The one thing I discovered when I decided to leave my full time job for doula work was that financially, being a doula is not enough. Being a doula requires being on call for weeks, the ability to respond to a families call at any hour of the day. Birth work is highly variable in nature. You can be at a birth for 4 hours and for 40 hours – making a livable wage as a birth doula can be a big challenge.
Even if we were to fully book our schedules, taking 2-3 births per month, or about 1 birth per 10 to 14 days. When all is said and done, that can amount to little more than a part-time income. For some that may be exactly what they want, for me I needed to find a way to maximize my income.
In order to do that, I had to be more than just a birth doula. In order to increase the chance of creating income, I diversified. The bottom line: to earn more money, you must offer more products or services.
This had offered me many benefits. It allowed me to take on less births, to create more of a structured schedule for myself. It also had me offering products and services that complimented my work as a doula. As a result it brought in more doula business. Clients would come to ask for one service (birth doula) and I had the opportunity to sell them on other products (placenta encapsulation, Childbirth Education Classes, or counselling). It also worked in reverse.
Diversifying however is more than just adding services or products to your website and business. It requires the same amount of hard work and hustle it takes become a great doula. Simply adding things to your preexisting business does not guarantee a cash flow. To get business growth through diversification you do not do more of the same; you do something different. You expand in new directions.
Before you begin to diversify here are some steps to consider:
What are your limits? Both financially and the resources available to you.
Find your possibilities: Finding possibilities isn't usually the problem; finding the right possibility is. Start where you already are, and think both vertically and horizontally.
What can I offer you ask? This great video by yourdoulabag.com may help you decide what services would work for you.
Figure out what fits.
Following these steps you should now have a list of what your limits are and what potential possibilities fit with your current offering. You do not have to start from scratch. Diversification means to grow in a new direction; it doesn't mean fragmentation.
As a final test, compare each option with the company documents you've produced. Which ones fit best your vision and your business values? You might not find a perfect fit. That's okay. There should however be a high degree of correlation to what you already offer.
Balance growth with maintenance.
New things are exciting and demanding. New growth, new directions, new experiences get the entrepreneur's heart pumping. However don't lose sight of the maintenance and ongoing attention that your current business needs.
A good business doesn't run on autopilot. Do not trust yourself to automatically remember all the duties and checks you should be performing set up systems. Draw up a list, get things on your calendar, whatever you need to do so that you're not neglecting the old for the sake of the new.
Good Growth Is Strong Growth
Diversifying can take your business into new territory, build a bigger reach, and increase your long-term profits—if you do it right. Take your time. Don't rush into anything until you've done your due diligence and know that the new endeavor is indeed the best one for you and your business.
Whether you choose to diversify or not, balance and hustle are key to moving forward in your birth business. Do your research. Find what works. Look for collaborations in your community and fly !
Sondra is a counsellor, Doula Canada Instructor, mother and Doula.
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