How Much Time Should I Spend on My Private Practice? Five Questions for Private Practice Series 1 of 5 | PoP 366

How Much Time Should I Spend on My Private Practice? Five Questions for Private Practice Series 1 of 5 | PoP 366

How much time should you spend working on your private practice? We might call this time “operational hours.” These are hours like networking, building systems, planning marketing, or training virtual assistants.

In this ‘Five Questions for Private Practice’ series podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how much time you should spend on your private practice.

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In This Podcast

Summary

In this podcast episode series, Joe Sanok will address how much time you should spend on your private practice.

How Much Time Should You Spend

It sort of depends on your goals. Maybe you want to build supplemental income outside of your full-time job, then you’re going to look at the minimum amount of time. Focus on getting a website set up, finding an office, and keeping the systems rolling. You probably don’t want to take insurance, because it’s just for some side money and the hourly is better with private pay (and the paperwork).

Whereas if your goals are to have a super mega group private practice, you may want to spend some time on systems on the front end.

In general, here are some numbers for when you are in the start and growth phase (under $100k):

  • 5-10 clinical hours = 2 operational hours per week
  • 11-20 clinician hours = 3 operational hours per week
  • 20+ = 3.5 operational hours per week

When you first start, you need to work the number of hours you eventually want to work. If you want to see 15 clients, but you only have one, that means you should be spending 14 hours per week networking, doing social media, and building connections. If you want to see five clients in the evenings, but only have two, don’t go home early, work on the practice!

As you start seeing more clients, you’ll want to focus your time on building systems outside of yourself. If you’re wearing multiple hats like a website, accounting, answering phones, scheduling, SEO, and social media marking, these are things you should take off your plate.

Initially, your time should be spent on starting and growing the practice, but then it needs to switch to having the technology, systems, and people building it more.

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Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

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Podcast Transcription

[JOE]: What’s the point of having a beautiful website that doesn’t attract the clients you want to see? As the worldwide leaders of website design for therapists, Brighter Vision sees this issue happen way too often. A nice-looking website doesn’t equate to a successful website. The truth is your current website might even be turning off potential clients. That’s where Brighter Vision comes in. Brighter Visions’ team of website designers will create you a website that is centered around attracting and retaining your ideal client so that you can have a nice-looking website as well as a successful one. For a month free, head on over to brightervision.com/Joe. Again, that’s brightervision.com/Joe.
This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 366.
Well, happy April. If you are listening to this live, I’m actually today, not the day that I’m recording this, but the day that this releases, I am in Disneyland with my four-year-old and seven-year-old and my wife out in California. You know, the power of podcasting. I can be out there and I can also be here in your ears. It’s just so fun to be able to do this every single week if not more with you. And you know, if you’re new to the show, if this is your first time listening, welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.
We help people to start, grow, and scale their private practices. And what’s really cool is we’re getting more and more opportunities outside of the counseling space. I just wrote an article that, it’s going to come out soon specifically for psychiatrists in the, and the National Journal asked me to speak about that. I’m getting asked to do some keynotes outside of that space.
But you know the principles we talk about in here, it still comes back to the private practice. That knowing those basic business principles and that’s what we’re going to be covering in the next five episodes. The five questions that you should be asking yourself. But first I want to tell you a little bit about some things coming up. So, on April 23rd we are doing probably the biggest masterclass we’ve ever done. This is one that you’re not going to want to miss. It’s all about how do you kill it in private practice? How do you absolutely kill it?
So, let’s talk a little bit about what killing it is. Yeah, I would say killing it in private practice is being as full as you want and working the number of hours that you want. So, if for you, you may have a full-time job and to kill it in private practice, seeing five of your ideal clients every single week to pay off student loans, that can be killing it for you. It could be that you have a multi-six figure practice and you’ve just been overwhelmed working 50 or 60 hours a week and you say, “You know what? I need to figure out how to get this down to about 30 hours a week.”
You know, taking that kind of Slow Down School approach of “I’m going to start with the life I want and put my business into it. So, for you killing it might be, “Wow, let’s reign things in and get some systems and some people here that can really help me out.” And so, killing it has a lot of different definitions and we’re going to be talking about that in the Webinar, but we have thousands of dollars in prizes that we’re giving away.
We reached out to our sponsors, we reached out to our friends. We reached out to a lot of the speakers at Killin’It Camp and said, “Hey, do you have free stuff to give away?” And so, we have free training from Gordon Brewer on how to use G-Suite we’re going to be giving away. Therapy Notes gave us a year of Therapy Notes for free, whether you’re already a customer or not.
Brighter Vision is giving away a full website. And if you already have a website with them, you’re eligible. It’s not one of these things where it’s just to kind of gets you in the door. You will get a website totally for free. We’re giving away consulting, we’re giving away all sorts of things that are just playing amazing. And it’s because we want to get as many people on this Webinar as possible. We’ve got a bunch of friends, a bunch of consultants, a bunch of top leaders that are killing it, that we’re going to be telling their stories.
We’re going to also look at what, you know, kind of neuro research, neuroscience is teaching us about business and what we know about how to kill it in private practice. And this, you’re not going to want to miss this. So, that’s coming up in April. And that’s going to be, you can register over at practiceofthepractice.com/live.
We’ve also, you know, this month, as many of you know, we’re launching our big ideas mastermind. And so, I’m assuming by this time that that’s full and about to kind of kick off. But we also had a cohort last month, our cohort number eight of Next Level Practice and I’m super excited about that because we just had a meeting yesterday when I’m recording this, in March, with people that are going to be our small group leaders. And so, we have these small groups and some of these leaders are going to be leaders that are ongoing.
Some of them are going to have like an eight-week weekly meeting that people, you know, jump in around social media or networking or kind of a topic-based. And so, we’re building out this really fun leadership team so that we can really serve the Next Level Practice community even more than we have in the past. And so, our next cohort for that doesn’t start till June. So, I mean, I guess if you want to get on that waiting list, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/invite.
But it’s fun to be doing so many things. You know, in quarter one of this year, as I reflect back, you know, we launched a magazine, sent out a magazine to 2,500 of you, and it was such, it was received so well. We sent out some gift baskets to a bunch of our Next Level Practice people and surprise them with some things in there.
We put down the down payment for Slow Down School. So, all these things that, it’s like you look forward and you have to decide with the project. What’s the purpose of this project? So, I’ve often talked about the four I’s, that we want to think through. We’ve got income, innovation, influence, and impact. So that’s income, innovation, influence, and impact. And if you can identify your primary goal for any project and your secondary goal, then you can kind of disregard the other ones.
So, for example, this magazine, we didn’t charge anything for it. We didn’t charge our sponsors for it. All we did is we just paid for the whole thing because innovation was the primary reason we wanted it to do it. We wanted it to stand up against these national organizations that have crappy looking magazines that don’t talk to private practitioners.
We wanted to make sure that we were in the hands physically, even though the magazine world is pretty much dead or dying other than a handful of really good magazines out there, it’s not a great way to make money. So, income wasn’t even a driver for us. And then the other side is the influence. We want to influence more private practices to think differently, to say the path we were handed, those assumptions we were handed isn’t always true.
We can push back on that, and we can innovate, and we can have influence. And that, when you decide those are your primary and secondary it’s easier to say, “Okay, we lost money on doing this magazine, but that’s okay. That wasn’t the purpose of it.” Now in the future, are we going to just do things that you know are money hole? No.
I mean we want to see, do people come to our website or our podcast or other things as a result of that magazine? In the same way that if you do a Facebook ad, you want to track that. But if your primary goal on the front end is innovation and influence, it’s a lot easier to say, “You know what, we’re not tracking a whole lot of money as a result of that project.”
Well, over the next five podcasts, I’m going to be going through the five biggest questions that you really need to ask yourself when you’re starting and growing a practice. Now, some of these are going to be for people when you’re just getting going, other ones are going to be a little bit more advanced and I’ll talk through when to think of each of these, but today we’re going to be covering, well first let me go through what we’re going to cover.
So, this week we’re going to cover the question of “How much time should I spend on my private practice?” It’s a question I get all the time in Next Level Practice and consulting mastermind groups. Next week we’re going to cover, “Should I take insurance in my private practice?” Like what do you think through when it comes to those things? Next, we’re going to talk about “How do I set my rates in private practice?”
So, you know, all of you, even if you take insurance, you’re going to have some people that pay privately that say, “You know, I don’t want to go through my insurance. I want to stay confidential,” or you know, there’s going to be a variety of reasons. How do you set those rates? The next week, week four, we’re going to look at “How do I get more ideal clients in my private practice?” And then the fifth week we’re going to cover, “Should I start a group private practice?” And we’re going to talk about the numbers. We’re going to walk through all of that.
So, today, how much time should I spend on my private practice? Well, how much time you spend really kind of depends on a few different factors. So, we might want to think through the time that you’re actually doing clinical work versus the time that you’re building your practice and growing it. And we might call those operational hours. So, you’re working on the operations of the business. So, these are hours like networking, building systems, planning, marketing, maybe training, virtual assistance, all those things we put in the category of operational hours.
So, it sort of depends on your goals. So, maybe you want to just build supplemental income outside of your full-time job. So, when I first started out I was working at community mental health. I was a 1099 contractor through a private practice in Kalamazoo. I actually interviewed Dr. Leary Beer for the second time a few episodes ago, talking about the place I used to work. And then, you know, when I moved back to my hometown of Traverse City, well I started a private practice here.
I already had the LLC set up, had the basic systems, was seeing people on the side just to pay off student loans. So, we want to in that situation, have the minimum amount of operational time. You know, if you have a full-time job, you want that practice to be as optimized as possible. So, that’s going to influence whether you take insurance, that’s going to influence whether you take non-ideal clients. So, during that time you’re going to just kind of focus on getting your website set up, finding an office, and keeping those systems rolling. You probably don’t want to take insurance in that situation just because it’s going to, you know, for some side money, you know, just having that hourly private pay, it’s going to be a lot easier to have the less paperwork overall.
Whereas if your goals are to be a super mega group practice, you might want to spend some time on the systems on the front end. And so, in general, there are things for people kind of when you’re in different phases of private practice. I’d say this is for people that are kind of under that hundred k. And so, if you’re doing five to ten clinical hours per week, then you’re probably going to want to have about two operational hours per week minimum. And so, depending on how fast you want to grow, you may, you know, want to grow faster than them. And so, you might want to put in some extra operational hours.
If you’re at that 11 to 20 clinical hours per week, you’re probably going to be looking at about three operational hours per week. And then when you’re at 20 plus clinical hours, you know, every hour you spend an operational time is the time that you’re taking away from seeing those new clients. And so, you’re just kind of giving money away. So, if you’re charging, even not insurance, 90 bucks a session or 150 bucks for private pay or $300, whatever your rate is, you could buy someone else’s time at a much-discounted rate.
If you had a virtual assistant for $15 an hour and you’re charging 90, you know, I mean, that’s, you know, three or four hours you want to account for taxes and expenses, but you’re buying extra time. So, another rule in regards to how to spend your time is, you know, when you first get going, you really want to look at how many hours do you eventually want to work? And so, if you say, “Okay, I have two clinical hours. I eventually want to work 15 clinical hours a week and then three or so operational hours.” Okay, that’s 18 hours a week. And if you have two clients, you should be spending 16 hours a week working on the practice, networking, working on the systems, blogging, ranking higher in Google, building out your Meta descriptions, all those things that are going to help you statistically do better in private practice.
See what often happens though is when people start a practice, they’re like, “Well, I don’t know. Like, “I feel like, you know, I only have two sessions. I’m going to go pick up the kids and then I’m going to go do some errands and groceries.” And they don’t live as if they have that practice going yet. You really want to be working the number of hours that you eventually want to work when you’re in that startup phase. That’s going help you move so much faster kind of through the different phases. But then as you start seeing more clients, you’re going to want to focus on the time building systems outside of yourself.
So, you’ll be wearing multiple hats. And so, you may at the beginning be doing websites and accounting, answering the phones, scheduling, SEO, social media marketing. All these things are an opportunity to take those off your plate at a much-discounted rate because when you think through how much you actually make in a session versus how much you could pay someone to do on an as-needed basis like it’s a no brainer. So, initially your time should be spent on starting and growing the practice, but then it needs to switch when you start to scale when you have those technology systems and people to help you build more.
So, I hope that helps you out in regards to growing your practice. This month we’re going to be doing some of these kinds of quick-hit podcasts on these questions that I get all the time. Special thanks to Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision has the best website solution for you at the best price. IT support, they’ve got these crazy analytics they can help you out with, they will help you grow and scale quickly. We love what they’re doing over there. Head on over to brightervision.com/Joe to hear more and thanks so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an awesome week.
If you’re like me, you’re probably pretty skeptical of people trying to sell you things, which is why I want to get to know you. We are hosting an amazing webinar that’s going to be all about how to kill it in private practice. In that, I’m going to give you great case studies of people who have really succeeded in private practice, but we’re also going to be talking about Killin’It Camp, which is going to be the all-inclusive event of the year. The prices go up on April 25th which is why we’re doing a great event on the 23rd. Head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/live to attend this masterclass all about how to kill it in private practice and get your questions about Killin’It Camp answered. Would love to see you there. Again, that’s a practiceofthepractice.com/live.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It’s given with the understanding that neither of the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one. Also, thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for that intro music.

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