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How To Set Up A Massage Therapy Business

legal requirements for massage therapist UK

If you’re thinking of what business to get into, why not consider having a massage therapy business. The industry is experiencing a boom nowadays, especially with more and more people appreciating the health benefits that we can get from getting a massage. 

In this article, we will look into the requirements and operational aspects of having massage therapy for a business. We will also touch on massage therapist requirements if you’re in the UK.

The Legal Requirements

It is important to understand your legal obligations that come with running a massage therapy business in the UK, particularly, the ones that apply to massage therapists. Qualification is a primary requirement, which they can gain from the following:

  • Vocational Training Charitable Trust or VTCT
  • The Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology or CIBTAC
  • The International Therapy Examination Council or ITEC

These organisations provide introductory to advanced qualifications in the UK. Several other organisations offer similar training. You can also opt to pursue online studies or enrol part time or full time in a nearby college.

Additional Training

After getting basic qualification, you could enrol for more training as this helps with skill development. Some short-term courses are on offer at universities and colleges, and can have you finishing in just six weeks.

As you train for more qualifications and develop more skills, you expand the offerings of your business. For instance,by taking a course in Thai massage, you learn about applying stretching and pressure point principles which you can offer to customers. Likewise, by training in hot stone massage, you can offer customers the use of heated stones to relax their tired muscles.

You would also do well by enrolling in a business management course. This study will give you the knowledge and skills to better handle your day-to-day business operations. Doing this will balance you out and help you avoid the pitfalls that other business owners face. Some are experts in massage therapy but know nothing about accounting or inventory, nor do they know how to run a successful massage therapy business.

Registering Your Business’s Name

After following and submitting to all legal requirements, it’s time to have your business name registered. In the UK, you register business names with Companies House. Give the business name a lot of consideration as it gives identity to your business.

When creating your business name, remember to:

  • Choose a simple and short name
  • Include keywords that capture the business that you provide
  • Choose words that are easy to understand
  • Create a name that is easy to say and write

After finalising the business name, confirm that it’s unique. Check the Companies House website to make sure that no one has registered your business name yet. If it’s already been registered, you would need to create another one.

If your name is unique, proceed to register with Companies House. You will be required to provide a business address, names of your directors, and the type of business industry you are registering it under.

Licences and Insurance

After registering the name of your business, it’s time to apply for a licence with your local council or authority. Check that you are registering for the appropriate one. For instance, hot stone massages require a specific licence granted by the Local Authority Health and Safety Executive.

Additional requirements may apply to massage therapists so consult with your local council for more information and guidance. When licensing has been settled, it’s time to take out insurance coverage.

Business insurance is highly important as it covers you financially in the midst of unfortunate circumstances such as when you get sued by clients. With insurance, litigation costs may be covered by the insurance provider.

In selecting an insurance provider, compare coverage types and their corresponding package prices. Read the fine print to confirm what they will cover you for and what exclusions apply.


Budgeting is your next consideration. You need to have an accurate estimation of startup costs so you can keep tabs on your expenditures.

Budgetary considerations include training costs, rental payments or property purchases. You also need to factor in the cost of equipment and furnishing costs. This includes the purchase of chairs and massage tables. Cost of promotion (advertising and marketing expenses) must be included in the budget. Staff hires ( wage and benefits) must also be listed on the budget.

You have to be prepared for significant amounts of spending at the start of your investment. You may have to wait a couple of months up to a couple of years before profits start coming in. A return on investment is unlikely to happen quickly.

Choosing a Business Structure

After working out on a set budget, you must decide on the business structure. In choosing, you must consider the scale and size of your business and factor in your current situation.

Each type presents advantages and their corresponding disadvantages. Hence, it’s important to make a proper evaluation before deciding to operate as a sole trader, limited company or partnership.

The most common and straightforward business structure is that of a sole trader. You have sole ownership, responsibility, and authority over every aspect of your business. The set up is simple and you enjoy total control over your business. Likewise, you also take responsibility to meet all liabilities and responsibilities for the business.

Trading as a limited company is more complex. There are more documentary requirements and other responsibilities that come with this business structure. When it comes to liability, your shareholders are liable only up to the amount of their investment. This is an important consideration especially when deciding to bring in additional investments from other parties.

Partnerships are mostly similar to sole trading, except for having multiple owners. Consider this option if you’d rather start your business with someone and if you prefer to share the risks and responsibilities of operating the business. In saying this, only move forward with the partnership after a clear partnership agreement has been put in place.

Writing a Business Plan

You also need to formulate a concrete business plan. Sit down and establish the goals of your business along with the operation plan that achieves those goals. A marketing plan should be included, setting forth your strategies for promoting the business and connecting with your target audience and customers.

A business plan must be concise and clear. It’s important to set goals for several years ahead, not just the first year. This establishes the focus and direction, which makes it easier for you to attract and assure potential investors of the worth and promise of your business.

Here’s how to create your business plan:

  • Provide an executive summary. List your business goals and their corresponding action steps.
  • Provide a product/service description. List your products and services. Include the unique selling points of each varying type of massage therapies on offer.
  • Identify the target market. Know and focus on your target market. List out their needs and match those out with the products and services you have on offer.
  • Mark your competitors. Discover and list your surrounding competitors along with their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Provide a marketing plan. List action steps that promote the business along with ways to attract the attention of customers.
  • Identify your targeted business income, costs, and sales. List your income sources and business costs. Establish your targeted sales.

After completing the business plan, remember to conduct regular reviews and updates. This plan is your roadmap for operating your business in the following years. This may likely necessitate changes in line with the growth of your business.

Conducting Market and Competitor Research

Now that you have clarified and established the goals and direction of your business, you must conduct a thorough market and competitor research. This is crucial as it helps you better understand your target market along with their needs and how you can service those needs.

In understanding your competitors, you get to see their strengths as well as their weaknesses. This allows you to identify gaps in your own business so you can make necessary adjustments. Furthermore, in understanding the weaknesses of your competitors, you gain an advantage over them as you make their weaknesses your strengths.

When conducting a market research, you must include the following:

  • A Target Market Analysis which sets forth a detailed description of your target customers.
  • A Competitor SWOT Analysis which identifies competitor strengths and weaknesses, your opportunities, and,finally, threats to your business.
  • A Market Trend Analysis which details changes and movement in the business industry that can affect your business.

Writing and Executing a Marketing Plan

It’s most beneficial if you write your marketing plan only after completing your market research. Based on the outcome of your research, you can better strategise the promotion of your business in order to attract targeted customers.

A good marketing plan must have the following:

  • A Target Market Description which clearly identifies your ideal customers.
  • A List of Unique Selling Points which helps you properly focus your marketing strategies.
  • A Marketing Strategy that details your business promotion methods and ways to attract customers.
  • A Marketing Budget that sets your allocated marketing expense per month.

Choosing the Best Location

One crucial decision point is choosing the place where you will conduct your business. In determining the best business location, you must:

Decide on your location after conducting your market research. Results should have given an indication on where your target customers reside or visit often. In doing this, you ensure that you’ll have people coming into your shop.

You must also confirm whether the desired business location suits your massage therapy business. If you will have a multi-bed clinic, naturally, you’d have to acquire a large space. However, if it’s a mobile shop, then the requirement would understandably be smaller.

Most important of all, you should check with local zoning and ascertain that the area allows commercial business. Otherwise, you would have to secure permission from your local council.

Working Out Your Prices

Pricing your products and services is a serious task. You must ensure that every set retail price will be able to cover your costs, and there should be a markup for profit.

Cost of Goods Sold or COGS is calculated as the sum of all material costs, rent, overhead costs (utilities), insurance costs and other direct costs. After factoring in all these costs, add the desired profit percentage or amount to determine your retail price.

Prices must be regularly reviewed in keeping with rising costs of production and related cost factors. It is also important to stay aware of competitor prices to ensure that your massage therapy clinic is offering products and services at attractive prices.

Final Thoughts

In this guide, you’ve learned all the primary and essential considerations when starting a massage therapy business. Now, it’s time to apply the principles you’ve learned about budgeting, market, legal research and more. Follow this guide and you’ll be off to a great start!



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