The number of positions available for occupational therapists is expected to grow at a rate of 16% between 2021 and 2029. Compared to other industries, this is an extremely high growth rate.
In other words, now is a fantastic time not only to enter the field of occupational therapy but to start your own occupational therapy business.
The only catch? Even when demand is high for a particular profession, competition is steep, and starting a business always comes with risks. How can you make sure that your occupational therapy business is successful and built to last?
Read on for our guide to starting your very own occupational therapy business. By following these steps, you will set your business up for success.
Start With Market Research and Choose Your Niche
It’s important to know what needs are not being met in your community or area of practice. Occupational therapy covers a range of needs, from childhood development to sports injury recovery. Limit your own competition by learning who needs the help of an occupational therapist and shape your niche around this need.
Decide On a Basic Structure for Your Occupational Therapy Business
Once you have a sense of the niche you’re going to work in, it’s time to think about the basic structure of your business. For example, will you work from home or will you open a separate brick and mortar location? Will you travel to patients’ homes for every session, a limited number of sessions, or no sessions?
Finally, decide whether or not you want to go into business alone or with other occupational therapists. If you’re bringing others onto the team, you may be able to broaden your niche based on each OT’s experience and skills.
Create a Compensation Plan
How are you going to collect compensation? Will you ask for cash payments or will you accept insurance? By accepting insurance, you can typically expect to work with a more steady stream of patients–but you can also expect payment to get a little more complicated.
The best way to handle compensation is to use occupational therapy billing software. This eliminates the risk of missed payments or billing errors that may crop up if you try to tackle compensation the old-fashioned way.
Develop a Business Plan
Now that you have the most basic steps out of the way, it’s time to develop a business plan. A business plan is an outline of what you intend to do with your business, how you intend to do it, how much you expect to make, and so forth. In your business plan, you will want to address:
- The purpose of your business
- The services you will offer
- The number of people you expect to employ and their roles
- Operational details
- Financial projections
By addressing these details, you will have a very basic business plan to work with. The more detailed you can get (for example, by including a marketing plan), the more helpful your business plan will be down the line.
Opening a new business comes with a lot of upfront costs that most business owners are unable to cover on their own. There are a number of ways that you can secure financing, including taking out business loans, seeking out investors, or crowdfunding. You can also borrow money against your IRA or take out a second mortgage, but it is advisable to look for other forms of financing first and only use these last two methods if you have no other choice.
Tackle the Bureaucratic Side
Once you’ve got your business plan and financing squared away, it’s time to tackle all of the paperwork that comes with opening a business. You will want to set up a PLLC (professional limited liability company). Then, secure your EIN from the IRS, purchase business insurance, and set up your business banking (accounts and cards).
Finally, make sure that your certification is valid and up to date. If your license to practice is expired, you will need to renew it before you actually open your business.
Set Up Your Occupational Therapy Space
Now it’s time to set up your space. This could be the brick and mortar location you’ve rented out or designated office space in your own home.
Make sure that you plan out the environment so that it has a positive feeling and plenty of space for your patients to work with you. Secure only tools of the trade you may need and come up with an easy-to-maintain organizational system. You want your workspace to be clean and inviting and all of your tools to be accessible at a moment’s notice.
Create a Marketing Plan
If you’re ready to open your doors to patients, it’s time to start marketing your business. Your marketing strategy should be highly visible, taking advantage of a website, email campaigns, and social media platforms. However, print material is still a solid marketing tool and you will also want to invest in brochures and fliers that you can leave in doctor’s offices and other relevant spaces.
This is also the time when you will want to start networking with other medical professionals. Oftentimes, people come to occupational therapists after receiving a recommendation from a doctor or cognitive therapist. Build positive relationships with the local medical community so that they will be sure to send patients your way.
Start Your Occupational Therapy Business Off Right
Now is a great time to start your own occupational therapy business. With our steps, you can make sure that everything is taken care of in the right order and that you are setting yourself up for success.