building your business - the first step

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when you’re working on your business is knowing where to start. From social media strategy, to building a website, to creating a marketing strategy…it can be overwhelming at the best of times. The truth is that the first (and most important!) step to building your successful business starts before any of that.

You need to know what success means to you.

When I started working as a massage therapist, I thought there was only one way to be successful - I had to be booked all day, every day, in advance. The sign of a successful practice was that nobody could get an appointment with me for at least a month. Sound familiar?

So I pursued that. I handed out business cards and brochures, did free massages at events, and took out an ad in a local magazine. I made my schedule wide open for appointments and would wait at the clinic hoping that it would fill up because clearly I was putting in the hours and face time. I thought people would walk by and be like “hey, you look like you would give a really good massage,” and success would be mine.

Believe it or not, it didn’t exactly work that way.

My practice did start to get busier after a couple of years, but I was working hours that I didn’t love, with a lot clients who didn’t really fit with my treatment style. At the end of the day I was sore, exhausted, and burnt out.

I wasn’t giving my best work to my practice anymore.

When I moved to Vancouver, I started working at a clinic part-time and re-evaluating the shape that my practice took. I got clear on who I wanted to work with, and how I wanted to work. I relocated to a clinic that was a better fit for my vision, and learned how to market myself.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I have a completely new definition of success (for me!) and my practice reflects that.

I feel successful when:

  • I have a genuine connection with my clients - they understand me and how I work
  • I feel that I’ve made a difference - they feel better and see results
  • I have flexibility with my time 
  • I have space in my schedule for new patients who are seeking me out
  • I look forward to going into work


For me, this means that I am not booked a month in advance (because that actually creates some anxiety for me!) and that I refer clients who don’t jive with my treatment style to a therapist that would be better suited to their needs. This creates space in my schedule for the people that I work really well with, so I’m not burnt out at the end of the day.

Success is liking who you are, liking what you do, and liking how you do it - Maya Angelou

(click to tweet that!)

Here are some things to think about when you consider what a successful business is for you:

  • when do I leave work feeling the most drained?
  • which clients do I look forward to working with the most?
  • how much time off do I need to feel refreshed for work?
  • what are my ideal working hours?
  • how much spontaneity + flexibility do I want in my life? 

When you define what success means to you, you’re one step closer to building a rewarding business that you love.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know what success looks like for you - at least for now. This is a definition you want to keep revisiting as your life and practice grow and change.

Until next time,