Deciding to start a private practice is a major step in your career. It takes courage to stand on your own and put your heart and soul into a business, hoping it will thrive. Thankfully, the likelihood of your success isn’t solely dependent upon luck – there are certain steps you can take to help ensure your success, including writing a business plan.
You didn’t major in business so why should you have to write something as dull as a business plan, right? Creating a business plan isn’t as boring as it sounds; it’s basically a document that summarizes what you do, who you serve, what your goals are, and how you intend to reach them.
The business plan essentially acts as a roadmap, helping to guide your decisions as you grow your practice. It also comes in handy if you need funding to start your practice; most lenders will ask to review your business plan before offering you any type of small business loan.
So before you start looking for office space or designing a logo for your practice, take some time to write your business plan. It doesn’t have to be long and complex – you’re not starting a multinational corporation, after all, but it should at least contain the following elements:
In this section of the business plan, you should provide a general overview of your business. You can start by sharing a bit about your history such as your educational background, why you chose to become a therapist, how long you’ve been practicing, etc.
You should also include information about who you serve in your practice and what techniques you use. Is there a specific age group you focus on? Do you have any specialties, such as eating disorders, grief, addiction, or marital counseling? What therapeutic approaches do you tend to use most often?
This section of the business plan should also include a mission statement. A mission statement is vital because it clearly and succinctly describes the purpose of your practice. Your mission statement should summarize who your key market is, how you serve them, and what makes your practice unique.
Writing a mission statement may seem difficult, but don’t let that deter you. Having a mission statement offers clarity to both you and your clients. Once you’ve made the effort to write your mission statement, it will serve as a guide for your practice for years to come.
The purpose of this section is to show that you’ve done your homework – you’ve looked into the market and can demonstrate that there’s a need for your services. Before writing this section, you’ll need to do a bit of research and find out the following:
Acquiring this information can help you decide if there’s a demand for your services in the area. For example, if you specialize in addiction therapy and there are few others nearby, you’re more likely to launch a successful practice. If the market is overcrowded with therapists struggling to find clients in your niche, then you might want to target a different geographical location.
It may not be your favorite thing to do, but it’s time to crunch some numbers. You’ll need to figure out exactly how much money you’ll be spending every month and set a budget. Expenses will likely include things like office rent, utilities, technology, supplies, software, and staff wages. Don’t overlook anything just because you don’t consider it a “major” expense; small expenses will add up over time and throw off your budget.
Once you’ve calculated your costs, you can figure out how much you need to charge clients to cover these expenses. Then set financial goals that are both short-term and long-term. Decide what kind of growth you’re aiming for and be specific: How much money do you want to make this year? What about next year? And five years from now?
You should also consider setting KPIs (key performance indicators) to keep yourself on track. For example, if you want to earn $5,000 per month, how many clients do you need to meet that goal? I know, you don’t want to see people this way. But you are running a business now; if you want your business to thrive, you need to set goals and create a plan to reach them. Plus, think of all the people you’ll get to help as your practice grows.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply set up your practice and people would flock to your door? Unfortunately, that’s nothing but a lovely daydream; you will need a marketing plan in place to reach potential clients.
Luckily, there are a variety of marketing options available to therapists. You can do any or all of the following to market your services:
Another great way to build your practice is through services such as Advekit. We can match you with clients who are looking for a therapist in your area (and help you with out-of-network insurance billing, too.)
Consider all of your options then determine which ones you want to include in your marketing plan. Try to focus on marketing activities that you’ll do consistently over the next several years. Do you hate to write? Then don’t plan on blogging every week; focus on giving interviews instead. After selecting your marketing activities, develop a specific plan for implementation, including how many hours a week you’ll dedicate to your marketing efforts.
Creating a business plan may seem daunting, but the effort is well worth it. With a solid business plan in place, you have a roadmap that will help guide your private therapy practice along the road to success. And if you ever feel like something isn’t working, change it! It’s your business and your plan, both will change over time to reflect your growing practice.