Brainstorming for a business to start in Portland, Maine.
September 26, 2010 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I've been living in the south for about 20 years but I am originally from New England and have lots of friends who live in Portland. I'm ready to move and start something new. I am a massage therapist, but find I can't practice at the level that I used to and this makes it difficult to consider making a good living at it for the next 20 years or so. I have managed a successful massage practice but don't really want to do that all over again. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, like a challenge, and am bored by routine... and I'm trying to invent a new business or career for myself. I have a little money to invest, but not a lot. I'm willing to learn a new skill, but not anything I'd need to go to school for more than a few months to learn (I do have a BA already.) I'm hoping for practical real-world ideas, that will work in Portland.
posted by pinkbungalow to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The real estate market—particularly the commercial real estate market—is taking a huge beating up here in Portland. One aquaintance of mine just opened up a place near Monument Square for $1200/mo. Commercial real estate is as cheap as residential. It's actually a great time to be an entrepreneur because you can lock-in downtown leases for peanuts.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:49 AM on September 26, 2010

Going to take a stab at your question, but I'm not quite sure why you can't practice massage therapy at the level that you used to (Are you bored with it? Is it hard to find enough clients?). Letting us know why may help people make additional suggestions. Also, what was your BA in, as that may provide additional skills or knowledge to use for your new field. Do you have other interests?

Can you write and/or how are/were your marketing skills? Because you obviously know massage therapy very well at this point, you could approach local business that offer massage therapy (e.g. chiropracters? massage therapists? gyms?) and offer to write a brochure, write a web page, develop a marketing plan with them, implement the plan (insert your skill set strengths into this, we don't know your other skills or interests). I think it may be helpful to identify these potential clients and talk to them about their needs before you decide to go in a particular direction. Did you develop any sort of copy/advertisements for your massage therapy business that you could use as a sample? An advantage of this plan is that you can do this from home so it should not cost that much to develop any materials.

Now if the above plan goes well and you like it, there is no need to limit yourself to Portland. You could email and approach these companies throughout the country.

One more idea along those lines if you decide to go the marketing route and offer those sort of services. Do you enjoy the face time interactions, shaking hands, etc.? You could offer more than just a brochure for their small business, but you could meet people/let them know about the company, etc. If you are a people person and are creative (and in the end, bring in clients), I'm sure a business or small business owner who doesn't want to do this would hire you.As a small business owner, I really struggle with this and if I thought someone knew my subject area and could approach clients, I would hire the person right away.

The other idea that you could implement at the same time (again, probably some writing skills), but also building on your running a business skill, offer to be a "small business coach." Help someone with a business plan, where to find funding, how to advertise, how to get training, etc. You could offer this service either 1) in person/on the phone, 2) as part of blog with advertisements and ebooks, who knows. It would take time to build up something like this and as you know, it may or may not work. However, I think you have some strengths if you ran your own massage therapy business for several years.

Wait, one more idea, but this would depend on who know/will know in Seattle and who are the typical massage therapy customers? Are these athletes? People who want to relieve stress? If there is a particular group that uses massage therapists a lot, can you collaborate with people and offer a "stress relief service" or "athlete pre/post marathon package" or whatever. Collaborate with a nutriotionist who offers targeted advice. A psychologist gives a session. Then you offer X hours (or if you want out of this, you find someone who does this). I don't know if there is or would be a need for that in Portland, though.
posted by Wolfster at 12:12 PM on September 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks Wolfster - after doing massage for almost 20 years I have some arthritis and tendonitis that limits the number of massages I can do per day. It might be ok as a side line or for a little cash flow until something else got going. I am also a little bored with it. I think I'd like something completely different, although your marketing idea is good. I have a background in print advertising sales, and yes, I'd be good at helping small businesses market themselves. My BA is in communications, I am creative and can write.
posted by pinkbungalow at 12:28 PM on September 26, 2010

how about learning to grow healing herbs, make them into tisanes?

a greenhouse rental might not be too expensive.

for instance, this list contains herbs which might benefit a pregnant woman, from red raspberry leaf to ginger to oat straw.
posted by kimyo at 2:37 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't know much about advertising agencies (I have occassionally been hired to do a project for them, but it is nto my field at all) -- so if you decide to go that route, you may want to do some ask metafilter searchs and post a question next week.

However, if you have a background in print and advertising (and running your own business), you may want to see if you can get a job at an advertising agency in Seattle. Not forever, mind you, but just enough to see what tools are out there. Companies that do online stuff (webpages, social websites) may be interesting to see fi you can identify what is hot, how to implement it, and find out if there is data backing those techniques.

A year or so later (if you want to), I think you could offer a phenomenal marketing/publicity package for companies. Even a "one-stop" shop - get brochures made, lay outs for a magazine, company webpage, social web site branding, whatever the company wants (and you wouldnt have to do this, you could hire people). I think that there are a lot of possibilities to learn and new things to try, especially if you integrate web advertising and marketing.

I do also think you could develop a specialty and pple may even seek you out for that info (the expert marketer for massage therapist or small business, etc.). Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 2:54 PM on September 26, 2010

Response by poster: just FYI, Portland MAINE, not OR :-)
posted by pinkbungalow at 4:34 PM on September 26, 2010

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