Oct 11, 2021
I learned a lot of things about starting a private practice the hard way. I'm grateful to share the lessons that I learned from my journey and help you not make the same mistakes that I did. First, I speak about the importance of knowing your 'why' on starting a private practice. Once you know your 'why,' other aspects of your business will begin to fall into place. Tune in as I dive deep into lessons learned around finances, marketing, outsourcing, and systems. Plus, I direct you to all sorts of resources that will help you on your journey. Thanks for being with me!
Why did you want to go into this profession, to begin with? Why did you want to go into clinical work, become a therapist, a social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, or whatever you are within this particular profession? Your 'why' is an important piece to keep in mind as you build your private practice. So, I invite you to think about your inspiration. When we get busy with business, we can lose sight of our inspiration, and eventually, we will feel a little burnt out. Private practice is hard work! We have experienced a lot of struggles because of Covid, so knowing your why is more important than ever.
One of the things that you need is a sense of wanting to feed the creative side of yourself. We can all feed our creative selves differently, but is a private practice adding to your creative side? One of the things that you need to be successful in private practice is an entrepreneurial spirit. In other words, you need to accept challenges along the way on your private practice journey. I love to learn about the business side of things; it's what inspired me to start The Practice of Therapy back in 2016. I started this podcast so I could share lessons learned around the business aspects of private practice.
One of the first things you have to learn about private practice is the money side of the business. I put together a course on teaching people about the financial side of private practice. When you go into business, you need to have some money to kind of back that up. A lot of traditional companies do it through investors. In other words, they get people to give them money for some return on that investment. When we go into private practice, we want to be self-sufficient. If you're interested in learning more about managing the financial side of your practice, check out my course Money Matters In Private Practice.
So, I started in private practice, doing it part-time and working for an agency. The extra income took the pressure off of me when I built my private practice. I wouldn't recommend diving into private practice unless you have enough money to back yourself up. I spent a year saving money, so I had a reserve. That way, if something happened, I had a buffer to protect me through emergencies. You need at least three to six months of income and expenses saved away before you jump into full-time. It will take a tremendous amount of pressure off of yourself.
One thing that I've learned during the pandemic is that there is more than enough business for all of us. It's a matter of being able to put yourself out there and market your practice in a way that people can find you. That's all marketing is, is just making sure that you've got a website that is performing well and you are networking with the right people. If you are insurance-based, you need to be on the right insurance panels. I have a Facebook Live where I give all sorts of marketing ideas. You can watch the replay HERE.
When I first started my practice, I made my systems and processes much more complicated than they needed to be. So one of the things I would recommend is to keep it simple and don't make it overly difficult for yourself. People start getting worried about regulations such as HIPAA, state requirements, and all that. You don't want to do anything illegal and unethical. However, these fears can hold us back. You don't need to make things overly complicated. The bottom line to HIPAA is that we protect client information; that's something we do anyway in our profession. Make sure that you encrypt your equipment, and you encrypt your storage of documents. Please read my blog about HIPAA Anxiety In Private Practice.
People are reluctant to invest in things that are going to be a better use of their time. When initially starting a practice, therapists do too much of the work that isn't a good return on their time. For instance, if you're still returning phone calls to your clients and scheduling your clients, then you might want to outsource. Whenever I do consult therapists, that's the first place I start. The more you can outsource your administrative functions, the easier it will be for your practice. You can bootstrap and do these things yourself when you don't have a lot of clients. However, at some point, you will have to outsource it. I recommend outsourcing if you have ten or more clients per week.
There are only so many clients you can see in one day. There are only so many clients you can see in a week. One of the things that you will want to think about doing is diversifying your income. If you're going to increase your revenue within your business, many people believe they need more clients. However, it might not be a good return on the investment of your time. So, the next logical step for a lot of people is starting a group practice. A group practice might not be for everyone. You need leadership skills, and you need to enjoy working with other people. Check out my free webinar Solo to Group Practice: Adding More Therapists to Grow Your Time & Income.
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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 wherever you listen to it. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn, and Pinterest, “Like” us on Facebook.