If you’re interested in healthcare and would love to be self-employed, you could start your own healthcare business. Demand for private healthcare is rising, whether its elderly care or foot care, and there are many options to explore. Here’s eight things to consider as you get going.
Healthcare is one of those services that will always be in demand, making it a viable sector for entrepreneurs. Government and non-government spending on healthcare in the UK totalled £214 billion in 2018 – and the private healthcare industry is expected to grow to £13 billion by 2023.
The opportunities for a healthcare franchise are diverse and abundant – from home care to yoga, foot care, dentistry and ultrasounds. While the NHS offers many affordable treatments, it doesn’t cover everything, like massage therapy, and many people are keen to skip the long waiting lists. In 2019, statistics showed that 10.5% of the UK population – or just under four million people – opted for private medical insurance.
The pros of a healthcare business include being able to work from home or operate a mobile business often on your own hours, and the satisfaction of improving someone’s wellbeing. However, these businesses can be complex and expensive to set up, due to the compliance and equipment needed.
As with any business, doing background research sets you up for success. Here’s some tips on getting started.
1. Choose your speciality
There are many different kinds of healthcare businesses. Any business with products or services that improve someone’s physical, mental or emotional health generally falls under this sector – from fitness to live-in care.
Consider what you’re passionate about, whether that’s working with children or the elderly, and then decide on the specific type of service you want to offer. Select a service that is franchise-able, then start drawing up your business plan, thinking about how this service influences the business premises, equipment, staff and marketing you’ll need, to get a good early idea of costs.
2. Know which qualifications healthcare providers need
When you’re starting a healthcare business, you need to establish who will be providing the care. Because healthcare businesses look after people’s wellbeing, you need the appropriate qualifications to operate compliantly and ethically. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will examine these when you register your business, so if you don’t have them, you can’t trade.
However, you don’t have to hold all the qualifications yourself. A background in healthcare is preferred, but whoever offers the care needs the qualifications. If you’re not planning on tending to clients directly, you can hire the most qualified staff. This is particularly true with a healthcare franchise, as your role as franchisee will often be managerial and developmental, rather than to provide the services.
Different healthcare businesses require different qualifications, so it’s useful to familiarise yourself with these. Physiotherapists, for instance, require a degree or equivalent level qualification in physiotherapy. They also need work experience before registering with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Some healthcare franchises, like those providing massage therapy, might not require formal qualifications to start. However, credentials never hurt when it comes to attracting clients.
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3. Know the legalities
When dealing with people’s health, safe and compliant care should be your first priority. Depending on your service, you’ll need to follow a strict set of guidelines to ensure you’re compliant and aren’t compromising your patients’ health.
Most England-based healthcare businesses need to register with the CQC. If your business is based in Wales, you’ll need to register with The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), and The Care Inspectorate if you’re in Scotland. Failure to do so will put you in breach of the law, as stated in the Health and Social Care Act.
It’s a good idea to seek professional advice from legal specialists, who can help ensure you comply with all the rules and regulations relevant to your service. You can also speak to them about what kind of insurance to consider setting up, so that if anything goes wrong, you’re protected financially.
4. Choose your location
Location is important and the type of business you start should influence it. People prefer healthcare that’s convenient. If you want to work with children, consider locations near schools, or where many families live. If you want to open a dentist practice, try positioning yourself near offices, where clients can book appointments during their lunch hour.
Based on your business and budget, decide whether working from home is a viable first option, or whether you need alternative premises. You might appeal to people more if you’re totally flexible, as you can offer services in the comfort of their home, but it’s not suitable or preferable for everyone.
5. Include technology in your business plan
The health sector has changed rapidly over the last five years, thanks to technology. Today, patients are no longer passive participants in their healthcare. They want to take greater ownership of their health, and technology is helping them do this. Just look at the popularity of fitness apps, which count footsteps, measure running distances and plot personal progress.
If you want a more attractive offering and competitive edge, consider incorporating technology into your business. Think about which digital products you could include to make your services more convenient, accessible and personalised.
This could be a chatbot to answer health-related questions 24/7. Your digital offering could also include video consultations, an app that monitors responses to treatment, or an online feature that allows clients to book appointments and get reminders.
That said, avoid incorporating technology just for the sake of it. Use what makes sense for you, which will add genuine value to your clients and business. Market research and asking present/future clients what they’d find valuable could help here.
These digital products will likely deal with people’s data, so remember to make sure they’re compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as part of your legalities. Look to build your digital offering on GDPR-compliant software, which large technology companies often offer.
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6. Find the right funding
Healthcare businesses can be cost-effective – offering mobile foot care services is one great example, as you’ll have low overheads and high profit potential. However, they can also be expensive, requiring specialist medical-grade equipment and supplies, or salaries for highly qualified staff.
As you work on your business plan, consider all your potential expenses and then seek out appropriate funding. Options include start-up loans or crowdsourcing. Some lenders even specialise in loans and funding for healthcare businesses, so it’s worth looking around. And if you’re joining a franchise, most offer highly competitive funding solutions that can help make your dream a reality.
Healthy Feet provides a mobile foot clinic service for customers up and down the UK. This health and beauty franchise is popular among customers with diabetes, arthritis and mobility issues, as well as those who just enjoy pampering treatments.
Becoming a Healthy Feet franchisee: It’s important to be a people-person and comfortable communicating with customers from all walks of life. Having a full UK driving license is a must too.
How much you need to invest: For those unable to raise a large amount of funds, the total investment to become a Healthy Feet franchisee is £6,995. Therefore, it’s certainly a viable option for potential franchisees who don’t have lots of cash to invest.
What you get for your investment: The franchise provides its franchisees with a Foot Health Practitioner qualification to carry out their services. The majority of training is completed online, and the working hours are extremely flexible, perfect for those busy with a home life who are searching for greater earning potential.
This family-run home care franchise is passionate about helping people feel comfortable in their own homes. Heritage Healthcare was established in 2008 and now has multiple branches that all deliver impeccable standards of home care.
Becoming a Heritage Healthcare franchisee: If you’re interested in buying into a franchise with Heritage Healthcare, you should have a can-do attitude, managerial experience, good commercial awareness, a caring outlook and a desire to work to the highest ethical standards.
How much you need to invest: The minimum investment required is just under £36,000, and the total investment is around £96,000.
What you get for your investment: You’ll begin with a 10-day induction course so you can get to grips with every aspect of the business. Then, you’ll continue to be supported with marketing, financing, daily operations and more.
An easier route
Starting your own healthcare business can be very rewarding; UK franchise Promedica24 changed a client’s life in 12 months. It can also be hard; health is a sensitive subject and businesses are susceptible to serious client complaints. Building a crisis plan and management system will be well worth your while.
If starting your own healthcare business or franchise sounds too daunting for now, you could consider joining an established one to learn the ropes. There are many available options in our network, including Healthy Feet and Heritage Healthcare. For the full list, visit our UK Franchise Directory.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©