Where and How to Grow Your Wellbeing Business
So you’ve registered with HMRC and ticked off your academic obligations..what next? Once you have the basics of setting up as self-employed down, it’s time to start looking at how and where you will establish your business…
Finding the Right Premises
People commonly think of therapists and wellbeing practitioners as sitting in their small offices with a couch or therapy bed surrounded by accoutrements of their art. However, therapists come in all shapes and sizes, disciplines and setups – and where you practice from will depend on your client base, your budget and, importantly, your location…
Many practitioners starting out may team up with one or more colleagues and rent out one premises, allocating their operating hours to certain days. This is certainly a very efficient and economical way of accommodating your therapy business with the added advantage that you can cross-promote each other if you work in different disciplines.
If you wish to rent a premises by yourself, be conservative with your first year’s expected income and generous with projected spending! It’s also a good idea to seek a short-term lease where possible to enable you to move if needed. Only by working in a specific area will you realise if you have settled on the right location for your business. Is it accessible, easy to get to and easy to park in? Things like noise from neighbouring apartments or traffic may be a deal-breaker if you require a peaceful environment to practice and won’t become apparent until you’re locked into your rental agreement.
This is always a great way of introducing companies to your practice, building connections for future work and reducing overheads. Satellite sessions are sessions that may be held within corporate or public sector premises at a reduced rate. An example of this may be a ‘mobile practice’ where you work within and across several companies or organisations in any given week.
Working from Home
Of course, if you live in a property which lends itself to home-working, then this is the most economical option of all for contact-based practice. Be sure to risk assess your home, entrance and facilities and as with all of the above, ensure that you are covered with the correct insurances, such as Public Liability (for people whilst on your premises or in your care), Professional Indemnity (to cover you for any advice you may offer) and of course, your normal buildings and contents insurance. Importantly, speak to your mortgage advisor and home insurance to check that operating from your home is covered in your policy.
There is much debate over the pros and cons of delivering therapy or wellbeing practices online, but it can be incredibly beneficial for clients who may either find it difficult to attend a practitioner’s premises through mobility, time or anxiety issues. With many online therapy agencies now in existence, competition is high, so a memorable and appealing USP (Unique Selling Point) for your business is key! What makes you different from other therapists? Are you specialising on a particular group of clients or issue?
Selling your Services
Many in person-centric professions feel uncomfortable marketing themselves, that it somehow doesn’t fit with pastoral/therapeutic practice. However, aside from word-of-mouth – which takes care of itself – marketing your ‘brand’ is the primary method of building your business. Promoting your skills, and shouting out about recommendations and achievements earned, is vital to bring people to your door. Write them down, get used to using them and add them to your profile!
Choose a brand which connects with who you are, what you do – and vitally – your target audience. Think about your typical desired client. What do they do? What would they hold important? Is it an affluent section of society or are you aiming to help those less fortunate? All of these questions help to build your brand, visually and content-wise, speaking to those you want to connect with, with the right tone of voice and imagery. Look at other therapists online and you’ll get a sense of just how disparate therapists are.
Online Presence – Website
Creating a website is no longer a dark art, and you can set up your own with popular self-building hosting platforms such as wix.com or WordPress. Remember that only a small part of a website is about YOU – with the exception of your ‘About Us’ section, your content should be addressing the needs and questions of those who visit your page, looking for your services to address their problem. Setting up a ‘subscribe’ button on your site, to link with an email marketing tool such as Mailchimp or SendInBlue will help you to generate an email client base who can easily be contacted with short mailshots to advertise events, training or time-limited offers.
LinkedIn and Facebook are free vehicles for your business which can help you to build your online presence and direct people to your website. Use them wisely, however, remembering always, the purpose of your social media accounts which is to get clients to follow your Call to Action (eg., contact you, click on your website, book a session, etc). Providing interesting blog posts and articles on a range of topics associated with your practice will help those who may be curious to learn about what you do and what it can do for them. Above all, be contactable, be approachable and be accessible to your audience.
Find Your Niche as a Self-Employed Practitioner
It may take some time in private practice to develop a strong and loyal client base. This can make for some tough years in the beginning. Networking and introducing yourself to others in similar occupations can help you find much needed support, and to establish your own sense of place within the therapy world. Staying organised, maintaining good business practices and offering excellent customer service can help you get there – and to enjoy the incredible journey of self-employment as a wellbeing practitioner. Good luck!
The Sophrology Academy offers a list of certified Sophrology programmes for health professionals and therapy practitioners. Contact us for an informal chat, or check back regularly for information on events and new courses available.