Ep 66 – The Power of Determination with Terrance Bonner

Author, educator, and spa owner Terrance Bonner

Author, educator, and spa owner Terrance Bonner joins the podcast to discuss his challenging road to become a bodyworker, his esthetics training that deepens his skill set, and his new book for aspiring entrepreneurs. His passion and commitment to practice massage in the face of life’s obstacles is an inspirational lesson for all practitioners.  

Author Images: 
Author, educator, and spa owner Terrance Bonner
Author Bio: 

Terrance Bonner is a massage therapist and esthetician practicing in Columbus, Mississippi. He is a Mississippi-approved continuing education provider for both massage and esthetics and is a licensed massage therapy instructor. He is the owner of The Glam Station and Spa and author of the recent book Determination + CORE Values = Success: A Business-Building Guidebook for New Wellness Entrepreneurs. For more information, visit www.theglamstationspa.com.


This episode sponsored by ExpertVoice.

Full Transcript: 

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0:01:04.9 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ABMP podcast. My name is Darren Buford. I'm the editor-in-chief of Massage & Bodywork magazine and Senior Director of Communications for ABMP.

0:01:13.6 Speaker 3: And I'm Kristin Coverly, ABMP's Director of Professional Education and a licensed massage therapist.

0:01:18.7 S2: Our goal is to connect with luminaries and experts in and around the massage, bodywork and wellness profession in order to talk about the topics, trends and techniques that affect our listener's practices. Our guest today is Terrance Bonner. Terrance is a massage therapist and aesthetician practicing in Columbus, Mississippi. He is a Mississippi-approved, continuing education provider for both massage and aesthetics and is a licensed massage therapy instructor. He is the owner of The Glam Station and Spa and author of the recent book, "Determination + Core Values = Success," a business building guidebook for new wellness entrepreneurs. For more information, visit, theglamstationspa.com. Hello, Terrance.

0:02:01.9 Speaker 4: Hello Darren and hello Kristin.

0:02:04.6 S3: Hi, we're so happy to have you here. Let's jump right in and let's start by letting our listeners get to know you a little bit. So, if you don't mind, please tell us a little bit about your background and the life-changing moment that started you on your path.

0:02:17.9 S4: Awesome. Thank you so much. So again, I'm a licensed massage therapist, aesthetician of 10 years. And for me, my beginning, it was... It took me six years to really get into massage therapy and to the wellness arena. And that was because my parents didn't really realize what massage therapy was, what the wellness industry could offer and did offer in this particular arena as far as massage therapy and aesthetics. So initially, it was what I wanted to do and when it came down to it, to sign the paperwork, to go to school, a recruiter came out to my house and began to talk and say, "Hey, you know, this is what Terrance wanted to do" and you know, "Mom and dad, this is what I wanna do." But I feel like they had a conversation, you know, amongst themselves prior to going in to... And then once the recruiter came and began to explain different classes that they offered like computers and medical tech and all that stuff, they said, "You know what? We feel like computers will be better." It was 2004, computers was on the rise, all of that. And so they were like, "You should do computers."

0:03:31.7 S4: So they're my parents, so I listened to my parents. But I really wanted to do massage. And so I initially went to school for graphic design and animation. I went. I was in class. I was passing class, but it was really not what I wanted to do. So long story short, I did not finish. I had literally one class left that I did not finish because it was not what I wanted to do. And so this was... By this time, it was 2006. I came back home to Mississippi which was right after Hurricane Katrina. And so I found another school down on the coast, which was four hours away from where I am from in Columbus... I went down to Gulfport, Biloxi area, found a school, enrolled in school. But I began to look for places to stay apartments in... $800, $850, $900, $1,000 for one bedroom. And I was like, "I cannot pay for that and go to school too."

0:04:31.7 S4: So my second attempt crumbled again and so I went back home. I went back home and I continued to work. I started working at KFC at the age of 15. So throughout, even when I went to Georgia, to go to that school, I'd worked at KFC a little bit too. So, starting at 15, I had been working at KFC, so of course when I came back, I went back to KFC because my mom was the manager. And so I worked with my mom. Throughout my time working with her, you know, she was my mom, and so I kinda had to put on a, "She's my manager," hat at work. But sometimes that came out, "Mom." But it was really time for me to go. And I had a associate, a friend come in and it was just written all over my face. She said, "What's wrong?" And I was like, you know, she was like, I was like, "I'm really ready to go as I've been here long enough."

0:05:29.8 S4: And the next word out of her mouth would be the words that I really needed to hear to push me to finally go. And her words to me were, "Oh, you'll be here the rest of your life. You are not going anywhere. You've been here all this time." And so, those... When she said that to me, initially I got upset. We talk about this to this date. We talk about... I say, "You know, you're the one that really pushed me." But when she said that out of her mouth, the first thing in my mind was, "You know what? I'm not gonna be here the rest of my life. I don't have to be and I'm going to go... Finally go to school for massage." And so this was 2009 and I found a school in Tupelo, Mississippi, which was about an hour away from me, which is closer than the other school that I looked at.

0:06:21.9 S4: And immediately sent an email saying, "Hey, I'm very, very interested in your school. Can you please send me more information?" They sent me the catalog, we began to look... I was like, "This is really what I want to do." This was six years later. I went to the initial interview for the school, which I did love because I do truly feel like massage and this... The wellness is definitely a calling. And so he began to ask me questions, "Why do you feel like this is what you want to do?" And of course, my answer was, "I really love to help people." And of course, I could have went and did nursing and all these other things, but no, this is what I'm literally called to do. For something to keep trying, and keep trying and keep trying to do, and keep pushing, and keep trying to go towards this one direction is not a coincidence. And so I finished the interview, and in February of 2010, I enrolled in school, and began school for massage therapy. And in November of 2010, I graduated and got my license and I began in the wonderful world of massage therapy. Three years later, I went back to school for aesthetics and I became a dual-licensed therapist as a massage therapist and aesthetician.

0:07:49.6 S2: Let's take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors.

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0:08:44.7 S2: Now, let's get back to the podcast. Okay, Terrance, what was it... So now we've... You've talked about being drawn to massage and then you picked up your dual license in aesthetics as well. What was the exposure to esthetics? How did that happen? Why was that the next step for you after massage?

0:09:03.3 S4: Well, in school of course, we talked about different arenas that we might possibly could add, and of course, aesthetics was one, and the very first job I had was at a spa. And so we offered hair, we did nails, we did aesthetics, massage of course. And so we had everything there, and I saw... Well, clients would come in for dual service for massage and a facial. Most time they would come to me first as a massage therapist, so they were often... 98% of the clients would always ask, "So are you gonna do my facial too?" And so I just... In the back of my mind I was like, "Well, what if I did go back to school to be an aesthetician?" I feel the connection of having... Being able to do both services of being a dual license. They didn't necessarily have to disconnect from me and then try to connect with somebody else. And so that was my mindset of, "Okay, if I go back to school to be an esthetician, then I would just have that one connection or the client would have that one connection with one person.

0:10:07.7 S3: And my friends and colleagues who are also dual-licensed find that they really like the variety that it offers in their schedule because they're not just doing the same thing each session, they could be bouncing back and forth from one to the other.

0:10:20.6 S4: And for me, I love it because of course, initially starting with massage, it does give me a break from bodywork. So it gives me a different break from bodywork like, "When I get finished with this, I have free massage back to back." And that's like totally... It's every blue moon that I have that, because I do facials or I do brows or I do teeth whitening or I do lashes. So it does give me a... Definitely a break from doing bodywork. So I do love that about it as well.

0:10:53.4 S3: Terrance, inspiring other wellness providers and helping them be successful has become a real passion for you. Why did business become your focus? How did that happen?

0:11:03.7 S4: So I began... In school, we did a collage of a goal. My five-year goal was to have my own spa. And so I envisioned this place where you go to and you get everything done under one roof. That was my vision for my place, for my spa. And I made it to my goal in four years versus five because once I became an aesthetician like I did... When I became a massage therapist, I did kind of have some trouble because I'm a guy, and it's definitely a female-driven career. And so I had just a little trouble. "I don't want a guy as a therapist. I don't want a guy rubbing on me." These are the things I've heard. But when I became an aesthetician, it was almost taboo. Places were hiring for the position, and me in my mind, you have somebody that does two things, so I should be at the top of the list in my mind, but apparently that was not the case. So I began to apply for places once I became... Got my license for aesthetics and doing both, and nobody would hire me. Nobody would hire me. I don't know. I can only assume why it was... It was pretty much unheard of.

0:12:32.0 S4: Nobody was like, "Oh, you do aesthetics? You went to school to be an aesthetician?" "Yes." I went to school for massage as well. But nobody would hire me. So many doors were closed. And so therefore, to keep going because I knew this was what I was supposed to do and thrive and succeed. And I had to create my own. And so therefore, I created my business and I was able to open my business in four years versus five years. So it was always a goal, it's just I was pushed into it before I guess maybe I wanted to, but working at the other places I worked at, it did prepare me to do that.

0:13:19.6 S3: Let's incorporate some business tips into this podcast and leave everyone with a little bit of business inspiration from you. So give us a couple of tips. What can you tell our listeners who are either interested in number one, opening their practice for the first time, or taking their business and practice to the next level?

0:13:36.9 S4: Definitely. So I'll definitely begin with somebody that maybe wants to open their own practice. The biggest thing is a lot of times people fail is, one, "Oh, I can be a business owner, I can do it." But the first thing you should know is that... Or you should have are clients. You need to make sure that you have clients so once you open that you can sustain, even if... Of course, they will always say, you won't make really money maybe two years down the road, but at the same time, you still have bills that needs to be paid. So the first thing I would say is make sure that you have enough clients to sustain yourself. That's the first thing. And then two, when I wrote the book, it was during quarantine, and so of course, there was assistance available.

0:14:28.0 S4: And so I kinda incorporated what it took to get that assistance, which was you have to make sure that your business was set up correctly. You have to make sure you have all your tax forms. And every entity that send out information for help was a little bit different, but most of them you had to have to make sure your business was set up right too. And so I'll definitely say that in the book, it goes through, first of all, your core values, to fall back on because it will not be easy. Every day will not be sunny. You'll definitely run into brick walls of like, "Okay, so how do I get past this, this obstacle?"

0:15:10.5 S4: But having those core values to fall back on to keep you going, but then it goes into making sure you're operating in the right entity that is right for your business, whether that is sole proprietor, whether it's LLC, corporation, and it talks about the pros and cons of each one that's right for you. When I began, I began as an LLC because I was by myself. But when I began to hire other people, talking to my accountant, it became evident that I needed to switch my business from a LLC to S corporation due to taxes and of course, it helped so much more, but knowing and educating myself on that to know for sure that was right for my business. Of course the book talks about that.

0:15:51.7 S4: So definitely for beginners or someone that is going into, that's definitely my tip for you. But there are people that... They are in business and maybe just kind of hit a brick wall and want to take it to the next level. Something that's in the book that I love to share is because I have been featured in... I've been on NBC, ABC, I have been featured in other magazines and newspapers. And so what I incorporated in the book was a step by step guide of how you can do that as well. My business has won over 13 awards, 18 in all with myself, and so I kinda put that in the book of how to first of all look for different awards to look.

0:16:43.6 S4: I would definitely just... I put in the book of definitely starting local, your newspaper or your TV station may do local awards, and I will always say start there because it's local. You're local, you're in your city, you're in your town, people know you. You've got your clients to back you, so I put that in there because doing those type of things and winning awards it does set yourself apart from everybody else. I hate to say competition, and the reason I say this and I had to learn this myself. It's so funny, the local TV station came by and they were coming out trying to do ads and one thing she said to me was, "Well, your competition down the road are... " I said, "They're not my competition."

0:17:29.5 S4: And when I said that to her, she looked at me and she was like... As if I was saying it as I was arrogant, but I was like, No. The reason I say they're not my competition is because we do the same thing. They do massages, they do facials. We do massage, we do facials. It shouldn't be, "That's my competition. Don't go there." No. [0:17:48.6] ____. So and so is right down the street, go try them out. Unfortunately, we can't get you today. That's how I look at it, so they're not necessarily my competition. People try to say things and do things, but they're not my competition. We literally do the same thing. Hey, I'm booked, go to them and they've done it. I mean, they literally have done it too so I'm just like, "Great, this is what I love, to see us working together, to just say, "Hey, we are in the same town. We're not better than them. Unfortunately, we're booked today. Try them right down the street, they do have great therapists there as well. Try the other place up the street, try... Unfortunately, we can't get you, if you just need something today. If you're hurting, and just really need to get in, try the other spa that's up the street.

0:18:34.8 S4: So those are my tips that I definitely would say to the ones that are listening. If like I said, if you're beginning, make sure you have enough clientele so that you can begin and sustain and grow from there. And then if you are already in business and wanna go and take your business to the next level, begin locally as far as awards. Having those awards, they do like I said, set yourself apart from everybody else now that you have these awards it's like, "Oh, wow. You know the spa that I go to won this award, or my spa that I went to won that award." Back in 2019, we won the best spa of Mississippi, through the Mississippi Magazine, and I'm still to this day, two years later like, I cannot believe we won that award.

0:19:22.2 S4: It was the very first time that we entered this award, and we won. When the lady emailed me, I was driving to school because I was teaching back in Tupelo. Different school, but the same city, so I'd drive an hour of commute there, hour back. So I was driving, I got the email, and it read, "Congratulations, your spa won best." So when she did, I had to call her and I was like, "Do you mean, we won top five?" Because they do the number one, and then they have top five that was next in line. So I said, "So, did we win top five?" She said, "No, you won first place." And I said, "Oh my God." I'm just like, I wanted to scream on the phone. I was driving. I was like, "I can not believe we won." But when I tell you that opened so many doors when we won that award. So that's why I like to... If you're in business you may not know, or you may see those different awards and you just don't pay it any attention. But I promise those things can take your business to the next level, different opportunities coming your way.

0:20:28.9 S4: It happened for me. The first magazine I was in, that's what happened. I was just... It happened on a podcast, and I was explaining what I did, the things that I accomplished. And that person, the editor-in-chief of that magazine emailed me, and said, "Hey, I heard your podcast. I love your background. I would love to feature you in our magazine." And I was like, "Oh, okay. Thank you so much. But then on the background I was just like, "Oh, my God. I cannot believe... Ohh." So having those awards and earning those awards, it's amazing again, to first to achieve them, but it does help your business take it to the next level as well.

0:21:11.8 S2: Terrance, you have so many... There's so much inspiration. And I can feel your drive and your passion about what you do. Let me ask you one final question, specifically about the book. You set it up like a workbook, which I find super fascinating. And it's actually really encouraging as a process. Tell me a little bit why you set it up like that.

0:21:33.6 S4: So, initially, the book was going to be an autobiography about my life. And as I was writing, and writing, I said, "You know what? I'm in business, this is what I do. Why don't I do a business guidebook, especially for wellness providers?" Of course, the book is great for any business owner, if you're a baker, boutique owner, cloth... It doesn't matter. But, because wellness is what I do, let's do wellness. And so, as I began to talk with my publisher, she said, "We haven't had a book like this in a long time." A refreshed book from maybe your generation. And so that's when I began to construct the book that way. Of course, I started with some personal things that I went through, through my journey. But doing a workbook, again, it gave you the tools that you needed to succeed. Again, I see so many people that open businesses, and they're operating their bank account from a personal account. And so, so many people don't even know you should have a business account, and a personal account. You should be paying yourself. How should you be paying yourself? So that's why I wanted to have something, a step by step guide, not just, "This is what you do," but you being interactive with it, too. Not just, "Okay, this is what you do."

0:23:04.2 S4: Now, I did have a very hard time with it. She kept having to tell me, she's like "Okay, you have to break it down." Because again, you have some people that are beginners that they really don't know as if you're teaching in a class, pretty much. "Okay, so today class, this is what we're gonna talk about. Step one, you're gonna do this." You've really got to break it down. So I really had to... I wrote something, and they said I had to break it down even more to simplify it, because you do have those people that you can put it out... My thing was, "Okay, this is what I did, and this is how you do it." And she was like, "No, you have to break it down even more to make it simpler. Because she was like, "If I was a brand new person, I would look at this and I would just close the book, because it would have been overwhelming." And so, again, that's why I transitioned it to a workbook to give you the step by step guide, but at the same time, to, again, really look back at, in your... Because for me, at four years old, four, I wasn't thinking about a business. It was my personal core values, but at the same time they transcended into my business as well.

0:24:14.8 S4: So again, when I wrote the book, I wanted to... A step-by-step guide to develop that first, and once you develop with that, now you have your foundation. You cannot build a house without your foundation. If you do, it's gonna fall. So again, same thing personal, going into your business, having that foundation going into it. Now you have that, and now you can start building. "Okay, this is what I want my business entity to be. Right for me at this moment. Yes, you still can change it down the road. Okay, now you have that brick. Okay, now let's add this other brick of, "Let me open my business account and make sure that it's separate from my personal." You add that brick. "Okay, let me find my accountant," if I'm ready for that, or my bookkeeper. Okay, got that brick. "Okay, now let me find my team... " This is the roof that we're about to build, whether it's gonna be regular roof, or 10, whatever the case may be. But you're building your house, you're building your foundation so that you can succeed, and can sustain through your business.

0:25:16.9 S2: Thank you so much for joining us today, Terrance. It's been a lot of inspiration, especially. I hope a lot of new practitioners feel that energy out there, that you're gonna have hurdles to cross, but keep going, and keep driving, and keep that determination going. Terrance, where can readers find more information about your book, and where can they purchase your book at?

0:25:38.5 S4: So, they can go to my website, which is, the bonnerinstitute.com. You can purchase from there. The book is available on Amazon, and the Barnes & Noble as well. If you are, maybe a school, and you want to buy multiple copies, you can contact me at Bonnerinfo@yahoo, to get book orders.

0:26:04.1 S3: Terrance, thanks so much for being with us, sharing your story and inspiration with our listeners. We really appreciate it.

0:26:08.8 S4: Thank you so much for having me.

0:26:10.8 S2: Thanks, Terrance.


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