Posts tagged Business
Are you a new massage therapist starting out? Or maybe you have been doing massage for awhile but are still struggling? Wouldn’t it be great to have the insight of more seasoned massage veterans about what they did when they first started that maybe wasn’t so successful and what they would do differently?
Well check this out, here are 3 things that I would do differently if I were to start my massage career over today knowing what I know now…
Join “If I could start over today…”
If you are a seasoned massage therapist would you like to share some of the things that you would change on how your did things, please contact me at lindaroisum [at] gmail [dot] com. We can either do a Skype interview or you can submit an essay (your choice on how long you’d like it to be) that will be turned into a blog post. Make sure to include a photo and a short bio so you can have the appropriate credit. I like to give credit where credit is due.
“If I Could Start Over” by Allissa Haines
As a massage therapist in private practice, it is quite likely that you did not chose your profession because you wanted to be a business person. As a result, it can be challenging to go into business for yourself and be successful. Taking time to prepare and plan as you build your private practice will help you avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes. Below are ten areas to address to help ensure your success.
1. Get Your Life in Excellent Shape
Massage therapists and healing professionals know that our personal lives affect our professional lives, yet many who are struggling to market a private practice fail to take this into account. Look at all aspects of your life and determine what seems to be working for you and what needs to change. Determine any activities you need to reduce or eliminate in order to have the time and energy to market your practice. Examine your lifestyle and personal work habits and see where improvement needs to be made. The more your life is on order, the more time and energy you will have for marketing and building a practice.
2. Develop a Financial Plan
Before you start marketing your practice, assess your financial situation and make a financial plan. Make sure you have funds from other sources until your practice becomes established. Do not put your self in a position where you are desperate to secure clients in order to pay your bills. Potential clients may sense your desperation and may not be eager to hire you. Feeling secure financially will allow you to market and build your practice with greater confidence and ease.
3. Know that You Are a Business Owner
It is essential that you start seeing yourself as a business owner if you haven’t made this mind-shift already. You must pay careful attention to all aspects of your business–your revenue and expenses, how you spend your time, methods of attracting clients, and developing operating systems that allow your business to run smoothly.
4. Develop a Vision for Your Massage Practice
It’s difficult to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going. Develop a detailed vision of what you want your massage practice to look like in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years and write it down. How many clients do you want to have? What days and hours do you want to work? How much income do you need/want? The more clarity and specificity you have, the more likely you will turn your vision into reality.
5. Develop at Least One Specialization
Massage Therapists and healing professionals new to private practice often fear that if they are too narrow in the type of services they offer, they will rule out many other potential clients. The opposite is actually more often true as people tend to want to hire specialists. The more targeted you are in marketing your practice, the more you will stand out from others and become known for your expertise. In addition, it’s easier to market your practice to a particular group if you know where to find them.
6. Determine Any Negative Attitudes and Fears You Have About Marketing
Many massage therapists, and healing professionals are uncomfortable with the marketing aspect of being in private practice. They see their role as to be there for others and not to promote themselves. Our repeated exposure to negative and manipulative types of marketing further contributes to the belief that marketing ourselves is somehow inappropriate. Any negative attitudes and fears you have about marketing a practice need to be eliminated. You can and should find ways to market with integrity and authenticity. Be proud of your services and have confidence that you have something to offer people that they need and want.
7. Develop a Marketing Plan
In order to market your massage practice successfully you must have an integrated marketing plan. One of the most common mistakes helping and healing professionals make is trying a few methods of marketing your practice haphazardly, and when the results are not immediate, they erroneously assume the techniques don’t work. Flourishing massage practices are frequently built upon a number of marketing strategies that work together over time. To market effectively you must make yourself repeatedly visible to potential clients and referral sources so that they get to know and trust you.
8. Choose Marketing Methods That Excite You
Take some time to explore and develop marketing methods that suit your unique talents and interests. There are numerous ways to promote your practice. To get ideas, read books, take courses, ask other professionals how they built their practices, or hire a marketing consultant or coach. Marketing can be an enjoyable and creative process that provides a balance to the work you do with your clients. Find a way to take pleasure in this aspect of your business and you will be more motivated to do it.
9. Make a Commitment To Build Your Practice
Typically it can take anywhere from 1-3+ years to build a full practice. Exactly how long will depend on several factors including the size of your current network, how effectively you market, the demand for your area of expertise, and how much time you spend developing your practice. Make a commitment to take action steps on a regular basis. It’s best if you set aside a specific amount of time on a weekly basis for marketing your practice, and try to stick to this schedule even when you become discouraged or become tempted to allow other things to take priority.
If you want to learn low- and no-cost methods to develop your massage practice, check out the second edition of my book Creating a Prosperous Practice, Spending Little or No Money Marketing.
I thought you’d enjoy this fabulous interview with Warren Buffett that recently aired on the BBC in the UK.
Listen and learn from Warren Buffet here. There are lots of little gems in there that you can apply to your own business and indeed your personal investment strategies too.
OK, we’ve got April 15th behind us and our tax returns are properly filed. What do we do with all those old income tax return copies and records that we have? The definitive answer is – it depends. The biggest fear is that as soon as you throw any of your records out, you will be required to provide them to the IRS. The good news is that there are certain protective rules that will guard you against an old assessment or an untimely audit by the IRS. These rules are known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations limits the number of years during which the IRS can audit your tax returns or require you to provide records. Once the statute of limitations expires for a certain year the IRS can’t go after you for additional taxes. Of course you can’t go after them for refunds either.
For audits and assessments the general rule is that there is a three year statute of limitations. The time runs from the date you file your return. If you file prior to the due date the time runs from the due date. For refund claims it’s the later of three years or two years from the date you paid the tax.
There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations. If you don’t report all of your income and the amount is understated by more than 25% of the amount shown on the return filed, the statute is extended to six years. If you claim a loss for a worthless security the time frame for identifying the loss is stretched to seven years during which you can claim the loss.
However, you can’t hide behind this protection if you are not following the rules. If you file a fraudulent return or fail to file at all the statute of limitations period never starts to run; the IRS can get you at any time.
There are other statute of limitation periods, too. For example, there is a ten year statute for collections of taxes assessed, and payroll tax returns have their own rule. For payroll tax returns the rule is three years from the April 15th of the year after they are due or the received date, whichever is later.
Property records included in your tax returns should be maintained for the statute of limitations period following the disposal of the asset for tax purposes. If there is an exchange of property that period would include the disposition of the exchanged property.
When it comes to records showing nondeductible IRA contributions you’ve made, you’ll want to keep them indefinitely. When you begin making IRA withdrawals in retirement, you’ll have them in case you need to prove that you’ve already paid tax on the money.
Keep your monthly retirement and savings account statements throughout the year until you receive your year-end statement. If your year-end statement matches the monthly statements, you can get rid of the monthly statements and simply keep the year-end version.
Also keep your records of stock and mutual fund purchases until you sell because you’ll need them to calculate your capital gain or loss.
What Can You Toss?
Even though there’s quite a bit of financial paperwork that you should keep, you don’t have to become a pack rat. So, you ask, “what does all that mean?” There are some things you can happily toss. For the average taxpayer seven years should be a sufficient holding period for keeping income tax records. In addition, you can get rid of your pay stubs each year after checking that they match what appears on your W-2. You can also purge credit card statements, utility bills, and phone bills after you’ve paid them and they don’t contain deductible expenses.
But, before you throw any records out, you should consider other needs such as insurance requirements or proof to creditors in addition to the IRS requirements. When you finally decide that you can get rid of those financial papers you no longer need, shred them – it’s the safest way to go.
It’s is that time again. April 15th is just around the corner. Are you having feelings of stress, anxiety or frustration because you are not prepared?
Just in case you are not as prepared as you would like, here is some suggestions for keeping business records, preparing receipts, understanding allowable deductions, and knowing options for tax preparation.
KEEPING ACCURATE RECORDS
Keeping accurate and detailed records of your income and expenses is an important key to building a successful massage therapy business. Accurate and up-to-date records will also make it easier to prepare you tax return and will give you a realistic view of your net profit. This is the number that you will ultimately be taxed on.
Figuring your net income for the year is an easy process if you are prepared. Ideally, the easiest way to keep income and expenses is on the computer with an accounting software package such as QuickBooks or Quicken. If you don’t have a computer you will have to do this process by hand.
First, you’ll need to figure your gross receipts by adding up the total fees earned including tips. Next, you will want to figure out your business expenses – what it costs you to run your business for the year. These business expenses will be deducted from your gross receipts to give you your net profit.
The easiest way to keep track of your business expenses is to save all of your receipts for goods and services in a file folder. It might be helpful to keep a running log of each expense with the date, company, description and the cost. By keeping your receipts this way, it will be easy for you add everything up at tax time.
If you didn’t keep organized tax records this year, it may take you a little longer to prepare your taxes because you will have to gather all of the necessary documentation.
WHAT EXPENSES ARE DEDUCTIBLE?
In order to deduct an expense for business, it must be “ordinary and necessary” according to the IRS. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. So what is ordinary and necessary for Massage Therapists: advertising and marketing (i.e. newspaper ad, brochures and business cards), banking fees, books and magazine subscriptions, business licenses and permits, continuing education, equipment and supplies, health insurance and other insurances required to run your business, mileage, office furnishings, printing, postage, professional fees such as accountant or lawyer, professional dues, rent, utilities, laundry expenses, meals and travel expenses associated with continuing education, client gifts and business use of your vehicle. See IRS Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business for more information.
You may be able to deduct expenses associated with a home office such as mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs and depreciation. These expenses would be a percentage of the portion of the space used for the home office compared to the total square footage of the dwelling. For instance, if the total square footage of your house is 1000 square feet and your home office is 200 square feet then you can deduct 20% of the expenses (200 divided by 1000). In order to deduct a home office you must use that part of your home for “exclusive and regular use for your business and must be the principal place for your business”. For more information, see IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home.
PREPARING YOUR TAXES AND FILING FORMS
If you are in business for yourself, as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, the IRS requires you to file a Schedule C with your 1040. Also, you are required to pay self-employment taxes by filing a Schedule SE. According to IRS regulations, all businesses must pay quarterly estimates of profits. If quarterly payments are not made, a penalty and interest may be assessed. Tax estimates are due April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15. See IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for more details. To make things a little easier, you can set up automated payments by going to www.eftps.gov.
At this point, you will need to decide how you will file. Will you file the return on your own either manually or with a software program such as TurboTax? Will you have a tax professional do your return for you? There are advantages to both. By having a professional do your tax return, you are getting just that a “professional” whose job it is to know the tax laws and know what is deductible and what is not. If you are ever audited, the tax professional will go with you to answer the audit. Although the fee is usually higher than buying on of the software programs, the tax professional’s fee is deductible on the next year’s taxes. By doing the taxes on your own, you save a little money up front as most of these programs are less than $100. These programs are fairly user-friendly with a Q&A session and then the computer program fills in the necessary forms and walks you through the filing process. The cost of the software program is also deductible on your next year’s taxes.
Don’t let filing taxes get you frustrated or stress you out. Get prepared and you will make the experience less painful.
I recently had a HotStone pedicure. I have had this treatment several times before at this particular Spa but not by this nail tech. Although the technique what correct, I didn’t come out of there feeling marvelous and relaxed as I have in the past.
When I go to the spa, I want to get pampered. I want to be the center of attention. I want my stress and aches and pains to melt away. This time my usually luxurious treatment kept getting interrupted by the nail tech stopping what she was doing to drink her coffee. This was almost as bad as the time, I had a massage therapist answer the phone, not once but twice during my massage.
When our clients come to us for massage, or any other treatment, they are paying for a service. They want to know for that one hour they are the center of attention as they may not get any other attention in their daily lives.
I never went back to the massage therapist who thought answering the phone was more important that I was. I have yet to decide whether I will continue to patronize the Spa and make sure I never get “Ms. Coffe” again or move on. There is no lack of massage therapists, so doesn’t it make good business sense to keep the clients you have.
Where is your focus as you are working on your clients? Are you giving them your all?