You want to start a practice: what do you do? What are the essentials to have in your practice? Which systems should you make sure to have on hand?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about Your First 28 Days: How to Start a Counseling Practice.
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In This Podcast
- First steps
1 – The first step is to name your practice
A quick tip: don’t name it your name becauses if you, ever want to sell it, it’s going to be way easier. (Joe Sanok)
You can go one of two ways:
- A more unique name that stands out and suggests a story
- Something more traditional
2 – Purchase your URL
Try to see if you can purchase a URL that is the same name as your practice to minimize confusion and to optimize SEO efficiency.
3 – Make sure that you are correctly licensed in your state
Each state has different protocols for whether you need a PLLC or an S-CORP or any additional business licensing.
4 – Create a plan
I hate five-year plans. Who I am now compared to five years ago is completely different and if I had made a five-year plan then, I would not have dreamed as big. (Joe Sanok)
Think in quarters instead of years so that you do not minimize your potential or get too caught up in the laid-out plan that you do not see potential wins or successes out of the corner of your eye.
5 – Get your liability insurance
Consider a $1m to $3m coverage. For counselors, Joe recommends HPSO.
6 – Get a website
Create a counseling website, and this is one of the first things you want to do so that you can boost your SEO, even if you do not have all your branding finished yet.
To have your website built, email Sam. at firstname.lastname@example.org
7 – Sign up for a Google Business account
This ties your online presence altogether as it allows you to email with your practice’s name at the forefront instead of with a standard Gmail account.
8 – Set up your legal structure
Make sure to consult someone from within your state as sometimes the legal structures and protocols can vary between states.
9 – Organize a business bank account
Open an account at a bank that is solely for your practice so that your business finances are separate from your personal transactions.
10 – Have your private practice paperwork set up
You want your platform to be HIPAA compliant and it may help you for it to contain:
- Progress notes,
- Informed consent,
- HIPAA compliance
Some HER’s such as Therapy Notes have these aspects built into their systems which protect you and your clients while saving time and money.
11 – Identify a specialty
If you say I do individual, couples, and family therapy, I see everyone, nobody’s going to refer to you. You got to have some sort of specialty. (Joe Sanok)
Having a specialty gives you a strong marketing point, a way in which to connect with your ideal client, and helps you to stand out from the average counselor in your area.
12 – Find some physical space
When you are first starting you generally want to keep your costs low, so you can sub-lease from another established practice and offer them 10% of your gross average income in exchange for using their office.
You can also have a per-day office usage system where you pay a percentage a day once-off, instead of renting per month if your needs for a physical office are infrequent.
13 – Get media savvy
Connect with local newsagents, media outlets, and online platforms to get the word out about your new practice that is soon to be launching.
14 – Start an email list because it is a great way to help your specialty
Consider having an automated email maybe once or twice a month with a piece of great free content to your subscribers to get good information out to them.
15 – Design a good-looking logo
A great logo can go a long way and it will help you stand out from the crowd of other counselors in your area.
16 – Buy someone a sandwich
Get out there and network – in a safe way – to find 10 people that are doing what you want to do and start a conversation with them.
The more you can collaborate with people in your specialty, the better, so offer to buy them each lunch and pick their brains about the ups and downs. (Joe Sanok)
Take them for coffee, buy them a sandwich, and start a great referral source with them and connect with the other therapists who share your specialty in your area.
17 – Focus on one social media
Create a profile for your practice where you are already connected and learn how to take it further from there. Try not to pitch sales constantly. Post content that relates to your client’s pain points and that connects with your specialty.
18 – Evaluate your cancellation policy
How can you do this in a way that benefits the client and the clinician? Can you create a system that serves the practice?
19 – Set up your phone systems
Landlines can be expensive and there are numerous other phoneline options that you can look at. Consider setting up your new practice with extensions in case you decide to hire more clinicians and grow it.
20 – Insurance-based or not?
There are both benefits and potential downsides.
Taking insurance can:
- Opens immediate markets,
- It is a lot more convenient for the average person,
But if you focus on private pay:
- That’s going to mean less paperwork,
- Autonomy over your income and time,
- Reducing your stress
21 – Order your business cards
Now that you have a great logo and new website, get some good business cards, and start handing them out. Give them to clients and business partners when you are building your referral sources.
22 – Schedule a community talk
Now that you have your specialty, you want to find partners that have an audience.
This could be:
- Local non-profit organizations,
It can be any place that will allow you to give a free talk to get your practice name out there and into community conversations that relate to your counseling skillsets.
23 – Evaluate your electronic medical records system
Find one that works best for you and that serves the needs of your practice as much as possible. It may be difficult to find one that is an exact match, although there are electronic record systems out there that are popular and stand with a good reputation.
24 – Set up a payment system
You can use credit cards, insurance, and so forth.
25 – Start blogging within your website
This is the single biggest way to build authority and boost your SEO ranking.
Aim to write 26 blog posts within the first half-year of your practice’s launch.
26 – Optimize your website
Look for keywords:
- Your city + your niche
- Your niche + counseling
- Your city + counseling
Look for keywords that you can incorporate into your blog posts to further rank higher on your SEO.
27 – Become an Amazon associate
Amazon pays you 3 to 10% of sales that you refer to them. This counts if you refer to books and services but make sure to disclose it.
28 – Go check out Practice of the Practice’s One Year Practice Plan.
www.practiceofthepractice.com/plan One Year Practice Plan at $17
Books mentioned in this episode:
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Gusto – Get your first three months free when you run your first payroll
- Ask Joe
- Starting a private practice? Get this free 28 step checklist
- How to name a counseling private practice
- The Practice of the Practice Pinterest
- Brighter Vision – First 3 months free
- To have your website built, email Sam. at email@example.com
- To get your legal structure in place
- To create your own paperwork packet.
- Help A Reporter
- 10 Reasons to become a media-savvy therapist article
- Get Your Logo Done
- Spruce Phone Lines
- Grasshopper Phone Lines
- Discount on Business Cards
- Therapy Notes
- One Year Practice Plan at $17
- Thursday Is The New Friday – purchase 5 books and receive a free Killin’ it Camp ticket
- Killin’ It Camp
Check out these additional resources
- Am I OK? Working with Highly Sensitive People with Lisa Lewis | PoP 594
- Ask Joe
- Starting a private practice? Get this free 28 step checklist
- Sign up for Next Level Practice
- Events – click on the event’s dropdown
- Sign up to join the free webinars and events here
- Podcast Launch School
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Free resources to help you start, grow, and scale
- Apply to work with us
Meet Joe Sanok
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.
Thanks For Listening!
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