Do ultrasound studios make for good lifestyle businesses?

Many people are interested in opening up lifestyle businesses today, as the world has drastically changed over the last few years and having more flexibility is now more important. A lifestyle business isn’t a well-defined term, so it has many meanings and understandings. Generally, however, a lifestyle business can be considered a type of business that fits into your lifestyle, as opposed to a classical-type business which is separate from your daily life/lifestyle or doesn’t integrate well with it. 

4D ultrasound studios are the ideal lifestyle business, especially if you’re doing the ultrasound yourself or have a monographer in the family. If you can do ultrasound on your own, or want to learn, you can easily have an elective/entertainment-focused pregnancy ultrasound studio that fits well with a lot of different lifestyles. You’ll have scheduling flexibly, which will allow you to choose when you want to work (as long as you’re still able to make your ends meet and earn the income you desire). 

In this article, we’ll explore whether small 4D elective ultrasound shops/studios are good lifestyle businesses. The short answer is that they are, but they aren’t the most ideal lifestyle business because they are tied to physical location (as opposed to a digital-first business, such as writing blog posts for hire). 

1. (Pro) A 3D/4D ultrasound entrepreneur can easily be a solo-preneur in the 2020s

A good lifestyle business is one where you don’t need a lot of help and assistance (eg. staff). The best lifestyle businesses are those where you can provide the service yourself (imagine a respected and sought-after writer or blogger) because it gives you more flexibility in your work. A 3D/4D ultrasound studio is just that type of business. With modern technology, some monetary investment, and an investment in time, one can set up an entertainment-based elective ultrasound shop and operate it fully on their own. 

You’ll need some help, however. This help won’t be in the form of staff or other business-to-business operations. Instead, the help will come from the large amount of useful and pretty easy-to-use technology that is available to entrepreneurs in the 2020s. These include the following key items to consider when thinking about starting a 4D ultrasound facility as a lifestyle business:

  1. Online web builder – If you want to go the low-cost route, then you’ll probably want to use an online web builder (eg. Wix, WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, etc.) for your site. Otherwise, good web development for a 3D/4D ultrasound facility will cost some serious money. 
  2. Online appointment scheduling – You’ll want your website to be able to schedule people online (eg. Calendly) in an easy-to-use and elegant way. Not everyone wants to call in, and having people be able to schedule online gives you more flexibility in your lifestyle 4D ultrasound business (eg. you don’t necessarily always have to be by your phone). 
  3. Email – This is a no-brainer. You’ll need a good email approach to keep in contact with your customers, and to market to them. Don’t go cheap here and get a non-unique email address (eg. gmail, hotmail, etc.). Spend the extra money and get an email address that matches your website, so you’ll have a more professional look. 
  4. Business coaching/counseling/consulting – If you have the money and understand the value in having someone knowledgeable by your side (especially during the early stages where things are uncertain), then consider spending money on business consulting and/or coaching. This has gotten very popular today, and business consultants (good ones) can help you approach your new ultrasound business in the right way, and they’ll help you ask the right questions too. 
  5. Tax advice/guidance – Whether your business is going to be big or stay a small lifestyle business, you’ll want to get good solid tax and/or accounting advice. 
  6. Social media – Playing the social media game is table stakes in the 2020s, so you’ll want your new 4D ultrasound business on all the social medial places, and you’ll want to have a good approach to promoting your business there. This may require spending some money, especially if you’re not really good at social media marketing. Social media marketing is its own beast; just because you’re good at other types of promotion and/or marketing, doesn’t mean you’ll be good at social media. If that’s the case, you’ll either need to learn fast or be willing to spend a bit on hiring someone to help you (there are a lot ways to hire social media freelancers online now).
  7. Apps for customer registration and pre-payment – To minimize paperwork and make your life easier in your new lifestyle business, it makes sense to use web apps and/or other methods to obtain customer info and take payments. Instead of paperwork done at the office, your life will be much easier if customers come in having pre-registered and pre-paid already. All they need to do is show you a QR code on their phone, an email, or something similar, and you proceed with the appointment. This is beneficial on multiple levels, including less hassle and less time spent on paperwork in your studio. Without this, you might need to consider hiring a receptionist or other staff to support you in the process.
  8. Wireless printers – A lifestyle business is all about making your life flexible and easy, so you’ll want to simplify the way you deliver packages. A wireless printer setup will help your 4D ultrasound studio operate in a more flexible and efficient manner.
  9. Automated workflows (eg. zappier, Microsoft, etc.) – There are many process automation services today. The most well-known one appears to be Zippier, but Microsoft and even Apple have automation-related competitors. You’ll want to make use of these to make your processes easier for you to operate. Automated processes allow for far more flexibility. Most such services are subscription-based, so it’ll cost some money once you move beyond their limited free tiers. 
  10. Online design services – For your new business, you’ll want to be as lean and efficient as possible. Hiring designers for logos and other branding/marketing material might be too expensive. There are many online solutions, however, and most of them are subscription based. A popular solution is Canva, which allows access to a lot of tools for a subscription. Another is Vistaprint, which allows you to create a ton of physical marketing products/materials all from your computer. 
  11. Legal advice – When starting a new business, you’ll want to make sure you have your legal ducks in order. This may mean getting in-person legal advice, but it might be possible to get your legal needs met with various online legal services.

(NOTE: If you’re starting your 3D/4D elective ultrasound facility more as a traditional business with a sight for expansion, then things will be different and this advice only applies in part, not completley. This is for those who want to pursue elective ultrasound as a lifestyle business.)

These things will (1) take time to learn and set up and (2) require some initial monetary investment. You must be prudent here, as you don’t want to spend to much (especially in the early stages your 4D ultrasound entrepreneurial journey) but you also want to avoid being too stringy or you’ll never be able to set up something that’s a true lifestyle business. If you spend too much, your 4D ultrasound studio will obviously suffer in terms of the bottom line profit, until you can increase revenue to sufficient numbers. If you spend too little, you won’t really have a lifestyle business that you can be proud of and that will please your future customers.

2. (Pro) A 3D/4D ultrasound business has a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling

If you’re running your ultrasound businesses as a solo-preneur and want a business to fit into your lifestyle (which is more broad than just the work you do), then entertainment ultrasound businesses can seem quite compelling. As a solo-preneuer ultrasound business, you’ll be the entire business and won’t really have any staff, so you can schedule and work as you see fit (as long as your income needs are met).

For example, if you’re a solo-preneur and want to take every other day off to focus on your health goals, you may be able to do it (assuming you have enough revenue coming in from the days you do work). The same can be true for other goals and obligations that may be important to you. The ability to work odd days/hours, and to have control over when you work, allows for quite a bit of flexibility, and this is attractive to many considering 3D/4D ultrasound businesses. 

3. (Pro) Ultrasound studios are relatively capital efficient

Although not nearly as capital efficient as digital-first businesses, 3D/4D ultrasound studios don’t require that much capital to start and maintain. You’ll need the following key capital-like items to start your business, but once you’ve got them the vast majority of your costs become variable (as opposed to fixed):

  • Ultrasound machine – This will by far be your biggest fixed cost, and it’ll all come right away at the start of your business (unless you decide to lease a machine, which requires its own important considerations and planning).
  • Supporting ultrasound equipment – In addition to the ultrasound machine, you’ll need a bit of supporting tech/equipment to perform ultrasounds. This includes TV monitors/projectors, tables/couches for the pregnant mother to lay on, printers, and other technological equipment to ensure your new 4D business is running correctly and smoothly.
  • Office furniture/supplies – These will be one-time costs with very little variable costs over the years after you set up any office space you may need to support your new business.
  • Reception area furniture and supplies – There will be almost no variable costs comparatively, once you buy all the needed reception area items (eg. furniture, tables, water cooler, pictures, etc.) for your business. 
  • Initial online presence startup costs – The costs to set up your website and anything else you have to do online will generally be up-front, but there will likely be recurring subscription costs as well (eg. website hosting). 

4. (Con) Ultrasound businesses are geographically not flexible, especially if you're a small ultrasound business (eg. one to a few locations)

One con of elective entertainment ultrasound businesses is that they’re physical, as opposed to purely digital (eg. a blogging business, selling your services on Fiverr, etc.). This is a key con if you’re looking for an ultra-flexible lifestyle business, because any ultrasound business will be tied to some location/office. Even if you’re a mobile business, you’re still tied to a geographic area in which you operate and do business. 

This can’t compare with a blog written who sells his or her services on Fiverr, for example. The blog written can be anywhere in the world and still provide their full suite of services to customers around the world. An ultrasound business owner/operator, however, will need to be tied to a fixed geographic area and will need to work within the needs of the businesses’s customers (who want services generally not too far from where they live and at times convenient/reasonable to them). 

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