I'm very fortunate, that through my work, I get to get to speak to counsellors, coaches, nutritionists, and other therapists every week. I see how each of you are driven by a deep passion for making a positive impact on the lives of others. But to have a thriving and sustainable practice, that passion needs to be combined with business planning - and this isn't usually included in the training you undergo (nor is it something that comes naturally to a lot of us!).
In this article, we'll explore key aspects such as planning your annual income needs, setting fees, calculating costs, and using your time effectively. Creating an effective business plan will guide you toward success.
1. Planning Annual Income Needs
Let's start by considering your annual income needs. Take a moment to reflect on, and write down, your personal financial goals. What are your living expenses, savings targets, and investment aspirations? What are your goals for the future; where would you like to be in 5 years, 10 years? Keep in mind the natural lulls during summer and the winter holidays when your clients may be away. By setting a target for your annual income, you can work backward to calculate the number of clients you need and the fees you should charge to achieve that goal.
2. Calculating Costs
There are, of course, costs associated with running a practice. Some of these are more obvious - renting a therapy room, CPD, insurance, membership. But also think about software you use, paper and pens, filing cabinets/cloud storage, and so on. What are you running costs? A thriving practice involves managing costs effectively. Are there ways you could cut down on your costs? If you spend a significant amount of time and money on different software for administrative tasks, scheduling, and client management; you will likely save money by using a one practice management software instead.
3. Time Required
It isn't just the monetary costs you should consider in your business planning. As a health and wellbeing practitioner, your time is valuable. Factor in time spent on CPD and Supervision, how many hours is this per year?
Administrative tasks, such as record-keeping, responding to emails/voicemails, and scheduling can be very time-consuming. Can you quantify how much time you spend on business tasks outside of client sessions? If that number seems high or disproportionate, think about ways it could be reduced. Using accounting software could significantly reduce time spent bookkeeping, and a platform like isosconnect can cover the record-keeping, emails, and scheduling. Consider how your workload will increase with your caseload - are there systems/processes you can put in place now to by ready to run as your practice gets busier?
And don't forget to take into account time (and money) spent on your marketing/business development efforts. More on this below.
4. Deciding Which Fees to Charge
Pinning down your desired income and running costs, allows you more clarity around your fees. When deciding what you would like to charge, there's a balance between attracting clients and valuing your expertise. Take a look your peers to get a sense of the average fees in your local area and also at practitioner with a similar level of experience and areas of expertise. But that need not be your deciding factor - remember, there's a market for Aldi and a market for Waitrose. Ultimately, you can charge whatever fees you like!
How many clients do you need to see each week or month to reach your desired income level? If that number seems unrealistic, should you consider increasing your fees or including group work where you could potentially earn more in the same number of hours?
5. Defining your Ideal client & Niche
Defining your niche and ideal client is an important step in creating a solid business plan. By identifying your niche, you carve out a specific area of expertise that sets you apart from others in your field. Consider your unique skills, experiences, and passions. What type of therapy or wellness approach resonates most with you? By focusing on a particular niche, you can position yourself as an expert and attract the clients who are specifically seeking the services you offer. This doesn't mean you need to stop offering more general services, just make sure your niche is centre stage.
Additionally, defining your ideal client allows you to focus your marketing efforts and tailor your services to meet their specific needs. Who is your ideal client? What are their demographics, challenges, and goals? Understanding their desires and pain points enables you to craft targeted marketing messages and develop customised plans. By narrowing your focus and aligning your services with the needs of your niche and ideal client, you not only attract more of the clients you enjoy working with but also establish yourself as a go-to practitioner in your specialised area.
6. Marketing and Business Development
When it comes to planning your marketing and business development strategies as a therapist or health practitioner, it should be thoughtful and intentional. Once you have identified your ideal client, consider where they are most likely to be present and how you can reach them. Develop a plan that includes a mix of online and offline tactics, such as creating and distributing engaging content, networking with fellow professionals, and attending relevant events or conferences. Remember to factor in how much of your time and resources will be required.
It's important to assess whether your marketing strategies are effective and yielding results. Regularly track and analyse your efforts to determine their impact on attracting new clients. Are you getting inquiries through your website or social media channels? Are your networking efforts resulting in referrals or collaborations? By evaluating the success of your marketing and business development activities, you can refine your strategies and focus on the most effective approaches to reach your ideal client.
Crafting a business plan is an investment in your success as a health and wellbeing practitioner. By planning your annual income needs, setting appropriate fees, calculating costs, and planning how you can get yourself out there, you lay the foundation for a thriving and sustainable practice. Regularly review and adjust your plan to adapt to the evolving needs of your practice. What actions will you take today to create a solid business plan and pave the way for your professional success?
Your passion for helping others is invaluable, and by combining it with strategic planning, you can achieve fantastic outcomes in your health and wellbeing practice.