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

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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 its 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?

8 thoughts on “So, you’ve got a successful massage business. Why so anxious?

  1. THANK YOU, ALLISSA! I imagine plenty of other MTs (and entrepreneurs, for that matter) just don’t know what to do with themselves when it’s time to (happily) accept that their business is stable and even growing. Lovely to-do list for established-yet-anxious therapists.

  2. An awesome post, for starting any business can be filled with anxiety and stress but with proper planning and preparation you can be ready for anything life will through at you. This can be particularly troublesome in the massage therapy business as it’s such a people orientated venture, and the last thing you want to be doing is passing on your signs of stress to your clientele!

    I think my best tip would be to once a week take some time for yourself, purely your own time away from the work and any associated anxiety. You could even go so far as to treat yourself to a massage from a friend or loved one. After all it can be far too easy to slip into the habit of work work work, we all need a little relaxation at times, even massage therapists!

  3. Great post Allissa, and couldn’t come at a better time. I run my own business with one therapist who works for me. I am also a mother of 3 kids, so my hands on clinic time has cut down since the 3rd child, hence the hiring of a therapist. My washing machine died last weekend (I can hear your screams from here!). Fortunately, I have an emergency account for this type of event…and yep, insurance, association membership are all due this month too. And my staffer is on 10 days leave next week.
    I spend a good part of my week networking and building relationships with people in my community. I shop locally and avoid the chains and giant super stores. I get good results from Facebook and update my website and blog regularly (thanks to Massage Business Blueprint ;P).
    Yes, I have anxiety from time to time and feel like I should just pack up and sell. But then I get over those fearful thoughts, pull up my socks and put my super cape back on and project those positive vibes and communicate with my client database. It works a treat.
    Thanks again for the post

  4. Great tips. I especially like the one about sending out weekly emails about any possible openings, or if there are cancellations. I book out over a month with my massage clients, and if someone cancels I usually take it as a break for myself and don’t try to fill it. But, a quick mass email wouldn’t be too difficult or time-consuming.

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