Patricia Bishop runs a thriving hypnotherapy and healing practice in London. This is a thorough handbook to the complete business of setting up a complementary health practice.
Although not exactly equipment, I’ve included this section here as it can form a sizeable cost when you are first setting up and equipping your practice.
You will need to make sure that you have adequate initial stocks to meet your business needs for at least the first month if you are creating and printing your own stationery, or for the first three months if you are using a printing company to produce your stationery. Whatever your therapy you will need to keep stocks of the following basics:
- headed paper
- compliment slips
- business cards
- any pre-printed receipts
- practice brochures
- client record sheets
- fax header sheets (if applicable).
Designing your stationery
This can be quite a time-consuming task, so make sure you allow sufficient time for this to be completed in advance of setting up your practice. A good lead time for most things is three months. Before you start to design your stationery, you will need to have confirmed the following:
- the address you will be working from, or using for correspondence
- your telephone number
- your fax number
- your mobile phone number
- your email address
- your website address
- your NHS provider number
- your membership of any professional organisations and official designation.
Once these have been confirmed, then you can decide on fonts, styles, colours and the general layout. You may find it helpful to ask your colleagues for copies of their business stationery, so that you can get a feel for the kind of design you would prefer and what you think works well. Whether or not you print the stationery yourself, you will need to put together a print ready version in your preferred layout and style. Some print companies will offer to do this for you for a small charge, so do some phoning around first.
If you keep the same, or similar, design for all your stationery this can become your ‘brand’ and a way in which others will recognise you. To personalise this further you could design a simple logo which reflects something about you or your work – some people design a logo around their initials or company name, others will use a simple line drawing to convey an aspect of their work. Check how others in your field have advertised their practices – Yellow Pages is a good place to start – a lot more can be conveyed with a simple logo.
If you are getting a print company to do your printing, investigate what offers are available for bulk orders in order to keep your costs down. This may mean that you will need to provide extra storage for this stock, so do keep it to practical levels. If you are printing your own stationery then you can operate a ‘just in time’ approach and keep the minimum possible. For some practices this will mean enough for one week, others one day, and for those who are very well set up the stationery or documents will only need to be printed off when they are needed.
Depending on how much stationery you use in your practice, and how varied your requirements are, you may find that a trip maybe once a week or once a month to a local stationery retailers is all that is required. If you have any special requirements such as getting your practice details printed on your business folders or mugs, or if you order large supplies of particular items such as padded envelopes, paper, CDs or even couch rolls, you might find you can get a cheaper deal by purchasing through a business stationery suppliers. Local suppliers are listed in the trade directories. Check for any delivery charges before placing an order. Some companies will deliver free of charge if you place an order that exceeds a minimum price. Office suppliers often put together office stationery starter packs at a reduced price which you may helpful. For details of some possible suppliers see Chapter 12.
Working out costs
Once you’ve decided on your stationery needs, cost these out and enter them in the table on page 43 (Figure 5). If you extrapolate your costs for a whole year and enter the annual figure this will help you to work through the next chapter – determining how you are going to finance your practice and whether you need to take out a loan. These figures are likely to be guesswork at this stage, but spend some time making them as reasonable a guess as possible.
General office supplies
As well as your equipment and stationery, don’t forget you may need to keep basic supplies of tea and coffee, various cleaning products and any other basics such as paper tissues or towels, bottled water, soap etc. This is more likely to be the case if you are renting rooms, rather than working from home or within an existing practice or clinic.
You may find that your needs are adequately met by purchasing through a local supermarket or shop, but if time is short, or you order a lot of supplies on a regular basis or you need to have your purchases delivered, you may find it easier to combine an order for these goods with your stationery or equipment purchasing. Many office suppliers will supply goods for the entire range of your business and practice needs, which may help you save time as well as money. Work out your costs in Figure 6 below.
Business environment purchases
These are the extras that go towards making a more agreeable working environment for both yourself and your client. Extras such as:
- water fountains
- air filters
- additional heaters to maintain a comfortable working warmth in winter
- fans for keeping everyone cool in summer
- specialist or variable lighting to help create a relaxed atmosphere, soften the mood or highlight a working area
- and fragrances – whether of the plug in variety or burning scented candles, incense or essential oils in oil burners.
I would include with this any building works – major or minor – which could help to improve the environment. For example, soundproofing a wall, partitioning off an area to use as a waiting room, or installing a ramp for wheelchair users. All such improvements will help to make your working environment a better vehicle for your talents and skills.
List your business environment requirements in Figure 7 and enter the cost or amount that you are prepared to pay in your annual budget for these items.
Planning for growth
Even though you may only just be setting up, it is still a good idea to speculate a few years into the future. What equipment would you ultimately like to be working with? This could be some completely new pieces of equipment, perhaps extending the way in which you work. For example, if you are thinking of increasing your revenue by selling copies of your guided meditation CD you might want to invest in equipment which will allow you to burn more than one CD at a time. Other items on your ‘wish list’ may be purchases that will increase your comfort or that of your clients, such as replacing your bottom end of the range massage couch for one which you can adjust to suit your working height and which may be wider or have an increased amount of foam padding. You could also choose to invest in some equipment which may help your efficiency and effective use of time, for example, buying a laptop so that you can work on your correspondence even when you are away from your main practice. Or you could use part of your list for noting which equipment you would like to update and when, in order to keep abreast of new technological developments or simply to keep your equipment to a good standard.
Whatever items you are thinking of, make sure that you incorporate these into your financial plans in order that they can be realised. Keep your wish-list in a safe place and make sure you review it on a regular basis, adding and deleting items as appropriate and as your business needs change.
You may already have listed your potential future purchases in the previous tables, however, you might now find it helpful to review your equipment lists again and extract those wish-list items so that these details are kept separately. The following table (Figure 8) can be used to record these items.
Taking this forward
Once you’ve had a chance to review all your business equipment needs and have costed your requirements, add these figures up in order to arrive at the total cost – nb ensure you have entered annual figures for all the items or categories. Now you are ready to transfer these costs to your projected profit and loss account in order to determine whether you will require any extra funding for your first year. All this is explained in the next chapter.