This week beyond thinking about my rebirthing experiences, I’ve been contemplating my Elder Care Massage business, and our Atira goals, especially how they might coincide.
It really did throw me a bit when I had the conversation with the other massage therapist. I knew she was working on retiring when the referral was given to her by a person I work with. I had no idea though that it would end up resulting in me being the only therapist in the metro doing this line of work. I just assumed there was still a handful of us doing geriatric massage, and that this therapist might not even have to give me her building, that it could have gone to someone else. I’ve been enjoying relishing in the fact that I have a monopoly on such endeavors, even making it a point to tell others my/her discovery.
In the process I have spent a significant amount of time contemplating what it is I like about what I do, and what the downfalls of such work is. I have to say that I always come up with more bonuses than negatives. I have thought about what the steps might look like in moving from sole proprietor to a full fledged business with employees doing the same work. It does seem a bit daunting, but contemplating that process does get me a bit excited, in the realm of I could potentially build a significant business that would be the first of it’s kind. I could end up, long term, being the first Massage-Envy-like business that solely travels to provide elder/geriatric care. Which, even if it wasn’t a huge dollar producer, just having that niche market would be a success.
In the process of acknowledging this possibility, I’ve clarified things that would need to happen.
One being that Kansas, as well as a few other states, need to be required to have reciprocity laws. Right now there are not many metro areas that fall on state lines, but every one that does creates a complicated situation.
For instance when I first started working as a Massage Therapist I worked in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area. Nebraska had stricter regulations than Iowa by 200 hours, not a huge amount, but they would not allow therapists to add on, a therapist would have to start over with their education to meet Nebraska laws. I fell in the middle having more hours than Iowa required, but just shy of what Nebraska wanted. Nebraska also refused to honor Iowa licensure, even though Iowa would accept Nebraska licensure. So, I was relegated to staying on the Council Bluffs side, which had a notoriously low economic base with high unemployment and vast areas of poverty. It was not a pretty employment picture and one that ended hazardously for me.
When we moved to the Kansas City metro I was faced with a similar picture. Missouri is state licensed; Kansas is not. Each individual city on the Kansas side of the line can have it’s own licensing requirements. What is interesting to note here is that nearly all of the regulations for all of the cities are the same, with a very small handful of exceptions (like Shawnee doesn’t require a license if you work under doctor or chiropractic supervision). The difference lies mainly in the amount that is charged for a therapist license and what determines if they are also going to charge you for having a separate business license. I know this because I have held a license through 4 cities and contemplated another 3 cities, and there are only 9 on the Kansas side of the metro. They all require 500 hours &/or Board certification, CPR/AED certification, to carry liability insurance, and pass their police background check. I have 800 hours, I am nationally certified, keep my CPR and insurance current, and have a record so clean I used to carry a government “Classified” clearance.
So, I can step back and acknowledge 2 things:
-Licensure is supposedly in place to create safety through knowledge. Acknowledging training and board ethics is important: it keeps clients safe from bad practices and it reduces risks of sexual activity in a therapy setting.
-Licensure allows for taxation of the licensed party. If one city can offer a license and background check for $85 (Shawnee), then there is no reason that other cities charge more except to make money off of someone.
Where this gets my goat, and the reason why it needs changed, is that if I can meet the standards for all of the cities in the metro, then there should never be a fear of being caught “without a license” because I crossed an imaginary line (city boundary). Yet that is a very real reality. If you don’t carry a license for every city you work in, you can currently be prosecuted for working without a license, and if found guilty it can prevent you from ever being licensed again. Yet, I’ve already demonstrated that I have the education and physical ability to carry any license in the KC metro. So what does it boil down to?
I have chosen to not carry every license consecutively because it would cost me nearly $3,000 a year to do so, and if you’ve read my blog you would understand how ludicrous that is. I gross $33,000 a year, that is a 10% local tax, on top of state and federal tax. My AGI falls closer to $16,000 with mileage and business expenses, so now that $3,000 becomes a 20% local tax on top of state and federal taxes. I count that separately because paying Massage License tax (fees they call them) happens directly at a city clerk and never makes it onto my tax return except where I can note business licensing as an expense.
What I’m going to say next might piss some off, but I’m gonna anyway.
If you required that same process of Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, IT professionals, or any one of another high salary positions, it would not fly. The second a lawyer faced 20% local taxes on top of their regular state and federal taxes, bills would be created and laws would change. Yet, massage therapists, aestheticians, and cosmetologists regularly face just that through the risks inherent in failing to carry multiple city licenses when a state doesn’t require reciprocity. The lowest income, and generally female held, positions are the ones penalized the most. That screams discrimination to me.
Yet, it has nothing to really do with safety. There have been and will continue to be all manner of “professionals” that lose their jobs, and often licenses for having sexual relations in their office. I’ve noted in just the last year, dentists, Md’s, and psychologists that have gotten in trouble just for that very reason. I know that CEO’s and upper-management also experience abuse of power through sex, and are quietly asked to leave their positions. It may not be frequent, but it is frequent enough that if that were really the only reason for the licensing requirements like I deal with, then the same licensing procedures would apply to all professions. It’s simply not the case.
I believe that really, it is old biased thinking that created outdated and ludicrous laws, and those in power are simply too lazy and blinded by dollar signs to care about changing it.
So full circle: IF (a huge IF), I decided to take my job and turn it into a full fledged business with multiple employees, I would have to take that on. I would have to figure out a way to mandate at least Kansas and Missouri to have reciprocity laws in place. Further yet, if I plan on building my business to have multiple locations in the future, it is likely that I would need to do that for any state I functioned out of. Better yet, I would want all states to have reciprocity laws. There is no reason that a therapist should have to carry multiple licenses consecutively. If doctors and lawyers don’t have to, then neither should massage therapists or any other profession. There should be a blanket acceptance that if a professional met the requirements to hold a license, especially one that requires repeat renewals, and background checks, then that license should be good regardless of the location of their works activities.
Now reciprocity laws are specifically designed to address traveling professionals- that is people that technically have one source of employment, but multiple locations where the physical work is completed (roofers, traveling nurses, hospice works, etc.) Reciprocity does not count in a professional moving or taking a new job (i.e. I used to live in Iowa and my Iowa license is still good, but now I live and work in Kansas)- in that situation any professional still requires new licensing. So, if my business ends up having multiple locations in multiple states, I would still need multiple business licenses, that is natural. I just want to ensure that my therapists would only need one license, and I could still send them to multiple buildings regardless of where those buildings were physically located. That is the goal of reciprocity laws.
Another thing I have been actively working on the last couple of weeks has been researching grants to see if I, or my massage business, or Atira might qualify for grants that are currently available. I’m discovering there is a lot of free money to be found. However, most of the results I’m finding so far are either directly research related, for the purpose of promoting hiring diversity, or location specific. For instance I found grants for diversity building in cooperation with one of our consulate locations in Japan. Cool but not helpful to me. The search will continue, there are thousands of grants just through the United States government to wade through. Maybe I’ll find a good one!
So finally, how does all of this wrap together with Atira?
Well I thought about things that we want to do, how my massage practice has always been a part of that. I think this really is just another avenue to explore. but it led me to thinking about names, and how businesses can be subdivided. I thought more specifically about my ideas, and inspiration began flowing. Mostly with names and building my website. Which, by the way, I have put adjusting my current website on my new priority list.
Anyway, here were my inspirations (FYI- I consider this to be copyrights as my blog is part of me and my arts):
For Elder Care Massage-
name: Atira ReLive
sub-title: Helping our elders find comfort and peace through Relaxation and DeStress.
I thought that this provided just enough ambiguity that I could incorporate art and music therapies into the list of services offered by our traveling therapists.
I also contemplated naming the parts of Atira as a whole:
Atira Group: where I am at now, already a registered name with my EIN attached, represents my business umbrella.
Atira Community: Honestly I’m stuck at coming up with a more creative name for this one!
Atira Arts: Studio and Gallery: Atira In the Making, and Atira’s Hung…. I’m not sure Nathan will like the latter one!
Atira Cafe: Une Boisson D’Atira … you know like the french phrase for a drink of water- une boisson d’eau.
Atira Restaurant: Graze on Atira… that came from my mom referencing vegetarians as grazers.
Festivals: Atira Explorations… I’m not sure I’ve convinced myself of that one. I was going for the feel of playing, having fun, enjoyment. Needs some work.
And the store… I’ve got little nothing inspired for that yet.
Regardless, I have miles to go, I’m still just scratching the surface of getting started. The difference is that this topic interests me and excites me. Even if I don’t have any tangible evidence of manifesting it, I’m still enjoying it. Thinking about the millions of details is fun. Trying to be creative is even more fun. I’m going to keep doing all of it, while I function in my current constructs. Life keeps rolling, and I’m going with the flow now. It’s nice. Perhaps, I’ll find the magic grant that will launch part of this, or maybe even all of this. Perhaps I’ll win the lottery and will be able to put it all into effect soon. I just don’t know, but I’m doing my best to look forward and keep positive while trudging through the current mess I’m still wading in. Somehow, somewhere, a way will be made for improvement, and September is still significant from what I can tell, just not sure how or why.