Stage One: Conceptualization
How many years have you been dreaming of starting a private practice?
For me, the idea of owning my own business wasn’t conceived until about fifteen years into my career. I was working for a residential treatment center in New Hampshire. I loved the clients with whom I worked, and my coworkers were awesome, but I noticed that really, all I did was work. In a supervisory position (with on call hours to boot), a typical week was 60 hours, and many more with crises (and there was always a crisis). The pay was less than 50k a year, and, though the work was meaningful, it was very hard.
I realized that, if I wanted any kind of life outside of my work at all, I would have to take a drastic step. That’s when I began contemplating what it might look like to work for myself someday: to own a private practice.
It took years from the original concept for me to take the actual leap into business ownership. In that time, I learned a lot: about insurance panels (a hard no for me), fees, setting a schedule and time, creating a business, marketing and branding, and niching. This time was invaluable. Without that education, I doubt my practice would have gotten off the ground.
The most important elements to consider when you are conceiving of your practice (in my opinion, of course), are the following:
- Niche! Who is your ideal client? With whom are you most excited to work, and best skilled and educated to serve? What clients will benefit most from working specifically with you?
- Time! What kind of schedule can you feasibly carry, while performing optimally and taking excellent care of yourself? (This varies widely, so don’t compare yourself to others doing much more or less).
- Individual Preferences! As a business owner, you have freedom, flexibility, and the opportunity to make your own choices. What do you want to add into your practice? (Travel? A 4-day workweek? A day just for groups?). What do you want to subtract from your practice? (Insurance panels? Work with adults or adolescents? In-person sessions?). The world is your oyster – pick what works best for you.
- Fees! Money is essential to consider. How much do you need to be making to cover the cost of your business and your life? And, how much do you want to be making to insure that the life you have is one you can enjoy and thrive in? Set your fee according to what you want and need, not according to what you think people will pay. Helpers are notorious for underestimating our worth and taking less than we deserve. Treat yourself like you’d advise a client to treat themselves.
There’s much more to the conceptualization phase, and it’s worth taking the time to put together the nuts and bolts of the practice you really want.
I support helping professionals in conceiving of the ideal private practice that will meet their individual wants and needs. If you are ready to put together the private practice of your dreams, shoot me an email at email@example.com and we’ll talk about if we might be a great fit to work together and get your practice started!