We've all been there, the eagerness to start seeing clients right away, being our own bosses, the freedom to control our schedules, and even the joys of not having to help clients under someone else's jurisdiction. Even with the excitement of what owning your own business creates, it leads us to make pitfalls within our first few years of running the practice. Over the years of working with various clients to start their own private practice I have created a list of the top 6 mistakes to avoid when starting your private practice.
Mistake # 1: Stop Wasting Time
Contrary to what you may think, spending time on things you do not specialize in does indeed waste your time. Remember, you are a therapist and you should focus on ways to grow your skill set that directly affects the client. Your end goal is to help your client as effectively as possible. Leave tasks like accounting and marketing to the experts. Don't try to create your own website- hire out.
Simply put: work smarter, NOT harder.
Mistake #2: Not Successfully Budgeting
Have you ever wondered, “why are my budgeting efforts not working?” Well, if you are creating an unrealistic business budget, you won't benefit from having a budget at all.. So what are the secrets to successfully budgeting?
One secret is to analyze what your business needs in order to run and STAY running. How do I accomplish this? One quick way is to calculate all expenses that you need for your business. Having a realistic budget at the beginning of your business will allow you to grow faster and become more profitable... sooner. Then once you have your final monthly budget number, add 15% on top of that for room to grow and expand. It is always better to have more in your budget than you need, rather than not having enough.
Mistake #3: Not Knowing Your Limits
One easy way to do this is by taking on any client just to get people through the door.
Just getting the "numbers" doesn't necessarily mean you'll grow your revenue. If you start out taking on any client, you are doing a disservice to yourself and to the client. Keep it simple. Grow steadily. Stick with the best fit for you. If it is the wrong client and the experience isn't enjoyable on both ends, it will only lead to bad results, which will lead to negative reviews, which will send your business in a downhill spiral.
For instance, if you take on a client with an eating disorder and that is not your specialty nor ideal client, then you may end up with someone that says bad things about your practice. You want your clients to refer to you and help you grow your business as well. Pick clients that you can truly make a difference with. This will make both you and the client happy. If you are happy and satisfied with the work you are doing, you will do more to grow your business. You can't help every client, but if you have the right clients, you can make life-changing transformations!
Mistake #4: Selling Not Serving
Stop trying to sell. You're not selling cars or a product to the general audience. Please look at your private practice as PROVIDING a service to someone in need, not selling. All marketing should be done from a helpful, inviting standpoint. Do not market in a way that seems "spammy". Simply offer information for transformation and allow them to reach out to you. When they reach out to you again, do not sell to them. Listen and provide comfort. Let them know you are there for them and give them the option to schedule an appointment to achieve the transformation they are looking for. You are here to provide and serve, not sell.
Mistake #5: Hiring The Wrong People
Your private practice, in general, should consist of only people that share your same vision. You may say, "I'm just starting out. Who in the world would I hire?" Or, "I want to be a solo practice, so I won't be hiring anyone."
Wrong! You need support!
You may need a virtual assistant, someone to help with marketing, someone to create your website, an accountant, and/or a business consultant. Make sure when hiring these people that they have the same values and standards. Choose a virtual assistant that has experience in the mental health field and that is compassionate. Do research. Ask questions. Have an in-depth conversation to make a decision. Take your time with this process. Not everyone is right for you and that is okay! Move on and make the right decision. Take time to evaluate your choice.
Mistake #6: Don’t Stress About The Small Stuff
I know it's hard and you can get caught up in the little things, like the style of the couch in the office or the positions of the paintings on the wall. But what matters most is the service you are providing and the effectiveness of your approach. Your clients will become comfortable in any space they see you in, as long as your values and approach line up.
So don't worry. Try to avoid these 6 mistakes., but most importantly, remember that you are your own boss!