Start a veterinary acupuncture business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your veterinary acupuncture business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a veterinary acupuncture business?
Startup costs for a veterinary acupuncturist vary depending on the types of animals treated and whether they choose to offer mobile or in-house treatments. The average budget for setting up a mobile business is $300,000, with some vets reporting costs as high as $750,000. This includes equipping a vehicle, operating licenses, business insurance, an initial pharmaceutical order, and administrative supplies. Starting a stationary clinic requires the lease of office space and retrofitting the clinic with all necessary equipment. Industry leaders report an initial investment of approximately $1 million.
What are the ongoing expenses for a veterinary acupuncture business?
Acupuncturists will need to include a number of items in their ongoing budget. Equipment must be kept clean and maintained through a preventative maintenance plan. Licenses and insurance should be maintained and continuing education should be a top priority. Therapists who perform additional therapies and modalities will need to keep a steady supply of materials. Needles should be properly disposed of after each treatment, utilizing a fresh set for each session. Mobile therapists face overhead costs such as vehicle and equipment maintenance, while therapists who treat patients in-house incur ongoing expenses such as lease payments and utilities.
Who is the target market?
Veterinary acupuncturists should clearly define their target market during the planning stages. Work settings and initial investments vary depending upon their specific interests. Some choose to operate out of a private practice while others work on farms, in laboratories, out of research facilities, or at zoos. Market needs should be thoroughly researched and taken into consideration prior to investment.
How does a veterinary acupuncture business make money?
Veterinary acupuncturists charge a fee for each treatment. Some offer mobile services, while others perform all treatments in-office. Many treat all breeds of animals, while others focus on specific breeds.
How much can you charge customers?
The pricing of acupuncture therapy varies depending upon the type of animal, the nature of the animal’s condition, and the scope of practice. Costs per treatment range from $60 to $300 per session.
How much profit can a veterinary acupuncture business make?
Profits vary depending upon the types of animals treated and overhead expenses. A recent study reports that the average annual earnings of a board-certified specialist are well over $150,000.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Veterinary acupuncturists looking to increase profits should consider offering additional products and services. Industry leaders have found success selling supplements, homeopathic medicines, prescription diet food, and general conventional medications. Additional alternative treatment options, such as massage or herbal therapy, could also prove beneficial.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your veterinary acupuncture business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market a veterinary acupuncture business
Once the acupuncturist’s target market is defined, they can refine their practice’s marketing strategy. Therapists should employ a variety of marketing techniques, including advertising in online and printed publications, social media, and in-person visits to potentially interested parties. Advertising should be informative and tailored to their target market’s needs and specific pain points.
How to keep customers coming back
Pets and their owners should be treated with respect and remain informed throughout the process. Customer retention can also be achieved through referral programs and special discount packages.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start A Veterinary Acupuncture Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Since most states require acupuncturists to have a degree in veterinary medicine, this business venture is ideal for veterinarians who are seeking out alternative methods for treating the animal community.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a veterinary acupuncture business?
For many, veterinary acupuncture is part of a larger treatment plan. Acupuncturists collaborate with the primary vet to ensure a well-rounded treatment plan is in place. They determine which anatomical points should be treated, as well as the duration of therapy. Many treatment plans require more frequent treatments during the initial stages, tapering off over time. Many veterinary acupuncturists will combine acupuncture with behavioral modification programs or a special diet to maximize results. They will follow their patients’ progress, communicating all results to the primary veterinarian and the pet owner. When not treating patients, veterinary acupuncturists research alternative therapies and perform administrative duties associated with the business.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful veterinary acupuncture business?
Most states require that an accredited veterinary acupuncturist hold both a veterinary degree and certification through the American Board of Animal Acupuncture (ABAA). Therapists must have extensive knowledge of animal behavior, anatomy, muscle physiology, and approved acupuncture techniques. Continuing education is typically done through the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA).
In addition to the appropriate schooling, it’s important that therapists understand animal behavior and treat each patient with the utmost respect. Communication with both the animals and their owner is a critical component for long-term success.
What is the growth potential for a veterinary acupuncture business?
Over the last decade, consumer spending on animal healthcare has increased significantly. This growth is expected to continue with a projected increase of over 19% from 2016 to 2026. As pet owners seek out alternative therapies for their four-legged companions, the need for veterinary acupuncturists is expected to grow steadily. Therapists have the option to maintain or expand their businesses based on their needs and interests.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a veterinary acupuncture business?
Aspiring veterinary acupuncturists are encouraged to seek counsel from a financial advisor before opening their practice. A thorough business plan should address all aspects of the business including practice goals and an analysis of financial data to help maximize their investment.
How and when to build a team
During your business’s infancy stage, you will likely be able to work alone or limit hiring to one technician. As your practice experiences growth, however, it may become difficult to fit all patients into your daily schedule. When looking to hire additional team members, it is critical that each candidate is fully vetted and that the parameters of the position are clearly expressed.