Things to Consider Before Starting Your own Therapy Business

A guest post from Laura Kitto – LMK Complementary Therapist

What is it that drives you?

Both Beauty and Holistic therapies make a client feel fabulous, and if a client is feeling fabulous, it usually radiates from them too!

Finding the right training provider?

Once you’ve decided on your path and the training you would like to undertake; Do your homework, look at several training providers, what they offer in terms of classroom tuition, and what level of qualifications they offer.  Check that their training is verified by recognised industry associations, so that once you’ve qualified you can get the appropriate insurance and join a professional association. 

As an example, when I first decided to look in to training for Reflexology, I didn’t understand the levels of training being advertised, but I knew I wanted to eventually become a member of The Federation of Holistic Therapists [FHT], so I verified directly with the FHT that the VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Reflexology was a recognised qualification and that Allen & Walden was recognised training provider, and that once completed I could then work with clients, which they confirmed.

There are ample online training providers who quote that their training is ‘certified’, but when you look further, some appear to be ‘certified’ by themselves, and trainees are often left with an unrecognised qualification, are unable to get appropriate insurance and cannot join professional associations, leaving the trainees without a recognised qualification, unable to work with clients and also out of pocket!

I cannot emphasis enough the importance of face to face, classroom-based learning with a good tutor or training school.  They can guide you directly in perfecting your new skills, something which some online learning in therapies lacks.

Now you’ve decided on what training you wish to do and chosen your training provider!

Once you’ve enrolled and begin your learning journey, like me, you’ll probably want to run before you can walk, as you’ll be keen to start seeing clients as soon as you can.  You’ll need to think and plan for the following;

Finances – if you’re still working in another field of work, as I was, keep that job as long as you possibly can, as much as you want to leave!  Keep it as your ‘means to an end’, as that’s probably going to pay to get you off the ground.  Try to tuck away some money each month if you can [difficult I know].

Work Space – Will you be mobile or working from home?  If you have a spare room or space at home that you could use as your therapy area?  If so, think about what equipment you will need and how much room that will take up.  My house was too small, and an extension was too expensive, so we invested in a garden cabin. Whilst I waited for that I had to offer Reflexology in my living room whilst I was still training.

Equipment – You can start off with the bare essentials and add as you grow.  I started off with a portable treatment couch, and then managed to find a lovely hydraulic remote-control adjustable treatment bed very cheap on Ebay – so again, shop around for what you need.

Insurance and Professional Associations – when I first qualified I wanted to join heaps of professional associations, but they all cost money, so I decided on one that covered all my therapies, and it provided the insurance I needed too, so it was just easier to stick with one to begin with.  You’ll also need to check with your local council if you need any special permissions for the therapies you offer, and also inform your household insurer that you’ll be working from home too as this ‘might’ effect your premium.

Marketing – Facebook initially brought in most of my new clients.  I tried their paid advertising, couldn’t get on with their parameters at all, it was a waste of money, got few enquiries and no appointments, so instead I joined lots of local Facebook groups and shared posts from my Facebook Business Page, which is free, and managed to secure appointments via this route. As time has gone on, I’ve not needed to do this so much as word of mouth and client feedback on my Facebook Business Page has really helped my business grow.  Instagram is also a really good tool, but I think you’ve got to get the visuals and hashtags right to be seen more.  Canva is a really useful app you can either download to your smartphones or use on a computer to create images, download a free image to add your text and business details to.

Website – There are many platforms to use.  I, personally, use wix.com.  Even if you’re not very tech-savvy it’s quite simple to follow.  You can set up a free site with them, or you can pay a fee to have your own domain name etc.  And, in order for your site to be found, there will be certain words you’ll want to be found by e.g. what service you’re offering, area you work in etc and these are your SEO’s [Search Engine Optimisation words].  They will get you found on google searches.

Google – I highly recommend creating a Google Business Page too.  It’s free, and will get you found on Google Maps and in google searches.

Charging, Policies & Safety – Once you’re qualified and can start charging clients – look at prices for the same therapies/treatments in your area.  Don’t be the cheapest – know your worth!  By all means run the odd special offer, but not all the time, as people come to expect it and will only book when you’ve got a special offer on.  Maybe offer your regulars a discount after so many appointments as an incentive.  Don’t dwell on other therapists in the area being cheaper than you, there is room for all of us and we each attract our own clientele best suited to us as individuals. Introduce policies, like timekeeping and cancellations, I struggled with this to begin with, but you have bills to pay too.  Think about lone working and your safety. As an example, I have a statement on my website about male clients only being offered appointments when my husband is home – this has stopped inappropriate requests from male clients seeking a service I do not offer! 

Data Protection – Register with the Information Commissioners Office [ICO] as you will be storing clients’ personal data, fee at 2020 is approximately £40 per year.  This is because of GDPR [General Data Protection Regulations] introduced in May 2018 whereby we must ensure all data is stored securely.  And you must have a Privacy Policy in place that clients are to be made aware of.

Tax – As soon as you start charging clients, register with the HMRC.  I initially registered as Employed and Self Employed as I was working in an office too.  I then changed my registration to Self-Employed once that was applicable.  Set up a Government Gateway account with HMRC so you can do your self-assessments online, which makes it easier to amend if necessary.

Community – If you’re working alone, it can be quite isolated.  Keep in touch with other therapists either via direct networking or online Facebook groups – you can get help and advice where needed and sometimes it just gives you reassurance that you’re not alone.

I can recall Jenny at Allen and Walden telling the class that it takes time to build the clientele – and she was right!  It does take time.  Initially, whilst working full time in my office job, I offered my therapies in the evenings and at weekends for about 18 months.  After about a year I had the opportunity to go part time at my office job.  I worked 3 days in an office and 2 days in my therapies, which was perfect, as I built up my weekday daytime clients.  A bit sooner than I expected, redundancy from the office job happened, and whilst I was delighted and scared, I didn’t have enough daytime clients to fill the diary, so I used Facebook posts to local groups, leaflets displayed locally to drum up more business, and again it took time to fill those daytime appointments – but I was lucky to have my redundancy payment to prop me up on weeks where I needed it – hence, why I said about tucking some money away where you can.  You need a little buffer to fall back on during quiet times.  Don’t panic during quieter times, use this time to plan your social media posts or take time for you….

Eventually, after about 6 months of being completely self-employed, the daytime gaps were filled.  So, hang in there, you will get there!

I am really grateful to Allen and Walden for the training they have provided, and with their excellent tuition it has helped me go on further CPD courses with both Allen and Walden and other training providers to add to my skills.  Investment in quality training is key and that investment will return to you through your clientele.

Good Luck! Now go get that future you’ve been dreaming of!  Turn your dreams in a plan and go for it.

Thank You Jenny, Debbie & Amy.  Much Love, Laura xx