You Have a Business — not a Massage Practice
by Coach Cary Bayer
The extraordinary amount of time that you spent studying your healing art--probably somewhere in the range of about 500 to 750 hours if you studied massage, years if you're a counselor--prepared you expertly in the art of giving another person a professional session. I refer to this part of your knowledge as your healing arts practice. I use the word practice because you literally practiced it many times before you mastered it. When you were a small boy or girl, in elementary school, you practiced the multiplication table and, in time, you mastered it. Years later, as a teenager, you practiced the conjugation of verbs in Spanish or French and, in time, you mastered that, too. Still, years later, as an adult in your professional training, you practiced your modality and, in time, mastered that, as well. In fact, one of your assignments as your education unfolded was to practice on real human bodies and minds the techniques that you were taught in textbooks and in the classroom. And some lucky guinea pigs were glad that you did.
Speaking of practice, I'm reminded of the classic old joke where the tourist says to the hard-boiled New Yorker, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?' And the street-smart local answers, "Practice, practice, practice."
In school, you learned different modalities, you learned anatomy, your learned physiology, you learned about the psyche, and so forth. This knowledge, coupled with all your years of experience, comprises your healing arts practice. A simple way of thinking about it is that everything you do on your table or in your office is your practice. On the other hand--no pun intended--everything that you do that gets people to your table or your office is your business.
Another way of saying this is that everything that you do outside of your office is your business. If you were lucky, maybe you had five to seven and a half hours of training on this in massage school, probably less if you're a counselor. That would account for one percent of your total training if you're an LMT. Most therapists were not lucky enough to get even this. This is something that you didn't learn professionally how to do. It's not surprising, therefore, that few alternatives actually know how to operate their businesses professionally.
Swedish, hypnosis, energy balancing, are all parts of different kinds of comprehensive healing arts practices. Marketing, pricing, and networking are all part of a comprehensive healing arts business. Too many healing businesses are essentially all practice and virtually no business. These are also the businesses, I'm sorry to say, that are most likely suffering the most financially, especially as the economy has plunged goes souso far south.
Whenever I teach my CE classes--in particular, "Build a $100,000 a Year Massage Business"--many arms go up when I ask LMTs if they've heard of The Secret. The best-selling book and DVD trumpets the power of the Law of Attraction, the universal principle that states that whatever you focus on expands, or where attention flows, energy goes. So it should come as no surprise, even for those who are versed in the Law of Attraction, that if you devote only a tiny amount of time to your business, you'll likely only receive a tiny amount of new business. However, a more generous amount of time dedicated to your business should--and does--yield some new business. In other words, the Law of Attraction works, whether you're putting your attention on writing affirmations or doing visualizations for your business, or simply you're networking to generate new clients.
If you're like many of the many dozens of healers whose handiwork I've sampled in many of these united states of ours, as well as in different countries from the Caribbean to southeast Asia, you're exceedingly generous to your clients in your practice. Almost all of you give of your hands, your energy, and your love to help your clients heal. Some of you do this so thoroughly that your hour-long sessions often go an hour and a quarter--for no extra cost to your client. This is great generosity in your practice. If, however, you're like many of those same dozens of healers, you're very stingy regarding your business. Marketing time rarely spills over from an hour into an hour and a quarter because there's usually no hour of marketing to spill over from in the first place.
Here's a matter that's actually close to my heart. My wife and I both know a number of massage therapists who have terrific massage practices. Now if you read this sentence without having read the first paragraph above, you would naturally assume that these were thriving LMTs. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. These are therapists--at the moment, unfortunately, former therapists--who had to give up their massage practice because they no longer had a viable massage business. In other words, they didn't have enough clients to pay their monthly bills and sustain themselves. So they took what most people typically call "straight jobs" to pay their monthly nut and, tired from these labors, in time, ran out of the physical and psychic energy that it takes to consistently support clients on their tables. Eventually, they stopped doing massage at all. And that was a great loss for us and everyone else who happened to benefit from their healing hands. The reason that these extremely talented therapists were out of the massage business was because they put almost all of their attention on becoming great therapists, and almost no attention whatsoever on becoming successful therapists. Great as in skilled hands; successful as in money in the bank. (Or, more precisely, in investments.)
It was their loss--actually our loss at not being able to work with them any longer--that helped inspire me to dedicate myself to helping alternative healers become wiser about supporting their businesses. Sometimes it takes a personal loss to take positive action to create change. Here's my recommendation: decide to spend some generous time on your healing arts business, and you'll have more clients than ever before on your table to perform your healing arts practice.
Cary Bayer was keynote speaker at the American Massage Therapy Association national convention. Widely known as Marketing Coach for Healers, Cary is a Life Coach; CE provider; and faculty member of Massage Business University, who writes for some 20 alternative healer publications and websites. His three dozen publications include a dozen specifically for healers, plus 2 DVDs, one of which has been translated into Japanese. He's coached more than 300 alternative healers. His 15 CE seminars and webinars--in particular, "Build a $100,000 a Year Healing Arts Business"--are very popular among therapists.
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