When Tony was preparing to open his massage therapy business in Caruthersville, Missouri, a town of 7,500, he received lots of negative feedback. Several people said he'd fail. But he has proven the naysayers wrong, celebrating his fourth anniversary this year.
Before starting Caring Caress & Massage Wellness LLC, Tony, 47, worked many jobs and gained extensive experience in marketing and health care. Being an entrepreneur was always one of his dreams, so when he decided he wanted both a career change and to become his own boss, he chose the growing field of massage therapy, eventually earning his certification from High-Tech Institute, which is now Anthem College in Memphis, Tenn.
Caring Caress & Massage Wellness LLC offers foot and deep tissue massages, colon hydrotherapy, and creates client information brochures on the benefits of massage therapy. Tony's business also works with the American Cancer Society by donating money and volunteering in the Relay for Life to raise cancer research funds.
He is currently the only massage therapist in his studio, but he plans to hire another to assist him and expand the business. He presently employs a licensed colon hydrotherapist and a person who does manicures and pedicures. And he wants to eventually hire a chiropractor.
Early in his new career as an entrepreneur, Tony attended a seminar where he found out about Accion Texas. He kept up with Accion via emails, and when he found about the grand opening of an office in his area, he decided to apply for a loan. He was approved and the loan proceeds will allow him to buy equipment and supplies, such as the Steamy Wonder TM. This product is essentially a portable sauna and helps clients detoxify and lose weight without body wraps. Tony also plans to purchase and sell a line of home-use wellness products in his studio.
Always eager to increase his knowledge and help people, Tony is an active member of the American Massage Therapy Association. Through this affiliation, he receives liability insurance that covers him anywhere he works, and receives discounted rates on educational classes and new products. "They do a ton of research and share that with us," Tony said. "And clients have found me through the organization's website. I wouldn't want to be without them."
Tony also works health fairs, gives chair massages in offices, sells gift certificates and passes out marketing fliers – all with an eye toward growing his clientele and expanding his business.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.