Things to be Aware of when Starting up in Business
By Darren Jarmin Towergate Professional Risks
1. Business plan
Draw up a business plan for yourself. This is extremely important if you genuinely want to succeed. Make sure you have a timescale, say twelve months and draw up what you want to do during this time and how you intend to do it. The more detail you go into, the more effective you are likely to be.
Include things such as projected income – not just what you want to be earning, but how you intend to reach this figure – What marketing will you do, who to and why? How much will it cost – do your research, ring companies to see how much flyers and business cards are before you decide to buy them, and add that to your budget. If you can work out how much everything will cost you, you can then work out how many sessions you need to be doing per month to make a profit. If your costs are high and clients low, look to cut back on expenses or ways of doing things more cheaply, but without compromising on quality. Just remember that a good quality flyer or business card, which reflects a professional image and encourages people to try your services can be an investment, not just a cost.
2. Setting up a website
If you have your own website, be careful where you obtain information to fill it. Copying information or logos from other internet sites could leave you open to a claim for breach of copyright. Always ensure that you have permission to use information, logos or images from the owner before using them, and make sure your insurance policy would cover this type of claim. If in doubt, don’t! If you use a web designer, get assurances from them that all text and images are either free of copyright, or are being used in accordance with the licence agreement. Good quality stock photography can look great and be very reasonably priced. A good web designer will be able to help you find suitable images.
3. Do your homework
Make sure you research your local area – Look in the local paper, around town etc. for other therapists and look at what they offer. If you find that there are lots of therapists offering the same treatments as yourself, you will need to think how you are going to differentiate yourself from them. Where possible, try to avoid offering lots of different treatments, try to specialise in just a few as it will make you look more professional instead of a ‘jack of all trades’.
4. Working from home
If you see any clients at home, or even keep business property at home you must ensure that you make your household insurers aware. Failure to do so could invalidate a normal claim on your policy as many household insurers might restrict or even exclude certain areas of the cover if you have business property at home, or have clients visit you at home. It is also advisable to inform your mortgage lender.
5. Seeing clients alone
When seeing a client alone, especially a new client, it is advisable to make someone aware of who you are seeing and where you are going. Attacks on therapists are rare, but entering a new house for the first time can be daunting. A good piece of advice is to drop in to conversation afterwards that you have another appointment or social engagement immediately afterwards, or say that your partner is borrowing your car. Either of these will give the impression that someone will notice if you are not back from your appointment on time.
6. Keeping Records
Always try to keep a record of each client’s name, address, treatment they had, when the last treatment was, and also note anything that happened during the session. These records not only help you do a better job and keep a track of each client’s progress, they could also help you market your services to clients (see the advertising factsheet for more details) and could help you defend a compensation claim if a client alleged that they had suffered a loss or injury as a result of your treatment. Wherever possible, try to write your notes straight after the appointment while they are still fresh in your mind.
7. Professional Liability Insurance
Although not currently a legal requirement, many associations and therapists recommend Professional Liability insurance to protect therapists against compensation claims. If a client alleged that you had acted inappropriately, made their condition worse, injured them while in your care, or had caused them some other form of financial or physical loss then they might try to make a claim against you. Even if a claim never reaches court, solicitor’s costs can run to thousands of pounds, just for representing you and helping to settle the matter out of court. If you have not yet taken out insurance, speak to your association or training provider, as they will often be able to advise you where this can be taken out.
Darren Jarmin Cert CII
Business Development Executive
Towergate Professional Risks
Five Airport West
T: 0113 391 9555
This article was posted by Towergate Professional Risks .