So, you´ve graduated, spent the past 3 to 6 years, depending on your degree, being prepared to approach the study topic with all the wisdom and knowledge derived from the approved and delivered curriculum. Now what? You´ve been let lose, ready to step out and provide your service to all those wonderful people out there, that need you, but know not that you are there and ready to receive them as your client.
The euphoria and enthusiasm of having achieved the completion of your studies, this ‘landmark’ in your academic striving, is likely to make you feel that the world out there has been waiting for none other than you, and that from now on all else will fall smoothly into place. Well, no! Now is when the hard work starts and reality bites. University, college, school, all the effort, hard work, long hours at the library, preparation for exams etc. are all for nothing unless you can utilize what you have learnt and achieved, and can gain a revenue from this. At least for most of us, the goal is to set up practice, and to earn an income from the years of tuition fees splashed out for our studies.
So, what is there to do? The community is not informed that you have reached a milestone and are ready to practice, and it´s highly unlikely that patients will simply show up at your door and ask to be treated. Therefore: What’s the plan? What are you going to do? How are you going to proceed in building up a practice or clinic, and most importantly what will this actually cost you?
To avoid being run over by a couple of unpleasant surprises, designing a business plan may be a helpful tool to give a structured orientation of the steps needed until you can eventually unlock the front porch and can ask the first patient in.
What information goes into your business plan?
The business plan outlines your idea of the type of business you are intending to build. It includes a preliminary breakdown of the operational concept of the business and an estimate breakdown of costs and expenses associated with the setting up and running of this business.
You have to ask yourself, and be able to answer the following questions:
Are you equipped to run this type of business? Are you trained to meet the requirements to take up the position you are seeking to attain? What qualities do you have that support this venture? Can you run a business?
Do you have the licenses and registration that are required for you to open such a business? In most countries licenses are required to start practicing. Do you have all the qualifications that are required to get this license, or do you need supplemental training (e.g. 1st aid certificate)? Do you need a separate registration with a government body?
Is there a demand for the services you are offering in the community you are intending to start working in? (Aka: Can money be earned with what you are seeking to do?) Do the research! Who are you targeting? If your niche is ‘children’, you have to ask if there are kindergartens or schools nearby. If your focus is on the ‘elderly’, ask how is the demographic distribution in terms of older people living in the area.
Who are your customers and how can you reach them? If you niche is in the older age group, you have to find out what diseases or afflictions are prevalent in this group and this particular area. (For example, the elderly in a generally humid or moist climate may suffer more of rheumatism than elsewhere. Your clinical practice and the associated promotional material should principally focus on these issues mostly prevalent in your focus group. This will help generate the client base you need).
Are there already other therapists/practitioners in the area? How high is competition? Can you coexist with this competition? Will it be possible for you too to make an income in this locality? Keep in mind that setting up next door to an already in your niche practicing therapist of the same discipline is unlikely to present you with sufficiently big a clientele. Ask yourself how you are already, or can set yourself apart from what other similarly working practitioners are doing?
What will it cost to set up your clinic? Do you have the funds? Ahead of earning any money, setting up a clinic will cost money. There are expenditures that you must make in order to, at all, be able to provide the circumstances to gain an income. This depends on various aspects:
Your marketing and advertising strategy. How will you spread the word that you are running a clinic? How are you going to signal to potential clients that YOU are the practitioner they ought to see?
Where are you going to run your clinic from? Are you renting clinic space? This is a monthly running expenditure!
Are you covered for accidents on clinic premises? (What if someone stumbles and breaks a leg?) Do you have the required professional insurance? These are repetitive costs!
You must consider that you need to have the adequate initial financial back up for ‘setting up’ the business, and covering the initial expenditures. Yet, in terms of finances there is another important consideration that should not be left unattended. You may need to be able to provide for a ‘long breath’, until a sufficiently broad client base has been established that allows you to generate an acceptable income. Clients will flock into your clinic only gradually. No one starts off with a fully booked schedule. A reputation and an associated client base form slowly. You need to be able to ‘live’ during the time until.
You should draw up an estimate of the income you need to get, for you to be able to make acceptable living, and should calculate the number of clients you will require to reach that income. This provides you with an overview of what you need to strive and work for. Such an estimate will also become helpful should you require a loan from a bank to build your business.
Your business plan puts your ideas on paper. It describes what you are intending to do, and what the existing market is giving you. It tells you where you are at in terms of your finances and shows you weaknesses and opportunities.
Yet, as pretty a business plan can look on paper, it is just a piece of paper unless you take action and put in the work to accomplish what you have laid out in the plan. Therefore, once you have answered all the questions laid out in your plan, and are aware of what still needs to be done, you have to take action. This means, needing to deal with all the essentials in a timely manner, giving yourself a schedule that maps out by when which step needs to be completed. Sticking to this action plan will eventually bring you towards your goal, to be able to put the key in the lock of your clinic door to let your first client in.
About the Author:
Uta Mittelstadt, BSc & MSc in homeopathic medicine: I am a homeopath, an artist, a writer and a vegegan, a traveller, and adventurer. I’m a crab born in June. I am passionate about homeopathy. I blog at Clever Homeopathy.