Do You Consider Your Private Practice a Business?
Private Practice Development and Marketing
In the the 10+ years that I have been consulting with healthcare providers on how to develop a private practice I think it is safe to say most of us have not been taught how to own a small business, don’t think of ourselves as a business and many feel guilty for acting like a business. We are care providers and teach our clients/patients how to care for themselves and we often forget that we have needs as well. Most of us came into the healthcare profession from our own personal experience and wanted to help others. We all went through long and costly years of school and training and the biggest complaint is we were not taught how to be successful as a business. We struggle with networking, knowing our value, how to set our fee and whether or not to be on managed care or insurance panels. I think most of us just followed the mentors we trusted. Our caseloads can be enough to handle without having to try and do the paperwork, insurance billing, collecting and marketing.
- We all start with the first small step and for me that is to start to think of yourself as a small business owner:
- We provide a service so how do you keep yourself vitalized as a practitioner.
- What is your overhead: office rental, telephones, office supplies, office management software (or not), billing, etc.
- Insurance Provider or not
- To incorporate or not
- Accounting and Taxes
- Marketing and Business plans with a budget
- Designing a business and marketing plan that fits with your comfort level
- Your investment in your practice is an investment in yourself.
I have made it my business to learn how to do things with as small an investment as possible and as much comfort and integrity as I can find. The initial outlay may seem overwhelming but there are ways to do things on the less expensive side and remember this is an investment that over the years will keep giving you a return on your dollar. I work with people with all kinds of budgets but what I have found is if I have to spend money to make something look professional it is well worth the investment because it represents me in the world. You can have a designer create a website from $500 – $15,000. You can use wordpress and get templates (for free or for $50) but I have always found even with templates it helps to have a professional do some final tweaking so it looks professional. You can manage the costs by doing as much of the work as you can and then have someone tweak it for you.
Marketing comes with disappointment, rejection and awkwardness and it helps to have a support team. The upside is you are already marketing and don’t even know it. When I opened my first office, I shared space with a friend of mine, neither one of us had any clients but we had a lovely office all ready to go. It was a risk and we knew we needed to take the risks to get started. There are lots of ways to get going that minimize the costs and risks, like renting office space part-time, maybe forming a group practice that shares advertising, attending conferences and professional meetings (we all need the CEU’s). I think many of us have a hard time networking and feel uncomfortable attending group events. Think about your school or training programs and start networking with the people you met there. Wherever you are in your career start networking, start developing a referral network. Let people know where you are, what you specialize in and how you can help people. I’ve spent time, money and energy going to school, interned for next to nothing, studied for my license and now I have to go out and sell myself?
Well, the brief answer is yes
The longer answer – You are not selling goods. You are investing in yourself and I will not hide the unpleasant truth you are selling: your expertise, skills and experience. The good news is it can be done with creativity, beauty, grace and a tremendous amount of professionalism and ethics.
Licia Ginne, Psy.D.,MFT | Therapy Marketing Coach
ph: 831 471.8647