5 Steps to Start a Massage Therapist Business

Whether you’re a brand new massage therapist or have years of experience under your belt, opening your own massage business can be a lucrative opportunity as being your own boss has it’s own perks.

However, starting as business can be equally overwhelming if you don’t have a solid game plan. The benefits of owing a massage therapy business can only be enjoyed if you are ready to do all what it takes. And, it takes a lot of effort, hard work and foolproof planning!

Depending on how big or small massage therapy business you intend to start, there can be several steps involved in the whole process, but this article will discuss the 5 major steps that you need to take to get your business off the ground. Let’s look at these five crucial steps:

Step One: Get Your Professional Licenses and Certifications

With the exception of Alaska, Wyoming, Kansas, Montana, and Oklahoma, all U.S. states require licensing to operate as a massage therapist. Upon completing your massage therapy course training and practicum hours, you’ll apply for licensure in your jurisdiction from its state Massage Therapy Licensure Board, which is usually an umbrella of either the state’s health board or medical board.

Once licensed, you may also be required to seek national or state-level certifications through entities like the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB.)


  • Even if not required, gaining licensure and certifications shows clients a commitment to the standard of quality care and services, which goes a long way in obtaining clients for your new business.
  • Keep in mind that most all massage school training programs teach basic Swedish massage, but often vary as to the specialties they offer students. It’s something to consider as to what your massage business will offer in terms of specialty massages like reflexology, hot stone, sports, clinical, acupressure, and so forth.

Step Two: Get Your Business License

State and local law dictate business registration requirements. This often includes obtaining a business license, particularly if you sell massage therapy products in addition to massage therapy services. Contact your State Department of Revenue, local county clerk’s office, and local SBA (small business association) to determine what will be required in your jurisdiction and for your particular business model.


  • Consider joining a massage therapy association. These offer invaluable information about operating massage businesses and are a great way to network with other professionals.

Step Three: Get Liability Insurance

Remember that you and your staff will be working very closely and intimately with clients who can easily claim your business has caused them harm. Liability insurance protects your business when a client files such a lawsuit, and it affords you the ability to fight it off in court. Be sure to do your due diligence and find all the massage insurance information you can before making a decision. Different policies can offer drastically different coverages.


  • You’ll also need to consider other self-employment insurances and coverages, such as healthcare coverage and long-term and short-term disability insurance.

Step Four: Make A Business Plan

You’ll need to figure out what you’ll name your business and secure branding rights. You can use the United States Patent and Trademark Office database to see if your business name is up for grabs. Make it catchy, unique, focused, and easily remembered so that it will stand out on social media, marketing materials, and business cards.

How much capital do you have? Your startup expenses will need to at least cover occupancy expenses like rent and utilities, day-to-day operating expenses like materials and wages, one-time capital expenses like equipment and repairs, and marketing expenses for the creation of marketing tools and materials.

Decide on a location for your business. A brick and mortar location will enable you to service more clients and in a more professional manner, but it may not be immediately financially feasible. You can consider taking on a business partner or investors, securing a small business loan, or you can work out of your home.

Get all these concerns addressed in a business plan, i.e. how will you conduct the business, how much is your budget, how much money you need, where and how will you get the funding, how will you get clients, your pricing, marketing and promotion strategies etc. A foolproof business plan is the key to success.


  • A home based setup is the most affordable starting point if you don’t already have a good client base or the cash or credit to cover rent/lease and other overhead costs.
  • Draw up a business plan based on your expected expenses and startup capital estimate and have your personal financials in order. Whether it’s a loan, investor, or partner, any entity will want to begin by examining such to see if your business is a worthwhile financial risk.

Step Five: Establish Your Business’s Presence

You’ll want to create a website, social media pages, and business listing profiles to establish your business’s online presence and gather and retain clients for your business. Branding and marketing is a time and financial investment, be it will be pivotal in setting you apart from other massage therapy businesses.


  • You may want to work with a web designer and SEO team if you don’t have adequate experience.
  • Don’t forget the power of paper and face-to-face marketing. Hand out fliers, run ads, and pass out business cards at community and trade events.
  • Consider attraction points for your clients, such as a referral program or frequent client reward system.
  • Register your business with health fund programs so that clients can use your provider number to claim rebates on their massages.

The Bottom Line

Starting a massage therapy business can be overwhelming, but if you sort out everything before starting it, the process can be relatively smoother!