When you imagine a business plan, typically an image of a 20 page document comes to mind, sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust, and it makes you want to run for the hills. My first business plan was a napkin sketch but in that napkin sketch were some key components that helped me be successful and I want to help you today figure out those parts so you can feel confident that you have your business planning basics down.
What is in a business plan?
A business plan is a live document, meaning, it will change over time but it is what you go back to when you get stuck on making decisions in the next steps for your business. For example, you may start out as a solo practice and then one day realize, you really want to add clinicians. So you will go back through this process and adjust each time you want to make a change.
Essentially, the business plan talks about why you have this business, what services are provided and for whom and at what cost. So let’s break that down.
Remember your perfect day exercise you did last week? What were you doing? Why were you doing it? Go back to that. Your purpose is the foundation of all your business decisions. Write down your purpose. Is it to help families heal from divorce? Is it to improve the mental health of LGBTQ youth in your community? Is to to change how couples communicate?
Next step, who do you love working with. It could simply be teens or it can be super specific like breast cancer survivors. How do you know these people exist? Is it from your own experience or are they in your community?
How do you help them? Write it down. Individual counseling? Couples Counseling? Even if you have visions of multiple locations, start with where you are at. No need to stress yourself out. Let’s make the beginning successful so it is easier to grow down the road.
And then we get to the really important part - what makes you unique? I like to look at my strengths as a business. It helps me down the road when it comes to marketing and it also helps me see how I offer something unlike anyone else! Write down your strengths as a clinician, as a business owner, focusing on how you stand out from others.
Next up, what do you charge for these services from your talented, gifted self?
This is where the financial backbone of your business plan comes into play. Many therapists pick their fee based on what insurance reimburses them, what they see their peers charging or they base it on what they would pay for therapy for themselves. I totally get it.
Yet, those other therapists and insurance companies don’t know you, your lifestyle, your expenses, your costs for running a business and all that goes into factoring your fee. It can be a pain to look at the numbers. This is honestly where I struggled the most but I didn’t give up. I asked for help from the experts. I got an accountant. I hired a financial advisor as well to help me understand how the business finances impact the personal financial goals of my family. And I sat with those people until I understood how to project my expenses, plan for my taxes and guess what, as I understood everything, my fee had to go up or my business wasn’t going to thrive.
There’s that perfect day again! What do you need financially to have that perfect day? Let the vision guide how you determine how you serve, who you serve and the financial landscape of those decisions.
At the end of the day, if your business is healthy, you are more likely to stay healthy, stop burning out and be a great therapist who can confidently make decisions because they know their purpose and their budget.
Remember how I said I had to get help? We are super excited to introduce you to our accountant in a free upcoming webinar. He is going to talk about what to consider as you end the year in your business so you have the lowest tax liability, he will answer some of your questions LIVE as well.