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Setting up a therapy business for the first time

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Setting up as practitioner/therapist for the first time is both exciting, full of opportunity, and scary/confusing! The opportunities and challenges are similar for all starting a therapy business. Here are some thoughts about making your practice successful, and although this post was created for new APS Therapy practitioners, mcuh of it is relevant for all setting off on this journey!

Opportunities:

To change people’s lives!

To work flexibly, around the needs of your family or health.

To gain immense satisfaction and mental stimulation.

 

Challenges:

1) Where to practice

If you have your own house/garage/cabin with a space that can be adapted for use as a clinic, you can have people coming to you.

photo from chapelhousestudios.com

If you have somewhere that people can come to even without your being there, or on the premises but not necessarily involved in their treatment, even better, as one of the  great things about an APS Therapy business is that you can run a self managing clinic. After the first teaching session, people you assess as being able to manage, should be able to happily treat themselves.

You just need to:

  • Ensure your home or premises is insured for business use.
  • Consider parking, and make sure the drive and entry is clean and clear
  • Set up a booking system (online if possible)
  • Clean the bathroom/toilet each time!
  • Consider whether you will need a waiting area

 

 

Renting a place – This is an option, but it can present difficulties, because of the clients who cancel, after you’ve paid for your space, and the reduction in your earning ability. I would recoommend getting creative and working with an existing facility to set up self managing clinics in a local centre such as Sports Centre, Gym, Complementary Therapy Clinic, Yoga studio, Sports club, or a Community Centre in a space that isn’t currently being rented out, eg in a corner or part of a larger room, a lobby or waiting area.

photo from cisco.edu

By putting together a business plan, you will be able to see the kind of income that is possible,  with a self managing clinic; definately enough to split the proceeds between the hosting facility and yourself.

 

 

If you don’t have suitable premises,  you might want to work as a mobile practitioner.

 

 

 

For this, you just need to:

  • Ensure that your car is insured for business use
  • Consider your safety:
  • Only go to the home of people you trust
  • Make sure that somebody knows where you are going, and what time you expect to be back.
  • What would you do if someone else, that you weren’t expecting, opened the door?
  • Have an excuse ready for if something doesn’t feel right.
  • Keep a mobile phone within inobtrusive reach in a pocket, with a trusted friend on speed dial, and have a code phrase for emergencies.
  • Ensure you know how to exit any property that you go into.

 

 

Case study – an unexpected pracititoner

 

 

I recently had a chat with new APS Therapy practitioner Brendan. Brendan had to leave his long career in the army, after having an early stroke. He came on board through his work as gym assistant/wellness coach at the Joseph’s Court Wellness centre in Colchester, and admits to being very sceptical ” because how can it be working when you can’t feel it?!” However, having seen what APS Therapy can do in this work, he then registered as a practitioner in his own right, and began to see people from his contacts at the local stroke club and thorugh his contacts at ‘Help for Heroes’,  in their own homes.

Because the results he’s been getting for people have been so good ( some people’s pain resolving after many many years with nothing else working), he is now getting word of mouth referrals of people with many different types of condition or injury, and is constantly busy, working as a mobile practitioner in his local area. His charges are very reasonable, as £20 per hour plus travel expenses.

Because some of his referrals come from a local gym, Brendan and another APS Therapy practitioner intend to set up a clinic there in the new year, which I would expect to be very successful.

 

Rent out machines

This option allows you to have a face to face teaching session with your client, and then send them away with a machine and a treatment plan to follow at home for a few weeks, with follow up and support from you along the way. It does involve an element of trust, but certainly it works very well for me; in fact I use Skype and Facetime to teach people at a distance. it’s good value for the clients, and clients have reported favourably on the relaxed approach – see The APS diaries!

 

 

Of course your return on investment is a little slower, but if you end up with a few machines, it can work out very well. And if you get too much demand, you can rent a machine yourself from Painfree Potential, or send them our way.

 

2) Set your prices:

You are free to set your own prices, and these need to reflect the way that you offer the treatment, so, for instance,  prices for the client can be lower if they’re coming to a clinic and are going to be self-managing, or higher if you’re giving them your undivided attention.
 I always make sure that people understand that, although some people get immediate benefit, in general, results are not immediate, but come after some consistent treatment.  Blocks of treatments, 6 for a simple muscoloskeletal pain or injury, or 10 for a chronic pain condition is a good way to organise it.
And if your client goes on to buy their own machine, then as a registered practitioner, you get commission.

3)Registering as self-employed

If you’re not already self-employed, you need to register as self employed with HMRC / your government, and get an understanding of keeping your records straight so that at the end of the year, you can declare your earnings by completing a tax return. You can be both self-employed and employed.
As a sole trader, this isn’t much more difficult than adding up what you made, deducting what you spent, and putting it onto an online form.
Just make sure you get all the right information so that you start in an organised way.
And then of course you need to…

4) Promote the service!

 

 

 

 

Promoting the service is the part that most of us working in hands-on therapies find such a challenge.
When you are very first setting up, I recommend starting with friends and family. Make sure that everybody who has a good experience gives you a testimonial, and if possible shares it, and lets you share it, on social media, and/ or on a website, but most importantly, tells their friends and family face to face. Having some of your cards or leaflets at this point is important.
There is an abundance of advice available for small businesses in the use of social media for marketing, and wider marketing, so I’m not going to start replicating it here, but see if your local council funds any short courses and if so,  attend them!
Websites.
You are free to set up your own website; running your own website using either a blogging platform like WordPress, or a template system, is not so hard. But you are also welcome to guide your clients to the www.painfreepotential.co.uk website for information, where as a registered practitioner, you can also, if you choose, be featured as a practitioner, with contact details available.
Use  all your available channels to get people’s attention. Old style advertising in magazines and papers is expensive, and doesn’t necessarily work, but there is still merit in having leaflets and posters, and in getting an article printed in your local papers or local magazine.
Leaflets are available on APS Therapy, which have a space on the back for your sticker, ( just ask for the PDF) Canva.com is a great graphic design website that allows you to create marketing materials if you want to create your own. Just be careful that you don’t make claims that would be perceived as unrealistic.
Howevever, far more influencial than the printed word is You! Your integrity, and your experiences, are more likely to be the deciding factors in getting people to try APS Therapy with you.
So get as much experience as you can, and then find opportunities to meet people and talk with them; not through expensive exhibitions at first, but by small events, clubs, self-help groups and networking.
The important do’s and don’ts of being a therapist or practitioner, including record keeping, data protection, and moral and ethical behaviour, are always covered in the Code of Conduct for each discipline.  A good example of a generic code is  the one from the Federation of Holistic Therapists, which is their copyright code of conduct FHT

Connect

 

 

Treating people one to one and running your own business can be isolating if you don’t get involved with some supportive network or group, so you don’t get lonely, but connect with other like-minded people – there are lots of local therapists or small business groups who have an online presence but meet up locally, and this can also help you to thrive and set up creative collaborations.

 A Therapy business can be one of the most rewarding, flexible, and enjoyable ways to make a living, so I’m wishing you all the best for a rewarding, enjoyable and flourishing practice!
The next APS Therapy Training day is on Saturday 13th of January 2018!