By Julia W.
“I can’t take employment anymore. I’m gonna quit this job and start my own business!” says every employed person ever. For most, this only remains a dream. For some, the dream actualizes. After the parties and congratulatory messages, it finally hits you. How am I supposed to run this business?
Hands up if you’re a mental health provider who’s nodding their head in agreement. You took the plunge, quit your agency job, and have just started you private practice. (Congratulations!) What you didn’t realize is that its takes more than an office and a website to run your new practice.
In grad school, they taught you everything you need to know about psychology, but what they didn’t teach you was the business skills you needed to know aspects for when you were ready to start and run your own practice. Or maybe they just figured you could take a business class on your own time. More money for the school, right?
For this reason, we decided to compile a list of business skills we think are essential for running a successful private practice.
What is the number one reason for starting a business? To make a profit. Many therapists however feel ashamed to admit this because their primary goal is to help people. We say you can help people and still make money.
To do this, you need to track every single cent that passes through your business. This means tracking your income, expenses, overhead etc. Doing this manually could be really stressful and disorganized. The solution is to either hire an accountant to do this for you (if you have deep pockets), or start by using bookkeeping apps. Software such as Wave and QuickBooks have been highly recommended by various therapists. They are user friendly and help keep your financials in order.
Customer Service Skills
Most people think customer service comes naturally to everyone. For some, it does, for others it’s a struggle. The ability to be nice and helpful even to the most difficult clients can be a challenge.
Good news:It’s not that difficult to learn how to provide customer service. Always know that not everyone’s the same and everyone has different preferences. Excellent customer service will make your clients trust you more and feel safe with you. Furthermore, this will make them confident enough to refer you to their friends and family. As a result, you have a happy and satisfied clients as your caseload increases. Win- win!
Printing some fancy business cards and dishing them out to anyone you meet doesn’t cut it anymore. As more therapists are quitting their agency jobs to delve into the world of private practice, competition is getting stiffer. A counselor not only has to work hard but work smart in order to stand out.
Do some research and find out which marketing methods are best for you. If you’re unsure of what steps to take, our ‘Marketing tips for your Private Practice‘ article could point you in the right direction.
While it may seem daunting at the beginning, it gets easier once you get the hang of the various marketing strategies and how they work for you. Just remember to take baby steps at the beginning to avoid being overwhelmed.
Problem Solving Skills
Murphy’s law: Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. As a private practice owner, you need to be aware that problems will arise and you will have to learn how to solve them. In any business, problems are likely to surface. Whether it’s in finances, problematic caseloads/staff, or just general day-to-day issues. Developing a system to solve these issues is important and will help you stay sane!
While running your practice may seem intimidating on paper, more often than not it isn’t. All it takes is a little patience and determination and everything will be okay. If you were courageous enough to quit a stable job to start your practice, you are more than capable of running it!