Why I Reverted My Growing Massage Practice Back to a Solo Practice
My business was unfolding exactly according to plan but it all felt wrong. Taking a step back and re-evaluating what kind of life I truly wanted made me realize that what I thought I wanted out of my business didn't line up with what I knew I wanted out of my life.
Several years ago I made a huge change in my successful and still-growing massage business. A decision I was excited and nervous about. One that seemed like many steps backward but that ultimately felt like the right choice.
In the fifteen years I had been working as a massage therapist, my practice had grown beyond what I ever imagined. From just me in a tiny room praying for five clients “just to get me through” to a consistently expanding group of therapists all working with me to take on my ever-increasing client demand.
It was hard to believe at times. It was exhilarating. It was working. It felt like a success.
I shared my work with thousands of clients - helping people recover from injury, ease chronic pain and tension, cope with both physical and mental stress, and also just to generally relax and maintain a lifestyle rooted in personal wellness.
I was proud of what I built and the place of employment I created where therapists could have that highly sought-after balance of a solid and steady stream of incredible clients without having to choose between the dismal options of working for peanuts at some spa or the hassle and sometimes terrifying uncertainty of building a practice from scratch.
It was lovely.
But at some point along the line, something shifted. I was spending more and more time and energy on practice and employee management. Changes in state law meant the need to make expensive changes to employment policies. Expenses increased, and compensation was forced to decrease. Demands on my time and resources became a constant drain.
Things felt - wrong.
I began to lose my sense of joy during hands-on time with clients. Unanswered voicemails felt like a weight on my shoulders. Simple requests from my therapists began to feel like “more demands.” I felt resentment that time with my family was constantly interrupted by “work stuff” and I began to experience an emotional drain I couldn’t shake.
I started keeping my phone on silent.
I also felt silly and guilty. I wasn’t exactly running a Fortune 500 company. I was only in the office part-time. It wasn’t that difficult to manage the multitasking. I was one of the luckiest people I knew!
But a feeling is a feeling and I just couldn’t ignore that my gut was telling me something. I needed to finally listen.
I realized that I needed to make a choice. Either fully commit to expanding my practice and devote myself to a management role or scale back to a practice model that better fit my location, personality, priorities, and life goals.
It was time to walk my talk. I opted for my priorities and a business model that aligns with what I set out to achieve in the first place: a small but solid massage practice that brings me pride and a sense of work-life balance. A dedicated personal client base I can be fully present for and serve with joy and my full capacity. A job I can do well and happily and then not think much about while I live the other parts of my life. A way to provide for my family while still being physically and emotionally present with them on a nearly full-time basis.
Something small and precious and wholly mine.
I was excited and relieved to refocus on my healing work and my incredible, wonderful, dedicated clients, many of whom have been loyal to my practice for over a decade.
I can’t express enough gratitude for the therapists who have come through my business door over the years. Many have come and gone onto other things - new careers, private practices, moves out of state - but each one brought something wonderful and unique to Life Balance Massage and the clients they served. I was sorry to see each one go.
I used the mental and emotional space that I freed up to explore hobbies and activities that feed my soul and bring me joy. I continued my massage practice with renewed focus and energy which benefits not only myself but my clients as well. For the first time in ages, I felt as though I was personally practicing the balance that I spent years stressing the importance of.
And I learned that moving backward was the best way for me to move forward.
Stay curious, stay humble, stay kind