In 2009, I believed I could work in a lonely silo, simply earning extra cash in my side hustle as a licensed massage therapist.
Then, I was let go from my full-time job in 2013, and I was reborn the die-hard, entrepreneurial founder and CEO of Selah Bodyworks.
That’s when I told myself I would never again work for anyone else. And I haven’t.
With other people, however, is a different story.
Selah Bodyworks did not grow into a leading provider of on-site corporate chair massage alone.
In fact, we built our business collaboratively, more so than competitively.
And every year, we’ve doubled our revenue.
You see, I started this business to try and build something bigger than myself. And, in helping people with mobile massage therapy, I didn’t want to be hurting someone else.
Actually, I wanted to create more partnerships than I ever had before. I wanted to help foster a working community of competitors who not only rely on each other for shared talent, but also, trust one another to do their best work.
And this interconnected business lends itself to that.
One can run a mobile massage company from anywhere in the country, but if someone finds your business on the Internet and calls you up, it is unwise to have to turn down a client simply because you’re nowhere near them.
Instead, many of my out-of-state competitors who have not had the time to build up staff in New York City or New Jersey, for example, will still book a large tri-state event knowing they can call myself or one of my nearby competitors to staff it.
Even then, my competitor may only have five massage therapists available on that date and time. That’s when they would call and ask me for fifteen additional licensed practitioners. They need to subcontract the work, too.
And I do it. I always come through. In fact, I’ve never once said no. Hell, sometimes I’ve even accepted jobs at a discount and shown up to help run the event itself.
Because what is there to lose? I’m making a few dollars; I’m keeping my team busy; and, hopefully, I’ve deposit enough into this relationship that one day, they’ll help me out, too.
That’s how this works – because if I don’t help, they may lose that business, and that’s not what I want this industry to be about.
This industry relies on trust: trust between clients and their massage therapists; trust between collaborators within the industry; and trust that no one is going to hurt one another.
That’s why we run the Selah Bodyworks brand with intention and authenticity. We connect with our competitors on LinkedIn, or at events, and become friends.
Because in the end, we all love what we do, and since we all do the same thing, shouldn’t we instead be working together to learn how to make our jobs easier and our clients happier?
In fact, shouldn’t we be trying to even help grow each other’s businesses? For example, when I connect with someone providing on-site corporate chair massage in a different market on a smaller scale, I’ll partner with them as our official vendor in that city. That way, any time I get a job in their area, they can staff it for me.
It’s always a win-win, and, in the end, I only see it as competing with myself.
We can’t always worry about what the next company is doing and I try to live my life and run my business in that exact same way.