These CPD activities, created by Professor Anne Harriss, are designed to be read and used in conjunction with the article CPD: Setting up your own occupational health business, by Emma Hammett.
They highlight further factors, activities and reading to consider should you be thinking about establishing your own business.
On a general note, consider joining your local chamber of commerce. You will get to network with other business owners you will be able to seek their advice, attend meetings and have the opportunity to give presentations relating issues relating to occupational health. You can find out how to do this, and lots of general advice, through the British Chambers of Commerce.
Equally, when you do finally launch your business, it is important to have a cash buffer in place to give you some initial working cashflow to live off and to help you ride out any financial ups and downs. If you can, it is advisable to have at least six months’ money in bank to cover expenses.
The following activities build on the material in the article.
If you are contemplating developing your own business think carefully about your reasons and motivation.
Research your business ideas, evaluate the benefits and the possible challenges then refer to this website.
Do some homework. There are a number of business books that you may access. The following will assist. They are reader friendly and include lots of useful information written by a team of occupational health, business and finance experts:
- Coombs J (undated). ‘How to Start A Healthy Business: An Insider’s Guide to Occupational Health Success’. Available in bookshops or from online retailers.
- Barrow C (2016). ‘Starting and Running a Business All-In-One For Dummies’. UK Edition. Chichester: Wiley. Available in bookshops or from online retailers.
Think about the practical ‘stuff’ you need to consider once you have decided to take the plunge to become an entrepreneur.
This from NatWest bank gives hints, tips and tools across a range of areas to help potential entrepreneurs get their businesses of the ground.
A business plan is essential if your venture is to succeed. Your business plan should detail your proposed objectives and how you will achieve them.
It should also include how you will market your enterprise and likely financial forecasts. Writing your ‘plan assists’ you to refine your business idea, specify your goals, determine possible challenges and then help you to gauge your progress. A well written plan is essential if you need to secure a bank loan.
This government site includes useful information and includes free business plan templates to download.
When establishing your business you may well do so, at least initially, as a sole trader. In order to comply with all tax requirements you may find it helpful to consult a tax or accounting professional. They may also be able to advise on what to do to ensure you are in full legal compliance, although if in doubt do take professional advice from a specialist business solicitor.
The government’s website, again, has some useful materials in this area. This section of the website, for example, guides you through how to set up as a sole trader.
Bear in mind, you will have inform HM Revenue and Customs that you have set up your business and submit a self-assessment tax return, even if your business is initially not making a profit and so not yet paying tax. You will need to continue filing a tax return every year you are in operation and, of course, paying tax where appropriate.
Access these websites for additional information pertinent to establishing a business in occupational health:
Ethical practice: Ethics Guidance for Occupational Health Practice (2018) covers a lot of useful information.
Legislative compliance: Ensure compliance with relevant legislation including the Companies Act 2006. This includes inclusion of your company registration number, place of registration (for example Scotland, England or Wales) and your registered office address. Companies House provides accounts guidance.
Data protection: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides information on data protection, including the General Data Protection Regulation, which is very important if (as you probably will be) you are handling, storing and managing personal data. For a more practical guide to GDPR in the context of occupational health, this article is likely to be useful.
You must have a privacy statement and have good reasons for processing and storing data. These links also give good further information on GDPR in the context of OH practice:
Confidentiality: You can find out more about managing confidentiality issues at these websites:
The NMC Code: It is important to check compliance with the NMC code from a business perspective.
Governance and audit: The Royal College of Nursing’s clinical governance section on its website can be a good place to start although, as a working practitioner, it will probably be an area you are relatively up to speed on already.
Health and safety policy: Consult the HSE website.
You will also probably need to investigate carefully what liability insurances you need to protect yourself and your business. The HSE, again, has some useful advice.
Setting up fees: The gov.uk webiste has some guidance for private medical practices.
Writing contracts: It is vital to identify carefully what you would include within contracts with your clients. For example, it is important to ensure all elements are included within an service level agreement (SLA), including service delivery, what is provided/not provided, fees, business terms, intellectual property, records (storage and transfer), what happens at the end of a contract, who pays and so on. You want, ideally, to be ensuring total clarity around the service delivery and agreement. The government has helpful advice here.
Invoicing: It stands to reason that, if you want your business to be successful, you need to get paid! There is some useful advice here.
The Federation of Small Businesses also has good general advice.
Business continuity planning: Finally, you need to factor in the unexpected throwing your business of course, especially after the past two years we’ve all had of coping with the ‘unexpected’ of a pandemic. You can find some useful advice here.