ABMP Financial Literacy Series
Create Long-Term Goals for Your Practice—No Matter Where You’re Headed!
In the July/August column of the Mind Your Money 2020 series, we covered the tax process.
By now, you’ve put in place a pretty strong financial foundation for your massage practice. You’re tracking money as it comes in. You’re tracking money as it goes out. You’re budgeting and paying yourself with intention. And you’re even getting tax savvy!
So what now? Once you reach the point of some “stability”—in the sense that you have a good grasp of your business finances— it may be time to think longer term.
Questions may come up like:
- How do I grow (or do I even want to grow)?
- What if I need new equipment?
- How should I plan for upgrading to a new office?
- What does retirement or closing (or selling) my practice look like down the road?
- How do I work less and make more money?
These are all great questions to consider, but we will not be able to tackle all of them right now. We can talk, however, about how to approach these questions and the financial concepts that can help you be prepared.
As a business owner, it’s logical to think about expansion once you are established and operating with good cash flow and profitability. However, it’s important to approach expansion with caution and from a place of financial strength. Too many massage therapists get excited about growing and end up jumping the gun by hiring people and expanding their offices while going into debt and end up putting themselves in a risky spot.
The best thing you can do for your business before thinking about expansion is to aggressively build your short-term savings (generally called “retained earnings” in business jargon). It can be very tempting to want to expand by buying new equipment, moving to a new office, or hiring people, and then funding the growth with debt—or without the proper cash foundation.
It’s especially important, though, to have healthy cash reserves as a foundation.To build a good financial foundation, think of your short-term savings as your self-funded line of credit. Continue to “pay on the balance” every month as if it were a loan. But you will be paying yourself. If you make this a habit, you will always have an organically growing cash cushion for the things you want to do.
Retirement or Closing Down
Depending on where you are in your career, you may be thinking more about what it looks like when you are done massaging. Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues many business owners have when it comes to retirement is they generally ignore it until it’s too late. Everything is so right now!
Business owners pour all of their efforts and energy into their business—and often blend their identities into the business. They are so focused that they often neglect to invest in a retirement account, pay down personal debt, or make plans for how to sell the business. As a business owner, it can be very difficult to think in longer-term scenarios. Remember, your business should not cannibalize your retirement.
As you are growing your massage practice, you need to be saving for your retirement. While you may not have access to a mainstream 401(k) like you would in a corporate job, you still have options. Your retirement savings might include a Roth IRA, a Solo 401(k), a general brokerage account, and/or other types of retirement accounts. We will cover these in more detail in the next column.
Another consideration is exiting the practice. What happens when you are done massaging? Do you close it down? Do you sell it?
Many massage therapists don’t believe they have any options other than closing down the practice when they retire. Or maybe they just plan to refer their clients to another therapist. However, selling your massage practice can be a viable option—and it may be beneficial to plan for that.
While it’s not realistic to assume you can sell your massage business for a huge sum of money, it is realistic to try to get something for it. Many massage therapists have successfully sold their businesses, and it’s nice to receive something for it rather than just close it down.
So how do you prep your massage practice to be sold? Fortunately, the things that go into running a strong business are the same things that make a business more salable and include:
- Creating and documenting clear systems and processes for operating your business
- Creating a strong brand (logo, website, messaging)
- An effective marketing system that generates business (especially through online channels)
- An active and growing email list
- A profitable and debt-free business
- Good accounting practices and record keeping
- Recurring revenue through things like membership programs and corporate contracts
- Strong and steady product sales with good supplier relationships
- A reliable team of massage therapists (if you decide to grow beyond a solo practice)
These strong business attributes are all important to running a successful business, and they all make your business easier to sell. Even if you stay solo, these attributes will help you because you can effectively hand over your brand to the buyer, who can then step into an established massage business and take over the hands-on work.
It’s true that your clients come to see you, which may make it sound difficult to sell a massage practice. But if you simply close, your clients are going to have to find someone new anyway. If you make it easy for them to transition by finding a buyer who aligns with your service, it’s more likely they will take your recommendation and remain a client of your business, working with the new therapist (the buyer).
Planning Gives You Options
While you may never sell your practice, upgrade your office, or buy a bunch of equipment, it’s still nice to have options. And the steps that help you prepare for these scenarios also help strengthen your massage business.
By avoiding debt, saving for the future, and setting up a well-run and valuable massage practice, you are creating freedom and options for your future self. And your future self will thank you!
Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds are found at www.massagebusinessblueprint.com, a member-based community designed to help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life.