How To Build Your Wellness Business on a Budget
In a recent article, we talked about the importance of embracing the fear of failure during your entrepreneurship journey.
We mentioned how so many soon-to-be business owners are held back by the “what if” thought pattern that leads them to imagine all the worst possible outcomes of their decisions.
We proposed a solution for this problem: lose the fear of taking the first step, and treat your business like an experiment – try things out and gather feedback to make more informed decisions next time.
But there’s one area where perhaps you shouldn’t take this advice quite as literally – the financial aspect of your wellness business.
Let’s face it, most wellness entrepreneurs aren’t working with huge piles of cash.
You will need to make the best of limited funds, while still finding effective ways to experiment with growth through your marketing efforts.
So here’s how to build your new wellness practitioner business on a budget.
Building an Effective Low-Cost Website
A website is usually an essential part of getting your business off the ground.
Some wellness business owners get by with an Instagram or Facebook account and a Google Business listing.
This can be enough to bring in some clients in the short term, but there are several key weaknesses to choosing social media over a website.
Access to Data
Major social media platforms are strict about shutting down accounts for violating policies, and in many instances, it may not even be clear what rule you have broken.
The result is devastating to a small business owner–losing your followers, posts, and more.
And it’s not only the networks themselves you need to watch out for, there’s always the possibility of being hacked.
A well-designed, user-friendly website gives you instant credibility as a small business.
It gives you an air of professionalism that matters to the high percentage of potential customers in your area who use Google to find places to spend their money.
Social networks are increasingly forcing business accounts to pay if they want their followers to see their organic posts.
This is called “boosting” or “pay to play”, and it’s not changing anytime soon. With a website, you don’t have to worry about whether an algorithm will select and show your content to users.
If you post something, you can have complete confidence that it’s visible to anyone who visits your website.
Building Your Website
If you decide to go ahead with a website, there are several low-cost options to choose from.
Wix and Squarespace are simple, professional, user-friendly, and ideal for business owners with an appointment-based business model (massage therapists, bodyworkers, personal trainers, counselors, and wellness instructors.
If you are hoping to use your website to sell products, Shopify is ideal.
All of these services offer template sites, so you don’t need to worry about hiring a designer or trying to design it yourself.
In addition, these sites have options for features and integrations like booking systems, or online payments.
When using website builder services like Wix, creating the website is free, but you will be charged for the domain and hosting on a recurring basis.
Domain and Hosting
A domain name is the website address that users type in to find your business online.
You can search for domain name ideas using services like GoDaddy and NameCheap, but keep the following pointers in mind.
- Almost all the good ones are taken: be prepared to use a unique or less popular domain name to save money. If your business was called “serenity massage” for example, you will need to add other terms like your city or region to the domain name so that it hasn’t already been taken.
- .com doesn’t matter as much as it used to: after decades of domain names changing hands in the online marketplace, .com domains are highly sought after. Don’t be concerned about settling for a .co or .biz. Your customers should still be able to find you on Google.
An affordable domain should cost between $10-15 per year.
Hosting is another recurring cost. It’s essentially the cost of having all your website data “live” somewhere. For services like Wix, this is usually provided directly through the platform.
Aim for a hosting plan that costs you under $10 per month.
Avoiding Unnecessary Costs
When you enter the world of website building, you will find plenty of things that you could spend money on. Many people will tell you that you are wasting your time if you don’t – but we consider these “nice to haves”.
- An SEO/backlink plan: this matters, but not until later on in your journey
- Professional web design: All you need to get started is a theme/template website and some integrations, not a fully customized website
- Hiring a webmaster: Once your site is larger and more complex, it is a good idea to hire someone to manage it. Until then, you have the customer support team for your website builder to lean on if anything goes wrong.
- Custom Images and Graphics: A professional photoshoot can do wonders for telling your brand’s story. Invest in this when you have some money to spend, but until then you can use a free service like Unsplash or Pexels or pay for the rights to individual images on iStock.
Your Email List
Your email list will be one of the most important tools for growth and client retention throughout the early stages of your business and beyond.
When one of your clients “opts in” to receive email communications from you, they are handing you a method of direct communication that comes with lots of potential.
Email is also one of the most effective ways to convert leads into longtime clients.
But there is also a lot of responsibility.
So make it count. Only email them if you have something important to say, or face the consequences of the dreaded “unsubscribe” button.
First off, make sure that you have permission to contact this person via email. If you neglect to include an “opt-in” button when you collect email addresses, you face the risk of being flagged for spam, or worse.
Here’s an excellent article from Mailchimp that goes into the importance of permission in email.
What You Can Accomplish With An Email List
Let’s say you are starting a wellness business in massage therapy. After building your own client base through another business, you contact your clients with an opt-in request asking if they would like to stay informed about your new solo venture.
This is the start of your list. The respondents who say yes can now be fully integrated into your marketing.
Unlike your social media followers, who will only see your content if you pay what Instagram and Facebook want you to, you have full control over what your email list sees.
You can send them all kinds of emails, like:
- Appointment notifications and reminders
- Promotional updates and coupons
- Editorial content, like the story of why you decided to start your business
- Educational content, like explainers about the services you are offering
- Client engagement, like surveys about which of your services clients get the most value from
In summary, an email list is a gateway to anything you want your clients to know, or what you want to know about them.
So it is especially important that you make the most of this resource.
Choosing Email Marketing Software
Find a budget-friendly email marketing software to get yourself started.
Remember, you can always export your mailing list and all relevant data and take it to another platform later on.
Mailer Lite has an introductory program for unlimited emails and up to 1000 subscribers for only $9 per month. Mailchimp and ConvertKit are two other well-known platforms.
Experiment with the trial versions of these platforms before you make your decision so you can hit the ground running and start making use of one of your most valuable assets.
As you grow, be wary of:
- Platforms that charge for things duplicate subscribers or the ability to do automations
- The cost that you are incurring to bring in one new client
Online Booking and Payments
Taking payments online won’t break the bank.
Paypal, Stripe, and Square have all come to be ubiquitous because they offer easy payment setup for a low price. They make their money on a fee of around 2.9% per transaction plus $0.30.
Wellness practitioners should consider one thing when using Paypal – the fact that Paypal customer support will tend to side with the customer if they are to ask for a refund for services provided.
Since most wellness practitioners are offering a service (not a product), this is something to be aware of.
Permits, Insurance, and Other Legal Requirements
This is the only part of this article where we won’t focus on how to cut costs.
There are certain set expenses to starting a business, and legal requirements like a business license, permits, insurance, and taxes should be considered non-negotiable.
The consequences of failing to purchase adequate insurance can be catastrophic to a fledgling business, and licenses and permits should not be delayed or avoided for any reason.
The one area with a little bit of wiggle room is taxes. Many small businesses will hire a tax accountant to avoid the time and effort required to file taxes.
If you consider yourself a well-organized person who keeps records in a properly organized file system, you can take a chance with a do-it-yourself online tax service.
In addition, you should give yourself plenty of time to file and review your taxes before the yearly deadline – and even consider handing them off to a professional for a once-over.
Space: Where to Practice
Finding a place to practice your craft will be one of the most difficult and expensive parts of your journey.
Some practitioners will be able to practice out of their home. Although this saves money, it removes the important separation between work and home spaces. It depends on the business owner, but it is not viable for many.
In some cases, you can also practice out of your client’s home. This “mobile” service is especially common for massage therapists. Keep in mind that the costs of getting from place to place can fluctuate, especially with sporadic gas prices and vehicle problems (which rarely happen at a convenient time).
Another option is a community and workspace rolled into one, like Symmetry Collective.
Paying a monthly membership fee grants you access to more than just a space to practice. It also provides access to a community of like-minded practitioner with opportunities for support and knowledge sharing.
This comes with the added benefit of hosting your clients in an amenity-rich environment, and the ability to connect with your neighbors for skill growth and growing your professional circle.
If you are going to have to pay for space, wouldn’t it be best to get the maximum possible value from it?
Interested in what Symmetry Collective has to offer? Book a tour today.
Building, Growing, and Succeeding on a Budget
Even as your business continues to grow, you don’t have to leave these principles behind.
Keep an eye out for more effective growth strategies for wellness entrepreneurs on the Symmetry Collective blog.