It's very important to find out whether there is enough demand for a Chinese herbalist in your area. Remember that complementary therapies - including herbal medicine - are available from a number of different sources and you will be competing against:
- other herbalists, both Chinese (including Kanpo) and Western
- acupuncture practitioners who also offer Chinese herbal medicine
- practitioners of Ayurvedic and Tibetan Herbal Medicine
You may also be competing against many other therapists offering a range of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies such as aromatherapy, homeopathy or reflexology. Patients can also buy Chinese herbal remedies online or from specialist retail outlets. A look on Yell.com for your area will give you an indication of the number of Chinese herbalists and other complementary therapists that are already practising in your area.
It may be that you will only be competing directly against some of these practitioners because you will be offering very specialised treatments. For example, you might concentrate on helping people with skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema or acne.
Have a good look at existing Chinese herbal medicine practitioners to establish:
- whether or not they specialise
- how much they charge
- how professional they are - at present anyone can set themselves up as a herbalist but reputable practitioners belong to the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) or the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (ATCM) and comply with Codes of Ethics and Good Practice
- whether the consulting rooms are hygienic and smart
- whether they offer any other therapies
Use the record sheet to note down the results of your market research.