One of the greatest early challenges for nurse practitioners starting a new practice is choosing a niche specialty. Nurse practitioners have extensive training and experience, often working in multiple specialties. Catie Harris, PhD, MBA, RN and Kayse McGovern, CPNP-PC of Nursepreneurs help countless nurses and nurse practitioners choose a niche for their new business.
In honor of Nurse Practitioner week, when more NPs than ever are opening new practices as a side hustle or as a full-time job, Harris and McGovern offer advice on choosing a nurse practitioner business niche.
Why choose a nurse practitioner business niche
Having a specialty is foundational to building a new NP business. Whether networking or marketing, McGovern says NPs need to stick to specific messaging to acquire patients. Selling your services without a specific target client in mind becomes very difficult. “Your niche informs everything from your branding and logo to your marketing and messaging,” says McGovern.
For those who can afford to remain broader, for example, in a rural area without much competition, keeping inventory for various services on hand is challenging and expensive. “If you want to start a mobile medical practice and hope to see anybody with any problem, you have no idea what you’re going to need on hand for supplies,” says McGovern.
Reasons a lot of new nurse practitioner business owners are hesitant to niche
Choosing a nurse practitioner business niche isn’t always obvious or easy, even when you know it’s critical to building a successful practice. McGovern says there are two main struggles she sees. “Either there are too many areas of nursing and patient populations they love or they’re afraid to eliminate a whole group of potential patients,” she says.
Questions to ask when choosing a nurse practitioner business niche
To choose a niche for your new NP practice, McGovern recommends turning to the Japanese concept of Ikigai. Put simply, this means finding the overlapping areas of the following four questions:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What does the community need?
- What can you get paid to do?
If you’re still not sure, McGovern recommends asking yourself the following:
- What parts of the job do you gravitate toward?
- Who are the patients that make you feel like you’re floating?
- Who makes you feel like you used up all your energy for the rest of the day?
The answers to these questions can take time, introspection and research.
Consider some popular niches
Some areas of NP practice are increasingly popular for new business owners. Choosing a popular niche in a market that’s not oversaturated makes you more likely to succeed. It also means you can lean on colleagues in other areas who have already built similar businesses.
Following are some popular nurse practitioner business niches among the NPs and nurses in Nursepreneurs:
- IV hydration and med spa
- Concierge practices, especially post-operative concierge for plastic surgery, where patients appreciate discretion
- Membership-based direct primary care models
Do your market research before settling on a business niche and model
Once you have an idea for an area of service, you’ll need to do market research to determine if it’s a good fit for your area and target population. Harris recommends researching the following questions:
- How many similar businesses are in a local radius?
- How long have others been practicing?
- What does their demographic and population look like?
- What’s the socioeconomic status of your local area?
- Who are your potential partners and referral sources?
Harris, who recently opened a new brick-and-mortar clinic offering light therapy, hormone therapy and infusion therapy, called and visited similar and adjacent practices. She checked out their storefronts, websites, social pages, pricing, online scheduling portals and whether they return calls.
McGovern adds that finding competition for the practice you hope to build affirms that it’s a needed service. “If you find nobody else, that usually is a red flag. It’s likely not that you have a novel idea.”
Start small when choosing a nurse practitioner business niche
Once you land on a specific area that you think can work for you and the patients you hope to serve, McGovern recommends starting small. This helps you save money on inventory in the beginning and also helps you stay nimble. “You sometimes have to pivot when the services you thought people want and what they walk in requesting are not the same.”
Many NPs who are part of Nursepreneurs start a new practice as a side hustle to another full or part-time job. “It’s okay to sort of start small and grow from there. You can always expand your business later,” says McGovern.
Find support in your niche
Harris can attest that there are a lot of overlapping early tasks to start a new nurse practitioner or nurse business. Coordinating insurance, rent, attorney fees, marketing and more can leave a new business owner feeling indecisive and stuck. Having a roadmap from someone who’s built a similar practice can mean the difference between spending six months or six days to get moving. “Ultimately, you’ll get there, but having somebody walk you through it can save a lot of missteps,” says Harris.
Talk about your business early and often
A big adjustment for many new NP practice owners is becoming the face of your business. Besides practicing an area of healthcare that you love, you also have to be a marketer, salesperson and networker. This requires overcoming any fears of failure or concerns about what colleagues might think. “The people I’ve seen who are most successful aren’t afraid to tell people what they’re up to,” says McGovern.
Nurse practitioners have an enormous wealth of expertise and knowledge that the community and the public respect and want. Building a successful practice can be a rewarding career and offer necessary services for your community.
The beginning can be overwhelming and costly, but Harris is confident that it’s worthwhile after helping so many nurses and NPs set up businesses. “Starting a new venture is always just terrifying, no matter how much experience you have. It’s a lot of money going out the door, and you just want to have the right people on your side to help you through it.”
Ready to open a new NP practice? Start with this guide. CM&F provides comprehensive malpractice insurance for health and wellness coaches to protect your financial stability and reputation.