You’ve graduated as a natural medicine practitioner – congratulations! You’re excited and ready to set up your own practice. What do you need to think about to be successful?
Here’s three essential things to consider before launching your career.
1. Type of Clinic – Home, Shared Clinic or Room Rental?
Choosing between working from home, in a shared clinic or renting a room can be a challenge. It’s important to organise the correct insurance according to your requirements so that all parties including yourself, your employees and public liability are covered.
Home – working from home can be the most affordable option, however before you start, ensure commercial activity is permitted. If you own the property, submit a development application to your local council. Also check with the ATO for advice.
Shared Clinic – before you choose, determine if the policies and procedures used in the clinic suit your ethos – check how clients are allocated and if the process is fair, and try to source a venue with limited competition.
2. Clinic Location
Use your personal experience of visiting practitioners to choose a suitable location and consider:
Proximity: is it close to public transport, parking and potential referrers such as health food stores, gymnasiums and pharmacies.
Visibility: is there plenty of foot traffic.
Accessibility: is there easy access for clients that are elderly or disabled.
Demographics: evaluate the people who populate your neighbourhood. Are you close to those who have the means and motivation to seek your services?
Liability: look for potential health and safety problems that may be associated with the premises.
3. Business Structure
Are you planning on operating as a sole trader, in partnership or through a limited liability company? Each of these has its own advantages, however often the simplest structure (sole trader) is the most cost effective when you first set up practice. Make sure you get financial advice from your accountant on your personal circumstances.
Key advantage - you have the freedom to organise your business to suit your own requirements, and losses may be offset against other income.
Key disadvantage - you will pay tax at the personal rate, you are restricted to using your own capital and you assume liability for any claims. It is critical here to have professional indemnity insurance.
A company structure:
Key advantage - creating limited liability for the owner and the flexibility to be easily sold or to potentially sell shares to raise capital.
Key disadvantage - ongoing costs involved in a company structure tend to be higher.
Partnerships and trusts:
From a tax perspective there are advantages, however the major disadvantage with a partnership is the concept of “joint and several liability” meaning both you and your partner are liable for each other’s actions.
Are you currently studying a Natural Therapy?
The Australian Traditional-Medicine Society (ATMS) offer free student membership to anyone studying an ATMS approved course. By joining ATMS you become a member of Australia’s leading natural medicine Association and will be supported on your journey to becoming an Accredited Professional Practitioner.
As a student member, you will have access to special student events such as, Transition to Practice – from the class room to the clinic, discounted CPE Seminars and webinars and much more.
Visit atms.com.au to gain membership.
Robert Medhurst is a Director of The Australian Traditional-Medicine Society