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Online community launches for natural therapy start-ups to boost their business skills

Tuesday, 6 August 2013 | By Rose Powell

An online resource hub and community centre has been launched for natural therapy business owners, many of whom are sole traders, to develop and hone their business models.


The community, called The Heart Of, will offer interactive forums, webinars, eBooks, tips and advice on implementing systems and managing client databases, with membership costing $49 per month.


Founder Nikki White told StartupSmart she launched the site to equip talented practitioners to become more professional and prosperous.


“The natural therapy industry needs to lift their game so they stop being seen as ‘alternative’, and can operate on the same scale as the medical industry. To do that we need to be more professional around the sessions we give to lift the industry’s reputation,” White says.


According to research group IBISWorld, the alternative health therapies industry generates $4 billion in annual revenue. There are over 27,000 businesses operating in the space employing more than 32,000 people.


IBISWorld says the industry includes treatments such as acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, homeopathy and other therapies that fall outside the scope of commonly accepted Western medicine.


White, who is also president of the Northern Beaches Natural Health & Wellness Cluster in NSW, says natural therapists especially struggle with customer acquisition and retention.


“Client databases are their biggest challenges, and also client communication and marketing,” White says. “They all do their modality courses, which include a small amount of business lessons included, but not enough to run a business properly, professional and profitability.”


White says many natural therapists need to learn how to move between the spiritual side of their practice and the need to build a business.


“During your sessions, you can be as airy-fairy as you like. But around that you need to maintain the professionalism a client expects from a doctor and chiropractor,” White says. “If you don’t, it’s a hobby not a business, and clients will come and go.”


White says many practitioners are sole traders, and working from home.


“A lot of them don’t know that other people are going through exactly the same things. They’re not alone, and the community will enable them to connect with each other and work through their business challenges,” White says.