You did it! You finally took the plunge and started your own private practice. Now what? How do you keep focused when starting a private practice?
As I started my research I realized there was so much more to consider then just finding an office space and opening the doors. So as I started to plan for my practice, I felt like I was being pulled in 20 different directions. One of the first resources I found in my search was Joe Sanok’s 28 step checklist to start a practice. This checklist opened my eyes to what was involved. Even with a checklist, it’s easy to feel like you have lost your mind when planning for your practice. Here are a few tips to keep you focused:
This should go without saying, however I had sticky notes everywhere, multiple notepads and google docs coming out of my ears. Whether you’re taking notes or creating forms, organize them as you go. Create folders that make sense and are easy to retrieve forms as you need them.
Schedule time to work exclusively on your practice
I started my practice, like most of you, when working a full-time job. I would work on the practice here and there, even while at work when I had downtime. This led to rushed or unfinished projects. While finding time to squeeze in work is essential, make sure you have a plan. Work on one thing and then follow up on that task later during your next scheduled work time to complete or refine that task.
Focus on one task at a time
This is the hardest thing to do! I would listen to podcasts and read blogs which covered several topics at a time. So, when I sat down to put those ideas to work, I would be multitasking on everything from increasing SEO to creating marketing materials to learning about billing codes and HIPPA requirements. What I realized was by not focusing my attention on one task or idea at a time, it led me to more rushed, unfinished projects.
Reach out to others
Having support is critical to not totally losing your mind. Both professional support and support from your inner circle is important. There are networking groups both on social media and likely within your own community. These groups will help you navigate challenges and the connections you make may help your practice get off the ground. Leaning on your personal support group is also important. I was so nervous to tell people that I was even thinking about starting my own practice. Once I did, the support I received helped boost my confidence and gave me the emotional support I needed to continue working on my goals.
Outsource when possible
Private practice consulting has turned into big business. While most of us are starting with a small or even nonexistent budget, thinking about outsourcing some of the tasks can save time and money in the long run. Start by thinking about what task you have the least experience in and put your money into outsourcing that task. Things like marketing, accounting, or SEO ranking are not topics covered during our training to be therapists. So, reach out if possible and let a professional specializing in these areas assist you.
Take a break
My mind was on all the time when opening my practice, thinking about marketing ideas, elevator pitches, forms that needed to be created, it never stopped. This created additional anxiety because it added to my disorganization. I found that making simple notes in my phone then referring to them during work sessions, allowed me to take mental breaks from working but still address those ‘ah-ha’ moments. We all recommend self-care to our clients, but sometimes fail to take our own advice.
Starting your own private practice can be overwhelming and difficult. It’s easy to feel frustrated and insecure. After all, most of us have never dealt with the business side of owning our own practice. So, if you are feeling like you have lost your mind, you are not alone. Keep focused on the goal and remember that your practice will not be created overnight. Good luck with your endeavors and remember to believe and invest in yourself.
Amanda Be, LMSW, MBA is owner and counselor at Supportive Counseling Services in Grosse Pointe, MI. Amanda has been a practicing clinical social worker since 2005. She is passionate about helping others lead happier, more successful lives through her private practice, advocacy and volunteer work. Amanda’s main objective is to support others during life’s challenges and hopes these blogs will help. She writes and speaks on topics for parents, counselors and educators. For more information, blogs and videos: scs-mi.com.