Getting Started in Complementary Health

An increasing number of people decide at some point in their life to get the necessary qualifications and become a complementary health practitioner.  The recession and job losses of the recent years have somehow inspired many people to make the big step and, sometimes without other choices, start their own private practice. The challenges which can be found when   working in private practice affects both professionals with university degrees like psychotherapists and psychologists, as well as other recognised qualifications.

Starting a complementary health business is similar to opening a shop, an office based service supplier or any other traditional commercial business.  Like in any other business, sales and cash flow are essential to guarantee positive results and so one of the most important things you need to do is to ensure that you  have plenty of clients  to pay your overheads  and  guarantee yourself a decent income.  Depending on the country where the complementary health business is based, it is also necessary to be familiar with legal, professional and business requirements.

What is a Complementary Health Business?

Complementary health treatments include a broad range of disciplines. It is important to learn about the particular form of holistic health practice and  complete the necessary training before committing to opening a practice. . Examples of complementary health businesses include:

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • NLP

Setting Up a Private Practice in Complementary Health

Some complementary health practitioners work from home whereas others set up a separate office/studio in which to work from.  There are both advantages and disadvantages in working  from home  as there are in working from a private studio; initial set up for a home practice may be cheaper but there will need to be enough space to work professionally and take into account:

  • equipment/furniture needed
  • health and safety
  • legal requirements
  • scheduling and managing appointments
  • associated costs
  • personal privacy and security

Insurance, Legal and Professional Requirements for a Complementary Health Practice

There are different insurance, legal and professional requirements in the UK. It may be necessary to obtain a business license (even if working from home) from the local authorities and comply with certain local and national laws. In addition, it may be necessary to obtain professional memberships in order to apply for an adequate professional insurance cover; different types of insurance cover may be needed.

Maintaining Tax Records and Banking for a Complementary Health Practice

It is important to keep a record of all purchases and expenses and receipt of income for tax purposes; at the end of the tax year, a complimentary health business will be expected to file a tax return either as a sole trader or an incorporated limited company (partnerships may be applicable if two or more practitioners work together).  Opening a business’ bank account is also essential in order to keep business transactions separate from personal ones.

Marketing a Holistic Health Business

I hope it doesn’t come as a surprise when I say that in the 21st century, every business should have a web presence in addition to other direct and indirect marketing operations.   A complementary health business can be marketed through a combination of web site, blogs, forums and social networking. Depending on the skills level of the holistic health practitioner, it may be necessary to employ someone to both set up and maintain the various web marketing tools required.

Some complementary health practices, both in the UK and abroad , are not tightly regulated, making it simple for almost anyone to set up and call themselves a holistic health practitioner or practice. However, in order to maintain high standards and increase the chances  for success, it is advisable to take all accredited training in the chosen discipline, obtain insurance,  memberships to the relevant governing body and comply with the relevant legal requirements.

Working Within a Professional Health Centre

While working from home can be a simple and cost-effective way to get started, it can limit the opportunities of expansion as well as the amount of money that can be charged.  An effective alternative is to work from a complementary health centre which, a mong other basic things   can offer:

  • good quality therapy rooms that are suitable for your  therapy/discipline
  • a central and easily accessible location reception and phone answering service to ensure that your phone calls are answered and your clients or prospects are well looked after
  • a place where you always feel  safe  when working with clients

The main advantages of working from a professional complementary health centre are:

  • better image
  • possibility of justifying higher fees
  • building up a stronger brand

Conclusion

Getting Started in Complementary Health can be a very rewarding and life changing decision.  When well-managed, it can bring financial accomplishments, the opportunity of making a difference in many people’s lives and achieving a great level of satisfaction.

However, it should be considered for what it really is: a business venture which as such requires accurate planning and adequate business skills in marketing and sales.

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