In this episode of The ABMP Podcast, Kristin and Darren sit down with Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds from Massage Business Blueprint to discuss changes for the upcoming year, why you should think of your business as an asset, how keeping your physical space organized helps maintain a healthy mental space, and how to stop procrastinating and start “adulting” in 2022.
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0:01:28.5 DB: I'm Darren Buford.
0:01:29.8 KC: And I'm Kristen Coverly.
0:01:31.2 DB: And welcome to The ABMP Podcast, a podcast where we speak with the massage and bodywork profession. Welcome back, ABMP podcast listeners, and Happy New Year. Our guest today to bring in the new year are Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds. Allissa and Michael are the duo who make up Massage Business Blueprint. Allissa is a practicing Massage Therapist and self-described Director of Shenanigans at Massage Business Blueprint. Michael is a former massage therapist, financial advisor, and tech entrepreneur, and self-described Director of Nerdy Things at Massage Business Blueprint. Both happen to be authors and columnists in Massage and Bodywork magazine. For more information about them and their wonderful podcasting community, please visit their site at massagebusinessblueprint.com, or read their column each issue at massageandbodyworkdigital.com. Hello, Allissa, Michael and Kristen.
0:02:20.0 Allissa Haines: Hello, Happy New Year.
0:02:21.7 Michael Reynolds: Hey, happy to be here.
0:02:23.0 KC: Hi guys, welcome back to The ABMP Podcast. We're so happy to have you here to make our transition from 2021 to 2022. We're gonna talk today about reflecting on the past and making change and plans for the future. So we're really excited about that. Let's go ahead and jump right in. Your November, December 2021 Massage and Bodywork Magazine column titled, End Well and Begin Again, is about reflection and setting yourself up for success in the new year. Let's dive into that. Where should an MT start when thinking about reflecting and making change in the business?
0:02:58.2 AH: I was thinking about this in preparing for this recording, and since I wrote that column a few months ago, and I was thinking about how it feels so much harder and so much more important at the end of this year... At the end of 2021, that it has felt before. And a year ago, at the end of 2020, it was like, "Whatever. You're just rolling the dice with what the next year would look like in massage," right? And even... There's still that weight of uncertainty of everything that's gonna happen in the next year and more. But we have so much more knowledge and experience and this whole time of resilience, forced or otherwise, that we have to draw from as we start making plans. And I was just thinking like, "Oh, this is just so much heavier than it's been in previous years."
0:03:52.2 AH: And still so much more positive than I felt a year ago at this point. That said, as I almost knock my headset off because I'm so excited to talk about this, we kind of break up thinking about what you want your future to look like into three spaces in regards to your business: The physical, the mental, and the financial. And the physical is literally the stuff around you, the stuff and the space around you. And I am a huge fan of picking a small task that will improve your physical surroundings to give you a little bit of motivation to think through the rest of the stuff. And again, small. I do not think you should plan to re-decorate your entire office between Christmas and New Year. That is overwhelming and too much. But if you can look around and pick one thing that you can improve on, and maybe it's the wall color in your massage room, maybe it's just the lighting, or maybe it's cleaning out a file cabinet, or just handling one thing that can give you some motivation, because it can be really exhausting as the days get shorter, and everything's overwhelming with the holidays. Michael has a theory that I totally want him to share about sub-consciousness and what's going on with cleaning your space.
0:05:11.1 MR: Yeah, so my theory is the more clutter you have around your space, the more it kind of gunks up your mental flow, and... It's not just my theory, it's... A lot of people say this, and I believe it. So one thing I like to look at is any time I get bogged down in stress or I feel like my business isn't moving the way I want it to, or just something is kind of holding me back, if I can't think of anything else to do, I clean my space. And every single time I do that, it opens up my mind, my energy, the flow of work... Everything just falls into place much better. So going forward this year, one thing I'm really trying to commit to is to making sure that I keep up with de-cluttering my space and keeping my work space designed for work and not for holding stuff. The more you hold stuff in workspace is the more it kind of gunks up energy. So that's one thing I'm committing to this year going forward is really prioritizing the de-cluttering priority in my life.
0:06:09.4 AH: I kind of wanna emphasize that when we're talking about this, we're not talking about creating an Instagram perfect, modern minimalist aesthetic with a succulent plant and a white wall and a fancy ceramic mug. My way of cleaning and organizing and creating some structure, so I don't feel all over the place, is just to have things neat. And I'm a very... I need... I have object impermanence. If something's in a drawer, I forget it exists. So I actually need to have a fair amount of stuff in front of me. I need to have the tools that I use in front of me and visible, or I'll never remember to use them.
0:06:50.0 AH: I have glasses I'm supposed to wear when I'm at my computer, and if they are not in front of my computer, in front of that external monitor, I will absolutely never put them on. They get moved and I forget... I forgot they existed for six months and I had a headache. No wonder. So if you think that we're talking about some aspirational aesthetic of Instagram minimalism, I promise you we're not. You don't ever need to have a cactus or succulent. Just do whatever you need to do to make your space slightly more functional and enjoyable for you, because you deserve to have a functional and enjoyable space.
0:07:25.8 KC: And maybe after you do clean out that file cabinet, you buy a succulent as a reward.
0:07:29.6 AH: There you go.
0:07:31.3 KC: Just one. Just one succulent.
0:07:32.0 AH: Fancy mug.
0:07:32.4 DB: I'm already gonna have to commit to this, because listeners, if you saw Kristen's desk in her office versus my desk in my office... These are polar opposites, and hint, I'm the messy one.
0:07:44.6 AH: I would really love for your social media director to put pictures of both of your desks up as part of advertising this podcast episode, please. [chuckle] So the mental aspect of thinking about what you want for the next year in your business, and a really good way to approach this is to think about how business is integrating into the rest of your life, because we are not only our business, right? We are humans providing care in a caregiving business, and I'm sorry to be so cliche, but now more than ever, we really, really, really need to be considering how our lives integrate, how the different portions of our integrate so that we can stay sustainable, so we can have businesses that don't burn us out, that keep us fulfilled and financially okay. Financial stuff's coming next.
0:08:36.4 AH: But I like to think about what the last year or two or three or whatever has been like for me in regards to my business. Is there events that I wish I could have gone to, but my work schedule didn't allow? Are there events that I really didn't wanna go to that maybe I wanna start working at that time so that I don't have to feel obligated to do those other things? I worked Saturdays and Sundays for years, and I have never been happier about getting out of all of those baby and bridal showers, and I never regretted working a weekend. But if you are finding that you're missing your kids baseball games or whatever, this is a great time to think through what your ideal schedule would look like and what you want that to be, but mental space is also just more about scheduling. It can be something that you need.
0:09:21.2 AH: Do you need an extra hour a week to do your admin work so that you're not feeling rushed doing it between clients? Do you need one less hour at work? Do you need to hire out the housekeeping at your office, the cleaning, so that you can have an extra hour at home? What's the balance... And I don't love the word balance, but what's the balance that's gonna work best for you and keep your business super sustainable? And I think that we don't necessarily do a great job of separating our business lives and our personal lives, because our businesses are so personal, so Michael has a couple of really good tips about that.
0:09:56.2 MR: Yeah, so a lot of us really, like Allissa said, a lot of us really combine our business and personal lives together so much that it's our whole identity. I think all business owners do this to some extent, and especially massage therapists, because, like you said, Allissa, it's very personal. It's very inherent to who we are and what we do. And so it's very tempting for all of us to say, "Well, I am my business. I use my business email account for everything, and I use my... I maybe blend finances between business and personal. It kind of blurs together, and I just kind of have no boundaries between those things," and I think a lot of that's natural, to some extent, but I also think there's an unhealthy line we can cross where we blend so much that it just becomes part of our entire identity. And I think it's really important that we learn to think of our businesses as an asset and not this whole part of who we are from just a very visceral standpoint. So assets is a very business-y, corporate sounding word, but what it means is it's just... It's something of value that you own and manage, but it's not who you are. It's not part of your entire identity necessarily.
0:11:00.6 MR: Your home can be an asset, bank accounts, investments... These are all assets. I think your business should be seen as an asset as well, and when you think of it like that, I think it's a lot healthier. And so going forward, this coming year, I think it's really important that we try to reflect on that and develop healthy relationships with our businesses coming out of all the stress we've had recently and to really think of it that way. So a business is an asset, is something that should give you income, is something that should be an investment for you. It's something that should bring you joy and something that you should have fun with. But a healthy separation makes a lot of sense, and so something... I said email accounts earlier as a really silly example, but I think that's one signal that... One thing you can do is to separate the organizational tactics of your life. So instead of using your business email account for everything, have a personal email account and the business email. Keep them separate and maybe even check them separately. Different phone lines... Just kind of organize your life in a way that you're managing a business, not letting it take over who you are.
0:12:05.6 KC: This is really great information for those of us who've been practiced a long time to pause, look at our practice with a fresh eye, everything we're doing... But also practitioners who are newly into the field to set themselves up this way right from day one.
0:12:19.6 AH: And that's huge, and it's like... Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. That's one of the big lessons we learned in the first couple of years of being a practitioner and running our own businesses. And we learn it... That boundary stuff in so many different ways. But something as simple as email and not checking your business email, except on the days that you actually work, and setting that expectation well with your clients is huge. It's huge for preserving your sanity and making sure that your business stays emotionally sustainable for you.
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0:13:57.4 DB: Now, let's get back to the podcast. Allissa, how do you create your own boundaries? What days do you work and what days do you not work? I know that that was a big thing in the past year or two that you've implemented. Can you kinda give listeners a little insight into that?
0:14:11.9 AH: Yeah. So when I shut down my business at the beginning of the pandemic, I did not re-open until six months later, and I re-opened in a new office all by myself, as opposed to a multi-practitioner place I had been in and I had been managing. So I realized that this was a really good opportunity to make change. You make one change in your business, it's a really good time to just make blanket changes. I had just raised my prices six months prior, so I only increased my prices a little bit, and I changed my schedule. Previously, I had been in... Five days a week? And some of those days I would be working 9 AM to 8 PM with five clients kind of spread out, and some of those days were a little shorter, like Fridays and Saturdays were... Tended to be 9 to 3. But it was too much. I was in the office too much, and I knew I didn't wanna do that. So when I went back, I chose two full days and every other Saturday. So I am technically in the office on Mondays and Thursdays, and I have five appointments available, and they are available at 11, 1, 3, 5 and 7.
0:15:14.9 AH: I don't do five messages a day anymore. I had some shoulder stuff, so I had to back off a little bit. But I've kept that same schedule. So sometimes there are days where I'm in the office and I have an 11 and a 1, and then maybe I don't have anything till 7, but I use that block of time to do other business admin stuff, to run errands... So being in the office two to three days a week has been really, really good for my soul, knowing that I have... And I do all this writing and all this stuff from home, and I try to get that all done on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And then I get usually at least half the day off on Friday. I'm always catching up on something, but I started to flounder a little bit with that schedule. I had some stuff going on and I needed to re-adjust a little bit, and the person I had subletting my room left, so I ended up with all of this "flexibility," and I'm totally air-quoting that. And I screwed myself over the last two months with that, because I was able to just go into the office to make up for another day off or whatever. And I looked at my schedule for the next four or five weeks, and it's a hot mess, and I'm in the office three to four days a week, and I don't have the full days I want. And it was really good for me to sit down and reassess and be like, "Okay, what are the better boundaries I wanna put in place?"
0:16:26.2 AH: But I realized it was 'cause some days I was like, "Oh, I have to leave the house today? This shouldn't be a leave-the-house day." And also my writing was really suffering because I didn't have a full day to work on it. I wasn't able to fall into my concentration or my focus. So you learn by screwing up with this kind of stuff, like most things when you own a business. So that's kind of what happened to me. I learned and I knew what I wanted, and I still backslid. And this is just a thing. This is why we should be reflecting every six months or a year. That was a long answer.
0:16:57.3 DB: That's alright. Let's bring it on home with the financial portion.
0:17:01.6 AH: Yeah, so there's three things I think you should look at. And then I'm gonna toss this to Michael. How much money you have coming in, how much money you have going out to expenses, and how much money you're taking home. Michael, you wanna jump in?
0:17:13.8 MR: Oh, sure. So that's a great set up. I love the way you framed this: Money in, money out, money home. Because first of all, my brain likes to think in threes, and I think a lot of us do, so it's easy to remember. But it's a really clear way of seeing it. A lot of massage therapists... You and I both, Allissa, work with a lot of massage therapists one-on-one, as well as in group settings, and one of the biggest things I think we hear a lot is, "Hey, I don't really pay myself," or "I don't really pay myself that much." That phrase comes up over and over and over, and there's a couple of reasons behind it. One is sometimes the massage therapist will have a spouse or a partner that's bringing in in time for the household and they don't feel like they need to, and it's kinda just, "Hey, it's fine, I'm not really paying myself. I do it 'cause I love it." Maybe that's where they are. Other times, they're treating it like income, but they're blending business and personal stuff so much, they don't really know how much they're paying themselves, because they're just kind of really being vague about where expenses are. And maybe they just don't have a lot of expenses, and... There's a lot of scenarios where this comes up. But I really want to encourage massage therapists to be very intentional about the money in, the money out, and the money home, just like Allissa said. And especially the money home.
0:18:23.1 MR: Going back to thinking of your business is an asset. If you think of other assets in your life, if your home were decreasing in value and it wasn't livable, like, Okay, that would not be serving you, the asset would have a problem. You would be demanding more of the asset, your home provides value. Your home ideally should be increasing in value. Your car should give you utility, your car should drive you from point A to point B, there's a use for it. Your investment accounts, if you have a Roth IRA, you should see it over time trending up, and if it's not, you're probably gonna be concerned. So, we need to think of our business the same way, the business should be there to, yes, bring you joy and serve your clients, but also generate an income. And that income should be what you want it to be. So, I would really encourage all massage therapists this year going forward to... If this is not the case, to be thinking about, Hey, what income do I want for my business? What should I demand from it? What should I expect from it? And how do I get there?
0:19:18.1 MR: And that starts with thinking, Okay, what am I bringing in? And then what's going out, and you want that gap to be as large as possible, obviously you wanna make sure that money in is strong and money out is intentional and not over-spent. So, look around your expenses, do you need to spend money on this software app or this piece of equipment, or this office space or whatever it might be, and then whenever is left for the most of it, you wanna pay that to yourself and you wanna pay it separately by transferring it from your business account to your personal account, so it feels like income. So I really wanna see income looking like a paycheck. And that's what it should feel like.
0:19:53.6 KC: Michael, do you suggest like a paycheck, people transfer that money from business to personal on a regular basis, every two weeks, every week. What is your recommendation for how they do that?
0:20:05.4 MR: I do. I believe Allissa agrees. Generally What I... Sometimes I have different methods like percentage and flat fee and everything, I like to say if we can get to a flat fee... That's ideal. By fee I mean flat percentage you're paying yourself, so every month, every twice a month. I'm not a big fan of every two weeks just because you get these lumpy months where it's like the extra cheque and it's not quite as easy to budget, so I like either twice a month or once a month that you're transferring the same amount every time. And it can be a baseline kind of minimal amount, but then that kind of encourages you to say, Well, if I wanna give myself a raise, I need to increase my profit in the business, so you kinda have some levers you can pull to make that gradually increase. Yeah, I do like to see consistency because it's a lot easier to budget personally when you've got the consistency as well. Absolutely.
0:20:51.0 AH: I used to pay myself once a month, and I literally just did an electronic transfer from my business account into my personal account, and then after this pandemic, when so many of us got the pandemic unemployment assistance, and it was weekly. And all of a sudden, for the first time in 20 years, was getting a weekly paycheck, and I found that to be really nice. So I, when I went back to work for realsies and started paying myself, again, I started... I switched from a monthly to a weekly pay period, so every Monday, I look at the previous week's earnings and I do the budgeting things I need to do, and the first thing I do is pay myself. And like Michael noted, if you can pay yourself a flat amount weekly that ends up working out or a percentage of your gross income every week... We actually cover all this in the mind your money CE on the ABMP education portal, so everyone can go to that and see an actual demo with spreadsheets and how we can pay ourselves, various options and calculations. And I found that paying myself a flat amount every week was really motivating, and if I had a really bum Week and I couldn't pay myself that flat amount, it was a great motivator to get off my butt. Send an email, get a few more clients on the table for the next couple of weeks and make up for that, so I found that switching to a weekly pay period was really, really helpful for me, motivation-wise.
0:22:19.2 DB: Listen, Michael, in a sneak peak listeners for their next M&B column, you start with a quote that you heard in a massage class, which I love, we remain the same until the pain of remaining the same is worse than the pain of change. I find that quite profound, and so how do you stop procrastinating when we're thinking about 2022? How do you stop procrastinating and start adulting?
0:22:47.6 AH: I have no memory skills, and that particular thing that someone said in a class, literally more than 13 years ago, has stuck with me and I think of it all the time. Yeah, you have to... In a perfect world, we wouldn't wait until the pain is so bad to make a change, we would acknowledge that we're starting to feel yucky about something and make a change, so... Some ways that work for me... And what works for me doesn't work for everyone, but I tried to come up with some ideas, so at least one of them, may resonate with you. Keep whatever you wanna do, small and bite-sized. If you can plan a time for it or plan the support you need around it. So that means if you need to rethink your massage menu, you're gonna need some time to look at it, so that might mean that you need quiet in your household or quiet in your office, or an extra hour of childcare that week, or an extra cup of coffee or whatever you need to support you taking that action in bite sizes, get that support, whether you're treating child care or whatever you're doing, I need to set up reminders of why I have to make that change, why I want to make that change.
0:23:57.4 AH: So I can put post-it notes all over the place of affirmations or reminders to be like, remember to re-do your massage menu and I could put it as a to-do list and my to-do app, and I'll see it every day and completely ignore it but if I put in there, get hot stone massage off your massage menu because you hate it, or some kind of, you'd be more quip than I, In my example, but if I make sure that I know why, if I know that I need to do my physical therapy so that my shoulder doesn't hurt and I can do this for another 10 years, that needs to be the quip on my post-it note to remind me to do my physical therapy 'cause I won't just do it for the sake of doing it 'cause I'm human and I'm lazy. My final little bit of advice is that you can get help. Sitting with a friend at a coffee shop or inviting a friend over at the same time when your kids nap or whatever you can do to have somebody do their work while you're sitting there doing your work, that's called body doubling and... Or it helps you stay on task to have someone else there to hold you accountable, or if you're doing something that doesn't involve a lot of brain power to have someone there to keep you company.
0:25:06.1 AH: And I didn't know this was a legit thing, I used to make my nieces when they were little. I used to make them come to my apartment and hang out with me while I cleaned or sit on my bed while I put my laundry away, and I only learned recently that this is like a thing, it's a technique and it's called body doubling. And whatever you need for that accountability... And for me it's deadlines. I need deadlines. If you just... And Darren knows that if he doesn't give me... If he doesn't nail down a deadline for a piece that I will put it off for 18 to 24 months which he finally was like, "Are you going to do this?" And I'm like, "Give me a deadline."
0:25:39.6 DB: This is true, and you're not the only author that says that they need a deadline.
0:25:44.1 AH: Yeah, absolutely. I need to be forced into structure because otherwise I'm just flailing all over the place, but whatever kind of accountability you need, find a way to get it. There's apps for this, there's co-working apps where you can log in to an app for free and they'll assign you a buddy for a half an hour and you just do your own tasks and report back. We have this in our Blueprint Mastermind community, where we have Power Hours where it's a Zoom just like this, and everybody pops in at the beginning and says the task they're gonna accomplish and then they come back 55 minutes later and report back if they did it or not, and we all stay on task because somebody's... We'll tease each other at the end if we haven't. Whatever that looks like for you. And this is the most important part, I'm gonna repeat it. Whatever you have to put in place to support that. Whatever structure, whatever help, whatever anything, even if it's you need a new Notebook, but you keep putting it off. Do the thing that's gonna support you actually accomplishing the task or have somebody else do that thing to support you.
0:26:44.2 KC: I'm the same way I can... I love a list. Everyone, I love a spreadsheet, that really brings me such joy, but there's something so much better and more powerful about a human accountability buddy. Either someone that I have to report to and say, "Yes, I did this thing" or we get together every couple of weeks and kind of keep each other up-to-date on what we've done from our to-do list and what we haven't quite gotten to from our to-do list. Somehow there's such power in that. And I agree, Allissa, really everybody listening has to just find the key and the success point that works for them and find a way to start implementing that.
0:27:21.8 MR: So thinking about that quote, about when the pain of changing becomes more... One thing that helps me make it more painful to beating the status quo is to put effort into envisioning what could be. So going back to the first examples of physical clutter, for example, let's say you think it's a good idea to maybe remodel or redesign your office and make it more aesthetically pleasing and less clutter and just kind of re-designed a bit, but you're kind of okay where you are, the pain is not that great, but... I'm a visual person, I really... I can close my eyes, I can visualize, okay, I walk in the next day and my office is beautiful, it's clear, stuff is put away, I can feel that my energy is flowing well in the space, I just... The more effort I put into imagining what could be, the more that when I come back to reality, I'm suddenly in more pain because of that visualization or maybe it's paying yourself. Okay, maybe you're paying yourself haphazardly and not much, so maybe you write it down, maybe you write, okay, I am making this much per month, I am able to do these things with it, I'm able to invest and save, I'm able to pay off these debts, this is the state of my income, and then by writing that down, you envision what could be.
0:28:35.5 MR: And for me the way that I often generates more pain in the status quo is to say, "Crap, it's time for me to get my act together. I gotta raise my prices, I've gotta do more massages, I gotta cut these expenses. For me, that kinda raises the pain of status quo and can bring that quo to that phrase to fruition sometimes.
0:28:51.2 DB: Alright, let's bring it on home, Allissa and Michael, you close that column by saying how important it is to reward yourself. You wanna comment on that?
0:29:01.7 AH: Yeah. I need to have... I need to have something, some kind of pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to keep me going. So depending on the season, a lot of times rewarding myself is going to the ice cream place around the corner, but they're closed now 'cause of the winter. So I reward myself on a daily basis, now when I finish the work for the day. I have been watching on HBO Max, Selena and Chef, it is this amazing... Like the recording artist and star, Selena does the show, and it was a pandemic show, it's quarantine show, where the chef is in their kitchen and Selena's in her kitchen. And my reward is watching an episode of that show, and sometimes two or three, if I get my work done early enough, then I have time to watch a few things before dinner. And I don't ever get the TV to myself very much either. So if I can work in to really good times where... That's my reward. I don't know, Michael does... I don't know if Michael needs the carrot at the end of the stick.
0:29:56.5 MR: If I have a reward it's usually in the form of food. Usually pizza, Suchi. Yeah I reward myself with food a lot, so that's kind of my thing.
0:30:05.4 DB: Kristen?
0:30:06.1 KC: Yeah, I'm torn. I seem to have a lot of rewards that maybe I'm over-rewarding, but I'm with you, Michael, food, and then also going outside. I take a lot of walks with my dog, of course, but holding off to do this really special hike that I wanna do until I finish ABC, and then we're out the door to go do it. So kind of just something that I really want, just delaying it until I do this one thing and then I can go do the activity that I want or have the little snack that I want.
0:30:34.8 DB: I wanna thank our guest today, Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds for more information about them and their offerings go to massagebusinessblueprint.com. ABMP podcast listeners, ABMP members have access to more than 50 discounts through their membership services include discounts and continuing education, home utilities and cell phone service, legal fees, office equipment and more. Go to abmp.com/discounts to learn more. Thanks Allissa, Michael and Kristen.
0:31:00.1 AH: Bye.
0:31:00.1 MR: Thank you.
0:31:00.2 KC: Thanks so much guys. And listeners have fun reflecting and making change.
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