“Small Business Stacey” interviews Joyce Gauthier, the Sailing Massage Therapist about how she’s navigated the ups and downs in business and life. #TheSmallBizLife #SmallBusinessInterviews
Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of small business success interviews. I’m your host small business Stacey, and today we’re talking about how to get the kinks out of your business and your personal life.
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I am joined by the true expert in this area, Joyce Gauthier. Now Joyce is a Certified Massage Therapist and she travels the seven seas on her boat. She has been called The Sailing Massage Therapist. We’re definitely going to want to learn more about how she got that name. Now she has one of the most active and engaged Facebook groups that I have ever seen and she creates, teaches and sells right online courses. So Joyce, welcome to the show today.
Welcome. I am in the lounge at the marina where we’re staying, so the Wifi is unfortunately not the best all the time. So sorry about that.
One of the downsides of living on a boat, right?
I know, I know. It’s a constant search for good wifi?
Well, it just wouldn’t be fair if we were recording this and you’re on your boat and I have this backdrop.
So very true. Very true. It’s beautiful here in North Carolina. How did you become Sailing Massage Therapist? Or actually it’s The Sailing Massage Therapist, right? Yeah. Yeah. Well I had a practice, I had a brick and mortar practice for seven years in upstate New York and I have just always had a bug for travel. I’ve always wanted to travel and my husband and I got into sailing and as we became very successful in both of our careers, we decided to travel more and he was really into sailing and I was digging it.
And I don’t care if I’m traveling in a cardboard box. Really, I just want to travel. So it ended up being on a sailboat and I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s really nice to be able to travel around with my house. And, my career definitely lends itself to being able to be mobile. And I figured out some fantastic ways to make that work where I can enjoy being a massage therapist but also travel at the same time.
I love it. Now just to clarify, because when I first met you and you told me that you were The Sailing Massage Therapist. Me, like what I thought in my head that meant was that you sailed to people and then you know, massage them. But that’s not really what it means. Right?
Right. I am an educator, so that is first and foremost I teach massage therapists about business, about marketing, and also medical massage because that is my specialty. So I am an approved provider and it’s through a national entity called NCB TMB. So I can provide continuing education classes for massage therapists all throughout the United States.
Nice, Nice. So you can do this on the road or on the water, so to speak. Right, exactly, exactly. I can have online courses, which is something that I’m currently working on and I also have live courses. So there’s eight classes at this point that I have to choose from. And I have a bunch of courses that I’ll be offering in October in upstate New York that are alive hands on because we’re massage therapists and it’s really ideal to be in a classroom practicing the techniques with your instructor. Online has its place in time, of course, because sometimes times people just can’t get out and take those classes.
So I have both options for people. Nice people love options. So we know a little bit about the professional you, but what people really want to know is the real you. So I have some questions for you. Sure. Okay. Sun Porch or deck.
Oh deck, all the way. I mean, the more outside I can be, the better. I thought you might say that.
Yeah. I’m curious. Three small meals a day. No, I said that wrong. Three big meals a day or five small meals a day.
Oh my goodness. That’s um, wow. These are hard hitting questions. I like to eat when I’m hungry. So some days I eat more, some days I eat less. I’ve been just recently getting into coffee, which is really like, if you know me, I have stayed away from caffeine like the plague for my entire life. I’m a pretty high energy person as it is and I didn’t need the extra energy.
But when I traveled to Europe this spring, Aye, it was actually, I ordered a hot chocolate and I ended up with coffees. I’m getting into coffee very slowly. It’s more milk than coffee, but I’m enjoying it and you know, I just, I’m just listening to my body and doing what feels right. And if I want to eat a piece of chocolate cake before bed, I’m gonna do it. And if I’m not in the mood to eat for hours at a time, I just won’t eat. There.
I love it. Right. You’re in control of what you want to do when you want to do.
My lifestyle allows me to do that.
I have to know when you’re living on a boat, would you say sunrise or sunset?
I would say I’m more of a sunrise person. Yeah. When you live on a boat. Oh, you are awake. When it’s light out, it’s something that they call it sailors midnight. It’s like all sailors are asleep by like [9:00] PM because you wake up, you’re, you’re so integrated with nature. When you live on a boat, oh that you are, you know totally swayed by the natural rhythms of our earth. So I’m usually up when the sun comes up and I’m getting pretty tired when the sun’s going down. So I tend to get both sunrises and sunsets, especially if we’re out at sea. Because points where we’re traveling and my husband and I are doing four hour shifts. So depending on when your shift is, you get either the sunrise or the sunset. Both. I mean, when you’re out in the middle of the ocean, both are just absolutely incredible.
It must be. It must be. Yeah. So you can have the sunrise with your coffee in the morning and Latte watching the sunset in the evening. Oh, what a life. What a life. So where, where are you now?
I’m in North Carolina. I’m right outside of a little town called Oriental, which was made famous last year. Um, because of Florence, because of Hurricane Florence. Oh, okay. Yeah. And so this area was hit pretty hard by the Hurricane Florence.
Question. So when you pulled up, you docked, and what were your plans when you got there?
So, when we arrived in North Carolina this summer it was the beginning of July. I was planning on starting a massage practice in Oriental. And it was something that I was publicizing pretty, pretty proudly and loudly, especially within my Facebook group that I have. I have about a thousand members in a Facebook group and I said, hey, you know, I’m here to show you, you can start a practice anywhere. You know, it doesn’t matter how small the town is, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know anyone, you can start it.
So I was tracking what was happening with this business. So I got a space pretty quickly within a week of being here in a coffee shop. And then three days into my practice, I had already worked on people. I was rebooking them, I had them, you know, in the schedule in the future. And I got a text from the owner of the coffee shop saying, you can’t practice here. It was just a matter of paperwork that wasn’t done. The owner of the building was a troll, and he found out, and he was upset. I just got booted, which at the time was really unfortunate.
I mean, Stacey was there with me every step of the way. I called her immediately and I was like nine one one call Stacey. Oh my God, I just got booted from my space. I don’t know what to do. This is the worst thing that can ever happen to me. But in reality it was the best thing that could ever happen to me because it allowed me to really focus on what I wanted to do with my career. Okay. I love practicing massage. I love being in the treatment room with people. But this, this horrible thing that happened to me was actually the universe, God, whatever you believe in, telling me I need to focus on education and on teaching. Okay. That’s what I’ve been doing. I found a different space where I can bill my online classes and it actually ended up being really awesome because the great space that we have, and we can bring the boat there so I can walk to from my dock slip, down the dock, to this beautiful space where we have an outdoor space and an indoor space to film my YouTube videos and my online classes. Wow. I feel like everything happens for a reason. And I was really directed in this way.
Stacey knows this, she’s my coach. I was all over the place, right? I was like, I want to practice and I want to teach and I want to have this online stuff and I wanna make videos. And so this has really allowed me to focus on medical massage classes. That’s my specialty. That’s what I’m doing. And it’s really working because once I settled in on that focus specific idea, that’s when my business blew up. Like my Facebook group is doing really well. I’m gaining a ton of traction on YouTube because I have that specific idea for this is what I’m doing, this is me and I’m, and I’m speaking my truth.
It’s something that you and I have talked about a lot which is just being honest and being genuine and being yourself. Because I had the rug pulled out from underneath me, it made me have to make some hard choices. I’m glad I did talk through that, because we’re talking about kinks, right? So when most people have the rug pulled out under them, most people would just say, I quit. I’m done. I’m done. I’m just going to get a new job. Well, talk about your mindset.
How did you overcome that?
Sure. Well, I’m, I’m an optimistic person. That’s just who I am. It’s who I’ve always been. I’m, I’m not the type of personality that’s going to let something get me down. You know, I’ve had, I’ve had a lot of adversity in my life. I’ve had a lot of things happen to me, that weren’t always what people would look at as positive, but it’s okay.
It’s when you have the rug pulled out from underneath you is when something really horrible happens. That’s when you make the most growth. If I had started my practice in Oriental and I was just like, okay, it’s slow. I only have two people this week, it just be like I needed to have something happened with force to shake me. And that’s how my full life has been. When, I was in my practice in upstate New York, and it was kind of slow going and I was doing overextending myself to my clients, which is very common with caregivers, it was that I didn’t have set hours, I wasn’t taking vacations. If I got sick, I wouldn’t take time off. And what ended up happening is my father got very sick with cancer and he eventually passed from it. And from that horrible tragedy happening in my life, it made me realize I can miss work.
It’s okay. There’s things that are bigger in life than doing your work every day, even if you’re sick, even if you’re going through something or you’re grieving, work is not what it’s all about. And I feel like going through that, going through my father’s death was a huge catalyst for me living the life that I live now because it’s more important to me to live, to be happy, to spend time with my husband, to travel, to meet new people than to sit at home and just make a ton of money and be successful. Well, I think they go hand in hand because when, when you’re crystal clear on what you want to do and who you serve, the money will come right.
The money. Right. And so you’re sort of, you’re like in that direction. It’s so exciting to see these foundational pieces you’re putting in place. So let’s talk about video, because you have a YouTube Channel and a Facebook Group that just keeps growing every day. I don’t even know how you’re keeping up with the number of new subscribers you’re getting. So talk about video, because people are like, I can’t do video. Like how did you start? What do you talk about, and are you doing it live or not? It’s just a very general thing, but talk about what you’re doing.
Okay. So when I started off, it was just a YouTube Channel and I was filming on the beaches of The Bahamas. My husband was holding a phone, my little Android phone. And that’s all we had. There was a lot to compete with. Obviously you’ve got sun, you’ve got wind, you’ve got waves and noises and people walking by and a lot of random things. But we just started cranking out videos and I was doing research on how to make your YouTube Channel work. Right? That’s something that all new you tubers do. And one thing was consistency. So I made sure that I put, once I started my channel, I put out a video every single week, no matter what. And there’s been points in my life where I could bank a bunch of videos and crank out a bunch at a time and I would have them scheduled a couple months in advance or there’s been points where I’m putting out a new video every week because I’m filming every week.
The harder you work for something, the greater you’ll feel when you achieve it.
And as we’re growing with our channel, I have lights now, I have audio, I have a nicer camera and we have the ability to edit. When I first started it was one take. And that’s something that is easy for me because I’m a theater major. That was my first life. I loved being on stage. I did a lot of musical theater improv. I was Elmo on Sesame Street Live.
I want to see a picture of that.
I was just born to be on stage and that was my first true love before I found massage. And, so that definitely comes natural to me, but I think that that’s something that a new business owners need to consider. Is it video? Is it podcasts? Is it frightening?
We all have our own gifts and strengths and I just feel like video is the way to go. So we started with the Youtube Channel and then my Facebook Group started getting really big. So I started doing a lot of Facebook live because people loved it. And I would get so much interaction from my members when I would hop on and do Facebook live now because of my lifestyle, I can’t really schedule them. I don’t know where I’m going to be tomorrow in those cases. So it’s hard for me to say, okay, every Thursday I’m going to do a Facebook Live. So when I’m feeling it, I just pop on and I, and I do a Facebook Live and if people catch it on the replay, they can catch it on a replay, but we’ll have a constant conversation going usually for multiple days at a time.
Some of these video’s resurface months later that people have a a new idea or opinion upon. So how do I get my content? It’s really through my group. So many conversations we can have about massage therapists from any front, from technique to marketing to business. And then there’s also a lot of awkward situations. You can be in as a massage therapist when it comes to boundaries and ethics and where massage therapists stand on all of those boundaries, ethics, ideas. I mean it’s, it’s flowing and it’s constantly changing, and it depends on, what your history is, what your traumas are, where you know, what has happened to you in your life and where you stand with boundaries with your clients. So to have that as a conversation, it not only lets other massage therapists not feel so alone because, yeah, things happen. You know, I hate to fall back on this, but people are inappropriate and massages sometimes can make a massage therapist feel really yucky when it happens to them.
So being able to talk about those awkward situations with inappropriate clients too. Clients asking you for discounts or clients that you know are angry. There’s, there’s all sorts of things that we can talk about.
So yeah, I got it. Three golden nuggets from that. Number one, just do it right. That you can just wait to save up your money to buy lighting and microphone and a fancy studio. You picked up your phone and just started recording. People may have been walking by, there may have been wind rippling in the background, the audio may not have been perfect. That good is good enough, right? And you got to get out there, right? So that’s number one. Just get started. Number two, consistency, right? You didn’t just do it once and then, oh, another shiny object, squirrel over here. Right? And you’re doing, you committed to doing it at least every single week.
And then people started hearing about it and seeing it and sharing it and it grew organically. You are not running Facebook ads to drive traffic to your groups. I know that you’re doing this all organically. And number three is the content, right? Because we all get stuck. What do I talk about? What do I share? And it’s all the same boring stuff out there, right? Commodities like how to do, how to do a massage or how to market your massage business. And, and you talk about that, but in a unique way, like true storytelling. But what I love in what you’re doing is you actually let your viewers and your listeners, the people in your group, sort of guide your content by the questions that they’re asking or the stories that they share or the concerns that they have. You’re like, light bulb pops up, right? Oh, let me do a video about that.
So it’s almost like you don’t have to stress about creating the content. Your group is doing it for you.
Yeah, they hand it right to me and honestly, Stacey, that is advice that you gave me because when I started this business, I had so many ideas for what I thought massage therapists needed to hear and quickly learned that that’s not what it’s about. It’s about what they want. And they tell me in every single post. I get more little nuggets about ideas about the next post that I can make because it’s coming from my people. You know, like that’s who it’s for. That’s where the content should be coming straight out of.
Do you find that it makes you a better massage therapist because of that?
Oh, my goodness, yes, absolutely. Because as a massage therapist for the entire time that I had my practice, I was the only massage therapist.
It was just me. I didn’t have, I wasn’t even on Facebook. I didn’t have groups like this too, see what other people are doing or to hear about how they react to certain situations. So absolutely listening to what these other massage therapists have to say is constantly making me rethink even more what I do as a massage therapist. Every single move that you make as a massage therapist from the time that you greet your client to doing the intake process, to having them on the table and doing the massage, just seeing them out the door, there’s choices that you have to make and to hear how other people do it absolutely informed me how I should run my business and how I should treat my clients.
Wow, that’s really powerful. So people listening, you know, Joyce’s obviously talking from a massage therapist point of view, because that’s her business. So don’t put up your blinders and say, oh, my business is different. That doesn’t relate to me. What she’s giving you. So many golden nuggets that are easily transferrable to your business. You can even have both, the business that you love and take it with you. So enjoy this case. She had decided that sailing was her thing and she built her business around being able to do that. Yet look at how many, she’s helping thousands and thousands of people, who are just stuck to her like glue because they want to hear the next thing that she’s going to say. So let’s talk about where you are now in your journey, which I believe you’re creating an online course that you’re going to be offering. So talk a little bit about that.
So I’m really honing in on medical massage because that was always my specialty. That’s, that’s my jam. I love it. Um, so the online course and courses are going to be a series of medical massage classes. From intake to postural assessment, to different techniques for different body parts to different pathologies, injuries, illnesses that people typically have that come in and how to treat them. So, it’s going to be an online course and a big part of this that you and I have talked about a lot, Stacey, is offering continuing education units for massage therapists. There’s a ton of classes out there for massage therapists. They’re a dime a dozen about how to run your business or how-to techniques. But offering the continuing education units for massage therapists that need them for their state license, this is going to give them an extra added benefit that they need because it’s something they’re going to have to get at anyway.
So basically what you’re doing is taking your expertise, your love, your passion, packaging it up into a course, right. Yes, you need to market it to get people to take the course, but then it’s recurring because you have multiple courses, right?
Yes. I have multiple courses and it also drives people to my live courses because I mean that’s really my passion is to be in the classroom hands-on, showing people these different techniques, watching them play around with them and giving them different ideas. It allows for if you want to take half of the courses online and then come see me live, that’s an option too. I plan on traveling cause I love traveling. You know, traveling around next summer, teaching throughout the United States.
Nice. So you’ll be, you won’t be The Sailing Massage Therapist, you’ll be the RV Massage Therapist so you will have to change the name for the summer, I think. Right, right. Maybe we’ll see you on the slopes some days. Very cool.
Stacey, part of my lifestyle is escaping winter, so I dunno about that, I don’t know about the skiing. Yeah, I lived in upstate New York for many, many winters. So I, and I’m going to take a breather for a little while.
Okay. Well Joyce, I mean you, I just commend you because I always say, one is the loneliest number and you are doing this all by yourself. But you’re kind of not just one right because you’re part of my coaching and mastermind group. So a lot of people out there don’t really understand what that is or what it means. So can you talk, just spend a minute sort of talking about why you got involved in the Mastermind and what it’s done for you, especially being as a solopreneur.
Sure. Okay. And I do also want to mention that my husband is such a huge part of it emotionally, but also with all this technology stuff that I struggle with and he’s filming and editing and doing all that good stuff too. But yeah, the Mastermind and coaching with you, Stacey has been invaluable and I have to thank you so much for that. I am starting an online business for the first time in my life, there’s a lot of things that I don’t know and I’m learning as I go, but to have a group of people that are doing the same thing, I mean they’re not all massage therapists, but they’re small business owners.
So to go to my Mastermind Group once a month and bounce ideas off of everybody that are all there is extremely beneficial for me because I get that time where the spotlight is on me, which obviously we know what I love as a theater major, but the rest of the call I get to spend gobbling up information from all these other solopreneurs that are building their businesses They’re showing what’s worked for them, what’s not working for them, and then hearing the entire group have their feedback for that person as well. So it’s not just about the time that I have my spotlight on me, but it’s also about listening to the other group members, what they’re going through, and all that.
Joyce, absolutely. You’ve been such a great part of the group because you don’t just give you, you, well, I said that wrong. You don’t just take, you give like you are an active participant and you are right now. You learn so much just by listening to other people’s experiences in different industries. Like we have a guy in the group who is one of the biggest franchise owners in his Franchise system. He does locksmith work. Well what does that have to do with massage therapy? Well, Joyce will probably say a lot, right? And so she’s learned a lot. So many people in my small business community are Solopreneurs or have a small staff and one can be the loneliest number. So using and leveraging the Power of the Mastermind kind of ties into our topic today. You know, getting out those kinks in your business and your personal life by having a group of board of advisors, a community of people that you can really share that deep dark crap and knowing it’s a secure environment.
So Joyce, it’s just been so great watching you grow over the past few months by really taking advantage of that. I want to ask you, you know, the topic of today is talking about those kinks. So what, what closing of advice would you have for a small business owner who may feel like they’re going through some kinks in their business. They’ve hit a bump in the road, what would you tell them to, to get over that hurdle?
A kink can be looked at in two different ways, right? It can be looked at as a roadblock or it can be looked at or as an opportunity and if there is something that is going horribly wrong with your business, it’s an opportunity for you to step back and reevaluate. You could find out it’s going to be the biggest gift that you could ever receive is to have something like that happen. Because without the bad stuff, you’re not going to ever evaluate or reevaluate.
You’re right. You know, and there’s a saying that I love saying, which is I wish I had an image of it to put up, but envision a mountain with all these peaks and valleys, right? There is no smooth in mountain, right? It’s a journey. And as you are moving your way up to the peak, there’s going to be ups and downs that is just part of business. So one strategy we’ve talked about today obviously is aligning yourself and being part of a Coaching and Mastermind Group or create your own group. Like Joyce has done. She’s created her own Facebook Group, she’s built this YouTube Channel that just consistently grows with new subscribers. I mean, Joyce, what would you say is your best marketing strategy that has helped you grow to where you are today?
Being real, being real. The more honest, genuine information I put out there, the more of a response I get it. There’s a lot of coaches, especially massage therapy coaches that sit there and they’ve got like well makeup and there’s something there, tea and they’re sitting in their pencil skirt and I talk about how they’ve made six figures and no, I just, I don’t want to go down that route ever. I live on a boat. Sometimes I don’t shower. I mean it happens. So I just want to be genuine and real with people. This is my life. This is how I live it. And for me it’s more about the freedom than the money.
I’m so glad you said that because here I am, Stacey don’t got her nails did and, and you know me half the time and a lot of my videos I’m wearing my ball cap, you know, and that’s who I am, right? I’m not out there to impress anybody. And, and I think what you’re trying to say is people who will connect with you are going to connect with you because of your story, your passion, your brilliance, and not because you have this paint face and you’re just gibberish, right? People don’t want that today. So I commend you for building an authentic group that really resonates with you. And I commend you for being true to yourself. Right? You didn’t change your whole business model because you were going to be living on a boat and couldn’t shower every day and look beautiful in front of the camera and it’s made you so much better and stronger for it. Yeah. Thank you. You’re welcome. So Joyce, any closing words of advice either to a massage therapist or anybody running a small business?
Sure, just do it. Don’t give up. Especially if you’re doing an online business. Sometimes there’s some sour apples out there, but don’t let them get to you because there’s thousands of other people that love you. Just keep on doing it. Consistency. Get up every day and work on that business action. Right.
That’s my saying. Get your marketing into action. Joyce, how can people get in touch with you to learn more?
Oh, there’s so many ways. I’m all over Facebook so you can connect with my personal page Joyce Gauthier. If you’re a massage therapist and would love to join our group, it’s called Massage Business with The Sailing Massage Therapist. I also have a Facebook page called The Sailing Massage Therapist. I am on Instagram as The Sailing Massage Therapist. And I also have a website which is called, you guessed it, called thesailingmassagetherapist.com.
Yeah. So I’m definitely out there and Don’t forget YouTube, which I am The Sailing Massage Therapist on Youtube as well. And, and I do have some videos for the everyday person with some neck stretches. I have a really cute video where I massage my dog. So if you have a pet and you are looking for some massage techniques for them, that’s a, that’s a great video right on the boat in The Bahamas with my puppy Loki.
Oh alright guys. So you have multiple media of how you can get in touch with Joyce and I really encourage you to check out her videos, see how authentic she is and the engagement that you get. She has just built from literally from Ground Zero an incredible business and group and following. So Joyce, thank you for coming on the show today and sharing your brilliance with my community. Oh Stacey, I could not have done it without you. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it. You’re very welcome. Hey everybody, this is Small Business Stacey, your Small Biz Marketing Specialist here to help you get your Marketing into Action and help you become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz. Bye Bye.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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