What if you started a practice today that actually energizes you?
Not a lame practice, not something that your peers say is a good idea, but a practice that excites someone like you. You might already have a clinical expertise and have a loyal following of patients.
What if I told you that you aren’t crazy for thinking about building a business around your calling and uniqueness? Contrary to the naysayers I believe now is one of the best time for you to be independent and work for yourself. Now I can’t tell you specifically whether you should quit your job without knowing your specifics.
Have you identified your professional assets? Do you have written goals and a plan to make them happen? Do you have money saved to help you through the transition to being self-employed?
What are your marketing and technology skills? However, if you’re thinking about quitting your job and going on your own, or if you just got an itch to try see if you can make your practice idea work.
If you feel deep down there is something you need to explore and pursue then by all means I think you should. Here are six steps that I think are essential for any start up.
Six Steps to a Successful Practice Start Up
Step 1 – Have An Entrepreneur Mindset
The entrepreneur mindset is something that therapists can learn, develop and strengthen over time. Regardless of your practice setting in today’s economy it’s important think like an entrepreneur. It’s not something you’re born with but more of an attitude that you develop.
Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, explains in her book Mindset, that it’s not just our abilities and talent that brings us success but whether we approach our goals with the right mindset. The entrepreneurial mindset can be best defined by passion, positivity, adaptability and leadership. Characteristics that many therapists possess.
An entrepreneurial therapist has the ability to inspire others to become the best the can while overcoming the critics that say it can’t be done.
Step 2 – Have Financial Margin
Therapy entrepreneurs should have enough financial stability to test the private practice waters. In order to determine if you should start your own private practice, you must first do your homework to demonstrate financial stability. There are many “lean startup” practices that can be employed to open a low cost practice pilot to test your services with a target market.
Obvisously providing exceptional patient care is key, but realistically you can’t get a practice off the ground by digging yourself into a financial hole. Digging a financial hole is a showstopper.
Financial concerns can paralyzing and can delay your practice launch. If it’s the first time someone has put together financial information for a business it can be overwhelming. Keep it simple and low cost. Save up at least six months of income to live off of while getting started. Determine your minimal viable income that you’ll need to reach to quit your full time job and your contentment income that you’ll be shooting for.
Step 3 – Choose a Practice Niche
When starting a practice, most therapists feel like all they want is to get patients in the door to pay the bills. In today’s competitive market I’m a big fan of identifying a practice niche. In order to stand out you need to be unique and memorable. I suggest starting with your current clients.
Conduct a 15 minutes interview with your patients to learn what their dreams and goals are. Ask them about their biggest frustrations and challenges that prevent them from achieving optimal wellness. Ask them “Why they chose you? Or “Why they did or did not refer their family and friends?”
Consolidate everything that you hear and look for solutions you can offer that your patients can take action on right away. If you create your niche around solving your patient’s problems and your clinical expertise you’ll be building a solid business foundation.
After a few months of working in your practice you’ll be able to gather enough data to know who is coming to you and why. If you analyze the data correctly it will help you develop your specific niche and benefit from word of mouth marketing.
Step 4 – Choose a Business Name and Entity
Choosing your name can be the fun and exciting. Your name should communicate your unique value proposition. Your target market and ideal clients should be able to resonate with the description of your clinic. You’ll want to choose a name that translates well to a domain name on the Internet. You’ll want to validate your practice niche, name and unique value proposition with colleagues and previous clients.
Creating a business entity is fairly straightforward, but won’t be completed until you have an address. When just starting out try to make the selection of a business entity as simple as possible. It is a great idea to identify an accountant so she can help you with the documentation and has this information for tax purposes and financial advice down the road.
You won’t be able to set up your business checking account and credit card unless you have an EIN (Employer ID Number) and name, a physical address, and a phone/fax number. So as soon as you’ve chosen a name you should be thinking about an ideal location.
Step 5 – Choose a Business Location
Research the location(s) where your target market and ideal clients already are before considering the location for your practice. Researching the competition, demographics and all other referral sources will increase the probability of your success.
Once again think of the needs of your ideal clients and the minimal viable practice space and equipment required to provide them an outstanding patient experience. This is a BIG step and is key in moving forward in turning your dream practice into a reality.
Assess the functions of your practice workspace and configure the layout for the best possible patient, staff and information flow. The total number of clinicians and staff as well as any plans for growth must be considered into the clinic design.
In order to create an efficient clinic workflow, make sure you have a grasp on all the equipment you’ll need in your practice so you can plan accordingly. If the clinic is designed to facilitate easy flow, your clients and staff will benefit.
Step 6 – Launch A Website
Today patients search the Internet for their healthcare. Having an engaging website and email list is a key factor in standing out. The days of hiring a web developer to make you a custom website are long gone. Nowadays there are great platforms that make launching your practice website easier than ever.
You’ll need to choose a web hosting provider, a content management system like WordPress and an email service provider like MailChimp. Your location on the Internet is just as important as the physical location of your practice.
It is how new clients learn to know, like and trust you. It is where you are able to maintain a strong connection with previous satisfied clients.