Most people are not in the market to buy a private counseling practice. Most people are not having a casual conversation about the possibility of buying a private practice. However, one hot summer day, at my son’s friend’s birthday party, I became that person. Long story short, stars aligned, and I found myself talking to a business broker about my interest in purchasing a group practice for sale and the rest is history.
I knew NOTHING about buying a business (and still have SO MUCH to learn) but during the process, I gained some invaluable knowledge about transitioning from solo practitioner to group practice owner essentially overnight. If you are in the market to expand your practice by purchasing another, here are five questions you might be asking yourself that I have the answers for you already:
Where do you go to buy a business anyway?
If you are anything like me, you had no idea that businesses could be bought and sold. Particularly a counseling business! If you are looking to expand from solo practitioner to a group practice, you will want to consult with a business broker. Specifically, someone who has done work with medical practices before. A business broker will help you with everything from matching you with someone who is selling their business, in the beginning, up, until the very end where you sign the final documents and agreements.
Do I need a lawyer?
Yes! At first, I didn’t think I needed a lawyer. I was trying to save money and thought I could get by with just “consulting with my lawyer friends” or “Googling” whatever questions I had. However, as the process moved forward, I realized it was best to have all documents reviewed by a seasoned lawyer savvy in medical business sales and documents. Trust me, this will save you money in the long run.
Do I need an accountant?
Again, this is a resounding YES! Do yourself a favor and meet with a trusted accountant. It’s best to review all the numbers and have a proper evaluation of the business. The business broker will already have the value of the business completed but it’s best to do your due diligence and have your own accountant assess the value of the business themselves. Also, as you continue to grow your business, the relationship you have with both your accountant and your lawyer will become handy.
Can I afford to buy a business?
It may seem overwhelming at first to think of buying a business (and yes, it is overwhelming!) But, you have options when it comes to money. If you have the cash to purchase, hey, more power to you, that’s amazing! But, most of us, don’t have the cash to dish out to buy a group practice. So, if you need options to finance your expansion, good news, there are choices. Different options include business loans, seller finance options, and investors.
Do some research and see what business loans may be available. There are loans out there specifically for women, small businesses, and more. See what you can take advantage of. Another option is to see if the seller is willing to finance a loan to you. Often this can be negotiated during the sale of the business and at a lower interest rate than a loan from a bank. Finally, reach out to others to see if anyone would want to invest in your business. This could be a great opportunity to network with others and build long-lasting relationships to benefit your business and the community.
How do I make all these decisions?
Deciding to expand your business from a solo mission to a group practice is a major decision in and of itself. It is the first decision of thousands you will make as a business owner. As you move forward, you will be faced with a multitude of decisions on a daily basis. I have been able to make decisions by utilizing my supports, doing my research, trusting my gut and accepting my failures and mistakes. It’s not an easy road but it’s an exciting and rewarding one. If you are ready to learn, grow and be challenged, then this is for you!
Alycia Burant, MA, LPC, NCC is founder, owner and therapist at Healthy Minds Therapy in bustling Alexandria, VA. Her practice has three locations in Northern Virginia providing expert support and services for people in times of need. When she is not working, she enjoys relaxing with her family, wine tasting, cooking and traveling.