Harry Yntema is a naturopath with his own practice specialized in Eastern medicine and foot reflexology. Harry set up and performed several detox weekends on Terschelling in the 1980s. A source of inspiration with a lot of knowledge about alternative medicine.
Where did your love for naturopathy start?
That started very early. When I was about seventeen I read a lot of books in the library on all kinds of naturopathic-related topics. I immediately thought it was a very interesting subject and I thought: I must do something with this. I saw a foot reflexology course in the newspaper that was offered in a village nearby, which I signed up for. And then I realized that I wanted to make this my work and I started to delve more into this. We moved to a village in the north of The Netherlands and a man who lived there was connected with the Academy of Natural Medicine in Hilversum, a very important organization. That was the academy in the Netherlands. I have completed the six-year course for Naturopathic Therapist.
How did you start setting up your own practice?
The first week I arrived at the Academy I had already set up my practice. I taught myself how to do all this. “What doesn’t know, what doesn’t hurt”, I thought. I did not have to register with the Chamber of Commerce because it is a liberal profession that I performed.
Back then, the internet wasn’t all that important, so I started flyering around town to attract my customers. I’ve been to a number of cities, and done word of mouth, which got a lot of responses. I had made a clear flyer with my specializations, so people could see exactly what I could help them with.
Did you have to invest a lot to set up your own practice?
No, relatively little. I built the practice next to our house. The tax was a bit difficult, but we came to a good solution. The tax environment was good at the time. People who started for themselves were not immediately fully addressed for the tax. The first year it was 20%, the second year 40% and the third year 60%, so I had a good run-up.
How many clients did you have at the beginning?
In the beginning I sometimes had one or two patients a day. That went very slowly. The first half of the year was not a big deal, but the second half of the year went a little better. But then I thought, I have to do more than just patients, so I immediately started offering foot reflexology courses and massage courses. I was very busy in the beginning. From the course file I got many more patients, and so it gradually became busier. After two years, I had more than five patients in one day, so this is a good indicator to keep for anyone looking to start their own business. Keep going, you have to do your best. Facebook is a bit overrun with too much stuff these days, so I think word of mouth is definitely working well today.
What did people pay for a session? How did you determine the amount you asked patients?
I built it up. In the beginning it was 45 guilders per hour, but that gradually increased. I just kind of sat down on what most therapists were asking. So I built it up slowly.
What negative effects have you noticed when you set up a business and how have you dealt with it?
At some point I found out that giving advice to people was not quite my thing. I found that people didn’t quite follow the advice I gave them. This was sometimes difficult for me, because I always took a lot of time for my patients. It disappointed me a bit, so I started teaching courses. This gave me much more energy, because it is my passion and I could then share this with other people.
As a naturopath, do you also have something against regular care?
Certainly not. The difference is acute care and long-term care. The regular side is more acute care, which must be dealt with immediately. People who have been dealing with complaints for a long time often require long-term care.
These are often people who have already tried many things but nothing works for them. These people then came to me. I think they do a good job in acute care. But it’s often a suppression of a bigger problem. Something goes wrong somewhere in the body: the body is a system and you can intervene.
Do you sometimes find regular care not a hamster wheel?
Yes, sometimes it is. Humans develop a complaint, this is suppressed and gradually more and more complaints are added. The average person relies on regular care. People who think a little more deeply end up in alternative care.
Naturopathy is my passion, because everything is related. The body must be in balance. When the body is out of balance, you have to look for a situation that produces a balance situation. There are over four hundred different naturopathic therapies. This is sometimes viewed negatively, because people generally know little about it. We are, in fact, doctors too. But doctors must follow protocols. You can’t compare apples to oranges.
You also take natural medication yourself. Have you ever noticed the effects of certain natural drugs?
Certainly. There are hundreds of signals that the body gives if, for example, you are deficient in a certain vitamin. The use of vitamins in humans is minimal nowadays, if you compare it with the past. Nowadays there are too few good nutrients in the products. I found out with a muscle test that I have a major deficiency in vitamins and especially minerals. Then I took a good multivitamin, Zinc and Vitamin C to change this, but I changed my whole diet.
At a certain point I noticed that my toxin level was too high and then I started taking chlorella and spirulina. That has had a very good effect on me and is still the most important natural drug I take to this day. I take it three times a day, because it has to be well distributed throughout the day. I’m tall so I have to swallow more than the average person.
What advice would you give to starting entrepreneurs?
Focus on what you want most. First do an extensive research into what you want and what you want to put down. It is good to first do a market research into what is already there, and to make a clear plan for yourself on paper. Talk to people from the Chamber of Commerce and other people. There are so many people who want to help you. You can get all the advice you want. Everyone is willing to help everyone these days, so I’d say go for it. Now is the time to start a new business. There are subsidies for everything, you can get a start-up bonus, get a tax reduction… there are really many benefits.
How do you tackle the well-known “bears on the road”?
Talking a lot with people who have business sense helps. You can ask people for help in any area. There doesn’t have to be any bears on the road at all. You can start a great business. I heard on the news today that about 1500 catering companies have started in the Corona era. They get so much outside help, so they just start. There is so much possible!
Starting a new business is difficult, but you have to have the guts to actually continue it. I would say: stick out your stems, and try to start your own company. That freedom is fantastic! I have experienced it and it is the most beautiful thing there is.