If you’re thinking of starting a massage business, you’ve come to the right place. As a business, you’ll be dealing with customers, business partners, suppliers and employees. With lots of responsibilities to think about, you want to make sure you understand the legal side of running a business.
This means you need to ensure you have agreements with your suppliers, the right legal documents with potential customers and a strong legal foundation for your massage business generally.
Here’s what you need to know about opening your own massage business in Australia.
How To Open A Massage Business In Australia
The first thing you need to consider when starting a massage business in Australia is – what business structure should I choose?
Your business structure is your first most important legal consideration because it will determine how your business moves forward. For example, it affects the process for registering your business (which we’ll cover below) and the level of protection your massage business can enjoy.
Considering liability is particularly important for a massage business as you are in contact with people in a face-to-face environment, and the last thing you want is to be held liable for injuries as a result of your business activities.
Which Business Structure Is Best For A Massage Business?
There are a number of business structures you can choose from when setting up your massage business. These are:
Think carefully about the following before you choose a structure:
- Do I plan on expanding in the future?
- How much am I prepared to spend on my business’ growth?
- How many people do I want to hire?
- Am I entering into high-risk transactions?
- Will I be conducting business overseas?
These questions are important to ask as each structure comes with a certain level of liability. For example, while a sole trader structure is relatively cheap and simple to set up, it comes with unlimited liability. This means that whatever trouble the business runs into, you are personally liable for it.
This is different to a company structure, which is more suited to larger businesses who plan on expanding overseas or undertaking high-risk business activities. This is because a company structure offers limited liability, so if the company runs into trouble, you won’t be personally affected or liable (in other words, your family car is safe!).
If you need help deciding which business structure is best for your massage business, feel free to contact our lawyers who are happy to chat you through your options.
Register Your Massage Business
Your next step in the business set up process is registering your business.
This step is mandatory, as you need to let the relevant bodies know that you are an official business for tax purposes.
Like we mentioned before, your business structure will determine which registration process you need to follow. For instance, if you are operating as a sole trader or partnership, you can register your business using this Business Registration Service and obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN).
However, if you are operating as a company, you will need to register your company with ASIC and obtain an additional Australian Company Number (ACN). This step is required for companies under the Corporations Act 2001, and directors will need to familiarise themselves with their directors’ duties under the Act as well.
You’ll also need to register your business name. However, this does not grant you exclusive ownership of the name. If you want to legally protect your business name, you’ll need to register it as a trade mark with IP Australia.
For instance, if you register your business name and it happens to be identical to another business’ name, and their name is trademarked, you cannot use that name. This is because they are afforded a stronger level of protection by IP Australia.
Let’s talk a bit more about trade marks and why they’re important for any business.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
Trade mark registration is a popular way to provide legal protection of your business’ intellectual property, whether it be your logo, slogan or even a signature scent!
IP Australia provides various forms of protective measures for a business’ IP as it is central to their branding and their competitive edge in the market. So, registration with IP Australia prevents other people (especially competitors!) from using your business’ IP.
Other forms of IP in your massage business may be automatically protected by copyright – we’ve written more about how copyright works and how it can apply to your business.
Find The Right Supplier For Your Massage Business
Another consideration you need to make as a massage business is how you will get your resources and supplies.
It’s important that you find a good and reliable supplier for your massage equipment. This is important as you want to make sure it’s good quality, provided in a timely manner and that you can rely on this supplier for a smooth and consistent delivery process.
As such, you also want to have the details of your arrangement in writing. Businesses will usually capture this information in a Supply Agreement. For example, it should cover:
- The supplies to be delivered
- When they should be delivered
- The quantity of items to be delivered
- Expected quality of items
- How the agreement can be terminated
- The duration of the business relationship
If you’re working with overseas suppliers, you want to make sure that your Supply Agreement is internationally enforceable. Our contract lawyers can help you with this – reach out today for a free consultation.
Australian Consumer Law Obligations
As a massage business, you’ll likely be advertising your services as one that promotes better sleep, wellbeing and a stress reliever. It’s important to understand that your advertising practices are regulated by the Australian Consumer Law.
This means that you cannot mislead or deceive consumers about the benefits of your service. So, be wary of the wording or the representations that you use to induce a purchase.
Furthermore, you may wish to look into the Therapeutic Goods Administration as they set out requirements and rules around advertising therapeutic goods.
Many massage businesses may use certain therapeutic goods as part of their services, so if this sounds like you, make sure you understand your advertising obligations under the TGA – we’ve written more about the TGA’s requirements in Australia.
How To Start A Mobile Massage Business
Running a business has become a very flexible venture. For example, many entrepreneurs may choose to start a mobile massage business.
This makes your massage service more accessible to your target market, and is great for the customer experience. However, bringing your service to the customer means you need to have certain terms and conditions in writing. This is because being a mobile massage business comes with additional risks (and more costs on your end, too!).
It’s wise to have Terms and Conditions that your customers can agree to before they further engage with your business. For example, before you travel to a customer, you may send them Terms and Conditions detailing the following matters:
- Cancellation fees
- Who is liable for any damage to your massage equipment
- The duration of the appointment
- The person receiving the service
- How refunds will work
It is only after the customer accepts your T&Cs that they can receive your mobile service.
If your massage business has a website, it’s also a good idea to have Website Terms and Conditions so that you can regulate what happens on your online platform.
Meet Your Employer Obligations
Like any other business, owners need to consider their obligations to their employees
The most basic obligations involve the National Employment Standards, which involve things like paying their employees minimum wage. You should also ensure that your employees are receiving their minimum leave entitlements under the relevant award, if it applies.
It is a legal requirement for employers to ensure their business complies with the modern award that applies to their employees. This should also be detailed in your Employment Contract with employees.
In addition, employers need to understand their obligations under Work Health and Safety laws. This means that you need to provide a safe working environment for your employees (this includes mental health).
For example, running a massage business involves some heavy and tiresome work on the part of your staff. As an employer, you have an obligation to ensure they have regular breaks, enough ventilation, water and lunch breaks.
Australian law has made previous rulings on an employee’s entitlement to toilet breaks during work – we’ve written more about this here.
Do I Need A Licence To Start A Massage Business?
You don’t necessarily need a licence to start a massage business. However, if you’re hiring massage therapists, they will need to have a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy as a minimum qualification.
This also lets consumers know that they are receiving a high quality massage from trained, qualified professionals. We’ve written more about what licence you may need depending on the type of business you are.
Starting A Massage Business From Home?
Some massage businesses may choose to operate from home. This may provide a more comfortable environment for customers.
However, there are some laws to be aware of when running a business from home.
Your Work Health and Safety obligations to employees still apply when working remotely. It’s your responsibility to have appropriate systems in place to maintain a safe working environment at home.
It’s also your responsibility to ensure that you maintain confidentiality even in a remote environment.
Hiring A Massage Therapist? Get A Business Contract
If your business is hiring massage therapists, your first step is to ensure they are qualified to provide massage therapy.
You should also provide additional training as part of your employee onboarding process to ensure risks are kept to a minimum.
A great way to reduce risks in this context is by having your massage therapists sign a business contract with you. This could be in the form of an Employment Contract, but the important thing is that it outlines the quality of services they will provide for your business and the standard of care that is expected of them.
What Legal Documents Do I Need For A Massage Business?
With any business, it’s important to ensure you have the right legal documents to protect your business from key risks. These risks can be online as well, so there are additional documents you need for an online presence (we cover this in more detail shortly).
We’ve covered a few legal documents above (such as a Supply Agreement and Terms and Conditions), but there are some additional documents you may wish to consider in the context of the nature of your business activities.
Personal or sensitive information is highly protected under Australian privacy laws – you can read more about personal information here.
Does Your Business Have A Website? Here’s What You Need To Know
Many businesses these days choose to have a website as it increases their reach and engagement with customers (this is particularly useful for businesses that operate overseas, too).
However, having a website also means you need to have additional documents. For example, you’ll need to have Web T&Cs to regulate what users can and can’t do on your site.
If you’re starting a massage business, it’s worth understanding your legal obligations. Whether it be a consultation on your employment obligations or assistance understanding your privacy law obligations, our lawyers are happy to chat with you.
In addition to the standard business set up process, starting a massage business also requires consideration of your suppliers, the risk of liability and qualifications for your staff.
If you would like a consultation on your options going forward, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no-obligations chat.
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