Tara’s Transformation: From Solo Massage Therapist to $30K/Month Studio Owner

Tara Tuveson, was a solo massage therapist for years before making the decision to expand and build out her wellness studio. In January of 2023 Tara moved towns and completely started her business owner from scratch, only bringing with her an idea, and the skills she had previously gained as a massage therapist.

At nearly breakneck speeds, Tara grew her practice from $0 and just an idea, to $17k/month in the first year, to only grow to $30k per month in the following 6 months. This case study interview highlights how she did, and what she learned along the way! 

Q: Can you describe your business as it is today?

Today, we have five massage therapists, one esthetician, and three front desk staff. We operate in a three-room building that includes a couples room, along with a break room and reception area.

Q: Walk us through the evolution of your massage business and how it has changed over time.

I have been a massage therapist for 15 years. Initially, I started as a solo practitioner about 45 minutes from home in a bigger city, figuring I’d get more clients there. After two years, I realized I missed working with coworkers and the hustle and bustle of other places I had worked. 

So, I moved my practice to Cambridge, Minnesota, where I live, and began taking on more practitioners who could offer services beyond what I could. About six months in, we hired an esthetician, which has been great. Since then, things have been on the upswing.

Q: What led you into massage and wellness in the first place?

It’s been a long and winding path. When I was younger, I always thought about becoming a massage therapist because it sounded like a relaxing job where I could help people. Before pursuing massage therapy, I went into graphic design, although I didn’t graduate with that degree. 

About 10 years into my massage career, I started a small side business building websites and creating social media content designs. This experience gave me the confidence to go off on my own as a solo practitioner and eventually expand my business. Knowing how to design my own website and create social media content has been very helpful.

Q: What was that first year of business like?

It started slow. I was in a little business suite on the second floor of a building without an elevator, which wasn’t ideal for all my clients. Being in a bigger town, I had access to quite a few clients and relied on Facebook ads for marketing. I was consistently booked about 60-70% of the time, which allowed for a very flexible schedule. 

As time went on, I got busier, with most clients coming from within a five-mile radius. I probably had about 5-10 clients who followed me up to Cambridge.

Q: You took your solo practice and decided to go bigger. What was the catalyst or moment that made you realize you wanted to take this beyond yourself?

About three to five years before I went solo, I had this big dream of opening a wellness practice with other therapists and professionals who could offer services beyond what I could. I dove into listening to podcasts, reading books, and gaining as much knowledge as possible. 

The real catalyst was when my lease was coming to an end, and I found an amazing space for rent that had plenty of room for expansion. Everything fell into place, and we decided to lease the space. That was the exciting moment when I started chasing the dream.

Q: I remember we reconnected when you were about to start this new venture. What made you reach out to me for help moving forward?

I knew I needed a lot of help and was scared because it was a huge step. I needed someone with wisdom and experience. I had minimal experience with marketing and none with creating processes. You helped me find direction in the business, narrow down my target audience, and assist with hiring. Your guidance was invaluable in navigating these new challenges.

Q: How has your mindset or approach to business changed since you started this journey?

My confidence has definitely grown. I’m less afraid of trying new things for the business. I’ve learned to be bold and put myself out there, which has been a game-changer.  \I also had to start being more bold and getting myself out there at community events to promote the business. Overcoming the reluctance to be “salesy” has been a significant shift.

Q: What are some things you had to stop doing or start doing as you transitioned to a group practice owner?

I stopped doing everything myself and hired my first receptionist about four to six months into working with you. It was a relief to have someone take over tasks like answering calls and booking appointments.

Q: How has your business changed since we started working together?

My highest month as a solo practitioner was around $6,000. After moving to Cambridge and starting with zero clients in January 2023, I went from zero to $17,000 a month by August and am now approaching $30,000 a month. 

Q: What’s surprised you or caught you off guard in this journey?

Initially, I did the math everyone does, thinking about hourly rates and multiplying by the number of services. I didn’t account for all the expenses, payroll, and taxes. It’s important to keep an eye on profit versus revenue because they don’t always scale equally. Being prepared for the financial realities of running a business is crucial.

Q: You’ve taken your group practice from zero to having 30K months. How has your life changed throughout this journey?

It has definitely changed for the better. I absolutely adore the team I work with now. It’s been great to choose the people I want to work with. Personally, I feel much more confident. I’ve also gained some time back for myself. I feel like I’m working towards something bigger than I ever was when I was working for someone else. Any business owner will tell you they could never go back to working for someone else, and it’s true. I couldn’t imagine doing it. This is my life now, and I love it. I’m going to stick with it.

Q: What’s next for you? Entrepreneurs often think about the next thing, whether it’s bigger or different. What’s on your horizon?

Next, I would like to diversify the services we offer. I’m thinking of introducing either a mental health professional or a chiropractor. I want our practice to be a more well-rounded one-stop shop for all health and wellness needs because the body and mind are so intricately connected. It would be great if your mental health provider knows what your massage therapist and chiropractor are doing, helping people in a more integrated way.

Q: You’ve made a lot of progress. What advice or insight do you have for someone thinking about scaling their business or taking a similar path?

First, hire DJ because he has been integral to my success. Seriously, I couldn’t have done it without him. Secondly, remember you only get one life, so try to go after your dreams as hard as you can. You won’t regret it. 

Try to do it with as little debt as possible because it will free up your decision-making process. Scaling will be easier without a lot of debt overhead. Different people are in different situations, but if you need to take on debt, be very wise about how you spend that money.

Q: How do you stay inspired and motivated, especially on tough days?

A lot of it boils down to the clients and the people I get to work with. I feel very blessed to be in this position. It’s a gift, and I try to do my best with it. I’ve worked hard for it, but I’ve also received a lot of great help from amazing people. That helps me stay motivated, and I try to focus on gratitude because everyone has something to be grateful for.

Q: What’s been a major challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?

Hiring has been a challenge, especially in a small town where we don’t have access to as many massage therapists and providers as other places do. What helped me overcome this was DJ’s assistance with putting together job postings and scripts. 

Also, it’s important to make your place attractive to other massage therapists or wellness providers. Take what you’ve learned from places that treated you well and mold it into something that draws others in.

Q: Is there a resource that has been particularly helpful to you in your journey?

The help from DJ with marketing, managing people, and navigating different phases of the business has been crucial. Understanding the “valley of death” and what to expect in different stages has been very helpful. 

Aside from DJ’s coaching, I’d say podcasts like the Entree Leadership podcast by Dave Ramsey have been very helpful. The book “The E-Myth” that DJ introduced me to was amazing. Another valuable book is “Business Secrets of the Bible” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. You don’t have to be faith-based to gain something from it; it offers timeless insights into human behavior that still apply today.

Q: Any final thoughts or advice for someone looking to scale their business or considering working with DJ?

Definitely talk to DJ. Just reach out; it’s only going to help your business. There are so many things I didn’t know before scaling, and having someone by your side to help you navigate the process is invaluable. DJ has worked with many business practitioners in similar positions, and he can help you compare and contrast what has worked for others. This will save you a lot of time and effort. Most Facebook groups are geared toward solo practitioners, so having DJ’s expertise for scaling is a huge advantage.

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Hey! I’m DJ. I help wellness practice owners scale their income, impact, and freedom, too

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.