Jump to Main Content
USA flagAn Official Website of the United States Government



How to Start an Alternative Healthcare Business

Comment Count:

Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.

How to Start an Alternative Healthcare Business

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 14, 2011 Updated: September 15, 2011

Despite the current state of the economy, not all industries are struggling. In fact, some industries are experiencing significant growth - the alternative healthcare business is one of them. From chiropractors to naturopaths and acupuncturists, alternative treatments are gaining wider acceptance from both the public and insurance companies alike. 

Writing in SmallBizTrends recently, Rieva Lesonsky, pinpointed alternative providers as one of a few growth industries to watch in the coming years.  According to Lesonsky, the “industry’s revenue is forecast to grow by 4.3 percent annually for the next five years, reaching $14.4 billion by 2016.”

If you’re interested in starting an alternative or complementary healthcare business, here are some steps that will help you on your way and ensure you are properly complying with license, permit, and other regulatory requirements.

Research Your Market

First, keep in mind that any new business venture requires a solid bench of research behind it. This includes evaluating the marketplace, determining the need for your practice, and deciding whether you need to diversify your offering to stay competitive. For example, if you’re interested in starting a chiropractic business, could you add on yoga and relaxation classes to provide your clients with a full spectrum of holistic health services from one location?

What about You?

Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? You may have a passion for alternative health, but don’t forget that you must believe 100 percent in your product or service and be prepared to do much of the business heavy lifting, especially during the start-up phase. This quick Start-Up Assessment Toolfrom SBA can help you assess whether you are ready to start a business. If you are not sure business ownership is for you quite yet, you might want to consider easing into the business some other way.

Decide Where You Will Operate Your Business

Many alternative health care practitioners run their businesses from their homes, an office, or a spa-like environment. The following resources can help you make some critical business decisions about where your place of business will be, as well as the appropriate zoning laws that apply:

Take Care of Business Start-Up Requirements

Other financial, planning, and regulatory steps that you will need to take care of as you start your business are covered in these 10 Steps to Starting a Business.

Get the Appropriate Licenses and Permits

All businesses, including home-based businesses, require appropriate permits and licenses. This handy tool from SBA can help pinpoint the exact licenses and permits you need based on your business type and location. It’s called Permit Me and covers a growing number of professions, if you don’t see yours listed, just select “General Licensing” and it will connect you with your state, city, and county requirements.

Research Certification and Training Requirements

Each practice area has its own certification and training programs.  Research all the educational requirements that are required to secure any licenses and permits, including any type of certification and training that may be required. When building a staff, focus on hiring licensed employees with a proven track record of success.

Assess Your Insurance Needs

Every business is different and insurance needs vary greatly. To understand your needs, talk to an insurance agent or broker who is familiar with your business type. It’s likely you will need some form of general business insurance (to cover legal hassles due to accident, injuries, and claims of negligence) as well as commercial liability insurance (which protects your business against malpractice, errors, and negligence in provision of services to your customers).  You should also protect your business property with commercial property insurance. This Business Insurance Guide from the SBA can help you understand more about business insurance and your options and obligations.

Explore Your Financing Options

SBA’s Loans and Grants Guide can help you determine your financial needs and explains the process of obtaining a small business loan.

Useful Links

Useful Trade Associations

About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


Yes, I think your suggestions are quite useful to someone who wants to start a healthcare relevant business. I love Chinese medicines so I started my business in alternative medicines, I can help people and run a business. TCM has very long history and traditional Chinese medicinal herbal healthcare products that have been shown by thousands of years of practice to be highly reliable and efficacious.
That's an excellent summary of the items needing consideration in setting up a new healthcare business. I think the one thing that people struggle with the most is marketing. Most people just assume that if they are passionate and good at what they do, that business will just come to them. Although this has suddenly been true for many people that happen to be in a great location, or have a network or market waiting for them, in most cases, marketing is actually very hard work, and you will need to be willing to learn new techniques, experiment a lot, and invest a LOT of time initially, until you develop your client base. It is a journey which is well worth it, but be prepared to put in the effort!!
I don't get why governments, organizations charge money for health care. In my opinion, health care should be free of cost in every region of this planet. It's about humanity, not about making some bucks.
I am not new to blogging and actually value your site. There is much innovative content that peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your internet site and keep checking you out.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to leave comments. If you already have an SBA.gov account, Log In to leave your comment.

New users, Register for a new account and join the conversation today!