Research is any attempt to gain greater understanding and increase the existing knowledge base of a given endeavor or field. From there, you might even have thought about a practice niche that is focused on your clinical expertise. The economic realities for therapists who want to own their own practice require a fresh look at different ways start a new practice. One of the most sustainable ways to build a practice is to develop long term relationships with your ideal clients. More than likely, your practice idea came from your experience in solving your patient’s problems. Think about when you first started getting really good at what you do.  What were the first steps you used to help people?
By now you should have a healthy list of potential client problems upon which you could build a niche practice.
One of the main reasons that therapists fail to start a practice successfully is that they struggle to narrow down their target market.
If you choose your niche then you’ll be able to explain what you offer in an articulate and compelling way. When you focus on your practice niche, you’ll speed up the word of mouth referrals to your practice.
You can go a step further by joining relevant Facebook pages and Twitter Chats on topics related to your niche.
Write down your patient education in a blog post or record a video demonstrating an exercise.
This is the point where I see too many therapists waste way too much time on trying to plan their business.
You’ll be surprised how quickly the word will spread when you provide a unique solution to a problem as long as you are delivering value to your right people at the right time.
I’m launching a Cash Practice Pilot Course for therapists interested in starting their own private practice in January 2016.
The course promises to help students build a solid business foundation that will take students from a practice idea to seeing their first patient. I’m limiting the class to 15 students because I will provide one-on-one coaching to help students do whatever it takes to launch their own practice pilot clinic. As therapists we have tremendous opportunity to use our abilites, education and expertise to enhance client’s lives.
On Fire takes a close look at innovative therapists who are using alternative ways to deliver high-value care to their patients.
If you are intrigued by the attention that cash-based practices are attracting On Fire is a great primer to help you get up to speed on the key issues and how if might impact your practice.
I help innovative therapists achieve professional and personal freedom with their own cash therapy practice. I mentor therapists who want the freedom to escape corporate therapy and create their ideal careers. Join the movement of physical and occupational therapists leaving corporate therapy to create their own cash therapy practice. We all know that market research is an excellent idea in theory – it helps us to communicate more effectively with our audience, to identify new opportunities and to minimise risk. So we ask the question – is it possible to do market research yourself, or do you need to pay for it? In a nutshell, market research is all about finding out what your customers want so that you can fulfil that need. The essence of market research is very simple – it’s about asking people what they think, listening, and analysing the results. A focus group is a solid way to gather opinions, and can be an easy DIY bit of research to do.
If you have an active social media presence you can try asking questions directly to your community.
Make sure you ask the right questions in the right way – you need to ask open questions to get a pure response. One of the simplest things you can do to have a good feel on what your clients and customers think is to encourage an atmosphere of approachability. If you can afford it, there is no doubt at all that a professional service is what you should get. Professional market researchers understand the benefits of different kinds of research, how to phrase questions the right way to get unbiased answers and how to analyse them correctly. Commissioning research – commissioning research can vary wildly in price but the big advantage is that you will get something professionally tailored to give you a definitive answer. Observational research – this is particularly useful for retail brands, and involves a researcher observing behaviour in your store and analysing it. If you are interested in looking into getting some professional market research done a good place to start is The ICG group of expert independent researchers which provides a lot of information about the types of market research and help you find the right professional for the job. Our blog is full of great tips on design and marketing to help you learn how to become a more successful and knowledgeable business owner. 90% of startups fail within their first two years of operation despite the fact every startup founder being personally convinced that people would easily buy their services during the initial phases of their startups. Contact Your Target Audience: Search people on the basis of their age, gender, locations and monthly income who you think can be your potential customers and tell them about your new ventures or services you are planning to offer. Analyze your Competitors: Research the level of competition you have to face in your new venture. Visit Local Authorities: Almost every city has a specific department which helps local people in starting small businesses. This guest post is contributed by Rudo Malequin, who works as Internet Marketing Executive for Fortepromo, which creates customized promotional products for startups and help them to promote their brand in market. One of the things that I love about GetResponse is the amount of education they provide to their users. To be honest, I didn’t expect to learn a whole lot from this section of the course, but I felt that the course had some great ideas and decided to share some of them with you in this post. Check blogs and forums in your niche and see what posts and conversations get the most action.
You can also send email to your list and ask people for their opinion I’ve done this and it works well, as it provides a personal connection with my audience, but the downside is that then you have all the information in email, and have to compile it to really analyze it. Copyright © 2015 · Rebecca Livermore and Professional Content Creation · All Rights Reserved. The following shows a typical example of how we’d go about approaching market research.
This article is part of our “Business Startup Guide” – a curated list of our articles that will get you up and running in no time! I fell victim to a trap that plenty of entrepreneurs fall into every day: I fell in love with a product idea. Back in the late 2000s, my team and I came up with what we thought was a great idea for a product. Here’s what I learned from this experience, and what you can do to avoid the mistakes that I made. When you’re starting a business, getting to know your customers is one of the most important things you need to do. When entrepreneurs tell me that they aren’t going to do market research, they usually say that it just takes too long and prevents them from actually building their business. If you already know your customers really well, then maybe you don’t need to do as much market research.
If you answer yes to at least three of these questions, then you can probably get away with less market research. Creating multiple target markets for your company is doing what’s called “market segmentation.” This sounds complex, but all you’re doing is dividing your target markets up into different groups that you hope to sell to. Once you have identified your target market, or at least made a good guess at who your target market is, you need to take the most important step in this entire market research process. You need to get up from your desk, get out from behind your computer, and go outside. Yes, you can do online surveys and other research, but that’s no substitute for actually talking to potential customers. One of the most popular methods for doing this kind of primary market research is to actually try and and sell your product or service as if it currently existed.
You might also learn more about how you should price your products or services, what the most critical features or benefits are, and what features your customers want.

Getting this step done early will help you refine your business model and make a clear impact on your future success.
Once you have identified your target market and validated it by talking to them in person, you need to do research to figure out if your target market is big enough to sustain your business. For example, if your target market only has a few thousand potential customers, you either need to sell to them frequently or sell at a fairly high price to create a sustainable, profitable business. If you are targeting an existing market with established competitors, you do what’s called industry research. In this case, you want to look for industry reports and read trade publications for your industry.
If you only need to share your findings with your business partners and others in your business, then you can probably communicate fairly informally. Creating a buyer persona converts your target marketing information from dry research into a living, breathing person. Finding market research data really depends on the market you are targeting and the industry you are in. Consumer Expenditure Survey: If you want to know what people spend their money on, this is your source.
SBDCNet Business Snapshots: You’ll find a great collection of industry profiles that describe how industries are growing and changing, who their customers are, and what typical startup costs are. ZoomProspector: This tool can help you find the ideal location for your business, or find new locations similar to where you already are for expansion and growth. Noah Parsons is the COO of Palo Alto Software, makers of LivePlan, the award-winning online business planning software. Bplans is owned and operated by Palo Alto Software, Inc., as a free resource to help entrepreneurs start and run better businesses.
Students and new researchers must just find out what they need to do and then go ahead and do it ! Nelson Mandela said, " It always seems impossible until it is done". Research can take many forms (for example formal or informal) and use many different methods or forms (qualitative, quantitative or mixed). I help therapists create the practice of their dreams.You can learn more about me on my blog or on my podcast. Starting a private practice in today’s healthcare economy is much different than it was for me.
Despite the doom and gloom of naysayers, I still believe that now is a great time to build a business on something you care about. You must narrow down your practice to the ideal clients that align with your personal and professional goals. If you take a look at some of the most successful private practices you’ll see that they slowly grew their practice over time.
You’ve developed the knowledge and skills to consistently solve problems that need solving or fulfill desires that need fulfilling. Make a list of places where conversations are taking place around the problem and key words that you’ve identified. There will be no question in the minds of your ideal clients of what you’re about and who you serve. Connect with other professionals outside of healthcare whose business also relies on referrals. Ask influencers if they would read your blog post or watch your video and give you feedback.
You will validate your practice idea by getting it out of your head and testing it in public. The main goal of a pilot is to gather information on whether the hypothesis is true and worth pursuing. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Sometimes, you will find that what your customers want is something that you actually do and market research just helps you to realise how important that service is and to advertise it more prominently. You can deliver them in person (after you’ve just completed a job or service), post them or email them. This is a very quick and easy way to get an instant answer, and you don’t lose much if no one answers.
Try it one way on half of your audience, and the other on the second half and compare results. The way you will naturally phrase a question will be to get the answer you want, so be aware of that. It is a professional skill which takes a lot of know-how to do properly, and if you have a serious question to ask it is definitely worth paying for your small business market research to be done professionally. While DIY options are better than nothing, you do risk missing something or getting false results which will lead you in the wrong direction. They also have the contacts to source large, diverse groups of people who you would struggle to contact. The key reason behind this: most startup founders never realize the importance of a detailed market research before starting their venture, which leads to a startup founder analyzing the situation wrongly and making bad decisions. Sometimes the competition in niche markets is very high that you may need a huge budget for marketing to attract customers. You can go to such offices and discuss with them about the feasibility of your new venture and how much initial investment would be required.  Governments do give grants to startups in specific niches, so check if your venture is related to any such niche. You can find lots of free and useful information on web like latest market reports, experiences of successful founders of similar startups, resources you will need to set up your venture and everything else you can think about.
I'm currently taking a list-building course that is packed with information, and is free for everyone who uses GetResponse. For those who don’t know, a lead magnet is some type of free offer that you provide in exchange for an email list.
Make a list of everything you can think of, and then cross out anything that is already covered in abundance elsewhere.
I’d like to add that if a blogger also has a forum or private Facebook group, to check both their blogs and their forum. See which posts get the most engagement, and also take a look at the questions that people ask in the comments.
This is another way that GetResponse shines because it has a built in survey option, which, as far as I know, no other email service provider does. If you need help developing the blogging habit, she invites you to sign up for her free eCourse, 5 Secrets to Developing the Blogging Habit,or to connect with her on Facebook. Some mistakes were hard to avoid, but one of the biggest and most expensive ones could have been dodged by simply doing a little homework. But, we neglected to do our homework and really understand the market that we were heading into. Instead, we built a product first (that’s expensive!) and then started hunting around for the right target market (that’s usually the cheap part of product development). But, it’s actually really simple: it’s the process of learning about your potential customers.
If you don’t understand your customer, you don’t know how you can help solve their problems. The amount of research you do really depends on the type of business you are starting, how risky your business model is, and who might be reading your business plan.
I would argue that restaurants, for example, don’t need to do too much market research. For example, if you’ve worked in an industry for a long time and are starting a new business serving that same industry, then you probably already know the market fairly well. It’s your perfect customer: someone who has the problem that you solve and is willing to spend money on your solution.
Now, your business might have several target markets, but it will usually serve you best to keep your list of target markets to two or three. These might be demographic traits such as age group, gender groups, income levels, or locations. Each market segment might have different characteristics and might buy your product or service for different reasons.
That’s right, you need to go and actually talk to people in your potential target markets. This is called primary market research.

If there aren’t enough potential customers to sustain your business and your competitors, then you need to consider changing your product or service offering. Use the attributes you defined in the target market step and then figure out how many people meet your demographic, psychographic, or location criteria. For example, perhaps you are building a new company in the market for sports drinks or the market for cell phones. However, if you’re looking for investors for your business, you may need to write a more formal market analysis and do a market forecast.
A persona is a description of a person that hits on all of the key aspects of your target market.
Here at Palo Alto Software, we’ve created a persona named Garrett who drives much of our product development. Census data in an easy-to-use format that you can explore both visually on a map or in data reports for cities, counties, and entire states. While the most detailed data is not free, you can get a lot of great insights from the free version. Online business planning software makes it easier than ever before to put together a business plan for your business. It’s a knowledgable guide combined with a professional designer coupled with a financial wizard. The cost of professional graduate school can run into the tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You’re beginning to use their language when describing the benefits clients can expect from you.
Social media is a great avenue for reaching out and making connections with your target market.
Narrowing down your practice might seem counterintuitive, it’s exactly what you need to do to successfully launch your practice. Your satisfied client will be more apt to refer their friends and family because they know what you stand for. Consider networking with the professionals you already do business with like car salesmen, financial planners, graphic designers and entrepreneurs.  Develop a mutually beneficial referral relationship. If they have a need for a speaker offer to speak on a specific topic that is relevant to your specialty. Start with your trusted friends and family then reach out to key influencers whom you have served.
I hope to inspire, encourage and provide you quality information so that you can continue to make a difference in your part of the universe. If your are in the therapy business to serve people, then my new book On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice might help you. Ideally you’d want to tailor the demographics or profile of the people attending depending on your needs, but this is more difficult to do effectively.
It will take time to distribute copies to enough people, and it could be even longer for them to get back to you. A proper market research won’t only help an entrepreneur to understand how his or her target audience but would also help to decide whether or not the target audience is ready for the products they are going to launch in their venture. Ask them about their opinions, expectations, needs, price they would like to spend for such kind of service. So if you don’t have sufficient funds, it would be better to leave such startups instead of facing loss in later stages. If you can find enough ads from people who are looking for your services, then there will be a good scope in the market. If you don't already use GetResponse, you can take advantage of a free trial so you can have access to not only a fantastic email autoresponder service, but to their training programs as well.
For example, I checked out the ProBlogger blog, and also the Problogger member’s only forum and compiled the information. Don’t forget to check out YouTube videos as well to see which videos get the most views and the most comments. You can use the surveys in both email, post the link to the survey on your blog and in social media posts and so on. We ended up with a product that was searching for a market instead of first spending the time to figure out who our ideal customer was and building a product specifically for them.
They might be what are called psychographic traits, which are groups of people that like the same things or have similar interests. You might end up coming up with different marketing campaigns for different market segments or even customizing your product or service for each segment.
The more you talk to, the more you should start to see common themes in who your ideal customer is. I’ve got some links to resources that will help you figure this out at the end of this article. In cases like this, understanding how much people buy of the currently existing offerings will give you the best sense of potential market size. And, just like you might have several target markets for your business, you might have several different buyer personas. Therapist’s salaries and the financial margins in patient care have not kept pace with the cost of professional education.
Blogs, forums and social media channels like Facebook and Instagram are great places to read what your clients are talking about.
Comment on different blog posts, answer questions, and introduce yourself to online communities.
Reach out and ask for a quick meeting to explain how you can add value to their customers. Both they and their customers have health needs and problems that you might be able to solve.
If you’re practice idea is able to make a profit on a consistent basis then your business is sustainable. Measure the metrics that matter to you the most as you test and iterate until you find what works best for you and what your target market values.
The healthcare industry has undergone so many changes lately and many therapists are overwhelmed, overworked and confused on where to turn to for help in the battle.
If you can get someone else to run the session that is definitely a good idea as you want people to answer honestly. I may write in a future post about lead magnet ideas, but for this post, I just want to cover some of the great ideas that I got from the GetResponse list building course on how to do market research to get some ideas of what the your audience really wants and needs. If you don’t use GetResponse, you can sign up for a 30-day trial and use their survey option for free, or you can use a company like SurveyMonkey for your surveys. You don’t know if your product or service is actually something your customers will spend money on. Or, your target market might be a certain type of employee at another company, such as a CTO or head of marketing.
Check out the Census Business Builder to get not only population data, but data on how much people spend in a given area on your type of business.
When you are in your professional treatment zone people get better and they appreciate you for it. That’s the language that your target market uses when describing their problems and looking for a solution. In this stage, you are creating a library of topics that people are interested in and are seeking professional help. You will most likely experience set backs and struggles as you learn what your target market values and is willing to pay for.
You can even dig deeper by looking at the negative reviews, and see if anyone comments on those. Location is obviously important for this type of business, so that’s where I would spend my research time. A discipline involves collection, weighing and evaluation of evidence; science is about producing acceptable description of some aspect of how the universe works. All of that information is pure gold when it comes to finding out what people need, and also what gets them fired up.

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