March 20, 2018 is a daily online magazine covering small business news. We help entrepreneurs transform ideas and innovations into greatness.

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Opening a Business


Starting an Animal Assisted Therapy Practice

If you plan on opening an animal assisted therapy practice, priority one is researching the competition and thinking through the business.

We share many relevant recommendations on what it takes to start an animal assisted therapy practice.

Animal Assisted Therapeutic Models

As the name implies, animal assisted therapy (AAT) involves the use of various types of animals in the therapeutic process. Although dogs are frequently favored in AAT, successful practitioners may also use cats, birds, dolphins or other species of animals.

Your practice's business model will depend largely on your field of study and the therapeutic model you employ. Most people associate animal assisted therapy with mental or emotional counseling. However, AAT has also been used successfully in physical and motivational therapy, provided practitioners have proper certifications and credentials in the field.

Several different trade groups exist for animal assisted therapy practitioners including the Delta Society, the American Humane Association and state/regional AAT associations. New animal assisted therapists and practice owners should actively participate in these and other organizations for business networking and professional development.

How to Market a New Animal Assisted Therapy Practice

Despite its popularity, animal assisted therapy is a relatively new therapeutic technique. Startup AAT entrepreneurs should expect to spend a considerable amount of their time and marketing energy educating patients about the benefits of animal assisted therapy and its practical application in the healing process.

Specifically, you'll want to target referrals from healthcare providers and animal welfare groups in your area. Although your services won't appeal to all of the individuals in either of these communities, the dual marketing focus will raise your practice's visibility with crossover prospects in each market.

The Business Side of an Animal Assisted Therapy Practice

Most people launch an animal assisted therapy practice because they are passionate about the use of animals in a healing environment. While personal passion is essential to the success of your practice, it can also blind you to other fundamental requirements of practice ownership.

As a therapeutic entrepreneur, you'll need to deliberately force yourself to pay as much attention to the business side of your practice as you do the therapeutic side. Advertising, billing, accounting, human resources and other management functions won't take care of themselves but without them, your practice has little chance of long-term success.

Best Practices for Animal Assisted Therapy Practice Business Plans

The process of writing a business plan for your animal assisted therapy practice can be grueling. A good animal assisted therapy practice business plan, however, is a reality check that gauges your business instincts against hard industry numbers.

After you have written you plan, you'll also need to develop a strategy for your next steps.

A business plan distribution strategy represents the backend of your business planning requirements. Generally, effective distribution models include the incorporation of tracking systems into the company's startup plan.

Evaluate Competitors

Prior to opening an animal assisted therapy practice within your community, it's a smart move to see how strong the competition is. Try our link below to find competitors nearby. Simply enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of animal assisted therapy practices in your town.

Before you open up shop, make sure you know what you will offer to your customers that provides a significant advantage over your competition's offering.

Learning More About the Industry

As part of your due diligence on opening an animal assisted therapy practice, it's essential that you learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.

However, an entrepreneur who owns an animal assisted therapy practice in a different city will be much more likely to talk with you, as long as they don't view you as a competitive threat. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.

How do you go about finding an owner of an animal assisted therapy practice in another community?

Simple. Let your fingers do the walking by using the link below.

Leveraging the Branding Benefits of an Animal Assisted Therapy Practice Acquisition

As an emerging animal assisted therapy practice startup, your company are at a competitive disadvantage because you brand is just beginning to establish an identity in the marketplace.

Unless you are 100% married to the idea of a startup, you can bypass the time it takes to establish a brand identity by buying a business to get an established brand. As a startup, the best you can hope for is to gradually develop brand awareness over a period of months and years.

Acquiring an established animal assisted therapy practice brand, on the other hand, has the potential to deliver the kind of brand recognition most startup can only dream about.

Is Franchising the Right Option?

Going with a franchise lets you tap into a proven system developed by the franchisor.

Before you consider starting an animal assisted therapy practice, you may want to check out whether purchasing a franchise might make it easy to get started.

The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.

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Are You Already an Animal Assisted Therapy Practice Owner?

If you currently own an animal assisted therapy practice, try these useful resources:

Marketing an Animal Assisted Therapy Practice

Selling an Animal Assisted Therapy Practice

Are You Selling to Animal Assisted Therapy Practices?

If you sell to animal assisted therapy practices, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:

Selling to Animal Assisted Therapy Practices

Mailing Lists for Animal Assisted Therapy Practices

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