So, you want to be a solopreneur in the spa industry. That's fantastic! And, of course, utterly terrifying. Don't worry, I've been there. But, before you start eyeballing the prices of other therapists in your area, I have a bit of heresy to drop on you.
You ready? Here it comes: Comparing prices is the wrong approach. Shocking, right?
Think about it. Those other therapists are not you. They don’t have the same bills, the same skills, or that incredible, one-of-a-kind personality of yours that clients absolutely adore. So, why would you base your price on theirs?
Now, here's the correct, golden path: a four-step, glorious guide to setting your prices.
Step 1: The Yearly Cost. Yes, you have to do math. Bummer, I know. But hey, it’s necessary. Add up all your personal and business expenses for a year. This total is your must-earn amount. It's your ticket to Ramen Noodle-free living and keeping your business lights on. Personal Expenses:
Utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, trash)
Internet and Phone
Groceries and Dining
Health Insurance Premiums
Car Payments or Transportation Costs
Home Maintenance and Repairs
Personal Care (clothing, haircuts, gym memberships)
Entertainment (subscriptions, going out, hobbies)
Savings (emergency fund, retirement contributions)
Debt Repayment (student loans, credit card debt)
Education or Professional Development
Child Care or Other Dependent Costs
Other Insurance (life, disability, etc.)
Rent for your spa space
Utilities (electricity, water, gas)
Internet and Phone
Laundry Service or Laundromat Fees
Spa Equipment and Supplies
Spa Products (oils, creams, etc.)
Business Insurance (liability, property)
Professional Licenses and Fees
Marketing and Advertising
Website and Online Booking Software
Furniture and Decor
Maintenance and Cleaning
Taxes (self-employment, sales, property)
Legal and Accounting Fees
Business Loan Repayments
Software Subscriptions (email marketing, client management, etc.)
Business Travel and Mileage
Step 2: Uncle Sam’s Cut. Taxes, my friend. You can't escape them. Not legally, anyway. So, take your yearly total and multiply it by 0.15 to 0.30 (depending on how much you want to flirt with disaster), then add that to your yearly total. You've just calculated the tax man’s due. Also, HIRE AN ACCOUNTANT.
Step 3: Burn Baby, Burn. No, I'm not advocating arson. Your burn rate is the number of hours you need to work to break even. Figure out how many hours you want to work weekly (include prep time, clean-up, and all the other non-massage-y stuff), and multiply that by the number of weeks you plan to work that year. If you fancy a vacation (and you should), subtract those weeks.
Step 4: The Final Price Tag. This is where the magic happens. Multiply your burn rate by a profit percentage. In the massage business, aim for at least 20%—or, if you're feeling particularly audacious, go for 50% to 75%. This is the buffer that lets you do more than just survive. It allows you to thrive, and maybe even afford those cute shoes you've been eyeing.
Okay, let's walk through an example. For simplicity, let's say your yearly expenses (Step 1) total $60,000. For taxes (Step 2), we’ll go conservative and multiply that by 0.30, adding $18,000 for a total of $78,000.
Now for the Burn rate (Step 3). Suppose you're prepared to work 25 hours per week (this includes all the business-related tasks that aren’t directly making you money, remember), and you want to work 48 weeks a year (everyone deserves a vacation!). That’s 1,200 hours in a year. Your base hourly cost is then $78,000 divided by 1,200 hours, which is about $65.
Finally, it’s showtime (Step 4). We add a profit margin of about 40% to the $65 base cost, landing us at around $90 per service hour. You've priced your services like a true captain of your ship.
Setting your prices isn’t just about numbers. It’s about valuing your work, your time, and most importantly, yourself. Set your price with conviction, defend it with grace, and always remember that you are more than worth it.