon (Rocky Horror Soundtrack)

10. Touch Me – The Doors

11. Human Touch – Bruce Springsteen

12. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) – Samantha Fox

13. Your hands on my skin – De/Vision (I am in love with this song, BTW.)

14. I Believe In A Thing Called Love – The Darkness

15. Healing Hands – Elton John

16. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) – Done Again (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts cover)

17. Grab It – L’Trimm

18. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

19. Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) – Diana Ross

20. Skin – Zola Jesus

21. Hands Off – Old 97’s

22. Body Party – Ciara

23. Icicle – Tori Amos

24. Sometimes When We Touch – Manny Pacquiao (whaaaaat!?!), Dan Hill

25. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey – Paul & Linda McCartney

26. Real is a Feeling – Pictureplane

27. I Wanna Hold Your Hand – Fab Again (Beatles cover)

28. I Touch Myself – Divinyls

Closing Down

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Tracy Bradley. Tracy has been practicing massage therapy since 2003 in rural Arkansas. When not massaging she can be found sipping Cherry Coke, watching cat videos, reading massage discussions, or hanging out with her family. She publishes a client-centered blog at The Comfort Zone Massage. Her 8-year-old daughter creates stories about her two zany cats at Cat With a Chat. Tracy is moving over a hundred miles from home to begin a new adventure with her family!

***

One month and then my massage business is closed. A month. No more clients, no more sheets, no more hot towels, no more. I feel like I’ve never done this before even though I left a different place 4 years ago. I wasn’t as emotionally involved with that place, I suppose. This place, this business is like home. I’m leaving home.

What will I do with my hands now? Will they miss the feel of flesh gliding under their fingers? Will my skin shrivel up and dry out without the daily use of massage oil? My hands, who have caressed, kneaded, rocked, pushed, pulled, rubbed, and comforted humans for the past 12 years, won’t know what do anymore. Will they lead me around searching for an aching shoulder like a forked limb leads one to “witch a well” for water? I apologize in advance to those I hug. My hands will surely try to massage your back and shoulders in what should be a brief moment.

Have you ever closed your business? Have you ever had to tell your massage clients you’re moving away and never coming back? It’s a difficult task.  After almost 4 years working as a massage therapist in a small town I’m moving away. Telling loyal, regular, make-their-appointment-before-they-leave clients is one of the most emotional things I’ve ever done.  The first eight years of my massage career were extremely part-time. The past four years were more than full-time. They were full emersion. I fully devoted most of my brain, heart, and soul to growing this business and caring for my clients. And now it ends.

I spent the week telling clients I’m leaving. A few were devastated. Most were supportive of my family’s new opportunity.  We cried. We hugged. We talked it out.

I will miss these people. Even with “good boundaries” relationships are developed. People talk. Living in such a small town many of us go to the same church, family members work together, kids attend the same schools, we go to fundraisers together, etc. We conduct our lives side-by-side. Boundaries are there but they are different than someone who lives in a place they never see their clients outside work.

All this said, I’m ready for a break. I’ve been “all in” for quite a while to make sure I supported the family while my husband was in college. I loved it most of the time. The Hustle becomes such a rush!  You try something to get more clients and your week fills up!  You write a blog and people read it and tell you they like it.  You develop a way of doing things, communicating with your clients, and operating your business. You get shit done. You try a new promotion that flops but it is still a rush because you get to brainstorm again. It never stops: the planning, writing, researching, talking, etc. It can’t stop if you want to stay busy.

I’m tired. I’m ready to shut that part of my brain off for a while. I’m ready to see if there is a Tracy inside me. She wants to laugh and smile and read and write and play and stuff.

Credit Where Credit’s Due

A couple of months ago my friend Jon and I were gallivanting around town, cameras in hand. We snapped, filtered, cropped, ate undercooked soft pretzels and posted about our adventures on social media. This is what we often do when we hang out, and it’s just one reason we’re friends.

One of my shots from that day’s shenanigans turned out pretty well (if I do say so myself). I posted it on Instagram with the usual tags. It got some social media love, and was even used (with permission and with proper photo credit given) on two local blogs to illustrate stories. Huzzah!

I think the weirdness started when a local casino regrammed the photo without giving me credit. Then it appeared – again, without credit — on a local government office’s Twitter feed. I thought the wild ride had ended, until just the other day when a local small business regrammed the photo (do I even need to say without credit?) AND had added their own logo to the mix. *cues Twilight Zone theme music*

This photo of my kitty niece is not the photo I'm talking about.

This photo of my hairy niece is not the photo I’m talking about.

Look, mistakes happen. I’m not claiming to be Saint Andrea here. I may have at some point in time uploaded a snippet of laser-riffic or double neck guitar concert footage to the interwebs. One time I took photos at a Holocaust museum exhibit because I didn’t see the signs forbidding photography until after I had already been through the building. (Even though they were serious, respectful photos and this happened a long time ago, I still feel a little bit embarrassed by this tacky error.)

But I don’t “regram” without giving credit. If I like something on Facebook enough to post it on my page, I use the “share” function…I don’t save the graphic and upload it myself, implying it is my own original creation. And “retweet”? It’s a thing!

I guess my gears grind the hardest when I witness improper social media sharing inside of our rather intimate communities. Whether we’re interacting within a geographical area of small businesses (or large businesses that should know better), or within an online collective made up of well-intentioned massage therapists (or large massage therapy businesses that should know better), we really should strive to behave courteously at all times. Remaining mindful of our integrity and trustworthiness will serve us best in the long run, and that’s definitely an impression worth sharing.

***

Want to know how to report copyright violations on Instagram and Facebook? BAM.

Want to learn more about sharing and caring? Tune in to The Young Thumbs next week, when our very own Massage Nerd discusses copyright issues!

Some Self-Publishing Basics in Case You’re Curious or Have Something to Say

The following is a guest post written by my sister Deena. Although she is not a massage therapist, she is a fabulous librarian and passionate author of YA (young adult) fiction. I asked her if she’d mind sharing her thoughts on publishing ebooks because some of us may want to put our written stuff out there. Being the awesome sister that she is, her answer was a resounding yes. Enjoy!

***

Hello, Young Thumbs Readers and thanks for having me here today. My sister, the self-published author of her own ebooks on massage therapy, asked me to talk about the basics of getting your book Out There in ebook form. With the glacial pace of the traditional publishing world, I love that epubbing is a viable option for writers today and I’m happy to have jumped on board in 2013. Hopefully some of you with something to say will take the leap as well.

I will start by stating that my experience is limited to the world of publishing young adult novels, and that I only have three titles under my belt. I am by no means a bestselling author, and my skills with marketing my work are fairly sad as my day job, life, and sleep take up large chunks of my non-writing time. I will not be insulted if anyone wants more info than I can provide. In fact, I’ll even point you to a fantastic resource: this free ebook by best-selling indie author Susan Kaye Quinn.

OK, now with the disclaimer out of the way, let’s jump in.

  1. No matter what you are writing (fiction or non-fiction for any age group), make sure your book is well written. Since 2004, I have written over ten novels. Thankfully, self-publishing was not a popular avenue ten years ago, because if I’d actually put my earlier work up for sale, I’d be super embarrassed by its crappiness right now. Find writing partners and critique each other’s work, read books on the craft of writing, and read books in your genre. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Do not publish your first draft.
  2. Once your well-written book is complete, get it copyedited. Yes, some typos and bad word choices may still get through to the final product (admitting guilt here). They do in traditionally published books, too. That is OK and no reason to panic since you can fix and upload your files again as needed. But still, enlist a freelance copyeditor or friend or writing partner who is good with grammar to do a final edit for you before publishing.
  3. Hire someone or learn how to format your book in MOBI and EPUB files. MOBI is the format used by Kindle, and Amazon is where you’ll sell most of your books. EPUB is the format used by Nook and most other e-readers.
  4. Buy an ISBN…or don’t buy an ISBN. Honestly, it doesn’t matter too much these days for e-publishing since most e-tailers don’t require them anymore. However, if you want to publish your book in print and sell it, you will need one.
  5. Create or purchase a professional book cover. If you are not good with design, do not attempt this on your own. Hire someone. Cover art is important and is the best marketing you can give your book out of the gate.
  6. Write a short blurb for your book. Polish it. Make sure it is error-free. This will be what potential buyers see when they browse your book at e-tailers (you will upload it with your manuscript), so make it perfect.
  7. Upload your book to e-tailers. I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, but you must upload your book to this megastore for ease of access for your audience. I would also recommend using Barnes & Noble for those Nook users. Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes are optional in my opinion, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have it available through as many vendors as possible (even if uploading to iTunes is the most convoluted, antiquated process compared to the cutting edge technology of their products).
  8. You will also set your book’s price when you upload it. There are tons of posts online (just Google “best ebook price point”) that try to pinpoint the winning strategy to this, but I go with $2.99. Then I’ll put them on sale for $.99 at times and promote the deal for the duration.
  9. Advertise! As I’ve said, I suck at this part of the process, but do as much of it as you can so you sell more books than me. If you have a platform (you are a massage therapist writing non-fiction about massage, for example), find readers in your field who will post reviews on relevant sites or ask them for online interviews. Encourage readers to post reviews on Amazon and B&N. If you can, create a short (one minute or less), professional book trailer or hire someone to make it for you. Have a professional website with a clearly marked “books” page. Carry a bookmark or business card around with you that has your website on it and calls you an “author.”
  10. The best way to bring attention to your book? Write the next book. A fresh front list will bring attention to your backlist. Only have one book in you? Periodically update the content of your book if it is non-fiction, or give it a fresh cover if it is fiction. Something so it stays relevant in the glutted market of books.

Hopefully some of these tips are helpful for anyone dipping their toes in the world of self-publishing. Just remember, it is not a get rich quick scheme and if you don’t love to write, it may feel like a chore. Spend your time on what you love, and if writing is it, make time for it.

Transition

This is a guest post from our friend Michelle Giles, a Phoenix, Arizona based massage therapist and continuing education provider. You can learn more about Michelle here

***

You are a well-oiled machine. Body mechanics spot on. You’ve learned exotic massage techniques from all over the world.  You use many interesting products. Your sacred work space is beautiful. You love your clients. After 10 years you’ve hit your professional stride…or was that a wall?…made of bricks.  

Wait. How many treatments have you been doing a day? Between six and eight. Are you taking breaks in between sessions? Very few, with clients stacked back to back. Since school ended you have been striving, building, advertising, networking and flexing your boundaries and schedule to accommodate clients, never considering how this might impact your body. After all — you love what you do. 

I injured my right arm, shoulder and chest wall simultaneously last January. I didn’t feel it coming — no aches, no warning shot, nothing overtly physical. The signs were there. Subtle things. Things that can be mistaken for general fatigue; a neck ache, headache, or malaise that drifts into life from time to time. It’s easy to get lulled into a feeling of comfort when business is great. It’s also easy to get lazy with self care when you feel good and nothing hurts. 

I tried slowing down, putting more space between clients, getting acupuncture and physical therapy. After a few weeks of that routine, the reality of the situation weighed heavily on me. I was really hurt. Not “get a massage, take a few days and sleep it off” hurt, but “out of commission” hurt. Stubbornly, I still saw a few clients a day for another week. I refused to acknowledge that I was hurt — after all, I had worked so hard to build this. Then a miracle arrived disguised as a disaster — my landlord sold my studio out from under me. I lost my office and was forced to take a break. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Once home, I did some research. I read articles about injury and professional burnout.  One fact stood out from the rest: “The burnout rate within the massage industry has been estimated at 50% to 88% within the first 3 to 5 years after graduation according to a study completed by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, a reputable industry organization.” I am not sure how many of us know and absorb that statistic. I have been a full time massage therapist for 15 years, and had no idea it was that high. 

I was depressed for about a week, alternately sleeping and crying.  An MRI revealed severe tendinosis and RSI injuries surrounding the area, and it would take between one and 5 years to heal completely. My PT was very honest with me — no amount of therapy could help at this stage. I felt frenzied, I wanted to will it better with salves and treatments. The simple truth was rest and accept.

Looking for gifts within life’s challenges is tough. My mind wanted to ruminate on loss. I made the conscious choice to use this time to reinvent and rethink my entire approach.  Epiphany: I was in the next stage of my career. I was fortunate enough to be able to take seven months off. This is what I did with that time:

  • Sold most of my belongings from my old office to create a new environment
  • Designed a 200 square foot massage office in the garage behind my house
  • Designed and built (enter my husband’s building skills) 8 large wooden planter boxes to grow herb and plants to make infused oils and salves. Also functions as a courtyard space to separate work and home
  • Learned to use Himalayan salt stones instead of hot stones
  • Learned to use Chinese cups and gua sha tools
  • Bought a product called Armaid to begin rehabbing my arm
  • Learned how to foam roll and use racquet balls for self care
  • Applied for and received my continuing education provider number enabling me to teach continuing education classes out of my new space
  • Learned how to create my own scrubs, soaks, lotions, lip balms and deodorant
  • Created my own website with the free ABMP tool (simplistic, but great)
  • Rested, stretched, soaked, and focused on my new self care needs

I had emailed my client list when I began my sabbatical, emailed them again when the office was done, then emailed a small group of regulars to let them know I was coming back in July…slowly. I began by taking one client a day a few days a week for a month. Then two clients a day a few days a week for two months. After two months, I emailed the rest of my clients announcing I was back to work. It has been seven month since I have been back.  I only see three clients a day. I schedule morning, afternoon and evening- leaving hours in between each. No compromises. My clients have loved the new modalities, the fresh space, and knowing no one is stacked right after them. They take their time, and so do I. What a change. My patience and new approach has paid off, and last week I realized my arm doesn’t hurt at all anymore. I will never return to my old way of doing business; it was outmoded.

Professional transition is inevitable. As our bodies age and change, so should our approach. Self care, exercise and diet need also change as we do. What worked in the beginning of our careers won’t always work. 

Injury is a great teacher.

10 Things Your Mother Never Told You About Entrepreneurship

Since posting about my resort spa-leaving in October, a handful of lovely people have approached me to express their own desires to go out on their own and become entirely self-employed. Some have asked questions like “what’s the first step?” or “how do I find clients?”. I hope to share my insight on these matters briefly yet somewhat competently in this post.

Let me start by mentioning that no two paths to entrepreneurship will be the same. Each of us are born into individual circumstances, raised in different environments, given unique opportunities, and influenced by factors specific to our own lives. I share some of my experiences here, modestly hoping that at least one small, useful part resonates with someone out there in our virtual living room. If you have an entrepreneurial story of your own – good, bad, even completely unrelated to massage therapy – I encourage you to share it in the comments section. Entrepreneurship is one of those blog topics that can only benefit from group participation, and I thank you in advance. Now let the listing commence!

 

  1. Identify your vision. What kind of work are you passionate about doing? What types of products are you passionate about using? I love doing many kinds of massages and spa treatments, but foot massage is right up there at the top of the list. I also like using luxurious creams and oils that are beneficial to the skin (this is especially important here in the Mojave Desert). So I opened a little day spa that specializes in feet. Pinpointing your passion will help you to hone in on your signature offerings, which will set you apart from the chain massage clinics down the street. This is one of the first steps to building your identity as a business.
  2. Get cozy with your branding and stay consistent. Maybe you live in a small town and you’re the only massage therapist within 200 miles. You can probably afford to name your business “AAAAA Massage Therapy” even if everyone hates the name. But in my experience, I’ve found that in a marketplace full of half-baked business ventures and forgettable distractions, having a fun, clever or thoughtful name is a plus. It also helps to keep you on track when you’re considering the overall feeling that your brand conveys. “Feetish Spa Parlor” has always been very Victorian in my mind, so I keep my branding consistent with that vision as much as I can. Victorian influenced furniture, cabinets, ceiling tiles, lighting fixtures, décor…even the typefaces and clip art used on my signs and printed materials are reminiscent of the time. Obviously I use a smartphone, hot towel cabi and factory-produced hand soap too, but you get the idea. You wouldn’t install Ashiatsu bars in a room that isn’t used for Ashiatsu, so don’t clutter up your image with inconsistencies that dilute and confuse.
  3. Remember that you can’t be all things to all people. I can’t do couples treatments because my office is tiny and there’s only one of me. Once in a while I have to explain this to a caller. But I continue to put myself out there, and the right people find me. Again, focus on what you can do, and on what you enjoy doing.
  4. Location is key. I don’t necessarily mean you have to be in the biggest, flashiest building in town, but if you’re running a brick and mortar operation, location is pretty damn important. You’ll want your location to be convenient to the clientele you’re looking to attract. You’ll also want your location to be convenient to yourself, as you’ll be your very own #1 VIP client. Is there parking nearby? Is the area relatively safe? Are there other businesses in the area that mesh well with yours (cafes, boutiques, other places where relaxed or adventurous people with disposable income hang out)? Are there other businesses in the area that compete with yours that might cannibalize your clientele now or in the future? Stake out the locations on your list of possibilities. Become obsessed. Check out the flow of people on different days of the week during different times of the day. Do this for months. Talk to people who are active in the community where you hope to set up shop. Make allies before you sign your lease. Spend your money in this community. Say hello. Smile.
  5. Make your presence known. You will have to market your business. You will have to invest countless hours into this seemingly thankless task. You will be tempted to give up, but you shouldn’t. Cast a wide net. The advertising I pay for right now consists of my website, business cards, and printed spa menus. I will sparingly and selectively donate gift certificates to causes I’m passionate about. I send out a monthly email newsletter using MailChimp. I have a free Yelp listing. But other than that, most of my marketing efforts are concentrated on social media. I use Instagram a lot, and I usually auto post my photos to Facebook and Twitter. Someone may see you on Yelp today, someone else may see you on Google tomorrow. You never know.
  6. Don’t get in over your head. Signing a lease on an 8,000 square foot facility may sound like a dream come true right out of the gate, but I’m having heart palps just thinking about it. It’s perfectly OK to start small.
  7. Consider your schedule. The more hours you make yourself available to take appointments, the more appointments you’ll likely take. Wait! You say you only want to work Tuesday through Thursday from noon ‘til 5? And you wonder why you’re only booking two appointments per week? And you resent the whole damn thing because you just drove 45 minutes one-way to perform a 30 minute service when gas is $3.26/gallon? It sounds like it’s time to rethink your schedule. Two years ago when I first opened my business, I had set hours when I was in the office — appointments or not –five days per week. This was good at the time. But last year I realized it benefitted my clients (and my sanity) more if I switched to working by appointment only, but with greater availability. Now I can schedule my life around the appointments on my book and vice versa.
  8. Make things happen. Create excitement! Start a blog for your biz! Video chat online and upload it to your business’s YouTube page! Visit with your neighbors! Throw a party at your office and invite the neighborhood! Offer them food! Share meals with people…people like to eat! The early days of business ownership are usually the loneliest. Fill that time connecting with people and building relationships with people in your community, because eventually, when you’re super busy with appointments, you’ll wish you had more time for that.
  9. Adapt. Now that I have more appointments on my book I’m no longer able to sit in my office with the door open, waiting for retail customers to stroll by. So I’m running a clearance sale on Dermalogica this month, and it’ll probably be a while before I order more retail-sized items. And y’know what? I’m totally OK with this.
  10. Some pressure is OK. Like a firm handshake or a leather corset. But business is messy, invention is messy, and life is messy. To quote my dad: “We can’t control everything that comes our way; we can only control how we react.” Countless successful entrepreneurs have failed in business multiple times before they eventually made it big, but they learned a lot along the way. Entrepreneurship is hard work, long hours, boatloads of stress and tons of sacrifice. I’m still really happy with my decision to take this path, but if it ever gets to be too much for me – if I feel like I’ve been paying too high a price for too long with too little return on investment – I’ll do my best to adapt. And if that means hanging up my holster for a bit so I can treat myself to some well-deserved kindness and understanding, then that’s what I shall do.

For Auld Lang Syne, My Dears

On behalf of The Young Thumbs, I want to thank you all for checking in with us throughout 2014. 

We’ve all experienced our ups, downs and evasive maneuvers this year, but we’ve done it together. For this I am incredibly grateful.  

I’ll keep this short and sweet, friends. Just know that you are appreciated, and that we Young Thumbs are looking forward to a brand spanking new year of learning, sharing, and having an all-around good time with you here on this zany blog that’s sometimes about massage therapy but more often about life. 

Much love and best wishes for a wonderful 2015.