The website has been created, you’ve found a location for your office, business cards are made… your ducks are in a row and you are ready to go live! But, creating a private practice, and actually running one, are two different things. Gone are the days of creating and dreaming of a private practice as you shift to actually running your business. It can be overwhelming. So, I hope the below tips of lessons I learned in my first month will help you!
1. Just because you build it does NOT mean they will come
For some reason, I thought that as soon as I opened up private practice I would be full in a month or two. I created a beautiful website, had professional photos taken, hired a consultant, and found a niche. But, after a month in private practice, I have realized that effort plus aesthetics does not equal success. Your website can look awesome, you can be a very skilled therapist, you can hire a consultant, you can have a beautiful office, you can put hundreds of hours into building your business, BUT, that does not mean people will instantly start booking appointments with you.
2. You do not need a virtual assistant right away
I wanted my business to look as professional as possible when I opened, so, I hired a virtual assistant to answer my phone calls and create blog designs. I spent many stressful hours focusing on training, writing phone scripts, and creating a contract. Hours that could have been spent on more important tasks as I opened up my business.
Don’t get me wrong, virtual assistants are awesome! From making your graphics to answering your phone calls and emails, there are endless ways to contract work out that is nonessential for you to do! But, when you’re just starting off and don’t have many clients and a lot of income, focus your energy on getting clients in the door… not training a VA.
3. You MUST find work/life balance
In my first month, I worked 24/7 on building my business. I thought that taking a couple hours off to watch Netflix was enough each week. I did not want my business to fail and thought that if I worked really hard it wouldn’t. But, that notion is false and the thing is… if you don’t take enough time off… burn out is inevitable. Better to be productive, energized, and focused for a couple days a week, than working all the time and getting to a place where you are tired, stressed, and sick for weeks!
4. Find office space
When I started off, I did all my business work in the same room that I relaxed in. I rented a counselling room by the hour so there was no option to have an office away from my apartment. But, working and relaxing in the same space made it increasingly difficult to stop thinking about work and take time off (as work was always staring me in the face).
I thought there was nothing I could do since space was limited and I needed to be alone to work (coffee shops are too distracting). At my wits end, I had an idea… why not work with what I got? I looked at my apartment and decided that having a storage room was not as important as having a place to work. Thus, I stuffed my cleaning supplies etc. in another closet and reconfigured the space into an office! Since then, work has been a lot more productive 🙂
5. Networking is a must
Having a beautiful website is an asset to your business, but not the main focus of getting clients. In my first month, I realized that what’s most important in building a private practice is networking face-to-face. Think of it this way; are you more likely to buy a product because the Internet tells you to do so OR because your friend/ yoga teacher/ family member, etc. recommended it? Meeting with other businesses and community members allows people to get to know you, see how awesome you are, and create a referral network. If there’s anything I learned in this first month it’s to network, network, network!
Julia Smith, BA, MEd, CCC, is the owner of Insight Mental Health Counselling in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. She specializes in helping teenagers stop depression from affecting their lives.
Click here to learn more about her downtown Halifax counselling practice!