Are you ready to embark on an extraordinary journey, one filled with tender moments, empowering experiences, and the joy of guiding expectant parents through the magical adventure of childbirth?
If you're passionate about making a difference during this pivotal moment in people's lives, it's time to transform your dream into reality by starting your own doula business. In this extensive guide, we're going to walk you through the essential steps to launch your doula venture, from initial business registration to crafting a stellar business plan. But hold onto your birthing balls, because we're adding some fun and sass to the mix! Let's get started on the path to making your doula dream a reality, with a little extra pizzazz.
Step 1 Doula Business Essentials
Step 2 Business Planning: Doula Style
Step 3 Building Your Brand - Doula Chic
step 4 Doula Services and Pricing - Making Birthing Magic
step 5 Legal Considerations and Insurance - Shielding Your Doula Cape
step 6 Networking and Building Relationships - Doula Alliance
step 7 Client Care and Support - Doula Love
Doula Growth Spurts - From Zero to Doula Hero
In conclusion, you've just unlocked the sacred scrolls to becoming a doula extraordinaire. Your journey will be filled with moments of triumph, heartfelt connections, and the joy of bringing new life into the world. By following these essential steps, you'll not only be a doula, but a birthing hero, ready to embrace the incredible adventure of childbirth with open arms.
Your doula dream is no longer a distant star; it's a birthing constellation, guiding you to make a difference in the lives of expectant parents. So, grab your doula cape and step into the spotlight. It's time to offer compassion, support, and a touch of sass to every birthing experience.
As you venture into the world of doula-ing, remember that your doula journey is just beginning. Every birth you attend, every client you support, and every milestone you achieve will be a testament to your dedication.
Here's to your doula success, to the countless lives you'll touch, and to the remarkable journey ahead. Happy doula-ing, superhero! 🌟🤰🌟
You can always check out our doula training program and mentorship.
Many birth businesses struggle with understanding the ins and outs of finances in their practice, and often don’t know if they’ve made any money until the end of the year. Sometimes, they discover they haven’t actually made any money once they account for their expenses. The good news is, it is not too late to learn how to always have a profitable business.
The majority of birth businesses fail because of poor cash flow management or burnout (but that’s a whole different blog). That’s a stressful environment to be in, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here at BABES, one of our core missions is to help you create sustainable business practices. A great tool to implement in your birth business today is called The Profit First strategy. It comes from the best selling book, Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, which teaches business owners how to “transform any business from a cash-eating monster to a money-making machine.”
This article will provide a summary of The Profit First strategy to help you:
Traditional Profit Calculations
According to business literature including my own business degree education, profits are what is left over after subtracting business expenses from your income (revenue).
Sales – Expenses = Profit
While it is true that this is a formula for calculating profits, it is not a method that guarantees you will have a positive number for your profit.
Profit First Formula
The Profit First formula flips the equation, doing exactly what the name entails putting the focus on profits before expenses.
Sales – Profit = Expenses
You might be thinking how this really makes a difference, but what Michalowicz is trying to highlight is more psychological than anything: you have to approach your business thinking profit first, not profit last.
The Profit First Strategy
The premise of the strategy is to build a system for your business that is sustainable and creates long term success. The first thing is to account for your business profit, your taxes, and your own pay. What is left over is what you have to spend on everything else.
Many people approach expenses (marketing, website, rent) as just part of the business. They often think of it in terms of things that can be avoided, delayed, eliminated, or just plain unavoidable. This strategy teaches you to discipline yourself and your business finances so they are broken down into categories with only a set amount allotted for expenses. This way you force yourself to spend wisely and really focus on expenses that are most important.
For those of you already in business this can be a radical change from how you have been doing things. You might have to hold off on some purchases in the short run in order to set yourself for long term success. This approach gives you the opportunity to grow your income and profits, so you will have the resources to invest back into your business without creating that same situation that causes most businesses to fail. If you put everything you have back into your business you risk not being able to sustain your business the way you want to or worse not being able to sustain your business at all.
How to Start Your Profit First Strategy in 5 easy Steps
1. Get your Accounts in Order The first step is to break down how your bank account works. This means creating multiple smaller accounts within your existing bank account. If you don’t already have a sperate business bank account you will want to get one. This will require an EIN (Employee Identification Number) and your business registration. You want to have 5 different accounts that are based on your core business functions:
When opening bank accounts for your Profit First business, you should open three checking accounts for Income, Owners Compensation, and Operating Expenses. Two saving accounts for Profit and Tax.
2. Profit First CAPS & TAPS
After creating your separate accounts you will have to decide two different percentages. Current Allocation Percentages (CAPS) and the Target Allocation Percentages (TAPS). You will use these percentages to determine how to distribute your income into the different accounts.
Proceeds from sales should be deposited into your main Income account then distributed into your other accounts based on the percentages you’ve allotted for each destination.
This is where your business is at right now. What does your income and expenses look like day-to-day in its current format.
This is where you want your business to be; these are the ideal percentages you’re working towards hitting. The goal is to gradually move from your CAPS to your TAPS. This is not an overnight kind of deal. It may take months or even a year, but that is why it is a process. You can’t work towards your goals until you know what they are and know where you are starting from. If the suggested 5% profit is too much then bump it down to 1% to start with. 1% is still a profitable business. The following table is an example of different revenue-dependent scenarios.
When you get income it should go directly into your main account. Select a time that works with your business on when to distribute funds. How often this happens is completely up to you, though it is recommended to distribute on the 10th and 25th of each month. Some businesses do this process weekly or bi-weekly.
Use your separate accounts for their intended purpose. Avoid moving funds around in the accounts to meet expense needs.
As Michalowicz says in his book, “Owner’s compensation is the money you get paid for working in your business; profit is the reward you get for owning it.”
At the end of each quarter, review your process and how it is working in your business. Adjust as needed.
It is as simple as that. Change your mindset, change your life (and business). We teach this strategy and so many other topics to ensure sustainability in your birth business in our BABES Business Academy.
Over the last five years the demand for doula services has increased considerably, in large part due to expanding awareness of the benefits of doulas. Demand has also increased because of healthcare coverage and the ability of doulas to reduce costs associated with pregnancy and birth. While doulaing may seem like a new trend, all ancient societies had a version of what we know in modern day to be a doula.
When looking for a training, many are overwhelmed with the amount of different doula trainings to choose from. It is important to do your research and find a program that aligns with your own birthwork philosophies and what you are wanting to do with your training. As a birth professional of over ten years, I’ve done many basic and advance birth professional trainings. Just as every doula is not a match for every person, every doula training program is not a match for every person. What works for a friend may not be what works best for you.
Here are 9 things to consider when researching a doula training program:
What is your Driving Why?
We, as birth professionals, have all kinds of reasons for getting into birth work. It can be because of our own personal birth experiences, the desire to become an independent business owner, or to advance a career we already have. Are you looking to supplement income? Are you wanting to give back to the community? Are you looking for a stepping stone to becoming a midwife? Know what the reason, it is important for us each to know the why behind our actions. Being clear on our why can help you decide what program is best aligned to meet those needs.
What kind of knowledge will you walk away with?
Each program and each individual trainer has a personalized training. Know what the curriculum includes. For example, DONA approved programs meet DONA’s core curriculum and likely has additional hours of education based on the specific trainer. This means each DONA training program is different based on who the trainer is. Online only programs such as Bebo Mia or Madriella will be the same since they are offered directly through the organization and will not vary based on individual trainers. Some programs are based out of other countries. Is the training relevant to where you plan to practice?
Depending on why you are looking for the training will determine the needs of the curriculum. A person with no birth knowledge will be different than someone with 10 births already in their experience. Are you planning to work in hospitals or more aimed at attending out-of-hospital births? Are you wanting a basic birth doula training or a training that also includes birth, postpartum, bereavement, and childbirth educator training in one like the BABES doula program? There are also programs like Maternal Health Specialist that offer doula training as well as birth assistant and lactation. Does the organization offer additional advanced trainings that you may take at a later time to add skillsets or education to your experience?
Do they have business training?
My first doula training lacked adequate business skills training. The business section was a few bullet points and the back of the manual about making rack cards for OB offices and not much more. Many new doulas don’t realize as soon as they start offering services they are the proud new owner of their own business as an entrepreneur. This includes many things a regular employee does not have to deal with like marketing, self-employment taxes, client acquisition protocols, and the legality of registering your business and its business structure. It is important for a doula to know what the foundations of business owning are and how to navigate them as they are related to a birth business. Do they teach website design, how to write a business plan or financial forecasting? It can be extremely helpful to select a program that includes specialized business training for birth professionals.
How is the training delivered?
Is the program delivered in-person or online? Do they have an in-person option with hands on activities? Does the program include live video sessions online or do they give you PDFs to read? Are there interactive activities or a workbook to go through? Many programs today offer online options. Not all online options are created equal. I once did a doula training online in which I was provided only PDFs to read and nothing more. While there was some good information to read, it would have set me up to be woefully under prepared for the task of being a doula.
Taking an in person training is wonderful, especially if they have hands on skills you can practice. Though if it does not come with a supplementary manual or additional information a two day training would be hard to base an entire business upon. Being able to go back to your reference material and look up information is important to the quality of the education. After 10 years, I still learn new things about the birth profession. It is an ongoing process. There is no way to fit the breadth of doula knowledge and skills into a weekend workshop. Even if you are the best notetaker, there will be pieces of information you may forget and want to come back to after the workshop.
The manual I received from my first doula training was more of a reference guide to the slide show that was presented. It had a general overview with a lot of bullet points. It did not provide me with a comprehensive manual to go back to and reference items if I wanted more information on from a reliable source. In the end you should pick a program that delivers you with ample options for learning that fits with your resources. If you are unable to travel for a workshop do they offer the option of hosting in your area? Do they offer a workshop you can attend at a later date that fits with your lifestyle or a hand on skills session?
How much is the training?
While price should not be your top motivating factor for choosing a program, we have to acknowledge finance are a factor to be considered. The price ranges for doula training go from a few hundred to over a thousand. What is your budget? Look for a program that offers the most value for what the training provides. If you choose the cheapest program does it meet all your needs or will you end up spending more for business training or postpartum training? Does the program offer payment plans if you need it? Does the program offer scholarships? Is the cost of training all-inclusive or are there other fees associated with the training like recertification fees or application fees? What other costs are required for the training (books, travel, CPR, insurance, ongoing membership)?
Keep in mind, the cost of the program is an investment in yourself and in your business. You can often write off all or a portion of your training and supplies on your tax expenses. The average cost of a doula is $600-$800, depending on your location. In bigger cities the average cost can go up to $1200-$1500. This means you can recoup the cost of most trainings with one or two full paying clients.
What is the birthwork philosophies of the organization and/or the trainer?
The core values of the organization and/or the trainer will be heavily reflected in the organizations teachings. Do you desire an organization that reflects your religious values or emphasizes the importance of bereavement training? Is advocacy or spirituality a core premise of what you want in a training? Are the use of gender neutral terms in the curriculum a must have for your birth philosophy? Does the organization support herbal products or focus on medications? Make sure both the organization and/or trainer philosophies match with your own. If you are unsure what make up your core philosophies take some time and brainstorm it before making a choice.
What does the organization do to give back to the birthing community? Do they have scholarship funds? Do they contribute to fundraisers to help with birth related causes you are passionate about? Do they collaborate with other organizations who are pushing better birth outcomes or getting more birth professionals to those in need?
Does the organization offer a certification process? What are the requirements for certification?
As an unregulated profession certification is not required to offer doula services. Some organizations offer what they call a certification just for completing their training, but a certification process should entail a process by which the organization can confirm competency regarding core knowledge of a doula and continuing education.
If the organization offers a certification pathway, what variety of educational and clinical experience is required? Do they require references or essays? Is certification a requirement to work at your local hospital or birth center? Does your state reimburse for insurance or Medicaid for certain certification programs? How long do you have to complete the certification requirements? How do the certification requirements compare to other organizations? You may take a training and choose not to certify through an organization.
Are there restrictions does the training or certification program?
Many organizations take a strong stance on specific subjects and require their doulas using their name to comply with these restrictions. This can include like attending an unassisted birth, the use of essential oils, what you charge clients, or how old you must be. Research restrictions of each organization and make sure you are okay with abiding by such restrictions. Also note on whether the organization requires ongoing membership with the organization to be one of their doulas and if this is a right fit for you. Are restrictions true restrictions on which a revocation of your certification will occur or is it a strong recommendation?
Does the organization offer ongoing support to their doulas?
Some training program support ends after the training or certification process or can be difficult to get any help after this time period. Some programs offer ongoing mentorship or ongoing additional training. Does the organization offer debriefing services after a complicated or traumatic birth? What kind of ongoing support are you looking for or anticipate having? Do you have to pay for ongoing support or mentorship? Do they offer a community based support group like a private Facebook members group?
Our biggest tip is to take your time in deciding. Do your research and make sure the program is truly a good fit for you. If you are looking for a quick comparison here is a guide for some of the doula organizations out there.
5 Social Media Strategies to Get Doula Clients
I have been helping birth pros in their businesses for years and the number one question I still get till this day is “How do I find clients?” This quest is actually what made me jump from just being a birth pro myself to helping other birth pros with my business background. As a business that only exists with clients it was no wonder so many birth pro businesses were floundering when they walked away from their training, but did not know how to actually get clients in the door.
Social Media Strategies
It is no secret that many birth pros get clients via social media. You must get in front of your target audience and your target audience is on social media.
1. Driving the Conversation
Even though you are trying to get sales, conversations are one of the best way to get into the spotlight of your ideal clients. People do not like feeling like they are being sold to. People are also not going to jump to buy if all you are doing is asking for sales. Your ideal clients life and problems are your business life. Get involved in conversations on social media where your target clients hang out. Ask them about what their problems they are facing and what solutions they wish existed for these problems. The idea is that you are ultimately the solution to the right problem. Be genuine, interactive, and show you are really listening to what they have to say.
Social media sales start with knowledge of your ideal clients. You want to steer conversations and stay ahead of social shifts that might impact your ideal client. This will allow you to provide value in the form of knowledge and increases customer loyalty.
2. Use Social Media to Gather Information
Do you really want to get to know your ideal clients? Why don’t you ask? There are huge databases out their with information on customers and potential customers. You can gather you own data by asking on social media where you ideal clients are already hanging out. Most people are more than happy to share as long as you are not gathering personal data.
Utilize this information when generating targeted ads and social media posts. You can search for specific keywords your ideal clients search for and add them to the content you put out so when they search they will end up finding you.
Other items you could monitor include blogs, posts, or tweets that your ideal clients or relevant information to your clients put online. Get notified when google publishes something relevant to the work you do so you can use it to your benefit. This is called social listening. Set up alerts on keywords important to the birthing industry or your specific niche, you can stay aware of what is on idea clients minds or what topics are hot. Use this information to engage ideal clients or promoting topics to drive clients into your audience for building relationships with them. This will ultimately drive social media sales.
3. Word of Mouth
Even in the digital world, word of mouth is still one of the most powerful sales strategies. Word of mouth has a huge impact on your ideal clients buying behavior. People look for advice from trusted friends, family, and experts. Guess what? You are a birth pro expert in the specific work you do. It is now as easy as clicking a button to connect with thousands of other people.
Connect with influencers in your community and provide them with content wo put out to your shared audience. This can help you create an entirely new way to get in front of your ideal clients and the best part is it is totally free to you. Maybe you offer something unique as a doula that a local midwife or chiropractor would be willing to share with their pregnant clients. When your ideal clients read content delivered from other experts, they have a high level of trust for it. It is like the saying, “ You are only a prophet in someone else’s land.”
4. The Power of Viral Videos
We all know the power a viral video can have. People share videos of all kind of things from cute baby videos to beautiful birth videos. They go viral because people like them enough to share them at escalating rates. This is another free for you advertising. Your video doesn’t have to be directly related to what you sell just related to what your ideal clients are interested in.
According to some of the best in the business there are clear formulas to creating viral videos. Your videos must be funny, cleaver, and somewhat true. This combination provides the best odds for going viral.
5. Using User-Generated Content
Much like word of mouth ideal clients today are looking to their peers when it comes to decisions on making purchases and this is true in the birth world too. You can actually get other people to make sales for you. First step is to get your followers or past clients to review your services. Most of the time it is as easy as just asking, though some people might offer some type of incentive to do so. Positive customer reviews are powerful marketing tools.
Other ways to get other people to sell for you is from your blogs, posts, and other content. Your followers share them if they are interested and you get in front of a new audience. Make sure your blog posts or content always circles back to directing people to your business in some way. You can also share others content related to what you do and of course add in bits about how it ties back to your business.
If you take these five strategies into your birth pro business they have the potential to yield a huge return on bringing you clients and sales. Remember the key to using social media to boost your sales is to stay engaged with your followers so you and your business stand out above the noise. If you are looking for more ways to engage clients and boost sales in your business check out our other articles or join the birth business academy.
Starting a birth business: how to start a small business
Dreaming up and starting a birth business can be an exciting and rewarding event. No one ever said it would be easy work though. If you don't work for your passion and your dreams, you better bet that no one else will do it for you.
As soon as you start to offer services in exchange for payment you are a small business owner or at least an independent contractor. There are millions of small business across the U.S. and the number keeps growing. While we might get bombarded with corporate giants daily it is good to know the majority of revenue and employment is in small businesses.
should you open your own birth business?
Yes, if you are willing to put in the work. Passion, dedication, and perseverance are required to thrive in a small business. If you are just looking for quick income, then I suggest getting a job. Owning a small business is far beyond a job. It is a way of life.
Starting a birth business can be one of the most rewarding experiences. You get to be in control. You are your own boss, make your own hours, and get to keep your profits. On the flip side you have sole responsibility for bringing in clients, doing all the work, and putting in money to start your business.
Owning your own business is empowering, but I won't sugar coat it; it is also a risk. There is no one true path to becoming an entrepreneur. It is a learning curve for most people. Starting a small business is a big decision, but with the right amount of gusto you can build and live a life with less stress, more freedom and a bigger impact.
what is your first step to starting your birth business?
One of your first steps to starting your birth business is to create a solid foundation for your business. This includes a business plan. While many successful business owners have obtain success without one the majority of people who fail in their business did not have a solid plan in place. Business owners who have a business plan are twice as likely to succeed than those who do not.
Some of you may be panicking a bit at the thought, but a business plan does not have to be complicated. You can be as detailed as you want in your business plan. The more you get out of your head and onto paper the more likely you are to see if your business ideas are feasible. Do a quick google search business plan templates to get you started or check out BABES Business Plan 101.
all in all
Starting your own birth business can be a life altering positive experience. It is a big commitment of your time, effort, and money. Risks are involved. Your success will highly depend on how much you put into your business. Make a plan and see if it is a commitment you are willing to make.
What kind of birth business do you want to start?