Aug 17, 2020
When I first started my practice, there was very little information explaining how to start a private practice. However, there are a lot of basics that are important for people to know. This episode is all about getting back to the basics and thinking about what is needed in order to have a successful practice. I share what I have learned through my own successes and failures (by the way, there have been a lot). Plus, I share what I've learned from other clinicians and conversations that we've had. Enjoy!
Always start with your why. Think about things in-depth and have clarity for yourself as to why you want to start a private practice versus just working for someone else. Private practice isn't for everyone. You have to have a bit of a mindset shift from being an employee to becoming a self-employed person. This is something you have to get your head around. Look at your reasons why you want to be in private practice. For most people, they wish to have the autonomy of creating their schedule. Listen to Why Knowing Your Why Is Important In Private Practice.
Next, think about what sort of business model you want to use in your practice because, like it or not, being in private practice is like running a business. You have to have business savvy in running your practice. In the private practice startup guide, there are some links to one of the most popular blog posts that I did early on about setting up a private practice because there are lots of different ways to set it up. Read Business Models in Private Practice.
One thing that you need is a place or a method to meet with clients. You will need to have a private space to do that. During COVID, telehealth is now the predominant way of providing services. Essentially, you can have an online practice, and that's a massive game-changer in terms of saving costs and being able to cut down on overhead. That's something to consider, starting online without even having an office space. Now more than ever is a great time to go into private practice or be a mental health provider because there is a shortage of us folks.
A lot of people make a mistake when going into private practice if they jump into it too quickly. You've got to make sure that you've got a financial buffer for yourself. Also, you need to have a clear picture of what sort of income you need from your practice to support your lifestyle. One of the things that you need to do as a business owner is to have a financial buffer. If you didn't see any clients for a month, would you be able to pay yourself plus be able to cover your expenses? I recommend putting a lot of effort into creating that buffer for yourself. It may be beneficial for those folks that might be transitioning from agency work to start your practice part-time. Learn more in the Money Matters in Private Practice Course.
How are people going to know who you are? People should be to find you so that you can help them. Marketing is just merely a relationship-building exercise. It is making sure that you're putting yourself out there for people to find you because believe me, people are looking for us. People want help, and people want to be able to connect with the right person and find people who can help them with the things they're struggling with. The first part of marketing is merely networking; being able to build relationships within your community. The other part of that is with the niche that you defined for yourself. It's essential to establish a specialty area for yourself because it will make it easier for the right clients to find you. Listen to Niche Marketing in Private Practice.
As you grow, one of the things that will happen is that you can get busy with a lot of stuff that doesn't bring you any income. That's when you want to begin to automate and outsource. The big mistake that people make is they create a mindset about money that doesn't work when it comes to business. One of the things about being able to run a business is you've got to be prepared at different times be able to invest in your business. You'll either be investing your time or your money and sometimes both. Think of it as a learning period, being able to set up things on your own, if you're comfortable with that, all of those things is an investment of your time. You should be able to, at least over time, get a return of the investment of your time in your practice. In other words, it will pay off in the long run.
Think about your mindset, and mainly your money mindset is not to be afraid to spend money. One of the things that I hear from people is that they're scared to spend money on things that are going to give them a return on their investment. For example, a Psychology Today listing costs about $30 a month. That is absolutely a good investment because if you got just one client from that, it would pay for itself. The other part is being able to spend your money on things that will free up your time.
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Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn and Pinterest “Like” us on Facebook