Hello and congratulations! Please consider me your one-woman welcoming committee to an exclusive club… Club Business Owner. Whether you’ve just decided to start your own private practice at this moment or you’ve built a thriving group practice with a full team below you, this life hack is written for you.
It might feel strange to think of yourself as a Business Owner… like a brand new wool sweater that looks great but feels stiff and itchy. It’s uncomfortable and you want to take it off, but you also know that if you just wear it a few more times, you’ll break it in and it will become one of your favorites. Embracing the
label title of Business Owner is kind of like that feeling.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a moment – you didn’t become a therapist so you could be a business person. You got your PhD or LMFT or LCPC or LMSW after all, not your MBA. But the reality of the situation is that how well you run your business directly impacts the quality of your therapy with your clients.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s the truth. There are lots of non-therapeutic things you are responsible for when you open your own private practice. Who’s going to do your insurance billing? How will you monitor your cash flow to make sure it’s sustainable? When will you know if you need to hire another therapist? Most importantly, what can you do to make your life as a business owner easier?
If these questions are taking up valuable cognitive real estate while you’re in session, then you aren’t able to be fully present with your clients.
Here are some simple tips to help set you up to lead your private practice efficiently, effectively, and like a seasoned business owner. If you implement even just one of these hacks, leading your private practice will get easier… I promise.
Set goals for your business
As a therapist, you’re probably used to helping your clients set goals when they work with you. And you can see how those goals guide the focus of treatment and help you both understand what progress looks like.
Well, it’s the same for you and your own business. If you don’t set goals for yourself, then how do you know if you’re making progress? How do you know what you’re working toward? How will you know if you’re accomplishing what you hope to accomplish?
I know that it might feel a little overwhelming to set goals, so I encourage you to start small if this is new for you. Rather than think about where you want to be in a year, think about what you want to have accomplished in the next month. Your goals don’t have to be your strategic plan or your vision – they just have to be defined objectives (big or small) so that you know what to work toward.
Your goal can be as simple as “talk to 3 new people about my ideal client” or “do research on how to build a website”.
I also know that many of us rely on our intuition to help us when we’re working with clients. Well, your intuition can help you here, too. When you’re trying to set your goals, don’t focus on what you think you should be doing. There are plenty of resources that will tell you exactly what you should do and how you should do it.
But that’s not always helpful. After all, if it were that easy you’d already be doing it!
When you think about setting goals for yourself, it can be really helpful to tap in to your intuition. See where it’s guiding you, and use that guidance to help you determine your goals.
Develop systems and processes to follow
Systems and processes can make life so much easier. When you develop a process for something in your business, it means you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time you have to do that task.
Creating a system or process for a task might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep in mind that the process doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to work for you.
Here’s an example: I used to have a hard time remembering which sessions I still had to write notes for. So I developed a (very!) simple way to track it. I write down every client session (in advance) in a day planner. After a client’s session, I put a check mark next to the name on the right and an asterisk next to the name on the left. The check mark tells me that the client attended the session and the asterisk tells me that I need to write the note. Once the note is written, I scribble out the asterisk and poof… there’s a process to track my client notes!
When you think about the business tasks that you are most resistant to, those are probably the ones that you need a process for most. By implementing a system for yourself, you are making it easier to complete the task and make sure your business continues to run smoothly and efficiently.
Find the right support system
Finding the right support system can make all the difference for you. By having resources to turn to when something isn’t working, you have an easy way to solve the problem. When others “get” what you’re struggling with, not only is it validating but there are more minds to help you trouble-shoot. This blog can serve as just one of hundreds of resources that can help you be the best practice leader you can be. Other helpful resources are accountability groups, marketing groups for therapists, Facebook groups for private practice owners, and tons and tons of books.
If you’re struggling with any of the life hacks mentioned above, reach out and set up a complimentary consultation with me. I’d love to see how I can support you and help you make your practice thrive.