How to Grow a Successful Herbal Medicine Business

This week, I interview Vivienne Campbell, a Medical Herbalist who has built a successful herbal medicine business.  Her approach to creating a sustainable business with different income streams has allowed her to continue working during the pandemic.  She also kindly agreed to be a case study in my new book ‘Your Holistic Business Recipe’.

{Click on the podcast player above to listen to this episode and/or read on for a detailed blog. Scroll down to the bottom for the show notes and links}

how to grow a successful herbal medicine businessVivienne qualified as a medical herbalist in 2003 and has made it her full-time career since graduating.  She teaches herbal medicine and wild food foraging and is also a professional natural cosmetic-formulator, consultant, and teacher.  She’s an international speaker, presented on television, been interviewed for documentaries and written articles for journals and specialist publications.

Vivienne didn’t set out to have many strands to her business and found they developed as different opportunities presented themselves.  She initially worked in the clinic full time, moved to part-time and in 2004 Vivienne started teaching in-person classes, by 2012 she was running 17 a year.

She also set up online courses and ran her first in 2015. Having the online aspects of her business has helped her to thrive during the current pandemic.

Vivienne didn’t do any specific marketing strategies as such, the growth has come from her working hard, loving what she does and doing it well.  She follows her instinct when it comes to making decisions for her business and it has served her well to create a business that is authentic and filled with integrity.

How Vivienne found her first clients

Vivienne loved Ireland and knew she wanted to live there and it was where she chose to set up her business.  She subsequently found it was a great place to start a herbal medicine clinic – there is no free health care in Ireland and people are used to paying for consultations and prescriptions.  People are more likely to try their own remedies first and they’re likely to pay for support from health practitioners.

When Vivienne arrived in Ireland, a conversation in a health food shop lead her to hire rooms in a physical therapy clinic.  Working in a clinic that offered complementary treatments to herbal medicine was a great way to find clients as the disciplines didn’t clash.  Vivienne was encouraged to set up practice by an experienced local herbalist and they became great professional back up to each other.

Vivienne’s approach to business and supporting its growth

The Herbal Hub with Vivienne CampbellVivienne found having different related streams to her business made it sustainable and installed resilience into it.  She found getting business advice from people that personally understood her circumstances the most helpful as she lives in an area with a small population and has had to be adaptive to the environment.

Understanding her market

Vivienne found speaking and running talks in the local community really effective.  By educating her audience about what she could do, it attracted clients that were educated and had realistic expectations.  Running classes, walks and courses bought her similar engaged patients.

Vivienne’s experience of talking on radio or television raised her profile and did attract patients.  Unfortunately, in the main, they wanted a quick fix and weren’t invested enough in their health to do the work necessary to get the results.

The personal connection Vivienne forged with her patients through talks, walks and classes built strong relationships.  It meant when she launched her online services people were comfortable with her, trusted her and already knew what to expect.  She didn’t need to turn to marketing techniques that didn’t fit with her values because she’d already built the connection with her audience.

Sustainability in business

Having several related streams to her business means that Vivienne isn’t working from a position of desperation.  She was able to survive the recession in Ireland when so many long-standing businesses didn’t.  Vivienne understood the difference between personal business responsibility and circumstance, and how working on the former meant that she survived.

In hindsight…

Vivienne felt she had tunnel vision when she qualified as her training course primarily focussed on clinical practice.  She felt the burden of the responsibility to help people in dire straits and the work was very heavy and serious.  She felt that she didn’t make enough of the lighter ways to learn about herbal medicine.  By adding in more teaching, she was able to recharge and balance her business.

Vivienne reinforces that as a sole practitioner you don’t have team support when you need it.  You must build a business that supports you and your circumstances.  You must find balance and treat yourself with the same kindness and honesty that you treat your clients.

Podcast 38 show notes:

Find out more about Vivienne and her work

Your Holistic Business Recipe book

Join the Holistic Business Matters Facebook group