How do you start a business when you don't know anything about business? You don't even know what you don't know. It's a daunting problem. Luckily, I've found that for every complicated problem there's often a simple, elegant solution.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from my high school chemistry teacher. I was struggling to balance a chemical equation when he said, "Think of it this way. You assess what you have on the left and you assess what you have on the right. Then you figure what you need to get from one place to the other." It clicked with me for chemistry and I've been applying this principle to life's problems ever since.
In this instance you, the massage therapist, want to start a business. You want to go from whatever employment situation you're in now to successful self-employment. You want to increase your earnings, to have a more flexible schedule, and to have more control over how you deliver services and interact with clients.
Try these four steps to analyze the situation as a starting point so that you can at least start to know what you don't know.
First step is to make a list or write out a narrative of all the things you want in your future as a successful solo practitioner. How much money, your schedule, your work environment, who you help etc. That's your right hand column. That's where you want to go. Be as specific as possible, keeping in mind that parts of your dream may change as you continue down this path.
Next step is to make a list of what you have right now. What hours you work, what money make, what your job looks like etc.
Thirdly, compare the two lists item for item. Now you can start to see how far you have to go from one to the other. Perhaps it's a small jump in one area and a major transformation in another.
Finally, you'll need to strategically conceive of how to start each transition. I'll use myself as an example.
At one time I was working five days a week Monday to Friday seeing six clients a day and earning $32/hour + tips. I wanted to see no more than four clients a day three to four days a week and earn $100+ per client. I didn't want to work weekends and I didn't want to take out a loan if at all possible.
So how did I set about going from the left to the right? Kind of like playing a puzzle game, I had to create a new budget, set a new schedule and start advertising to get new clients quickly. The exact methods aren't important because every situation is unique.
My advice is to be clear with what you have, be clear with where you want to go and be creative with how to make the transition from one side to the other.