Most of us would love the chance to build up a business from nothing. It’s one of the reasons that online companies are thriving.
You need virtually no assets, no employees and no premises. Unless you have a very innovative offering, you’ve got a big fight to be heard above the noise of every other online company out there. So what about a local business instead? Can trading as a therapist from home work for you?
Convert Existing Space
The first thing you need to think about is space. Unlike an online business, customers will come to your workplace where you can provide the service you specialise in. If this is massage or physical therapy, you might need a lot more room to work in.
Counselling and many beauty treatments can often be conducted in a smaller space. You might prefer to convert a space in your home to make it work for the public. This helps you separate your home life from your work life more easily too.
If you’re working in a home office, ensure your family members are aware of your appointments or office hours – you don’t want them walking in on the middle of a session!
Chances are you’re already pretty good at what you do. Starting out in business though is pretty nerve-wracking. You start to doubt yourself, and you can feel like you lack confidence. Make sure you’ve got all your trade certificates and qualifications up to date. From there, you might even choose to start taking more advanced qualifications to stand out from the local competition. Finally, consider some business and marketing workshops to help boost your confidence and get you moving on up.
To attract your first clients or customers, you need to let them know you’re there. Marketing and promotions are a really big part of that. All of your online skills will be required to get your social media posts flowing and your website popping. Offer online appointment scheduling and payments too.
Don’t forget that you need to nurture your relationship with each customer. Perhaps you’ll offer a welcome pack if they buy a series of therapy or treatment sessions with you. Pop in some samples of products you carry or an informative leaflet you’ve written. A handy towel, complete with your company branding might be perfect to pop in the goody bag too. If you only want a low unit run, you might prefer to visit www.dynamicgift.com.au/towels to find what you need here.
It can be very tempting to take on more and more clients at times that suit them rather than times that suit your lifestyle. After all, you want to grow. Maintaining regular hours is more professional. Don’t be bullied into giving up your downtime hours. Instead, set the tone from day one and keep your business ticking along with customers that won’t develop unrealistic expectations of you.
You will also need to keep up the momentum with your marketing efforts. This can get more and more challenging to take on personally as your business becomes busier. Hiring an agency to take care of campaigns and planning might help however this is an ongoing cost that might cause some financial pressure during quiet times. Hiring a freelancer to help you out from time to time might be a better option for you in the first year or so.
Always A Promotion?
Part of your marketing strategy should include promotions. Promotions are enormously helpful for generating more customer leads during quiet times. But they are also a good way for you to test demand for a new or changed service you might provide. You might use them to launch a group session, or maybe to highlight an additional treatment you can provide.
Promotions should vary each month. You might have discounts one month and then an introductory offer for something new the next. Perhaps you can start a refer-a-friend program so your customers can boost your marketing. Be careful though, If you continually run discounts on products or services, then this might ‘cheapen’ the value of what you offer. As a one-off seasonal offer that is for loyal customers only, it would appear far more valuable.
Refining Your Business Offering
Over time you might try out new things and develop your sales patter with customers you meet. Refining what you do, the services you provide and your marketing strategy takes time. During this time you’re probably very busy just trying to keep up with demand. Do take every opportunity to find out what the customer is thinking. How are they responding to you, your products, and your marketing efforts?
You might have an informal chat about it, asking leading questions while you work with a customer. Or you might prefer a multiple choice survey form. This type of research is essential if you want to continue satisfying the customers you have and successfully reaching more like them. It’s also really important to learn from negative feedback and complaints. Sure, everyone has an off day. But how can you make sure that every customer can feel better by the time they leave your premises?
Worrying About Regulation
It is also essential that you keep up to date with your local authority regarding your business working from home. It’s best to be honest and open about what you do. This will prevent you facing fines or even prosecution regardless of your lack of knowledge about regulation. Many local authorities offer free marketing services to small businesses like photocopying. Most importantly, they will help you connect with the local business community for more support.
You should also keep up to date with your local industry practices. Subscribe to the journal and regularly visit the websites relevant to your business. Register as a member with any trade bodies you can. This helps you keep on top of any changes that might occur and affect you.
It’s not easy to set up a business from your home, but it can be done. Be sure not to blur the lines between work and home life. Are you ready to open your doors to customers?
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