Monday, February 15, 2010

Early entrepreneurs gain new marketing and social media opportunities through online business showcase

Showcasing early entrepreneurs offers an added marketing communications or social media element to help promote their businesses. In addition, it provides a forum through which they can guide other aspiring business owners around avoidable obstacles and toward a path of attainable goals. Sharing their insights begins by hearing their stories like the one offered by

Barrie Hinman, Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.), Diplomate Acupuncture (DiplAC), Barrington Acupuncture Clinic, Barrington, Illinois
847-382-1884 or 847-624-4ACU (4228)

My Motivation
By my mid-fifties I knew I would want to work for a lot longer rather than planning to retire but I wanted to make a shift to something that would give me joy and allow me to give back to the community in a more proactive way. As I have always been interested in alternative means of healing and personally found acupuncture to be a tremendous way to maintain health and well being I decided to pursue it as my longer term career. While continuing to work and serve my existing clients for payroll and bookkeeping, I enrolled in the acupuncture program at National University of Health Sciences in Lombard IL and graduated after three years of rigorous studies in August 2009 with a Masters degree in Acupuncture.

I bring a lifetime of experience in living and working to the practice along with a life-long love of alternative healing methods that promote wellness by considering the mind and emotions as two other significant components of physical well being. As a Buddhist, I am also well-versed in the impact of spiritual well being on our physical health. Having spent time working in both large and small corporate America over the years I have a clear understanding of the pressures people face in balancing work and life with the inherent physical imbalances that tend to crop up while attempting to juggle conflicting demands. Having been the beneficiary of acupuncture treatments for many years I am a firm believer from experience that it can help us maintain balance and well being in our lives. As an acupuncturist, I treat the whole being not just physical symptoms so I spend time listening carefully to my patients to help them find relief from stress and pain in their lives.

Client Profile
Given the culture we live in, our dietary habits and how we live our lives, people are experiencing the stresses and strains of the imbalances that cause physical pain, anxiety, depression, loss of sleep and other hardships very early in life. So, my perfect client is anyone who suffers from chronic pain, headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, stress, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, gynecological disorders or frequently recurring illnesses.

Marketing Methods
While still in school I developed a business and marketing plan and started working with a branding specialist who designed my logo and the theme for my website's visual appearance. I used VistaPrint® to print my business cards and a local printer, Forrest Press in Barrington to print my rack cards (the new brochure) and prescription pads to give to doctors for patient referrals. Since I believe that the Internet has pretty much become the new Yellow Pages® I have focused on visibility via the Internet. I registered with and created a profile to highlight my practice in Barrington as well as to highlight my work at Healing Tree Physical Therapy in Wilmette. does a good job of getting my practice on the first page of a lot of search engines and if someone goes to the web site and searches for acupuncturists by zip code it shows my practice by geographic location. I’ve also registered my business with Google Maps® so that when a person googles “acupuncturist Barrington Il,” I’m featured on a Google map indicating various acupuncturists in the Barrington area. I also have registered with Yahoo® and Yelp® and have updated my listings on LinkedIn® and Plaxo®. In addition to all of the collateral materials for marketing my practice I focused on finding a physical location that would be visible from well traveled streets with signage out front so that people driving by would be reminded that acupuncture is available here in Barrington. I also have been making sure I got my name out locally by rejoining the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce, visiting doctors’ offices, placing business cards and rack cards in local businesses and joining a local business networking group Pro Alliance in Barrington. I will be continuing to establish referral relationships with various health care providers in the area; I see these relationships as a win-win for both myself and the other practitioners as we can complement each other’s strengths to ensure maximum wellness for our mutual patients.

Learning Experience
I envisioned taking board exams before I graduated so that I could be licensed and have my practice up and running by mid-September of 2009. The reality was that I took boards after graduation and it was a tremendous gift as the studying gave me time to integrate all of three years’ education and start visualizing a practice that truly reflected my vision. It also gave me some time to slow down and recover from the rigors of school which was much needed for my own health and well being. I also didn’t comprehend the complexities and wait times between completing board exams, receiving national certification, applying for state licensure and waiting for licensure to occur. I had a great realtor who expedited my finding a space and I moved in about three weeks after we started looking in mid-November. I also didn’t foresee that it would take me a month to get settled in and organized but moving in early December plus the holiday season and starting to see patients in Wilmette did complicate that process. By January 2010 my practice was finally open for business in Barrington.

My advice to other potential entrepreneurs is this:
· Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
· Be realistic about the timelines of opening a business
· Have other ways of making money or supporting yourself while you’re trying to get your business going
· Possibly get some other form of financial backing – loan or line of credit
· Get your marketing materials in place – online positioning, website, business cards
· Plan and order inventory, develop forms and establish bookkeeping procedures you will need to support your business before opening
· It will take time, but with constant attention and outreach you will grow your practice and number of patients seen each week

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