Occupational therapy entrepreneurs are taking over the OT industry in stride, developing innovative therapy solutions, great resources, and new opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. If you’re passionate about opening a business or private practice but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. As the OT business world evolves, becoming a successful entrepreneur requires focus, training, and passion.
Below, we discuss unique and successful ideas for occupational therapy professionals interested in joining entrepreneurship.
The Evolving Role of Occupational Therapists in Business
Entrepreneurship is an exciting, fulfilling, and challenging journey that many occupational therapy practitioners are choosing to embrace over working for conventional businesses. This shift from conventional practices to entrepreneurial ventures in OT is due largely to increased access to excellent resources and community support.
The Internet is a great resource for any occupational therapist interested in opening a private practice. Previously, you would spend weeks or months researching ideas for your future OT practice. On top of that, you would need to study insurance requirements, finances, required skills, etc.
Now, you can read a quick blog post online or get advice from community forums to determine every step you’ll need to take along the journey. With this wonderful shift in the occupational therapy profession, everyone from students to seasoned therapists has the resources and confidence to become a business owner, assuming that’s the goal. Increased private practice services ultimately boost the accessibility and health outcomes for patients, offering positive value to the industry.
Embracing Entrepreneurship in Occupational Therapy
OT entrepreneurs enjoy numerous benefits. If you start a private practice, you can create your own hours, hire (or fire) your employees, choose your specialty services, and decide how much clients must pay for services. Essentially, you can be your own boss, taking full control over your business, clients, and team.
While you may have many reasons for wanting to become an independent contractor, you must understand that OT contractors face many risks and challenges. Controlling your business means you’re on the hook for costs, insurance liabilities, quality or health concerns, etc. If something goes wrong, the pay may come out of your pocket.
For many entrepreneurs, the freedom of owning one’s own company is worth the risk, but that doesn’t mean one has to follow the same path as everyone else.
Innovative Ideas for Occupational Therapy Entrepreneurs
Specialized Therapy Services
As an OT entrepreneur, you want to create a service that the current market lacks. Specialized occupational therapy businesses satisfy unique demand sectors that don’t currently have therapy solutions in the area.
You could explore different age groups, offering pediatric services to children or geriatric services to older adults. On the other hand, you could specialize in niche therapy areas, like neurorehabilitation services.
Regardless of the specialized therapy solutions you choose, they must align with your skills or interest area. For example, if you went to an OT school specializing in hand therapy, your new OT program may capitalize on that knowledge and expertise by offering occupational hand therapy.
Teletherapy and Online Consultations
Many OT entrepreneurs are taking full advantage of the growing trend of virtual therapy sessions by setting up fully digital practice websites. If you’re interested in lowering your overhead and reaching clients worldwide who can’t access support in person, you could provide your therapy solutions online.
Teletherapy programs eliminate many of the complications of in-person practices, like renting a physical space and adding insurance to it, though they introduce new process requirements. For example, you must optimize your website to perform well in search engines to reach clients. Beyond your knowledge in OT, you must have a foundational understanding of web development, data analysis, and search engine optimization (or be able to hire someone who does).
OT Products and Retail
If you don’t have much formal experience or education in the OT field but want to become an OT entrepreneur, you can still get involved in many aspects of the industry. You could develop a company that supplies OT resources, such as therapeutic tools or adaptive equipment, or you could work on creating the next breakthrough product innovation.
For example, companies have recently begun using virtual reality headsets to help patients better engage in their treatments. VR only touches the surface of future cutting-edge treatment technologies.
Regardless of the products you sell, your business would supply OT practices with critical equipment that helps patients improve. We recommend carefully researching current gaps in the industry as you don’t want to enter a highly competitive market.
Building a Successful OT Practice
Choosing your business idea is just one step in becoming a successful entrepreneur. After nailing your OT practice idea, you can move on to business planning, marketing, and client engagement strategies.
You must first cover the basics. Before opening your business, practice due diligence by researching the market and developing a detailed financial plan to land funding. If you’re opening a physical practice, you must select a location, invest in the property, and complete all the necessary setup.
Once you have your foundational steps covered, like registering with the American Occupational Therapy Association, purchasing insurance, and hiring a team, you can start marketing your practice. At Weave, we offer educational webinars on How to Create Big Wins in Small Businesses and How to Pivot Your Life & Business Toward Success. Below, our team discusses the top ways you can begin marketing your new OT practice.
Marketing Strategies for Your OT Business
Marketing in the health space can feel overwhelming, especially as an entrepreneur. We recommend the following effective marketing techniques:
- Gather client referrals from fellow OTs to immediately gain a few new patients.
- Invest in your website, as it will help you reach clients searching for practices in the area.
- Ensure that your website follows SEO (search engine optimization) best practices.
- Publish high-quality content offering advice to patients so more people can discover your practice.
- Engage with the community at local events or through social media to develop your brand.
- List your OT clinic on local directories, like Google Business Profile, so you appear in local searches.
- Make it easy for patients to schedule appointments online to boost conversion rates.
- Use email marketing tactics to keep your current clients coming back.
- Work on generating positive reviews so patients trust your OT clinic.
- Consider investing in paid advertising for immediate results.
Check out our webinar on Easy Marketing Ideas to Help Grow Your Business for quicker marketing advice.
Leveraging Technology at Your Practice
The above list of marketing tips can quickly become overwhelming if you attempt to tackle everything at once. Luckily, you have many tools at your disposal that can automate some of your tasks.
For example, at Weave, we provide a comprehensive OT software platform covering everything from marketing needs to internal managerial and operational requirements. With Weave, you can automatically generate positive reviews from patients and offer easy appointment scheduling, immediately checking off two boxes from the list above. Weave also provides a full email marketing suite that generates personalized messages at scale.
Overcoming Challenges in OT Entrepreneurship
The truth is that about 95% of startups fail. Working in the health industry, particularly as an OT entrepreneur, isn’t easy. These OT startups fail most often because of poor preparation, a lack of experience, miscalculated budgets, and failure to address patient needs.
One of the best ways to overcome challenges in OT entrepreneurship is by investing more time in your initial plan. Establishing a strong idea, foundational funds, sales and marketing strategies, and a well-equipped team can help you avoid many of the hurdles that come with starting a business. If you want to learn more about how to safeguard your OT startup, sign up for our Webinar on Keeping Your Business Safe & Secure in Today’s Digital World.
Interested in Starting a Private Practice? Weave Can Help You Succeed
If becoming an OT entrepreneur is your dream, we encourage you to shoot for it. Getting started in the OT industry may seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help you see your efforts pay off. Get a demo of Weave today to learn how we help occupational therapists like you build successful businesses.
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