Sunday, May 27, 2012


think about money
must have before you make it
creative finance

So. I just learned that is a valid way of funding a local start up business. Such as, for example, a massage studio. Like mine.
At the moment, I have a space, I have all the equipment I need, I advertise and spread the word as best as I can. And I have, in the four months I have been open for business, had exactly three paying clients. Additionally, I have done some trades, part of getting the word out.
I knew that getting this studio started was going to be slow. I expected that. I had hopes of maybe having three paying client hours a week within six months, and I thought I was being realistic in that assessment. Not so much.
I think there are a lot of factors here. One is that there is a lot of competition. People find a therapist they like, and they stick with that person. Which is as it should be; there is nothing more important, no technique or trick or tool in a massage therapists bag that is more vital than the ability to connect with their client, and do what the client needs. For a client, finding someone who works with you, who you respond to, is worth any price.
For those who have not yet found that person, there are literally dozens of local massage studios and spas and chiropractors who have a massage therapist on staff. And, of the latter, they take insurance, which lowers the out of pocket expenses for the client. For those without insurance, or who do not want to, or cannot use their insurance, there are still coupons and deals and discounts. There are always ways to lower the prices of massage, to get bodies on the table.
And of course, that is part of the issue, as well. I am not cheap. I have a day job, so I have decided to set my prices to a level where it is worthwhile for me to work, where I would (were I working full time) be able to support myself on this alone. I have realized / concluded, there is no one I want to work for as much as I want to work for myself. Which means, of course, many people who might come to me otherwise find me too expensive.
Part of that is the prevailing wisdom of the profession. Within the massage community of practitioners says ... well, many things. One is a kind of agreement about setting prices. Nothing so formal or legal as price fixing. There are no consequences to giving away massage at lower than the going rate. Just ... a kind of social pressure, a constant message that says "low prices equals bad quality".
Aside from that, setting a lower price point for my services means, having to work more hours for the same result. To a very real extent, the nature of the work requires that I only work a particular number of hours, per week, at top form. In a nutshell, I can only do my best for a while. Working too much means not working as hard and not doing good work. So... the price I charge is, in part, determined by how much I can work, in a week, and still do the quality of work that I willing to accept. Frankly, I have a very high standard I set for myself.

So, yah. In a nutshell, getting a massage studio started and making a living at it is difficult. This is not news to me. More difficult than I even expected? Not really much of a surprise, I tend to underestimate the difficulty of tasks that I choose for myself.

And then there is Kickstarter.
I could, in theory, create a project, to fund the foundation and funding of a new massage studio. Get rent paid (on the studio space) for six months, or a year. Get more linens, oils, maybe a washer dryer, other supplies (better table). Kickstarter seems to work best with  rewards for people who fund it. But that is easy enough. Discounts, and free massages, for those who contribute at various levels. T shirts, even, because any studio I do is going to be geek centric, and we do love our T shirts.
Right now, today, I am just realizing that such a thing is possible. I was kind of under the impression that Kickstarter projects needed to have a wider appeal, that intrinsically local projects were not really a feasible or worthwhile project. Discovering that this is not  the case .,. opens possibilities.
No idea what I will do with it, yet. But there it is. A possibility. Maybe an opportunity.