Massage Therapist Benefits from Participation in Small Business Development Program

Jennifer Olsen provides massage therapy for client

By Chris Cunningham

In her serene office suite on Country Club Road in Eugene, massage therapist Jennifer Olsen confidently applies healing touch to her clients, kneading, stroking, and stretching away their tension and pain.

A practitioner for 20 years, the owner of About Touch LLC uses Swedish massage, orthopedic massage, neuromuscular therapy, and trigger point (muscle knot) therapy to release tight muscles, enhance joint functioning and restore flexibility.

Jennifer is a participant in LCC's Small Business Management Program, which she says has increased her confidence in her business skills.

Before moving to Oregon, Jennifer practiced massage in Utah and Wisconsin as a solo therapist in a single office, and as an independent contractor, who leased space with other healing arts practitioners.

But, "when I moved to Eugene in 2002, I had a vision to have my own practice," says Jennifer, whose husband's acceptance into the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts prompted the couple's move from Wisconsin.

Jennifer opened About Touch in 2004, and hired four other massage professionals. The five  women treat conditions ranging from stress and muscle pain to whiplash and headaches.

Almost from the beginning, About Touch has done well, Jennifer says. In fact, the business landed the number one spot for massage services in The Register-Guard Readers' Choice 2012 awards.

Yet, as a savvy businesswoman, Jennifer recognized that she could refine her abilities in finance,  accounting, human resource management, and marketing, with a little guidance and expert advice from the SBDC. "I'd heard good things about the SBDC," says Jennifer, who graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor's degree in anthropology prior to earning her massage therapy license. In retrospect, she says, "I probably could have used the SBDC curricula a long time ago." Now in her second year of the program, Jennifer says, "I didn't realize how helpful the program would be."

In addition to teaching pragmatic curricula, SBDC instructor Gary Smith provides participants with one-and-a-half hours of one-on-one consulting each month. During a recent payroll cycle, Gary visited Jennifer to show her how to use QuickBooks® accounting software.

Networking with other small business owners has also helped Jennifer. "I learn things from other industries that I can apply to my business," she says.

Wherever she's practiced massage, Jennifer has cultivated a loyal following. Now, with newfound
knowledge and sharpened skills, Jennifer expects to improve on a business that already has enjoyed success.

For more information about the Small Business Management Program, contact Gary Smith at (541) 463-6208 or smithge@lanecc.edu.

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Published by Continuing Education June 2013