The 4 Most Important Things to Consider Before You Start Your Bodywork Business
If you are about to embark upon the journey of starting your own Bodywork Business or you have an existing business that isn’t quite going the way you’d hoped it would, I strongly recommend you consider these 4 things.
I certainly wish I had learned this in my modality training. I was so busy learning to be an awesome practitioner of my craft that I didn’t realise that awesomeness doesn’t always equate to business success.
What is a niche?
Your niche is really about your positioning in your industry and market. What problems are you best at solving and which group of people do you feel most qualified or passionate about helping with those problems?
As we go through this process, you will see why it is important that this activity comes first. Even before your modality.
Of course, you have most likely done your modality training which is fine, but before you go ahead and do any further study I urge you to go through these points first as you will be so much clearer on your direction once you do.
How to choose your niche.
If you are going to weather the storms that are ahead of you on the journey to Bodywork Business Success, (and there will be ups and downs for sure) you need to be passionate about your niche.
If you are a swimmer and experienced with the struggles and challenges a swimmer has, perhaps you want to position your bodywork services in the swimming niche. Or running, hiking, cycling, martial arts etc.
Or perhaps you have been a busy and stressed out Mum. After finding your path to balance your life, you would now like to help others do the same?
Maybe you have struggled with a health condition in the past and now you would love to work with others who are experiencing that same struggle.
It could also be a mindset and belief demographic.
Perhaps you want to work with spiritual people or entrepreneurs, Christian people, leaders, millennials, veterans.
You can create any number of combinations to form your niche.
// Spiritual Mums with chronic pain
// Performance enhancement for adolescent swimmers
// Posture improvement for horse riders
// Technique enhancement for millennial musicians
Really, the list of combinations is endless and the above suggestions are just random examples. How specific you want to get will depend on a few other things such as your ability to access those people, local population etc. You may want more than 1 if you aren't
Write down a list of a few of these qualities to get your juices flowing. You can come back to this after working through some of the other exercises below as you will have more clarity at that point
// Your own Hobbies and Interests
// Your own obstacles and struggles
// What solutions do you feel confident offering potential clients?
// Which type of people do you feel most comfortable/confident working with?
Taking the time to think through your niche and position yourself will be well worth the effort.
Your Client Avatar
What is an avatar?
Your avatar is a person you create that is your ideal client. You can base it on an existing client that you just love working with, or you can make them up from scratch.
Many people discover that their avatar is an earlier version of themselves, as we are often drawn to help people overcome problems that we ourselves have overcome.
It is important to write down everything you can about this person.
// Give them a name.
// How old are they?
// Male or Female?
// Where do they live?
// Where do they shop?
// Do they have children?
// Their Hobbies?
// What problems and challenges do they have?
// Are these things you feel confident to help them with?
// What might stop them from booking sessions with you?
// Where do they hang out online?
// What are they reading?
You can’t have too much detail, as this info will help you decide what language to use in your marketing campaigns and where to place your ads etc.
You can have more than 1 avatar, depending on what services you are offering and how narrow your niche is.
For example, I have 2 main client avatars. 1 is for my bodywork business. These are my ideal clients that I offer face to face treatments to.
The other one is someone like yourself. A fellow practitioner of the healing arts, looking for support in starting and growing their business.
I could have more than 1 avatar for my face to face appointments if I wanted to focus on more than 1 specific type of client. If you live in a small town and are only working 1:1 with clients, you may want to have more than 1 avatar.
Maybe you are a kinesiologist and you love to work with sensitive children and the mums of those children.
Really the Mum is your main avatar because she is the one who will be booking the appointments, but when you are marketing to her you need to identify the struggles her child is having as well as her own struggles. What pain is keeping her up at night when she is thinking about her child and their issues?
The language you use in your marketing would depend on which problem you were trying to solve for them at the time. Being able to be specific about this in your ads will greatly increase the chances of you attracting her as a client.
The point is, that when you are marketing yourself, you speak to only one avatar at a time.
Why do I need an avatar?
Many people worry that narrowing down their marketing to a specific person will limit their reach but really, the opposite is true.
There will be many people out there with the same specific problem and they will know you are talking to them because your ads are mentioning that very issue they are having. If you don’t get specific, then your ads will be generic and they won’t really be speaking to anyone.
Your ads need to be so targeted that your ideal clients can self-identify when they see it. This means you won’t need to use any sleazy selling tactics. Just present yourself as the solution to their problem.
It’s far better to have an ad that specifically targets 50 people, than one that reaches 500 people but they don’t know that your service is for them because your being vague by trying to cast a wide net.
Take the time to really flesh out your avatar and use that information to target your advertising campaigns.
I’m going into this part with the assumption that you are offering 1:1 face to face services. There is a chance that your modality may include the ability to do healing, coaching or mentoring by distance, but for this exercise, we’re referring to face to face sessions.
When deciding where to set up your business, it’s important you know what’s important for you and what you value.
I value time. So, after trying many work scenarios, I’m now working from home. I never thought I would and it has its down sides but, I like not having the extra overheads of renting clinic space and not losing time travelling to work.
Once you know what matters most to you, you can consider those things when choosing your location
// How far do you need to travel to get to work?
// How much will the space cost you ongoing?
// Are the people in your niche well represented in the area?
// Is it easy to find?
My first clinic was super hard to find and clients were arriving stressed and annoyed at me. Even though I mentioned it when they booked, people didn’t seem to pay much attention or allow for the time it would take them to find the building. Not a great first impression.
If you are renting space in an existing establishment, is its clientele aligned with your Niche and Avatar?
For instance, if you are offering Reiki with crystal healing, you are not positioning yourself well to set up your practice in a room at a Karate Dojo. Or if you are a Myotherapist who has a special interest in exercise prescription for distance runners, renting a room at a hair salon isn’t a great fit. It seems obvious, but I’ve seen people set up in places that aren’t aligned to their niche and avatar, simply because the rent is cheap and it rarely works well for them in the long run.
Do you need autonomy?
If you want complete control over your schedule, what you charge how you market your services, then joining an existing practice that expects you to conform to their methods would not be a great idea.
Do you need lots of client referrals?
If you don’t have an existing client base, and don’t want to invest time/money in marketing yourself, then perhaps you want to join a large practice or set yourself up in a complimentary business that is aligned with your niche and leverage their business.
Be aware that there is always a trade-off here.
When joining an established practice, you will likely have to pay more rent for the room, have less autonomy of what you can offer and when you can be there.
It is important that you are clear on your intentions before you join an existing practice and that you have discussed them with the owner of the business you are joining. This can save problems down the track if things aren’t working out quite as you had planned.
You may get the benefit of having their receptionist service your business, but as you haven’t hired the receptionist, they don’t always make your business a priority.
If you are going to join an established practice, be sure that their message and client base is aligned with yours, or you’ll be paying top dollar for referrals that you don’t end up getting.
I recommend becoming a client of any practice that you are thinking of joining.
Watch how the receptionist engages with the clients. Listen to what the practitioners are saying during your treatments. If they are not outcome focused and don’t put the clients’ needs above their own financial gain, you may want to rethink your choice. Chances are, they are operating from a scarcity mindset and won’t refer clients to you anyway.
I have also worked in clinics where they hold tight to clients and don’t refer them to you but use language that, on the surface, appears to be client focused.
If you hear them saying things like “I’m reluctant to refer my clients on because I care so much about them that I won’t trust anyone else to look after them the way I do”, that’s a red flag right there.
That’s just the story they tell themselves to feel better about the fact that they are fearful of losing clients and don’t believe in the abundance available to them. Also, we need to be empowering our clients to take charge of their healing. Let them be the decider of who can best care for them.
None of us are all powerful.
Let’s keep our egos in check here.
Anyway, I digress.
Seriously, this is the future of your business. If you are going to invest your time and money building your business, make sure you chose a location that is aligned with your niche and your client avatar.
No doubt, you have already trained in your main modality by now. If you have not, or are thinking of doing more study, below I’m going to point out some things that will help you decide where to focus your efforts.
Many practitioners of the healing arts feel called to train in a particular modality that they themselves have experienced great benefit from. It is a wonderful place to start. Your success as a student will more assured because you feel passionate about your modality.
If you haven’t done any training yet, but are just feeling the call to embark on the healers’ journey, a good place to start would be to try a few different modalities and see which one inspires you.
When you are ready to move forward into study (or further study if you are already certified), I would advise you to think about your niche, client avatar and to some extent, your location before enrolling in your certification.
Of course, those things should not be the deciding factor. Always go with your heart and study what moves you. That is very important.
The reason I am pointing this out, is because people keep asking me “How can I start a business when I live in an area that where my services aren’t in demand?”
Now there is a chance that their services could very well be in demand if they marketed themselves effectively, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
It’s worth considering though, before you spend a small fortune on your certification, if there is a need for those services in the area?
If you don’t perceive there is, will you choose a different niche and avatar? Will you travel further to work? Will you choose a different modality? Perhaps one that suits the demographic of your location or one that you can do by distance?
I don’t have all the answers here for you but it is worth considering these things before you invest big $$ in your training. Unless of course you just want to learn the skill purely for the enjoyment of gaining new knowledge. That’s always an awesome use of your time. I don’t imagine you fit into that category though if you are 2000 words deep into this blog post.
So, all that being said, I do encourage you to follow your heart and your inner knowing when it comes to choosing your modality. You may just need to be creative in the way you expand upon it.
There’s a LOT to think about in this blog post, so be sure to bookmark it so you can refer to it while planning your business success.