Tres Adames has been a reader and contributor here for a while. He’s one of the first people that reached out to me on a regular basis. As well, he’s been implementing what I’ve written and podcasted about for years. I interviewed Tres for the private practice podcast a while back and he shared a ton of tips. I invited him to start contributing on a semi-regular basis because he has so many great things to help you! Here’s Tres!
When you are starting a private practice, one of the best things you can do is keep costs down. This is true for any small business. Many people borrow large sums of money to start a business, and if they fail to make a profit, find themselves in a bigger hole than when they started. To avoid this pitfall, do whatever it takes to keep costs low and avoid going into debt.
These are my three favorite strategies that I used during the first two years of building my practice.
Private Practice Cost-Cutting Strategy #1 | Find Inexpensive Office Space
During my first two years, I used my personal connections to find office space at a local church. I actually have several therapist friends who have offices at churches with little to no rent involved. Many large churches have more rooms than they know what to do with, and many pastors would be thrilled to have an “in house therapist” to whom they can make referrals. However, most churches will prefer to have a faith-affirming therapist and won’t just let anyone use their space. If you are able to move into a church, I would suggest giving some type of regular gift, even if it’s some pro bono sessions you can offer the congregation. Finding opportunities like this will take some networking, but it’s worth looking into if you are just starting out.
Another idea is to find another therapist or professional from whom you can sublease some space. I almost did the same thing when I finally moved my office out of the church. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists are just some of the many professionals that might be interested in renting out an extra room—even if it’s only during off-hours.
Private Practice Cost-Cutting Strategy #2 | Use What’s Already Free
Rather than immediately dropping a lot of money on an expensive website, take some time to build a website on your own using WordPress or Weebly. There’s plenty of free templates that look clean and professional enough to get you started. The important thing is to get your name out there. Eventually, when you can afford it, hire a design firm to build you an eye-catching website. Also set up a Facebook page and Twitter. They are free to build and will add the initial boost of SEO to your new website once you add your link.
Use free online tools like Google Calendar to schedule appointments. I would suggest using a coded system to protect privacy. Also take advantage of free trials. Web applications like Simple Practice and Therapy Notes offer a free trail period. Don’t forget to sign up for Psychology Today, which also offers an initial free trial. You’ll need as many click as possible to get those first clients coming through your door.
Private Practice Cost-Cutting Strategy #3 | Shop for Great Deals
The Dollar Store is my best friend. I buy all my office supplies from there and am constantly surprised at what I continue to find there. Just some of the items I buy regularly from the dollar store include:
- Pens, paper, paperclips, tacks, sticky notes, staplers, staples, notecards, etc.
- Soap, hand sanitizer, and air freshener.
- Paper Towels, napkins, and tissues.
- Journals: to give to clients for homework writing assignments.
- Name brand snacks (individually wrapped packs of nuts, raisins, granola bars, and pretzels that I offer to clients in the lobby) and baskets (to display snacks).
Many of these items can cost double (and even triple) the amount if you were to buy them at retail. I also find great deals at close-out stores when purchasing larger items.
When starting a private practice, you may feel a lot of undue pressure to have things as professional as possible. While this is the goal, it takes time to get there. Increase your margins by spending less. For me, it really took a year before things really began to get rolling. Avoid the temptation to have everything at once and have the patience to slowly build your practice over time.
Tres Adames is a Christian counselor in Peoria, Arizona. He owns a faith-based private practice where he helps adults, couples, teens, and families find “strength for today and hope for tomorrow.” Over the past several years, Tres has combined his undergraduate background in media communication with his graduate seminary training to build his private practice through blogging and podcasting. Visit his website and learn more about his counseling in Peoria, Arizona.