Many people dream of becoming self-employed and combining their interests or passions with a business they can run from home. Therapists and wellness practitioners are often a good example of this: I know many people who have retrained so they can leave an office job and set up by themselves, doing something they feel passionate about.
For parents, running a therapy business from home can also seem like a good opportunity. Becoming a parent can often be a catalyst for a change in your working life. Being self-employed, your own boss, may be the best way to juggle family commitments and still contribute to the household earnings.
If this sounds like you, how do you go about setting up a business from home? The following pointers can help you get started.
Therapy Business Start Up – Should You Run A Biz From Home?
How Much Do You Want / Need To Work?
The first step is to decide how much money you want or need to earn, and how much time you can spend on your business. If you can only work during the school day, or if you only want to work in the evenings or at weekends, you need to calculate how many clients you can realistically see during your available time, and what they will be prepared to pay.
Also factor in the time you may need between appointments to prepare your therapy room, clear away after a previous customer, or write up notes after seeing someone. It’s probably not realistic to book customers in back to back.
Look at what other therapists are charging in your area to get an idea of the going rate. You don’t have to price match other therapists, but if you plan to charge more you’ll need to be clearly offering a better treatment or experience than your competitors do.
How Far Will Customers Travel?
Because you plan to run your therapy business from home, you need to look at your neighbourhood and surrounding areas to decide whether there are enough potential customers in a 5-10 mile radius* of your home.
Depending on where you live, the therapy you plan to offer, and the competition already on your doorstep, you need to work out how far people will travel for your treatments and whether you can expect to get enough customers to fill your appointment book.
How Will You Compete?
It’s really important to look at your competition before quitting the day job to set up by yourself. After all you’re not the first person to have the idea of running a therapy business from home! And there are also people working out of health & wellbeing centres, leisure centres, and hotels & spas who are also your potential competitors.
If you’re planning to convert a room in your house into a therapy room, consider how the experience you’ll provide differs from the customer experience people receive in a dedicated wellness business. Your prices might need to reflect this in some way to attract customers.
Our Business Plan Template for Therapy Businesses can help you research your market more thoroughly and devise a solid business plan for your business – download a free copy here.
Your Therapy Room
There are several considerations for your therapy room:
- Will it be in your actual house, or in a converted garage, outhouse, or dedicated studio?
- How much will it cost to convert or refurbish and fit out to a professional level?
- If you rent, does your tenancy agreement allow you to run a business from home?
- Will customers come to your front door or will you have a separate entrance?
- Will you need to provide customers with toilet or washing facilities, or somewhere to change?
- What about public liability insurance for accidents or incidents that might happen in your home – for example someone falling over or injuring themselves?
- What about your family and personal space, will customers see your living areas and potentially meet your family or pets?
- How will running a business from home affect your family and personal life?
- Will you be able to get away from work at the end of the day?
Instead of spending money creating a dedicated therapy room at home, it may be a better idea to rent a room in an established practice or wellbeing centre while you get your business off the ground. If it’s successful and you still want to work from home, you can invest profits into creating the right space for you, your family and customers.
Another consideration when thinking about seeing customers in your own home is your personal safety. Are you happy inviting strangers into your home for private therapies and treatments, and what precautions can you take to ensure that nothing adverse happens?
You may decide that you only see customers who you know or have been recommended to you. Alternatively, you might have a system of calling or texting a family member when you’re seeing a new customer to let them know that everything is OK.
If you’re worried about personal safety it may be a better idea to hire a therapy room in a staffed building. A receptionist will then know you’re seeing a customer and can check up on you if needed.
How Will Customers Find Out About You?
When you run a business from home it can be a bit invisible. You might not want any signage outside your house saying what you do (your neighbours probably won’t either!), and so it can be difficult to get noticed.
You’ll need to invest time and resources into putting yourself on the map using digital tools (social media, websites, etc.), advertising locally in the press or via noticeboards etc., using word of mouth as much as possible, and networking with potential customers and other complementary businesses.
Many therapists who work from home find that their businesses grow organically through word of mouth recommendations. For example, you might initially treat friends and family who then recommend you to their friends. This can be a good way of gradually building up your business, although it can be a slow process.
If you want to grow your business faster, you should look at other marketing activities and ways to attract customers. Again, you may find renting a therapy room in an established business a better way to do this. Customers will already be aware of the business and therapies offered there, and you’ll be able to benefit from the marketing and PR activities that business is already doing.
Short Term Therapy Room
While the dream may be to run your business from home, consider whether, as a short term measure, renting a therapy room might be a better option. Although you’ll have the cost of hiring the room, you’ll benefit from having a dedicated space already set up for you to offer treatments from. This could be more professional and safe than the home environment while you build up your customer base, and you won’t have the overheads and capital costs of setting up a room at home.
Once your business is thriving and you have profits to invest, you can then create the right space at home to treat your loyal customers from.
We’ve created a useful Business Plan Template for Therapy Businesses, which you can download here. Designed to help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your therapy business, once complete it provides you with a roadmap for starting up your own biz.
* If you’re offering very specialist therapy treatments your customers may be prepared to travel from further afield. Also if you’re in a more rural area, people are generally more used to travelling to get to shops and services. Therefore the radius from your home may vary depending on your location and specialisation.