4 Ways to Stretch Your Start-up Budget!
Many wellness entrepreneurs start out their private practice with a handicap – the belief that they need costly investments to be successful – an upscale office, a bells-and-whistles website, state-of-the-art equipment and so forth.
As wonderful as these things are, they are not the reason people will choose to work with you. Most potential clients will decide to work with you before they ever see your office or equipment. It’s not the trappings of business that make people take us seriously. It’s our ability to let them know, like and trust us, based on the service and value we provide.
I started small and eventually opened a multi-therapist office that I and my clients love, but even so, it’s not big, fancy or high-end. In fact, it is quite small, and completely outfitted in a charming and comfortable style – with thrift store décor! To this day, with over 40 years in private practice, I choose to spend my money on trainings and travel, rather than fancy office furniture.
Maybe you want fancy furniture – and that’s fine! But it’s not worth going into debt for it, before you’ve established a solid client base and consistent income. Here are a few simple tips to stretch your start-up dollars and attract high-quality clients, without breaking the budget.
Tip #1. Mind Your Mindset
Did you know that 90% of business success is based on mindset, while only 10% can be attributed to marketing?
This is especially true for wellness practitioners. As a group, we seem to have more mindset issues than entrepreneurs in other fields, especially around charging money for our work. We may doubt our potential for big success or our ability to handle rapid growth. Some practitioners feel guilty about making money from people’s problems. So it makes sense that overcoming these limiting beliefs and habits will help you grow your practice more quickly and easily.
Working on mindset will help you avoid the stress of overwork, overwhelm and underpay that many practitioners commonly experience. Fear and doubt can cost you more than financial investment in growing a prosperous practice.
Tip #2. Hold Off on High Rent!
Clients generally do not work with you because they like your office. In fact, most people decide to try your work after meeting you in person, before they ever see your location. The first impression you make motivates them to schedule their first appointment. And the result they get from that first session determines whether they will return – not the appearance or location of your workplace.
While building up your biz, consider sharing an office until you are more established. Renting full-time space is a waste of money if you’re seeing only a few clients per week. Check classifieds for office sharing. Ask family and friends if they know of potential space for sharing. Let clients and colleagues know that you would like to share an office. If you share your own space, you will have more control over your environment than if you move into someone else’s office.
If your heart is set on an upscale location, ask building managers or receptionists which businesses might be open to sharing. If there’s no on-site person to ask, go door-to-door and ask tenants if they might be interested in sharing. Write a letter or create a professional-looking flyer explaining your service and your need. Maybe there’s a building bulletin board where you can post a request for shared office space. Many businesses have unused space that is expensive to maintain, so they may welcome an opportunity to reduce their costs by sharing.
Many hotels and business centers have special rooms or suites that they rent out for meetings. There is a growing trend for office space rental by the hour or day, in some areas called co-work space. If your practice involves only meeting with clients, such as consulting or counseling, and you don’t do exams, treatments or need special equipment, check out local hotels, business centers and co-work facilities.
Consider a hotel room or meeting room. Do some research to determine the average fee in your area, prepare a proposal for a lesser amount and present it to hotel management. Keep the upper hand in negotiating the fee and be prepared to walk away if they won’t accept your terms. Often they would rather accept a lower fee than not rent the space at all. Make sure the fee includes restroom usage and use of the hotel business area for internet and printer, if needed.
A hotel meeting room is also a great option if you’re presenting a talk, class or workshop, but be prepared to pay a higher fee if you want catering services, such as food and beverages.
Also consider a home office, if this is something that could work for you, your practice, your home, your clients and your family. This could be an interim arrangement until you have enough income for a separate office. I have used a home office at times in my career and built a solid client base in the home setting.
Tip #3. Get Clients Before an Expensive Website!
While a website is eventually necessary for growth, you can skip this expense when you’re first starting out. Or start with a free do-it-yourself site. Focus your limited start-up resources on getting your first few clients, then use your increased cash flow for a more sophisticated website.
Use networking, community service and word-of-mouth to meet potential new clients. Visit every networking group in your area to get a feel for one or two that best suit your purposes. Invite people to a free or low-fee Discovery Session. Offer services or information at community events. Prospects appreciate the high value they get from this format. You don’t need a website for this client-attraction strategy.
Tip #4. Make Every Cost an Investment!
Everything you spend money for in your business should give you a good return on investment (ROI). A networking group, coaching program, training course, marketing system, all supplies and equipment – everything you spend time or money for should help monetize your business. Many health entrepreneurs are not clear what return they expect or they don’t get their money’s worth by implementing what they’re learning.
When I enrolled in high-cost coaching to help me develop and market The Prosperous Practice, I promised myself that I would implement everything I learned. I continually looked for ways to maximize my return in every program and product I invested in. Sometimes my ROI was tangible, such as a website and a tech assistant. And sometimes it was abstract, such as more confidence, which helped me, energetically and emotionally, move to the next level of success. By investing at higher and higher levels – even when finding the money was challenging – I was able to steadily move forward and create a flourishing business.
Don’t Let Budget Limit Your Success
A limited budget does not automatically mean limited success. With a new practice, don’t spend money that you can’t comfortably afford right now. Take a closer look at what you really need and what you can do without for a while, and apply these tips. See how many other ways you can be creative in stretching your budget until you can truly afford the bells and whistles. Remember, this is your business! So don’t let anything – especially a low budget – limit your professional and personal success, satisfaction, and achievement!