You may have heard elsewhere that in order to do something big (starting your own massage practice, anyone?) you have to DECIDE to do it. Like, really decide.
And that’s true.
But it’s not the whole truth. At least, not the whole truth according to Isabel.
If you’re going to run your own successful practice . . . a practice that pays all of your bills and savings and vacations and retirement accounts . . . you’re going to have to decide to do it more than once.
Yes, indeedy. Running a business, any business, is a lot of work in the beginning. And obstacles are NORMAL. It’s all about how you deal with them. Too often, people hit the first (or second) string of obstacles and give up.
Don’t Give Up on Your Practice
In the beginning, especially if you are committed to growing fast and getting your business off the ground NOW, it’s not going to be the easiest thing you’ve ever done.
In fact, you’re probably going to want to give up – more than once. I sure did.
I think it was about two years into my business, after I had already grown the darn thing, after I had borrowed money from every conceivable source to help get that growth, after the economy had crashed, after I was exhausted and worn out . . . I didn’t just give up, I GAVE UP.
I emailed all of my clients, said I was moving on to other things and they should all go see other massage therapists whose work I love. I gave away all but two sets of my linens to one of those therapists. I shut down the appointment booking on my website. I changed my role in my networking group and invited in another massage therapist to take my place. All of it. I even intentionally let my massage license expire – which meant I could not legally practice. (And thems’ are the kinds of rules I follow to the letter.)
And then, small surprise, two weeks passed and I realized I had just made a huge mistake. I wasn’t ready to not do this work anymore. Both emotionally and financially, I had made the totally wrong decision.
So, I spent a couple of very intense conversations leaning on my friends who owned their own practices, spitballing ideas for what to do next when it hit me: I had no bigger asset in my life than all of the crazy hard work I had put into my practice already.
And, I decided all over again to commit to my business.
Only this time for real.
I shelled out the cash to reinstate my license, emailed all of my clients (embarrassing much?) that as soon as my license came through, I was back in business. I got my website and scheduling back in order, and within a month I was all the way back in business.
And, to be totally honest, it felt like I had never left. To this day, I kind of can’t believe that over 70% of my clients immediately came back to me.
I kind of can’t believe that this work of helping others has proved over and over to be the foundation of mental, emotional, and financial stability for me through some pretty hard times (as well as some pretty excellent ones!).
But, why am I telling you all of this?
Because you need to know that it is NORMAL to need to decide over and over again that you are doing this. Once is never enough (though of course that first BIG decision HAS to happen – you know, the scary one where you break out in a cold sweat and your hands tremble and then you say, Yes, I’m doing this. NO excuses. Yeah, that one.) And then keep making it over and over again. That’s normal.
I’m telling you this because you need to know that you’re not alone. I STILL occasionally hit times that are so frustrating that I go look at job listings on craigslist. (Which then immediately cures me of my blues.)
Because you need to know that if you just keep your head down, stop comparing yourself to every other business owner, and take this practice building stuff one step at a time, that you WILL do this because it is totally possible.
The BIGGEST problem I see for our profession is that people just give up on their own practices and end up feeling stuck working in spas or clinics that don’t adequately pay them or, more importantly, are just not where they want to be spending their precious time.
If you want your own practice, you should have your own practice. No matter what.
And, lest this post seem a little bit of a downer . . . just know that while challenging times are real, so are the totally transcendent times when you review your work at the end of a solid client week and think: How lucky can one person be!?
- Isabel Spradlin has owned her full-time practice since 2007. She has a deep drive to help other massage therapists and bodyworkers to create thriving businesses for themselves. For comprehensive programs to help you do just that, see the 'Programs' tab in the menu.
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