A reader asked the following questions:

I am currently in school for massage therapy and I have a few questions regarding starting a business for myself. My questions include:

What business structure did you chose (sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, etc)?

Are you happy with the structure you selected?

Was it easy or complicated to set up?

Were there costs associated with the business type you chose?

What are the advantages and disadvantages to the type of business structure you chose?

If you had to do it all over again, would they still chose the same business structure?

Any feedback is appreciated!! Thank You!!



You really are thinking ahead and that's very good!

I'll be honest with you, when I started out I didn't think about how I'd go about making a living, I just wanted to learn how to be a massage therapist. Perhaps it's fortunate because if I'd realized I'd end up being a small business owner I might have talked myself out of it! At the time, the idea of being self-employed scared me.

I have worked in several situations over the years. When I got out of school, I went to work in a chiropractor's office as an independent subcontractor. I worked on a percentage basis. The advantage to me was that I did not have a set overhead to meet every month. I set about trying to build a clientele and also got some clients from the Yellow Pages ad that the office ran in the phone book.

Eventually I struck out on my own. I began working part-time in another chiropractor's office but I rented a room and did not work for the chiropractor. I had built up enough clientele that I was better off having a set overhead rather than paying a large percentage of my gross. I also had more independence regarding setting my schedule, etc.

During this time, I also went to work part-time as an employee at a hospital. The hospital booked the appointments, did laundry, etc. I just showed up and did my appointments. One of the things I particularly liked about that situation was the camaraderie I experienced with the other therapists. The clients were not "mine" and their records belonged to the hospital, so when I left there very few of them came with me.

I am a sole proprietor. Start-up costs were minimal. I needed a table, sheets, oil, a clock, and something to play music. The first office provided me with a room, a stool, and a desk. Over time I've acquired books and a few other things but one does not need a lot to do massage.

In the beginning I consulted with an accountant and she helped me to set up a basic bookkeeping system. A good accountant can discuss the various options and help you to decide what's best for you.

Each situation has it's advantages and disadvantages. I enjoy the independence that my current situation affords me. I now share an office with another practitioner and I love my room and the space that we share. Each different situation has been a step along the way and has been a learning experience. Each provided for different needs that I had and helped me to clarify what I wanted. I don't think there's any one situation that's "best" for everyone and at different periods of our lives and our careers we can have different needs and may make different choices. You have to think about your own temperament and what you want out of your practice. I'm not the best business person and don't like the paperwork I have to do. Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off being an employee for someone else. However, I enjoy the flexibility and autonomy and so accept the advantages and disadvantages of the choice I've made. I also know that if I want to, I can seek employment with an established business. I always have options.

So yes, I'm happy with my situation. If I were to do it over . . . perhaps I'd do a few things slightly differently but overall it's been a good journey.

One thing I've never done, and would not do, would be to sign a "no compete" clause that would restrict where I can practice or who I can see and when. Perhaps I'll address this separately as I have some very firm thoughts about being an ethical employee.

I hope I've answered your questions. If not, feel free to follow up!