So you are looking to start your own holistic therapy business?
I’m Emma Selby and I am the founder of SiGNAL, a business enterprise park, and training centre dedicated to helping people achieve their dream of a successful small business.
In the (almost!) five years since we launched SiGNAL we have helped numerous therapists set up and run their businesses, and we’ve provided workspaces for several of them here at SiGNAL as well.
Why do people want to set up their own therapy business?
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, a widespread national ‘reset’ has led to people re-evaluating their lives and making choices that allow them to stay closer to home. Working around the demands of a family and positively impacting your own and other people’s well-being are other popular reasons for starting up a therapy business.
What unites all of the holistic therapists I’ve met in Bordon is a passion for the treatments they deliver. Most people I've spoken to have had a revelatory experience where they've discovered Reiki, reflexology, aromatherapy, or massage to be so beneficial for themselves or someone close to them that they want to share the experience and the benefits with others.
Whatever your motivations for starting a holistic therapy business, there are a number of things you need to think about to give it the best chance of success.
You will find our business plan template useful. We've designed it specifically for people like you starting up wellness and therapy businesses and it asks you lots of relevant questions to help you think through a robust business plan. Download a copy here today.
3 important first steps to setting up a holistic therapy business
1 - Market research
The first and most important thing a new business owner must do is market research. Whether you're planning to work from home as a mobile holistic therapist or from an enterprise centre like SIGNAL, you must do some market research before launching your business.
It's essential to understand whether there's demand for your services, how much people pay in your area, who your competition is, and whether your business is viable in that locality.
There are choices to be made at the beginning that will really affect your business plan. For example:
Are you mobile, home-based, or based from a premises?
What is working for other therapists in your area?
What is your competition offering?
Who are your clients likely to be?
There are a lot of cost and profitability implications within this decision. If you plan to work as a mobile therapist then you will need to understand the range within which you will be happy to travel. As fuel costs rise, the cost of travel will be an even more significant factor in your profitability. You will also need to factor in the time traveling between appointments as time is money. Other costs associated with running a vehicle will need to be taken into consideration.
Holistic therapists who want to work from home will have other factors to consider. They will need to attract customers to their business from a radius around their home, they will need access and parking, there will be an impact on the family privacy and there will probably be an amount of investment needed into the home space. However, you will be able to charge a small amount of the running costs of the workspace to the business.
A great option can be professionally branded premises within an enterprise park like SiGNAL. You will be surrounded by other business people in a professional atmosphere and the support provided can be very useful. At SiGNAL we offer free secure parking for you and your customers, a back office for support 5 days a week and a great community of like-minded business people to socialise and network with. We also hold great events for all the local businesses once a month (see bottom of the page to sign up for the next one)
Of course, the premises option is the most heavy on overhead and will need to be carefully costed - however, at SiGNAL we understand the pressures on small businesses and offer easy in-out terms with as little as a single month’s notice if a lot of flexibility is needed.
2 - Branding
While holistic therapies like Reiki, reflexology, and different types of massage have been around for eons, they are still seen as being quite 'alternative' by many customers. It's important to understand that not everyone in your target area and demographic understand or appreciate the benefits of holistic therapies. That's why your branding is so important.
Through your market research, you should have a good idea of what customers in your area are most likely to engage with. Are they interested in therapies for R&R or to treat themselves? Are they interested in therapies that will alleviate ailments or help them manage stress and other issues? If you plan to run your business in an area with an older, retired demographic you may find your most valuable customers are those who need therapies to manage health issues. Whereas if you want to attract young professionals, therapies for R&R or to reduce stress and overload might be more appropriate.
Customers are attracted to brands that share messages that resonate with them. By understanding your customer you can develop a holistic therapy brand that really appeals to them, not just in terms of the services you offer but also imagery and language you use in branding materials.
Another important factor with branding is that it also needs to reflect your pricing. A flyer produced on a flimsy piece of paper using free stock imagery for a luxury service with a price tag to match doesn't reflect the service and quality customers should expect. Whereas, on the other end of the scale an affordable treatment that is branded as being exclusive and high-end could confuse your target customers.
If you're just starting up it's well worth speaking to a brand specialist about how to align your branding with your target customers and the services you offer.
We use a great design agency called Brandstorm who have their offices at SIGNAL.
3 - Business know-how
No doubt you will have invested in training to become a holistic therapist. Accreditation with professional bodies builds trust with customers especially as you're operating in an unregulated industry.
However, there's more to running a holistic therapy business than having the right qualifications. While some courses do include some business know-how, such as having the right insurance, most don't teach you how to run a business.
If you're changing career to become a therapist you may have relevant transferrable skills that will help you with the day-to-day aspects of being a business owner. However, do you have all the skills you need to make a success of a business?
It's well worth not only investing in your professional qualifications but also in your business acumen to give yourself the best chance of making a good living as a therapist. There are various ways you can get this training such as online courses, have a look on Udemy or the Open University, Adult Ed, through the local council, or with an independent provider. At SiGNAL we run a number of training courses for business owners and we can also point you in the direction of many other local training providers. We also have a great number of online resources much like the business plan template you’ve downloaded here.
These 3 steps are just for starters! But if you explore these first you'll get a better understanding of what you need to do to be a successful holistic therapist, and the next steps will start to fall into place.
If you’d like to talk to me personally about starting your business in Bordon why not book in for a chat here - I can give you some good pointers and get you started up as soon as possible! Book me here