3 Reasons Doulas Need a Business Plan (And How to Create One)
Asian woman sitting on a couch and working on her computer.

For many doulas, creating a formal business plan doesn’t seem necessary. However, developing even a basic one-page plan has significant long-term benefits that can help avoid burnout and better serve clients. In this 4-part series, I’ll explore the top reasons why planning is important for doulas and provide a simple framework and template to get started. 

Reason 1: A Plan Prevents Burnout

Many doulas only track client numbers, but focusing solely on intake can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed. Without goals for balancing workload, marketing efforts, self-care and finances, it’s difficult to sustainably manage client load long-term. Developing a basic plan allows setting SMARTIE (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely, inclusive and equitable) goals in key areas of the practice. 

For example, one may set a goal to limit new clients to 3 births per month to allow adequate time for client communication, documentation and marketing current services. It’s also important to plan monthly activities dedicated solely to self-care, like yoga classes or spa days, to avoid compassion fatigue. Financial projections help set profitable yet attainable revenue targets and keep growth appropriately paced. An overall plan strengthens the ability to decline new commitments when overextended, protecting well-being and the quality of care provided.

Reason 2: A Plan Drives Referrals

Both clients and those in the position to refer new clients want to work with doulas that appear well-organized and committed for the long run. Simply developing a basic one-page business plan demonstrates dedication to the livelihood and potential to scale impact. Referral partners will feel more confident making referrals when they see marketing strategies, financial forecasts, plans for service expansions, and more have been consideration for sustainable growth. It also helps you realize when you are on target or off target and you can adjust your activities accordingly. This also helps you identify variations by season or month.

Reason 3: A Plan Qualifies for Resources  

Many local institutions and national organizations offer training programs, funding opportunities, mentorship and continuing education specifically tailored to help new small business owners, like doulas expand their services. However, submitting a one to two page plan outlining goals and how requested resources would be applied is often required. Developing an initial plan allows leveraging these free programs designed to strengthen doula businesses. Organizations aim to invest in doulas proactively planning for success.

In upcoming posts, I’ll share a simple template and tips for creating a foundational one-page business plan, including helpful goal setting strategies and financial modeling exercises. Developing even a basic plan can help ensure continuing this important work of supporting birthing people and their families for years to come.

Do you have a business plan for your doula business?

>>> Part 2: Assessing Your Doula Business for Growth


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