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Leveraging Your Skills: Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Allied Health Practitioners

One of the most common complaints from allied health professionals is the perceived lack of career development opportunities. AHPs employed in the public sector lament the lack of ‘specialised’ career development opportunities that allow them to be rewarded for niche expertise in comparison to the pathways open to medical specialists.

Instead, public sector career pathways for allied health professionals have tended to favour leadership roles at the expense of clinical skills. This has often meant that more expert clinicians are promoted to roles with less clinical input, and instead take on leadership roles for which they have little specific training.

There have recently been some moves to rectify this—some states in Australia provide opportunities for career progression, such as the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway and the Advanced Clinical Practice Framework, and the NHS has developed pathways that recognise advanced allied health practitioner skills and training.

A growing number of allied health professionals are now in senior leadership roles internationally, with several working as CEOs of large organisations. But fewer than 50% of all allied health professionals now work in the public sector. That means at least half of the allied health workforce may lack access to any formal career pathway opportunities.

Traditionally, many AHPs take up employment in the private sector, either as part of a smaller practice, or as part of a larger team. The growth of the NDIS in Australia has seen a rapid and fairly dramatic re-organisation of private sector roles for allied health professionals, with more opportunities for smaller, individual providers with skills in niche areas (e.g., driver training), as well as the growth of larger brokers and aggregators of allied health services.

COVID-19 also created opportunities for the remote delivery of allied health services. This is not just limited to ‘talking-therapies’—Tamworth-based pharmacist Anna Barwick pivoted  her bricks and mortar pharmacy into the telehealth pharmacy service PharmOnline.

The growth of the allied health workforce cohort has also created new opportunities for business support services. For example: Tristan Bond’s Helathpreneur Group; OT Deb Hopper‘s supervision and mentoring service for allied health clinicians.

To demonstrate the diversity of entrepreneurial pathways open to AHPs, let’s look at some of the ways that allied health can promote their skills. We also provide a service directory specifically for allied health professionals to promote businesses involved in supporting allied health professionals.

Private practice

Private practice is the largest employment sector for many allied health professionals, and increasing opportunities exist for the delivery of private (fee-for-service) clinics in person or online. Private practice provides an opportunity for AHPs to establish more general areas of their practice, or innovate to develop specialised areas of niche practice. For example, The Balance Headache Clinic by physiotherapist Michael Hayward is a specialised private practice clinic focusing specifically on the treatment of headaches.

Apps or software development

Innovation through app or software development is applicable to the broad majority of the allied health professions, but let’s take the dietetics and exercise physiology professions as an example—they could potentially use their knowledge to develop mobile apps or software that help people track their food intake, provide nutrition information, or offer meal planning tools. This is a busy market, of course, as this summary of some of the top lifestyle apps illustrates.

Coaching and mentoring

Many allied health professionals offer coaching services, either to clients (such as nutrition counselling to assist with holistic changes to improve health), but also to professional colleagues. For example, Fiona Shield is a semi-retired speech and language therapist in England who has created a business coaching others on how to approach retirement when she is not enjoying her own ski trips or visits to exotic locations. Another example is the aforementioned occupational therapist Deb Hopper, who has incorporated 1:1 clinical supervision into her range of services.

Authoring books and e-books

Authorship can be a powerful adjunct to an entrepreneurial pathway. A successful publication will share knowledge and expertise, establish authority, provide education for clients and patients, contribute to the author’s own professional development, and, of course, generate revenue. We recently featured guest author Alison Battye, who was able to pivot her experiences as a speech and language therapist in the NHS into three successful books.

Public speaking and workshops

Given adequate expertise and experience in their field, AHPs—allied health academics in particular—can can attract regular revenue through keynote addresses, motivational speeches, or educational talks at conferences, workshops, and other events.

Online courses and webinars

Inarguably, COVID precipitated a big increase in online webinars, events, and conferences. Allied health professionals are increasingly leveraging digital platforms to create online courses, webinars, and communities of practice, and their expertise in creating these assets and spaces plays a vital role in expanding health literacy and improving global health outcomes. Such courses can cover a myriad of topics, and not only enhance professional visibility, but also can be used to pivot to an entrepreneurial pathway.

Product development

Allied health professions are surprisingly prolific at creating new products: a recent patent search highlighted a number of areas of innovation by allied health professionals, particularly mobility devices, such as innersoles, and specialised pressure sensing innersoles for people with diabetes. Not all of these items achieve commercialisation, however it does show the prolific extent of innovation by allied health professionals (and would make a fascinating PhD topic). Technological entrepreneurship in allied health combines the innovative spirit of entrepreneurship with cutting-edge technologies, for example pedorthist Sayed Ahmed developed Foot Balance Technology, out of a perceived gap between technology intervention and specific digital tools.

Health blogs and vlogging

The use of health blogs and vlogging is gaining increasing traction by allied health professionals, both as a way of educating the market, and also to attract a wider audience. My friend and colleague Dr Bill Sukala is an exercise physiologist, dietitian and journalist. He was an early adopter of online communication to a mainstream audience, and makes his living predominantly through his web-based health communication.

Corporate wellness programs

In a corporate setting, allied health professionals can use their expertise to design and implement wellness programs, helping employees improve their health and wellbeing. By offering services like nutritional counseling, stress management workshops, physical fitness classes, and ergonomic assessments, they address multiple aspects of wellness. This shift towards corporate wellness not only enhances AHPs’ potential for entrepreneurial success, but also provides companies with tools to enhance employee productivity, decrease absenteeism, and improve overall job satisfaction.

Consulting services

Allied health professions have a wide range of skills that can be used in consulting. Our company AHP Workforce provides consulting services to employers of allied health professions around areas of allied health workforce planning, but there are numerous other examples of allied health consultants. For example, Dr Cath Cosgrave completed her PhD on allied health recruitment and retention, and now runs   a signature program called ‘Attract, Connect, Stay’, which helps regional and rural areas to develop sustainable models for attracting and retaining staff. Dr Anna Moran runs a consultancy that helps allied health teams and organisations to solve health workforce redesign challenges. AHPs also use their clinical skills in consulting, such as: occupational therapy and psychology in supporting organisation development, leadership and growth; dietitians and exercise physiologists providing lifestyle and wellness consultancy to corporate entities.

Influencer marketing

With a significant following on social media, allied health professionals can use their influence to partner with brands and companies for marketing campaigns. Someone else has done the hard work for us and identified The Top 10 Allied Health Instagrammers here. The examples incorporate yoga, nutrition, psychology and exercise physiology.

These examples are by no means exhaustive. The possibilities for entrepreneurship in any allied health profession are wide and varied, limited only by a your creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Entrepreneurial success in these professions requires both a deep understanding of the field and strong business skills. Regulatory requirements, such as licensure and certifications, also need to be considered when venturing into private practice or other entrepreneurial activities.


There are abundant possibilities for allied health professionals to shape their own career trajectories through entrepreneurship.

While the traditional pathways within the public sector often restrict career development opportunities for such professionals, the growing landscape of private sector roles, technological advancements, and innovative business models present an array of opportunities for them to carve their niche.

As an AHP, you’re not confined to the four walls of a clinic, hospital, or public health institution. You have the potential to thrive in various entrepreneurial roles such as in private practice, developing healthcare apps, authoring books, leading wellness programs, launching online courses, and more. Each profession within the allied health sector has its unique entrepreneurial potential, from physiotherapists to dietitians, and psychologists to audiologists.

While entrepreneurship in allied health involves risk, it also allows you to make an impact on a larger scale. Your ventures can fill gaps in the healthcare sector, create resources and services that benefit their peers and the general public, or generate innovative solutions to pressing health challenges.

In the face of rapid societal and technological changes, allied health professionals are demonstrating their adaptability, creativity, and resilience. By leveraging their expertise and entrepreneurial spirit, they are not only reshaping their career paths, but also contributing to the evolution of healthcare delivery models.

Entrepreneurship offers a viable and rewarding avenue for career growth for allied health professionals. This entrepreneurial spirit encourages innovation, helps expand the impact of the allied health professions, and ultimately, serves to better meet the diverse health needs of populations around the globe. It is imperative for institutions, policy-makers, and stakeholders to recognise, encourage, and support entrepreneurial endeavours within the allied health sector to further foster its growth and impact.

You may have just started your own allied health business, or perhaps you have ideas and innovations that should be incorporated into private practice. Having a realistic strategy, understanding risk, and having an experienced AHP entrepreneur to give you constructive feedback are all essential for success. This is why we’ve launched the Empowering Allied Health Entrepreneurs Learning Community & Pre-Accelerator Program, designed to bridge the gap between clinical expertise and business acumen, helping you create a profitable service delivery model that empowers you to do more of the work you love. We’re offering a limited number of placements, commencing October 12. Please view our overview page to learn more.

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