How to Prepare for a Recession

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Crisis Management Plan for Your Practice

By Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds

Recessions bring declines in sales and profits, as well as consumers reassessing their priorities. All in all, entering a recession may be the scariest time for businesses. Learn how to prepare for a recession and create a crisis management plan for your practice so you can be prepared for the worst.

Your Space

If you rent your office space, the first step is to begin communicating with your landlord, if you haven’t already. Be clear about your situation and if you are entirely out of work, say so. Be clear that you have no idea how long you will be out of work and that you are exploring relief options for small business owners. Ask if they have any guidance or solutions on how to proceed. Your landlord may be willing to work with you on reduced or suspended rent throughout this time. 

If your landlord is not flexible, you have more difficult decisions to make about keeping your space or giving notice, and you may need to seek legal advice about breaking a lease if it comes to that. But you won’t know anything until you open that communication. It could be more cost-effective to give up your space and start fresh when  work picks up again, and there will likely be plenty of commercial spaces available as the economy rebounds. 

If you also rent your residence, a similar conversation may be necessary with that landlord.

Get Your Numbers Together

Now is a great time to get up to date on your bookkeeping in order to create a solid crisis management plan. It will also be helpful to have your taxes complete and to know your last 12 months of income and expenses in order to file for any loans or grants you may be eligible for. 

Talk to your accountant or tax preparer regarding when, if, and how much to pay your first and second quarter estimated taxes now that your income projections for the upcoming year have changed.  

Keep a list of any appointments you have canceled and the amount of income you would have received from them. You may do this in your scheduling software, a spreadsheet, or old-style pen and paper. Do what works for you, but track it as you cancel appointments now, so you don’t have to rely on your memory later.

Lock Down Your Spending

Look at your last few months of transactions. Eliminate any of your auto-debits and subscriptions that you can. If you have monthly subscription services, try to drop down to a cheaper (or, better yet, free) level of service while your business is paused. Consider your bulk email provider, website hosting, bookkeeping software, scheduling system, phone, etc.
If you are paying utilities on your office space and can safely get to the office, turn the heat down, unplug everything possible, and consider canceling your internet service.

In your personal accounts, defer any payments you can, for as long as you can. You may be able to delay auto loans and reduce credit card payments with no penalties or fees. If it makes sense for you—and it’s necessary to maintain minimum cash flow for living expenses—pause your retirement investing temporarily (the key word being temporarily).

Do that math to figure out how long you can live on the cash you have. That will give you some perspective and help you  create your crisis management plan moving forward. 

Consider Additional Income Ideas

Don't know what to do if business is slow? If your client base is economically diverse, you may be able to extend to virtual services that complement your practice or sell your retail products online. A pause in massage may also give you time to consider an entirely new business.

Flexible online work options are only growing. You may have the skills to teach online or offer online services like web design, copywriting, transcription, or virtual assistant services.
Many of us came to massage from other careers and will venture off into new ones. Now could be a good time to explore those options and brush up on the necessary skills. Keep in mind, if you are receiving unemployment or SNAP benefits, you may also be eligible for free or very low-cost career training and education.

You’re Still a Massage Therapist

Even when you’re not putting your hands on your clients, you’re still a massage therapist. And your clients know that you are still their massage therapist.

Stay in touch with your clients. They could probably use a little reassurance from you. Now is a good time to share all the self-care and wellness tips you’ve gathered in your career. Post to your blog (or finally start one!) and share via email and social media. If you had to cancel clients, you could even check in with them at what was previously their appointment time.

Plan to Rebuild Your Dream Practice

While massage is paused, do some work on your business. Consider what you love and what you don’t. An extended absence is a great time to think about what you would do differently if you were starting from scratch. Soon enough, we will be starting fresh and the reemergence could be a great time to make the changes in your career that you’ve been thinking about for years.

Find Allissa and Michael at, where you can catch up on all the latest podcast episodes and access resources to keep your massage business breathing. 


I just filed an unemployment claim for independent contractors as I work for two Chiro clinics 

any other advice for such strange times?

I tried to file a claim and because my place is not listed as I am self employed with just me in the office I wasn't able to go further on the claim form

any ideas,  I know the new stimulus package is supposed to cover self employed people

I'm also self-employed. I filed a standard claim & selected "sole proprietor" button.

Not sure if claim will be accepted or not.

I just applied for unemployment assistance Insurance ans was rejected. Anyone experiencing this? I was under the impression we were to receive it.

Also, some of the Hair stylists I work with are applying for financial assistance through PBA Charities through Amazon Smile. Is there anything similar for Massage Therapists?

Well friends, as far as I got it the unemployment process... It appears that the only self employment benefits we can receive as CMT's is under the heading of DUA relief. Disaster Unemployment Assistance.  This must be enacted by the Federal Government/president.  Our state does not fall under that category as of yet.  Hopefully this will change in the near future and I trust ABMP will keep us up to date on these findings. whew. A time of  great loss and a transforming time of self discovery.

I live in NY, Im not seeing anything for DUA. Im assuming we dont have it available?