Being a hypnotherapist is more than conducting therapy with clients… It is a business. Some of your time, effort and energy will be spent managing all that needs to happen, in order for you to spend that time with your clients. Not everyone will need to have a vast knowledge of ‘all things business’. However, it can be useful to know where to look, so that when you need it, you can get the information or resources that would help you manage your business most effectively. This blog, considers the essential starting point of your name and address.
It is all in the name…
How do people find you? Perhaps you will be doing lots of networking, or asking clients to refer you to their friends or colleagues… Generally, a memorable company name, that relates to what you do, can be helpful. It might be creative to call it something original like; ‘Assumber Aid’ or ‘Day-night Help’. Yet, if anyone saw that name, would they think hypnotherapy? Probably not.
When people meet you, and talk about you (hopefully, positively), they may remember your own name more than a trading name. So, you might like to use your name as your business name. However, it needs to be searchable. If you are ‘Jennifer Smith’ and there are lots of Jennifer Smith’s on Google searches, then it might be better to be more specific, such as ‘Jennifer Smith Hypnotherapy’. Alternative, you might use a variant of your own name as a professional name. So, if you are ‘Jen Smith’ socially, you might like to use ‘Jennifer Smith’ as your professional name. An example of this is HypnoTC’s own ‘Rory Z’. Generally, it can be good for both your professional name, and your trading name, to be searchable in a way that if you find one, you get the other.
As a sole trader, you can trade using your own name, or a business name, which doesn’t need to be registered. That business name should not contain any ‘sensitive’ words, such as ‘Society’ or ‘Association’, or suggest that it is something that it is not, such as a Charitable Trust (if it isn’t), nor can it imply that you are a limited company. For example, if you want to call yourself ‘Accredited ABC Hypnotherapy’ you would need permission from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). If you use anything other than your own name, you must include both your name, and business name on invoices, letters, and any other official correspondence. Depending on your chosen name, you might choose to trademark it, to stop it being used by anyone else (such as for my own HypnoDemo® training – yes, you can also trademark aspects of your service, not just your business name). There are similar rules to those for sole traders and for naming partnerships. However, when you have official paperwork, you will need to include all partners’ names, as well as any trading name.
It can get a little more complicated for limited companies. The first step, when you are thinking of a name is to check the Companies House register. There are certain rules about similar names, so ‘Hypnotherapy UK Ltd’ is too similar to ‘Hypnotherapy Ltd’. However, you can trade using a ‘business name’ that is different to your Limited company registered name. If you do, it must not be the same as any existing trade mark, limited company names nor have sensitive words (unless you have permission).
Location, location, location
Many hypnotherapists have an ‘administrative’ address, and a ‘therapy’ address. All of your paperwork can be registered at your admin’ address, and clients only need your therapy address for visits. It can help with work-life balance, and efficient organisation, to have a dedicated work space or place where you can run your business (i.e. everything apart from seeing clients). Whether this is a corner of a spare room, or that never-used space under the stairs, it is good to keep all your business paperwork in one place. It can help you keep focused when you are working, and then when you are not working, you won’t have constant reminders ‘pulling you back to work’, as you would have if you had your work spread around your living room. Your ‘office’ doesn’t need to be the same as where you see clients. In fact, it can be helpful to have separate spaces, even different locations. That way, you won’t be getting deliveries during therapy sessions, nor have business clutter, or personal stuff, in your therapy space. If you are planning to converse with colleagues or clients via Skype, Webinars, video blogs, or other online communication activities, it can be good to have a neutral background, where there is little to distract an audience away from your message.
There is no need to run a separate office even if you want to conduct business meetings. A professional location, away from your ‘home office’, can be booked ‘ad-hoc’ in any number of environments. If you simply Google ‘meeting rooms’ and your location, you will get a vast range. Some locations will have a ‘by the hour’ option, which can be cost effective. Alternatively, there are organisations, such as ‘Regus’, where you can book anything from access to a business lounge, to dedicated office space by the day.
If you see clients at home, you will need to let your mortgage provider and home insurer know. You may also want to consider adding to your therapy insurance, to cover your ‘premises’, should a client have an accident. It can be helpful to have a dedicated room for therapy. Do you really want to look at your sofa and remember a client sitting on that sofa, talking about some horrors they have experienced…
It crosses boundaries by having clients in your personal space, seeing your personal items around your home. You will also need to be extra careful about pets, children, visitors, deliveries and cleanliness. Also, from a personal safety perspective, do you really want strangers knowing where you live and what is in your home?
If you visit clients in their home, you may wish to put into place, appropriate personal safety systems. Such as, letting someone know where you are going, and when you will be finished (e.g. a text ‘I am finished’). Working in client homes can be fraught with challenges. You may encounter a wide range of pets, including some more unusual ones, like miniature pigs, snakes, spiders and house rabbits. There may be children, family or other visitors present who will want to sit in, or just interrupt the session from time to time. In addition, there are the everyday distractions and interruptions, like deliveries, landline phones, traffic and noisy washing machines. You may wish to ensure your hypnotherapy insurance also includes sufficient cover if you cause any damage to a client’s property, such as spill a cup of coffee over their white carpet… Accidents happen.
There are many potential locations for you to see clients. Some therapists use business meeting room environments, others have rooms in a range of businesses from hairdressers, massage shops and retail environments. Whilst there are possible business benefits for cross-referral, where the locations are not designed for talking therapies, there can be challenges. Noise and interruptions may be a problem, as staff and visitors may not be accustomed to not discussing everything and anything right outside your door. Also, there may not be suitable waiting areas, nor visitor access to other facilities, such as toilets. You will not be able to do great therapy if your client is sitting there, legs crossed and needing to visit a toilet!
Gymnasiums and leisure centres and allied healthcare locations, such as physiotherapists, will be better set up for visitors beyond their own customers and may have appropriate facilities. It may even be helpful for cross-referrals (e.g. personal trainers refer to you, you refer clients to them). If you are working on fitness motivation, or weight loss, then being based somewhere relevant can be useful. If you are using locations that are not perceived as therapy environments, you may get lots of business in a relevant narrow field relating to that environment (e.g. weight, smoking, fitness at a gym) which is great if that is your speciality. If you want to be more general, the location may limit your ability to get potential clients, as they may make assumptions about your practice based upon your location.
Multi-health practices, with a range of therapies available can be even better. A multi-practice location, that enables you to book by the hour or blocks of time can often be the best place to see your clients, for several reasons. Firstly, it is in a designed-for-purpose therapy environment…
There will be appropriate facilities to see clients, such as a waiting room, toilets and reception staff, together with organised maintenance and cleaning, to provide a safe and healthy environment for all. The premises will also often be more accessible for those with mobility impairments than perhaps you home might be. There may be many more opportunities for broader cross-referring as well.
Contact with experts
Organising your name(s) and address(es), is good start in setting up a well-structured business. However, you may not be in a position to have access to a full-time business consultant, to guide you through the intricacies of setting up and running a profitable business. Yes, you could study and learn how to do this, but would you want to? Or might you prefer to spend your time seeing clients? There are a vast number of organisations who provide business advice and guidance. Some, such as Federation of Small Businesses, charge an annual fee, and offer a wide range of services and advice, although, as a national company, they are likely to be fairly broad and more relating to the UK, rather than any particular region.
From a local perspective, the British Chambers of Commerce can offer a range of more local-based advice and useful networking. Less structured, but also useful, can be social media and online groups that support businesses, whether national or regional. If you prefer ‘in person’ advice, also helpful can be local business support, entrepreneur and networking groups. A great way of getting access to a broad range of advice is going to business events, such as the Business Start Up Show, the next one on 17th and 18th May in London. Finally, there are many government funded sites that offer clear and accurate advice about setting up a business.
There are many different routes to become a hypnotherapist. You may take a series of short courses, or one, longer course. In whatever way you learn, it can be good to start thinking very early in your studies about how you would like to name and locate your business. This gives you time to get just the right name to reflect you and your business and the ideal location in which to see clients.
We hope this blog on naming and locating your hypnotherapy business has been helpful, and if you have any questions relating to this blog, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks