Business Savvy Doula: Featuring Emily Schaffer


Why are you considered a business savvy doula?

I began my passion with empowering parents about 18 years ago, when I noticed that there was a trend of parents not getting the professional assistance during the postpartum period. Family lived too far away and friends were too busy with their own lives. I also noticed that the modern parent was overly educated and under experienced. It was a perfect set up for failure. With this knowledge I quickly grew my doula business, which has now blossomed into Bay Area Baby Planner.

What is it that resonates with you when you hear yourself described in this way?

I am honored to be business savvy doula! I have taught myself everything I know. I have a B.A. in Holistic Health and that definitely did not focus on anything business related.

What was a business decision you made that you are proud of?

I remember the day that I was “stuck” or “plateauing” in my business. I was feeling burnt  out and uncreative. I happened to run into a friend that was a business coach and yoga instructor, Jolie Cash. She described the way she guides small business owners into growing their business. I was instantly in love with the unconventional process and I committed to 6 months. This changed my business forever.

Who are your mentors for being business savvy or where did you start learning about the business side of things?

I read many empowering books, articles and Internet searches. Most of all, I did all my homework with Jolie Cash. The book, The 4-hour Work Week was an eye opener as well. As far as mentors are concerned, I started looking around in my local community. However, I found that if Iooked within myself, I found the best mentor around.

Can you describe a situation when you made a poor choice that hurt your business that you learned from?

I would say that trusting your instinct and “gut feeling” is key! I took on a client that I felt might not be the greatest match (not trusting my gut feeling), then I had to cancel on them a week into the job. This comes off as very unprofessional, but I dealt with it the best I could. I will never take on a client without “sitting” with it first.

When you trained to be a doula were you satisfied with the training piece about starting a business?

Not at all! I think only 1 hour was focused on it, however that was many years ago.  Luckily now there are other doula training organizations that offer well-rounded trainings.

How do you figure out what fee to charge as a doula?

I revise my fee every year on the following: economy, market trend and the value of my service. If I have increased my certifications or growth as a business, then I might raise my fees. I feel if I have more to offer, than the average doula, then my rates should reflect that.

What business advice do you have for other doulas?

Never stop learning! Be a student for life! There is so much inspiration and knowledge out there, so take advantage of it. You never know what you will need with your next client. The more you learn, the more you can offer.

How do you connect the success of your business with advocating normal birth?  Or do you? I am only a certified postpartum doula.

What are the top 5 things you would say are the most important things to consider for a new doula starting a doula business.

  • Keep taking classes & keep learning
  • Sign up for product recalls
  • Keep with in your code of ethics
  • Keep in mind liability when giving advice
  • Always have a signed contract


Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

A professional doula is always learning and growing. Learning from their mistakes, trials and errors and growing with every client. Make your work your passion and your passion your life. If you are not passionate about what you do, then find something else to be passionate about.  You’ll attract clients to your passionate energy and the money will flow.

Back to blog