Jill Herchenhahn knew two things when she graduated as a Certified Massage Therapist from Minnesota School of Business – St. Cloud in 2009. She wanted to open her own business, and she wanted to do it without going into debt.Successful on both counts, Herchenhahn has owned and operated Body Kinetics for four years, opening first in Sauk Rapids after graduation and in her current St. Cloud location since 2010.
“Every class I took just gave me another reason to open a business,” she explains, “and I bought every piece of equipment as I went along.”
(She also worked while in school and paid her tuition in cash by monthly payments.)
Originally a paramedic, Herchenhahn longed for a career more conducive to her family life, and massage therapy seemed a logical stepping stone into another medical field. The anatomy, physiology and psychology background was transferable knowledge, and dealing with people and gaining their trust were invaluable transferable skills she brought with her.
But it is the passion for her clients that ultimately formed the mission and backbone of her business.
“My first clients molded me,” she says simply.
A veteran who has been a patient since 2008 became her motivation to seek more education, for example, because of a specific rotator injury. “That was important to me because he is important to me,” Herchenhahn explains.She also has a Kinesio taping certification because it is particularly helpful for pain management in patients with chronic illness like multiple sclerosis, and an infant massage certification which aids her in working with children with muscular disorders.
Rehabilitation and healing are the focus in her practice more than spa and relaxation. And that focus keeps clients coming back for more—and bringing their friends and family to Body Kinetics.
Herchenhahn has a 93-year-old client and sees her three grown daughters on down to the great-grandchildren. “Truly,” she says, her clients become “extended family.”
“All my clients are referrals,” she adds, admitting that networking is a skill she has had to learn as she goes along.
Herchenhahn researches on her own and networks with other professionals to keep her business vibrant and growing. She is looking forward to a unique alliance for chronic pain management coming soon to the St. Cloud area which will be a collaboration of a medical doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist and herself as massage therapist. Her hope is to extend her knowledge and share that of other professionals to better serve her clients.
So how can a current student follow in her footsteps?
Herchenhahn understands there are challenges out there for massage therapists just entering the field. She advises, “Find what you are good at, but know what your weaknesses are.”
She adds that the number one consideration is to “do some soul searching. What do you want out of what you are doing?” For her it was to use the education she had but keep family time prominent in her life.
After that, she says, you must set goals and develop strategies for reaching them. Have tenacity. Be confident.
That’s how you build a successful business that you love.