3 Key Shifts To Creating A Massage Business That Runs Itself 

If you’re like most practitioner-owners you’ve likely taken a similar path to getting to where you are today.

You started (or purchased) a business in order to do things your own way, take control of your life and schedule, give the highest quality service possible, and hopefully make some money for yourself along the way. 

Through much trial and tribulation, you’ve managed to get the clients, the team, and the revenue you didn’t think was possible. When you compare yourself to the average massage practitioner-owner, it seems like you’ve already climbed Everest.

However, deep-down you know something is off, and that the way things are going now aren’t the way you want them to be forever.

It’s as if your business has a life of its own and constantly demands your attention in new and unexpected ways. Instead of pursuing your passions, you’re forced to deal with an ever-expanding list of tasks, administrative duties, and management of others. 

You’re now working more than you ever have before, yet still, for some reason, your take-home pay only reflects a fraction of the time and effort you put in each and every week.  Your business, which originally was supposed to be an opportunity for freedom, now feels like a prison of your own design. 

But there’s got to be a better way, right?

Introducing – The Self-Sustaining Practice 

Imagine if your massage business could keep running smoothly even when you’re not there – with clients happy, money coming in, and everything working like clockwork. 

Picture it. Your income wouldn’t depend on how many clients you see each week, and with a team that could manage themselves, so you could spend time and energy and what matters most.

That’s the idea behind a self-sustaining practice. It’s the kind of massage business that doesn’t rely on you, the owner, to be the driving force behind everything. The kind of business that starts giving you more than just money – but energy and time as well.

However, in order to build a business that truly serves your life, it has to grow up. In order for that to happen, you’re going to have to start thinking about your business and your relationship to it in a different way than you ever have before, and in a way that most people in the industry aren’t considering.

Here are 3 key shifts, you need to make it possible. 

Key Shift #1 – Letting Your Business Grow Up 

It starts with first understanding that you are not your business. Your business is an entity in and of itself. Yes, you created it, but in order for it to become a self sustaining practice, you have to allow it to be its own separate entity.  

Because many practice owners start out as solo practitioners, they have an instinct to hold every part of their business close to their chest – even to their own detriment. They never give their business the distance it needs to be able to grow up on its own. 

Because many practice owners start out as solo practitioners, they have an instinct to hold every part of their business close to their chest – even to their own detriment. They never give their business the distance it needs to be able to grow up on its own. 

In the past, the idea of a fully grown-up massage business has been defined by the average massage therapist – with a solo-practitioner owned business, who earns ‘just enough’ for themselves, and has a full schedule of clients. 

But this is just the beginning. 

A grown-up business isn’t based on metrics like the number of employees, the number of appointments, the variety of services, or even how much money the business brings in. 

A grown-up is best seen defined by the owner’s relationship to it, and at a minimum has three main attributes:

  1. The business owner is not one of the main service providers. If she is in the trenches providing, it’s because she actively wants to, not because she needs to.
  2. The owner has intentionally created systems, and built a team that don’t make her absolutely essential to day-to-day operations, and
  3. Because of 1 & 2, the business is able to make money when the owner is somewhere else.

Beyond this, a grown-up business can take on many shapes and sizes – including large teams, multiple locations, franchising, extended services, comprehensive wellness centers, destination spas & retreats, or even simply selling the business and moving on. 

In any case, once the owner has built her business in a way that produces BOTH time and money, she gets to fully decide what complete business maturity means to her.

Key Shift #2 – Step Back & Let Go 

“An entrepreneur slips and falls off the edge of a cliff. On his way down, he manages to grab onto the end of a vine. He’s hanging there, a thousand feet from the top and a thousand feet from the bottom. His situation seems hopeless, so he looks up to the clouds, and decides, for the first time, to pray. 

“Is anybody up there?” he asks. After a long silence, a deep voice bellows down from the clouds: “Do you believe?” “Yes,” replies the entrepreneur. “Then let go of the vine,” says the voice. 

The entrepreneur pauses for a second, looks up again, and finally responds, “Is there anybody else up there?”

I’m willing to bet that you really enjoy working with your clients. Sure, some days you’re tired, and there might be some clients you prefer more than others, but overall it’s a big reason why you do what you do. 

Your commitment to your clients isn’t just a professional endeavor; it’s a labor of love that fuels your passion day in and day out.

However, it’s time to start asking – is spending time in the treatment room with your clients actually the thing that helps your business grow, and for you to realize your dreams? Or, is it something that is actively holding you back?

The goal is not to build the biggest business possible, just for the sake of having a large business. Nor is the goal to be 100% removed from the treatment room and remove all of your clients, if you don’t want to. 

The goal however is to build a mature business that isn’t critically dependent on you, and one that supplies you with not just money – but also provides you with time, energy, and thrives in every measurable way. But in order to do this, you need to re-examine what your role is inside of your business as the owner. 

Think about it…do you think Jeff Bezos is personally packing Amazon packages? Or that Lynsi Snyder spends her day making In-N-Out burgers? Or that each and every day Whitney Wolfe Heard is personally writing the code for the dating app Bumble? 

Consider this: You are the captain of the ship, the driver of the vehicle – What do you think your job is actually supposed to be? 

The reason it’s so easy to burn-out, or become unable to grow your business to a more sustainable level, is because you aren’t able to let go of what you know to move into the place you need (and want) to be. 

Do you think the captain is able to serve the ship, their crew and their passengers by constantly running below deck? How is the driver of the vehicle able to actually steer in the right direction if they are always spending time under the hood? 

Think about what could happen if you used some of the time and effort you currently spend working with clients to make your business better behind the scenes, try out new ways to grow, and come up with new ideas. 

Not only that, when you’re in the treatment room your impact and income are limited by how many people you can work with directly in a given day. It makes complete sense to add more team members, but what are you doing to adjust your day-to-day role? 

Unfortunately, most practitioner-owners are unable to reach the next level because they are simply not ready to let go of the vine. Your identity becomes so intertwined with being a practitioner, that you struggle to imagine any other way. 

Change is scary, and you’re not alone in feeling anxious about jeopardizing what you already have. 

Thankfully, letting go doesn’t mean your relationships with clients become less important. However, it does mean stepping back to look at the bigger holistic picture in order to analyze what the business actually needs to succeed.

It’s time for a shift in thinking. It’s like the old saying goes, “What got you here won’t take you there.” Or more fittingly, “What got you here, will keep you here.” If you want to own a massage business that runs itself – instead of one that owns you – you have to let go. 

Key Shift #3 – Aim Higher & Go Big

Do you know where you’re currently going with your business in the next 1,5, 10 or even 25 years? 

How about looking back – do you remember your original plan when you first started your business? 

If you’re like most practitioner-owners, they probably sounded something like this: 

  • “I want to have freedom and flexibility in my work and personal schedule”
  • “I want to provide the highest quality service to our clients, and give them individualized care”
  • “I want to create a great place for therapists & my team to work, that isn’t like [insert franchise here]”
  • “I’m not trying to be a millionaire, but I want to make some money along the way.”

Let’s take a moment to reflect – if you were to rank yourself on a scale from 1-10 on your original business goals, how well would you say you’re doing? 

Odds are, you’re actually doing quite well, and that you’ve scored yourself somewhere between 8-10 on nearly all of them. 

So, how is it treating you so far? Is it giving you everything you wanted? And more importantly, do you know where you’re going next?

There’s a good chance you’ve already outgrown your original goals, and that your vision is no longer up to date. 

Why is this a problem? A goal realized is no longer motivating, and even if you aren’t completely satisfied with your current state, if you haven’t updated your vision, you’re doomed to stay where you are. 

Where To Take Your Business Next?

So where do you take your business next? Especially if you’re already feeling overwhelmed and overworked.  You want to see your business grow, but at the same time, you’re frustrated, tired, and unwilling to take on any more risk, or add any more to your plate. 

You might be pining for the days when things were ‘simpler’ and ‘more manageable.’  While it may seem counterintuitive, instead of taking things back down, I’m going to suggest you instead scale up. 

Here’s why…

What you may not even know, is that you might be currently crossing what is a particularly difficult patch in business known as a ‘Valley of Death’. 

After doing a study of US companies, Verne Harnish  in his book ‘Scaling Up’, noticed that in a business growth journey there are relatively stable plateaus for, separated by steep “Valleys of Death”. 

These Valleys of Death are times in which things become measurably more stressful and difficult, and even sometimes feels like the business is starting to fall apart. 

Here are just a few signs that you’re currently crossing this valley. Does any of this sound familiar right now? 

  • Overall business growth is slow, or has slowed down.
  • You’re having a hard time attracting, hiring, and retaining qualified practitioners. 
  • Cash flow is tight, and profit is not scaling with revenue
  • There is little to no income for the owner, beyond their direct hands-on work
  • Strategies that worked well in marketing and sales is not working anymore
  • Employees are not meeting performance expectations
  • Communication with employees is getting more difficult
  • There are random fires that need to be put out constantly 

In a typical massage business are the journey from $0 ->$5k/month (becoming a fully booked solo practitioner), $5k/month -> $10k/month (your first few team members), and lastly $10k/month -> $50k/month (going from a handful of individuals, to a unified team with streamlined operations). 

While you and your business might struggle or stall out with your small team in the $15k-$25k/month range, if you keep pushing, the next oasis can be found once you scale towards $50k/month.

While the exact revenue number is relative, by scaling your business to this point, you can remove yourself from the time-for-money trap, begin removing yourself from the day-to-day operations, and most importantly not being dragged around in multiple directions by your business. 


Creating a self-sustaining business requires more than just a team, and consistent marketing. As a practitioner-owner you have to make great shifts in yourself, and the relationship to your business so that you can scale, and create a massage business that gives you freedom of money, energy and time.

Are you ready to scale your business, and create hands-free, self-sustaining practice? Learn more about The Scaling Intensive, or schedule your free strategy call today!

Darryl "DJ" Turner

Darryl "DJ" Turner

I help wellness practice owners scale their income, impact, and freedom. I believe practitioner-owners should build their practice in a way that it not only generates income, but allows them the freedom to step back and live a life they love.