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Massage Today
August, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 08

Reinventing the Wheel

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

I had the great opportunity to present at a virtual roundtable with seven women who lead in the industry. It was for the World Massage Conference last June, and the panel consisted of the women who make up the Massage Today Women in Bodywork Business Blog (WIBB).

It was a question and answer format, led by a moderator that lasted 90 minutes. It is both a privilege and an honor to be chosen to be part of WIBB and on the panel for this educational event. When I was in school for massage therapy, almost 20 years ago, some of these women were already well-known and had established themselves as icons. Others are newer to the field but have made their imprint and are affecting how we practice today. We determined there was over 100 years of experience between all of us. WOW! That's a lot of know-how.

So it begs the question: who do you learn from? Is there someone who you admire in the industry you can follow and copy? Is there someone you meet with regularly to discuss business ideas? Do you have a resource in a trusted colleague? I hope so but if the answer is no, start looking for someone. It saves time and money to mentor with someone, especially when you are in business for yourself.

Find a Mentor

reinventing the wheel - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark When I was in massage school, I met a guy who was about a year ahead of me. His name was Andy. We were practically clones of each other and became fast friends. Because he was a year ahead of me, he started his private practice first. Upon graduation and starting my private practice, life got busy and we saw each other less. Six months into my practice, I had a business question and decided to call him. At the time, Andy was also dealing with a business "issue" and said he was about to call me. We chatted and talked "shop" and within minutes, it became clear that we could assist each other in our businesses and decision making.

Part networking, part mentoring, part consulting, part cheerleader, Andy and I started a mentoring relationship that lasted almost 10 years. That first phone call where we shared business advice was so successful that Andy and I started meeting every month for the next 10 years, until he passed on. It was a set appointment in our schedule and barring an emergency, we always made it a priority. Even if we had the opportunity for a paying client, our breakfast meeting was paramount, knowing we would gain so much.

Here's the thing. Many people have walked the road before you. Almost every business issue you can think of has been dealt with by someone ahead of you. So why go it alone? Learn from the masters. Seek out the advice of someone who is ahead of you or someone who you admire or trust. It doesn't necessarily have to be someone ahead of you either. It can be a classmate or even in Andy's case, someone who was behind you in school. The point is to find someone who has good business acumen and is interested in sharing tidbits of experience. That being said, every once in awhile someone comes up with a new and original idea. But for the most part, it's all been done before. You just need to tap into a resource that can share it with you.

Be a Student

So that leads me back to the World Massage Conference. As I was on the call with the roundtable, I found myself acting more like a student than an educator. I was scribbling notes and picking up marketing advice like crazy. It was such an unexpected gift. Some of the ideas I knew but had forgotten about. The resurrection of ideas is always a good thing. Other ideas were brand new to me; a little golden nugget over the phone. I came away with a list of about five things that I can immediately implement into my current massage practice.

Even though the industry of massage is in a growth spurt and seems new age, it has been around for centuries. Massage therapy has been a viable career in the United States for over 20 years. Many people have walked in your shoes and paved the way. Why not use this expertise to your advantage?

Learn from the masters and those who have blazed the trail. If not, at least learn from your colleagues and contemporaries. Don't make the same mistake that someone else has already made. Find someone who inspires you, helps you keep your energy levels high, provides tidbits for success, shares marketing experience and is willing to commit to meet regularly to do it. It can be some of your best spent time. According to recent statistics, there are almost 300,000 massage therapists in America. With all those potential mentors at your disposal, why reinvent the wheel?

Stay focused.

Click here for previous articles by Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.


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