The Doula Business Guide, (2nd Edition, 2014)

DBGe2_cover_highRezBy Patty Brennan

Foreword by Penny Simkin

The Doula Business Guide ($29.95)

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The Doula Business Guide E-Book ($22.95)

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“This has been the singular ‘light in the dark’ resource for me as I begin my career as a doula. Though we have never met, I have found confidence in my ability to navigate the nebulous world of self-employment and doula work and find myself asking, “What would Patty do?” — Jessica Gee, San Mateo, CA

Why should I invest in this book?

The Doula Business Guide, 2nd Edition, is the must have, comprehensive resource for anyone seeking to establish an independent doula business or program. Over 300 pages of inspiration and useful information for launching your dream career and making it pay well. When you invest in this thorough guide, you get Patty’s 35 years of expertise distilled into one go-to resource. Each chapter is like taking an entire training course on the subject. The book shows you how to:

  • Determine which business model is right for you (see our detailed analysis of a variety of models).
  • Avoid ruined friendships with our frank discussion on the pros and cons of business partnerships.
  • Identify seven critical decisions every new business owner must make.
  • Command respect from the medical community.
  • Build a professional image by establishing and maintaining professional boundaries with clients.
  • Achieve success through implementation of low-cost, 21st-century marketing strategies.
  • Set your fees, communicate with clients about money, avoid conflicts, and get paid without hassles or guilt.
  • Stay out of trouble with the IRS while taking every rightful deduction you can and lowering your overall tax liability.
  • Determine whether a nonprofit business model is right for you.
  • Avoid common mistakes in establishing a doula program.
  • Win grants up to $200,000 and more to fund your doula program.
  • Protect yourself from liabilities unique to doulas.
  • And lots more (seriously!)

Order Now!

The Doula Business Guide ($29.95)

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“I created a website today and that section of your book was wonderful. I had never done it before (for example, buying a domain, figuring out the content of the site, etc.), so the guidance was awesome. I am also working on establishing myself as a business and I was really nervous about how that works but that section of your book was also really great. Thanks again!” — Elizabeth Gillette

“AMAZING! I’M THRILLED! I wanted you to know that your book arrived yesterday and I am tremendously impressed. What a fantastic book! I can’t put it down. I keep going from heading to heading, wondering ‘What does she say about this? About that?” and “ooh, that’s good” or “I love that story about Nan Koehler!.’ You’ve done an impressive job and I am happy it is so comprehensive!! Not only do independent doulas need this information, but so many have their fingers in a few different styles of doula care. Or they wonder if they could make it go in another model. It also has a lot to offer non-doulas who are on the board of directors of doula organizations. We discussed so many of the topics in Chapter 7 and 6 just two weeks ago. But at the time it just felt overwhelming because we didn’t have any template to follow or even a starting point. So thank you!” — Amy L. Gilliland, Ph.D., CD(DONA), DONA Approved Doula Trainer and Doula Researcher

“I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been glued to your book tonight–can’t put it down, even though my bedtime has come and gone long ago. The information you have packed into this book is amazing, and this is an absolutely invaluable resource for me as I get started with my doula business. You are SO encouraging, and hit on so many of the issues that have crossed my mind in considering every aspect of becoming a professional doula–on both the business side of things as well as on the personal. I just wanted to say ‘Thank you.’ This will be read, and re-read, and resourced, Lord willing, for many years to come.” — Janis Flint, Ravenna, MI

“I wanted to say thank you for discussing non-profits and the history of the center in the Doula Business Guide. I believe that I will be working towards something like that in the Keweenaw as I walk this path.” — Jess Juntunen, Hancock, MI

“I just received my copy of The Doula Business Guideyesterday and I am pouring through it. It’s exactly what I was looking for in regards to business advice with growing my business. Thank you for writing such a comprehensive guide.” — Natalia Hals, North Branch, MN

“Thank you for your wonderfully encouraging, helpful book. After reading it, I feel I have the resources to confidently market my doula practice. I moved from a small city in Minnesota to Portland, OR last year and went from being a busy doula to not having any clients or connections with the birth community. After wasting time wondering if something was wrong with me being a doula, I am now actually excited to network with professionals, organize my marketing materials, and tweak my website. Thanks again for the inspiration!” — Celia Linnemann, Portland, OR

“What a valuable resource! I’ve recently read and reread The Doula Business Guide. I am a returning doula. I have known Patty for many years and have admired her ability to morph her business into a survivable and vibrant business while many midwives, doulas and childbirth educators have not, especially during the downturn of the economy. I personally chose to find a full-time job with benefits but am now ready to return to my passion. And even though I was one of the early doulas to have a website, I also knew that the generation having babies today uses social media and technology more than I could ever imagine. I knew I needed a guide book and this book is great on that front and for marketing ideas. Also very helpful for deciding on a business structure. If you are contemplating becoming a non-profit organization, this is a must read. Patty not only openly and honestly shares her successes, but also her failures and what she has learned, so you don’t have to experience them for yourself. What a gift to us all!” — Gloria Cunningham, Detroit, MI

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Choosing the Path

  • Consider …
  • Going It Alone–Sole Proprietors
  • Teaming Up–Partnerships (Think Twice!)
  • Should You Incorporate Your Business?
  • Collaborative Models
  • Evolution of Center for the Childbearing Year

Chapter 2. Implementing Your Creative Vision

  • Mission/Values/Vision
  • Naming Your Business
  • Considerations Regarding Office Space
  • Defining Your Service Package
  • Money Matters!
  • Third-Party Reimbursement for Doula Services
  • Staying Out of Trouble with the IRS
  • Getting the Paperwork Together
  • A Word about “The Stuff”
  • Commanding Respect

Chapter 3. Why Doulas Matter: How to Market Your Practice

  • The Big Picture–Marketing Overview
  • Cultivating Referrals, Repeat Business, Word of Mouth
  • Print Media
  • Online Media
  • Radio and Television
  • Establishing a Community Presence
  • Evaluation of Marketing Efforts

Chapter 4. To Be or Not to Be: Nonprofit Primer

  • What is a Nonprofit Corporation?
  • Pros and Cons of Nonprofits
  • Step-by-Step Set-Up
  • About “the Board”
  • Cloning the Executive Director
  • Fundraising–The Bottom Line
  • Story of Center for the Childbearing Year
  • The “Essentially Flawed Concept”
  • Reality Check
  • The Story Continues …

Chapter 5. A Doula for Every Woman Who Wants One: Doula Program Models

  • Doulas Care
  • Michigan Doula Connection
  • The HealthConnect One Model
  • Community-Based Program Models Summary
  • Hospital-Based Doula Programs

Chapter 6. Making the Case for Funding Doula Programs

  • Identify Funders with a Mission Match
  • Cultivating the Grantor–Grantee Relationship
  • Components of a Proposal
  • Proposal Writing Tips
  • Specific Doula Program Funding Strategies
  • Heads Up on Fiduciary Relationships
  • Sample Funded Proposal: Ann Arbor Thrift Shop
  • Sample Funded Proposal: Ann Arbor Community Foundation
  • What If Your Proposal Doesn’t Get Funded?
  • Honing Your Grant Writing Skills

Chapter 7. Risk Management for Doulas and Doula Programs

  • Scope of Practice
  • How to Make an Effective Referral
  • Creating Effective Client Contracts
  • Small Claims Court and the Doula
  • Risk Reduction Strategies for Doula Programs
  • Poor Birth Outcomes and the Doula
  • HIPAA Laws and Doulas
  • Child Abuse and Neglect and the Doula–Are Doulas Mandated Reporters?
  • Domestic Violence Awareness
  • Boundaries, Personal Safety, and Self Defense for Doulas
  • LLC Formation
  • Transfer of Risk: Insurance Considerations

Chapter 8. Going the Distance

  • The Art of Being “On Call”
  • Boundary Setting Revisited
  • Nurturing Yourself as Well as You Nurture Others
  • I Don’t Have Time to Read a Book on Time Management
  • Doula Power!

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Excerpts from Penny Simkin’s Foreword to the Book:

A glance over the Table of Contents shows how complete this book is, covering everything: various models for a private practice or a doula program, how to set it up, market it, remain within the law, finance the practice or program, and manage all possible risks to survival.

She also covers, with humor and the voice of experience, such touchy topics as individual lifestyle issues, self-care, and personal relationships within the family, community, and with clients. She even shows how we can be effective birth activists without jeopardizing our clients’ well-being in the birth room. Whew! . . . An appropriate subtitle for this book might be, “Everything You Wanted to Know about Doula Business, but Were Too Naïve to Ask.”

. . . this book is a very good read! Patty’s honesty, conversational tone, instructive stories, and obvious expertise carry you through each chapter. She shares pearls of wisdom that she has gleaned from years of varied experiences with many types of doula practice.

As we learn from Patty, good business practices ensure that the wisdom, experience, and unique assistance provided by doulas will continue to be available and will grow to benefit more childbearing women and their families. This book is more than an excellent guide to business, but also a guide to the high road for each of us and to positive growth for the entire doula movement.

What Childbirth Leaders are Saying about The Doula Business Guide:

“Many of us believe that the over-medicalized American way of birth must change, but no one has done what Patty Brennan does here. Combining smart business sense with the wisdom of grass roots organizing, Brennan provides a complete nuts and bolts guide to creating and sustaining a business that helps moms get the safe and satisfying birth they want.”

Raymond De Vries, Ph.D., Professor, Bioethics Program, University of Michigan School of Medicine

“Patty Brennan provides a step-by-step guide for building a sustainable doula business as well as a bounty of inspiration for staying the course. The Doula Business Guide is a recipe for success as a birth worker and an entrepreneur.”

—Geradine Simkins CNM, MSN, President & Interim Executive Director, Midwives Alliance of North America

“Patty Brennan’s vast experience of directing a nonprofit center, writing grants, collaborating with community agencies, managing for-profit programs, and operating an independent doula practice offers a broad and practical perspective. For any model of making doula services available that Brennan hasn’t directly done, she has done a thorough job of researching. Whether you are new to the field or an experienced doula interested in broadening your business focus, I highly recommend this book.”

—Teri Shilling, MS, CD(DONA), IBCLC, LCCE, Owner of Passion for Birth

“Patty Brennan’s business acumen and expertise really show in this thorough, well-written, and researched business book for doulas and others with birth-related practices, including midwives. Marketing is key to your business and is very well covered here. This should be the first book you get when you decide to be any kind of birth practitioner. We can only change birth practices for the better if we are successful at reaching our audience.”

—Jan Tritten, Midwife and Editor of Midwifery Today Magazine

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To Order

The Doula Business Guide ($29.95)

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The Doula Business Guide E-Book ($22.95)

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To pay with a check:

Send $29.95 plus $7 for shipping and handling within the U.S. (total $36.95), payable to:

Center for the Childbearing Year
722 Brooks St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

If you live outside the U.S., please order online so correct S&H charges can be calculated.

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