The First 7 Steps to Set-up Your Health and Wellness Practice

Calling all my recent grads or those new(ish) practitioners and clinicians who are finally ready to get the “business” side of their practices organized.

I’ve got something for ya!

As I’m sure you’re well aware, your schools do an incredible job of teaching you to be awesome healers, therapists, practitioners. They train you to be proficient at helping people feel better and get better.

But in reality, that’s only ONE piece of the practice puzzle.

The other piece (like 50% of it) is building a business that can sustain you, fulfill you, fund your lifestyle WHILE still making an impact.

Your schools do a TERRIBLE job (sorry to say) at preparing you for the business side and practicing in the real world.

Like how to:

–      Create a vision for your business (and life) that’s in line with your mission and passion to help and heal.

–      Get clients and patients (because relying on your personal network and clinic bookings is not going to get you fully booked)

–      Set-up your practice (even if you’re working as an associate within a clinic)

–      Promote yourself when you have ZERO budget.

They teach you nothing about how to build a successful, fully booked practice that lets you make a positive impact while thriving in your own life.

It pains me to see practitioners who have such good intentions, a killer work ethic but unfortunately go full steam ahead, in the WRONG direction – spinning their wheels and wasting time and money on the wrong things.

There’s enough fear and overwhelm jumping in to a new career without having to also worry whether you’ve got your practice set-up properly to actually earn you a living!

Look, the “business” stuff may not come so naturally right now but it’s not hard (trust me your anatomy classes are WAY more complex).

You just need to bridge the gap between what you don’t know and what you need to know.

And that’s exactly why I do what I do. To help you bridge that gap.

I’m on this crazy mission to improve business education for health and wellness professionals and it starts exactly where you start.

At the beginning.

For anyone who is just getting started in your health + wellness practice (whether you just graduated, moved to a new clinic or have now decided you’re ready to take the business side seriously), I wanted you to have a step by step guide to show you what the heck to do to get yourself set-up and positioned for success.

It’s not crazy complicated or expensive (you can actually do it all for under $100)

It’s just the first 7 steps you need to take to:

–      Get clear on what you’re building

–      Get organized and set-up to actually SEE people

–      Get your first paying clients and patients

Go through step by step and let me know if you have any questions along the way!

ASSUMPTION: I’m assuming here that you’re either an independent contractor working in a larger facility or, if you’re starting on your own, you have a space (rent and office/clinic supplies not included here). I also assume you have the necessary insurance and licenses to practice. These elements below are to get the business of your practice underway!

STEP 1: BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION

You wouldn’t build a house on a shaky, crumbling foundation and your business is no different. You need to have a solid mission and vision on which everything else can be built.

This helps give you focus and clarity so you can look at every action through the lense of “does this move me closer or father from my vision?”

It gives you some strategy behind why you do what you do and it’ll make every decision and action you take going forward SO MUCH easier (and will help you avoid wasting unnecessary time and money on the wrong things)

Consider these things:

1.   What’s your vision for your life and your practice? The more detail the better including your lifestyle, how much money you want to make, who and where you are, what your daily routine is.

2.   Get super clear on who you want to serve and why. You will attract people much more easily if you are specific in your targeting. It’s easy to think that if you appeal to a broad audience you can help everyone and anyone. The reality is, if you speak to many you reach none. If you speak to one, you reach many (and get booked up WAY faster)

3.   Create an income goal and then reverse engineer it to figure out what that means on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. (I suggest using this guide here to help with that).

4.   How do you want your clients and patients to think of you? What personality traits do you want to be known for? (This helps you get clear on a brand image and how you want to be perceived)

These few things will give you the foundation of your practice so you’re not just going in arms flailing and guns blazing (that’s an accident waiting to happen).

COST: Free


STEP 2: ORDER NICE, BUT INEXPENSIVE BUSINESS CARDS 

For many professions, especially ones like mine where I’m not always physically seeing my clients, business cards are a HUGE WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY!

To be honest, they’re nearly obsolete. Most times they get thrown out without a second glance

BUT…

In your industry IF you are seeing people in the real world, direct face to face connection is a HUGE way you can build your business.

You casually start a conversation with someone in the Starbucks line-up and somehow land on them coming in to see you, pretty easily. In those situations it pays to have a business card.

The trick is to make a business card that 1) won’t get thrown away and 2) won’t break your teensy tiny budget (because they’re not worth spending more on)

1) So it wont get thrown away: It needs to be useful, unusual, and good looking. Being “on brand” is also a must for you as it acts as a sort of first impression.

While on a budget its best to stick with a traditional paper card but put something that people want to keep on one side:

–         a free 15 minute consultation

–         discounted first visit

–         notes section where you can write down what you suggest they come in for. The more technical or obscure it is, the more likely they’ll want to keep it so they remember why it is they need to see you.

–         A few tips to solve a common problem . Get creative and think about what issue most people who see you have and how can you solve it in a small way on the back of your business card. Instant value to them will make a great first impression


2) Won’t break the bank: I like Vistaprint for business cards because they are cheeeap and you can choose from ready-made templates or easily design your own.

Don’t go for the cheapest paper option. It’s not that much of a savings and really feels chinsy. You can get 500 cards in a nice thick stock for pennies.

COST: Varies (but around $25-30 for 500)

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STEP 3: GET YOURSELF A WEBSITE

Get yourself a super simple (aka cheap) but nice website. There are SO many inexpensive options for that now there is really no excuse.

MOST people are starting their searches online for practitioners these days (unless you work in a VERY small town or with VERY old patients). Even if someone gets a referral, they’re still likely to check in to see who you are, what you’re about and if you’re the right practitioner to help them.

Consumers in every capacity are more sophisticated now and an outdated Facebook Page you slapped together isn’t going to cut it.

To position yourself as an expert quickly a professional online presence is key.

Don’t go crazy – it only needs a few simple elements and then just keep the colours and branding consistent with your business cards AND how you want to be perceived by your prospective patients.

Want to know what to put on your website? See here

Now if you work with a clinic who has a website you COULD use that if: 1) your name, contact info, photo and bio can be on there 2) they have a space for updating content (blog, resources section, news etc) that you can contribute to over time

How to create your website:

You have a few options for this depending on your budget and time.

Free to Low Cost

Squarespace or Wix are 2 sites that let you DIY a website pretty easily and for little more than the cost of monthly hosting. You just need to be prepared to take a couple days to do it.

Mid Range +

The gold standard for websites is WordPress as it has the most options for changing and customization down the road. You CAN do this yourself if you’re techy but there’s a pretty steep learning curve and I’d say your time is better spent elsewhere.

You can have someone design you a basic 4-5 page site for a few hundred dollars (well worth it in my books).

Fiverr or Upwork have great freelance options or The Wellness Desk is a virtual assistant specifically for Health + Wellness professionals. She’s awesome and has a web package for $500

You can buy a domain and hosting for any website on Godaddy very inexpensively (or Wix/Squarespace often include a free domain in their monthly hosting package)

COST: $18-26/mo for Squarespace/Wix. WordPress varies

STEP 4: SET-UP ONLINE BOOKING

This is a must in today’s health and wellness landscape as over 50% of people hate talking on the phone to book appointments. They’d rather book online at their convenience!

These booking softwares also allow you to automatically send intake forms, email or text reminders and process payments through the app to email receipts.

This is a feature your clients and patients prefer, it makes you look like a pro and BONUS, it makes your life infinitely easier and more profitable.

Automated reminders alone can reduce cancellations and no-shows between 50-85% which generally works out to 5-10% extra dineros in your pocket for zero additional work.

There are a ton of softwares out there. I like Acuity or Jane Practice Management. Both easily link to any website.

COST: + $0-25/mo for Acuity or $75+/mo for Jane App

STEP 5: GET YOURSELF SET-UP TO GET PAID!

I know you didn’t get into this field to be ALL about the money but this is your career AND your calling. You deserve to be paid for your gifts (and paid well) it’s got to be easy and convenient for your patients and clients.

If you’re working in a clinic that does this for you, you may not need this.

BUT if you’re on your own you need 2 things:

1) A business bank account and ideally a business credit card (this is a recommendation for everyone so you can use an app like Wave for easy income/expense tracking. You’ll thank me come tax time)

2) Square Card Reader – this is a super inexpensive, mobile option that allows you to accept credit or debit cards live. You can run it off your phone, ipad etc. They charge you a nominal fee for each transaction and then deposit the cashola right into the account you set-up above.

COST: $20 + transaction fees

STEP 6: BUILD A DATABASE

You may be in health and wellness but when you get down to it, you’re in a people business. You need to know, talk to and connect with people regularly to build up a client base. And especially one that will turn into repeat and referral business down the road (this is your ultimate goal as a practitioner).

The BEST (ie: easiest, cheapest, most effective) way to do this is through email.

Building an email list of people who are interested in what you do and want to hear from you is so key to your long term success.

How do you do this?

Get your butt on an Email Service Provider (ESP) which will help you connect with people seamlessly as you scale up in your biz.

For practitioners just starting out I generally suggest Mailchimp. It’s easy to use, free (up to 2000 subscribers) and integrates with all other software you’d be likely to use.

Next, make a list of everyone you know (literally anyone who would recognize your name and know who the hell you are) on Mailchimp and send them a short, casual email letting them know you’ve set up shop in your new locale and to send people your way. 

Get the exact script FREE here.

It’s also a great incentive for people to refer you (or come in themselves) if you offer something for free. Maybe it’s a 15 minute in-person assessment or phone consultation. People are much more likely to jump in to working with you when it’s FREE for them (low commitment, low risk)…and then you wow them with your amazing skills, the results you can achieve and convert them into paying patients and clients.

It’s not hard and it is pure gold.

COST: Free

STEP 7: GO AND FIND YOUR PEOPLE!

This can be the most overwhelming step of getting your practice off the ground because there are SO many options as to how you can reach people.

My advice?

Choose 1-3 methods in the beginning of how you want to find, attract and connect with people. And then forget the rest.

You can always change it up or add on as you go but it’s better to kick ass in a few channels than spread yourself too thin across many.

Some ideas for you:

– social media

– blogging or videos (promoted on social media otherwise no one’s going to see them)

– Google, Facebook or Instagram ads

– features in local publications or radio (fantastic for small towns)

– host live workshops, trainings, lunch n’ learns

– connect with the community – connect with referral partners

Make sure you’re targeting your local area if you’re finding and connecting with people online. There’s no point gaining followers and likes from people on the other side of the country or even the other side of your province/state. Keep the focus local.

And make sure your ideal clients and patients (see step #1) are in these places where you’re going. The point is to get yourself in front of the people you want to work with so go where they are.

COST: Varies but generally FREE

And that’s it – you do these things and you’ll have your practice up and running AND getting clients in the door (the ones you want to work with too)!

All for a grand total of…$50 (on the low end) plus around $50 in reoccurring monthly costs and a little bit of sweat equity.

Still sound scary, difficult or totally overwhelming?

Perhaps. The best things are always scary when you’re first jumping in.

Let me remind you: While it may seem like everything is moving way too fast, or sometimes that nothing is moving at all, hang in there.

Simplify.

Focus on your plan and don’t get sidetracked with what “everyone else is doing”.

80% of your colleagues will quit the biz in the next couple years so doing what everyone else does is no way to get ahead.

And stick with it. Results don’t happen overnight. It takes consistent action.

Finally, if this got you excited about the prospect of what your practice can be (because it can be BIG) but still feeling a little hesitant, sceptical, totally terrified to make the wrong move, my Booked Up Blueprint Program might be exactly what you need. Enrollment is opening soon so grab your spot on the waitlist now.

The first 7 steps to set-up your health + wellness practice
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I'm Kate Matheson

Clinic owner and business coach helping you build a thriving, fully booked health + wellness practice without burning out.

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