Monday, October 21, 2013

Don't design your own...

Before planning our own business cards, my classmates and I were given a series of examples of what NOT to do.  Some cards seemed more intent on spiritual enlightenment than massage (which is fine, if that's your shtick), several were too disorganized to hold anyone's attention, and I remember one in particular that looked questionable.  It gave me a mental picture of a rusty old trailer at the edge of town and oil-stained linens, to say nothing about the appearance of the practitioner herself.

Business card templates can't help with shoddy-lookin selfies, but they can help with organization.  Your preferred word processor (mine is Pages) should come with a selection of templates from which to choose, and examples of how to fill in the desired information.  It's pretty simple.  And if you don't want to print your own, you can always head over to Vista Print.  AMTA members get a discount with this service.

As for websites...goodness, there are some bad ones out there.  Seeing as I use NeoCities to build my website, I'll recommend browsing through the websites they support.  Don't stop at "last updated".  Also consider the sites with the most hits.  There's no accounting for taste, but there must be a lesson worth learning somewhere in there.  "Leave it to the professionals", perhaps?  In that case...

There's a possibility that my website could show up in a WHAT NOT TO DO segment of a business class.  However, if this hypothetical class took the time to learn a bit about me, they might appreciate why it looks so elementary.  While I don't have the tools to host my own domain, I'm happy with 1&1 (yes, that's my referral link), and I'm immeasurably grateful for NeoCities and their Ground Floor for giving me the tools to learn how to build my own website.

Conclusion:  Work within your means.  I'm not interested in giving you a list of DOs and DON'Ts, but a WHY for what I'm doing might be of some assistance.

Looking for a domain registrar?
Domain Monster
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Employed or Independent?

The last step in establishing my business was contacting Santa Clara Weekly, sending them a copy of my "Fictitious Business Name Statement", and paying a fee for them to run an ad in the paper for 4 weeks.  On the outset, I found all of this very intimidating, but now that it's over, I'm not too daunted by the task of promoting myself.

As stated in a previous entry, I had no interest in running my own business.  Not for lack of ambition, but rather, lack of experience.  While I'm generally of a competitive nature, I couldn't see what I'd have to offer as an independent MT vs joining a team.  I enjoy having a team.  Weighing all the positives and negatives, I even loved having roommates!  Working independently held no appeal for me.

Then the job hunt began.

One of the reasons I decided to study massage therapy was because of the job market.  The roommates and I had given up cable, so I wasn't seeing any of the commercials that promised big money in the profession.  I just knew that it was something that I would enjoy, and I could support my oft-mentioned programmer husband during the perceivable starving-artist phase of his career.  After an extra year in formal education, thanks to a lovely overlap, I could support the both of us while he built his code and resumé and whatever else he needed to do.  I was going to work for a local hospital and single-handedly revamp their dwindling massage department!

Tell God your plans, sit back and listen for the giggles.

My husband was recognized for his talent and contacted by one of Silicon Valley's many start-ups.  Neither of us were finished with school when these interviews started, but it was pretty clear that we'd be moving.  My in-laws were a reasonable distance from Rasmussen, so I resided with them for a few months while I finished school.  They're pretty awesome, like that.

I took a few months off of life when I arrived in California.  After twenty years in the education machine, it felt warranted.  I searched job listings on-and-off until I found a clinic that seemed to best fit me.  I interviewed, I got the job, enjoyed it, worked there a month, and was laid off.  Remember that job market complaint?  I was assured that my work was stellar, but they couldn't afford to keep me.

I took a few more months off, during which time I obtained my certification from the California Massage Therapy Council.  Now I can work anywhere!  If I can find the right atmosphere.  I was set for an orientation with one company before I realized the chemistry wouldn't work.  My dad gave me plenty of grief for this because "it's a job!"  As MTs, we know how important it is to have the right chemistry between ourselves and clients, as well as with colleagues.  If I needed to be the primary bread-winner, I might have "sucked it up", but it was better, this way.

Knowing not what else to do, having been spun in circles by hospitals, having no direction whatsoever, I applied at Massage Envy.  I know people who've worked there for years, but I walked away after a month.  What a spotty resumé I was building.  At least this neat little used bookstore was hiring, and they liked me!

I think everyone needs to work retail, at some point.  I've always known to be kind to baristas and cashiers, but being on that side of the register opened my eyes.  After years of writing lofty essays for a "four year" university, my intelligence was insulted, time and again, because my math skills have waned.
"You mean you can't do it in your head?"
"Where would we be without computers?"
So much for that lofty BA.  But here's a word to the courteous:  Don't shove more coinage at your cashier as they're handing your change back to you.  When we ask, "Out of $5?" we're confirming that you don't want to pay with anything else.

Aside from learning to deal with cranky people under pressure, I've also learned a lot from my boss and manager about owning an independent, small business.  I'm still very young in the business world, and I'm doing my best to learn as much as quickly as possible.  I don't feel so overwhelmed now as I did in the beginning, despite seeing no end to this growing mound of work, but I feel an equal to the task.  With resources such as Massage Book, Massamio, and Massage Therapy World at my disposal, I'm feeling a little more equal to the task.