Many of us have visions of private practice before entering grad school- but little about our journey in school directly prepares us for private practice. So, when an opportunity or desire for private practice reemerges it can be difficult to know where to start. And, if we were being honest, sitting down to make plans might just freak us out and stop us in our tracks!
How Planning Can Stop the Process
Why can planning lead us to a screeching halt on our private practice journey? Because starting a business is not a small task! Starting a private practice, no matter how many days or hours you work- is starting a business! And, many of us don't have a strong business background that gives us confidence in this area.
So, many of us feel stuck to either put our dream on the shelf, or sort of just go into the idea of "just trying it out." This helps to lower our anxiety and allows us to make some movement and at least get started- which can be great- at least for a time.
The Problem with Winging It
The problem is, there can be a lot of unintended consequences to not creating a clear vision and plan for your private practice. And those don't just apply to you, your income, your life balance, etc. The consequences can also seep into your clinical outcomes, your client's experiences in therapy, your ability to be present for your clients, and even your ability to continue working with your clients.
How to Plan and Not Shut Down
I want to share with you a few tricks that can help you be intentional and plan, and keep you from getting overwhelmed and shutting down along the way! You CAN create a beautiful business. All of the fears and what ifs are MORE likely if you avoid this crucial step!
Start with a Clear Vision
I can't stress enough how important it is to clarify your vision. No two private practices are EVER the same or need to be the same. You need to create something that really works for the way you work best, for the kind of clients you can provide extraordinary services to, etc. A clear vision is not 15 clients a week. Really allow yourself to visualize, journal, and clarify ALL aspects of running a business.
Break It Down Into Chunks
How many of you have downloaded the free business planning template from the small business alliance feeling ready to go, and then ended up getting overwhelmed and giving up? Focus on breaking up big projects like that into small, little chunks. In our bootcamp we have a day called "business planning" but every one of the 8 modules we review is actually a part of the business plan. We are just breaking up the process into smaller chunks that all come together!
Find Something That Makes Sense for You
While we are talking about fun templates- the truth is- private practice work is different from a lot of other types of businesses. We have different schedules, energy levels, etc. that have to be planned for. Most templates out there don't really make sense when you try to use them for private practice work. That doesn't mean you are doing something wrong!
Get Outside Support
It doesn't have to be from us- but find someone who you can get real help and training so you can learn the skills you need to run the kind of business that you are envisioning. Most of us aren't just overwhelmed with how to create a business plan because we don't have the right template- we are overwhelmed because we have a LOT of questions! What are the best practices? How many clients should I be seeing? Should I take insurance? What is ok to have a late cancellation policy? What kind of marketing isn't going to feel icky to me? Find a spot where you can get guidance from a person or people who know you, your work, and about successful psychotherapy work!
A Few Other Quick Tips for Planning in Private Practice
Run the numbers. Really look at ALL the expenses including retirement, savings, sick-time, vacation, trainings, insurance, credit card fees, taxes, etc.
Understand that money is just a resource- and you can use this resource to be a centered, well-trained, excellent therapist.
Create a clear plan that is detailed enough that you know what ACTION to take on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Create a clear plan that allows you to see if what you are doing is WORKING so you can tweak things that aren't working, or just stop doing them altogether!
I hope this helps inspire you today to get clear and put that plan in place! If you want some more intense support and nitty gritty direction, you can learn more about bootcamp here.