Branching out and starting your private counseling practice can be scary. But like most other scary things in life, it’s not that difficult if you know what you are doing. As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.
The only way you can make sure your venture is a success is by making a solid preparation. As you set up your own practice, here are five tips to help you get started:
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Get Your Business Plan Down On Paper
Before you start spending any money on your practice, it’s important to write a business plan. This is like a roadmap for your private counseling practice that outlines how you’ll make ends meet, where your money is coming from and what resources are available to help with growth. Don’t forget to take the new set of taxes that you will now have to pay into account.
Preparing a business plan also includes developing a timeline for your business. The timeline will estimate where you will be 1 month, 1 year, or maybe 5 years into your practice. This timeline will help you keep track of your progress and keep you focused on your goals.
It is important to be realistic with your business plan. The single biggest reason startups fail is that they run out of cash. A sound business plan with proper attention to finances is the foundation of any successful business. Having one will not only help you secure investors if need be but also give you the confidence to actually get started.
Take Care Of The Logistics
Logistics are boring. But they are also essential. Therefore it is better to have a plan of action in place before you start dealing with them. Start by getting an office space. Make sure it is not difficult to reach and preferably in an area with not many other therapists. Also, try to make sure your office space can accommodate your initial growth.
Then get a website for your practice. Your website is the digital face of your business, so it needs to be professional and reflect well on you as you grow. Along with the website, get an email ID and telephone system dedicated to your business.
When you design your website, make sure you also come up with a logo for your business. If graphic design is not your strength, hire a professional to do it for you. Your logo will be the first thing people notice when they read about your business. So they better be neat and professional.
Hiring help is also an important part of the logistical aspect of your business. Hiring the right people can be difficult. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, recommends, “The key to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.” These people will be driven and hardworking. It is a quality any start-up requires to be successful.
Get A Good EHR System From The Very Beginning
In the first step of getting started with your private counseling practice, you will need to make sure that you have good behavioral health EHR software for your office. Otherwise, the rest of your business will be complicated.
What is EHR software?
An electronic health record (EHR) system is a database that stores all patient information in one location. It allows therapists to keep track of their patient’s medical history to make better decisions about which treatments are best for each situation.
EHR software is becoming more and more important in behavioral healthcare. The market size for such software has already reached $2 billion and is expected to reach $4.9 billion by 2026. This should be a great indication of how important this software is to providing the proper care to your patients.
As much as therapy can vary from client to client, having access to all relevant information about your clients makes it easier for you, as a therapist or counselor, to provide them with more personalized care. Not to mention it cuts down significantly on clerical duties.
Be Clear About Your Unique Specialties And Skills
Writing your profile copy is an opportunity to highlight the unique skills that make you special. What are your areas of expertise? What can you offer that other counselors can’t? What types of clients do you work with best, and why?
If potential clients see your profile copy, they will know if you are the right fit for them. You can avoid investing your time in fruitless therapy sessions. It also helps with referrals, and most importantly, you get to stick to your area of expertise without diving into issues you are not completely comfortable with.
Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Networking
Networking is a vital part of starting your private practice. It’s essential to get out there and meet people, but it can be even more valuable if you know what kind of contacts you want to make and how to approach them.
First, start with your colleagues. If you’ve been a counselor at an agency or university, ask around for advice from other professionals there. They may have connections that could help you get started in private practice.
Do some research on local counselors. Many larger cities have social media groups specifically dedicated to connecting local counselors who are interested in networking as well as other professional development activities like conferences or webinars.
Remember that it is not simply about making acquaintances. You should try to work with your fellow counselors, get to know them, and earn their respect. That way, they feel more comfortable referring patients to you, and you get to do the same for them as well.
Also, it might be a good idea to associate yourself with a corporate body. According to a Gartner report, 46% of HR leaders report that their well-being budget increased in the year 2020. As companies realize the importance of looking after their employees’ well-being, they are on the lookout for therapists and counselors they can work with effectively.
There is a lot of thought that goes into setting up a private practice. The details of your plans will depend on what kind of clientele you’re looking for, what your end goal is, and everything else in between. Now that you have a clearer picture of the things you should keep in mind while designing your plan, only one thing remains. Get started.