A few myths busted
- Owning and operating your own practice is not something you just want to do therefore it happens
- Most of what you think is unique to you and your particular practice idea has probably been done before
- Nothing replaces tenacity, gumption and sticking at it. This is not a hobby.
Some need to knows
It will be hard
Get ready for putting in extra time and money into achieving your goal of running your own show. Google ads, social media et al will not buy you referrals unless you can follow through with clinical excellence, administrative back up that is caring but robust with practice policies and procedures that back it up. Remember that your business serves the clients not the clients serve your business.
You will make mistakes
Perfectionism and a fear of failure are common amongst psychologists. If you can’t take failure, then this may not be for you. Failure teaches you what you must improve, change or need to learn from so that future failures are less costly and less frequent. This goes for client work, recruitment of other psychologists to work in your practice, choice of business model or structure and how you manage both the clinical and business governance.
Your fee may go backward before it goes forward
Don’t expect to be charging top dollar for your services from scratch. Be prepared to provide services pro bono to build your reputation, take a lower fee to fill the schedule. Think of ways to give back to the community or to your profession to raise your profile.
You will wonder why you are doing this
A salaried position in the public sector will look good at times. Your family and friends may wonder who you are because they haven’t seen you for a while. If it keeps you awake at night when you are lying in bed then talk to an expert about how to improve cash flow, expand revenue sources or how to improve your financial bottom line. If you are wondering if it is all worth it then find someone who understands both the business and clinical imperatives of private psychology practice and can help you combine both to make your practice high value to you and your clients.
Don’t listen to everyone
When you start a business, everyone has a view about how and what to do. Be judicious who you talk to. Keep quiet about what you are doing until you have a clear vision and plan. Take longer to plan your business than you thought you might need to—it will pay off. Your staff may not be as interested in your plans as you, that is why they work for you. Consultation and participation in decision making is not for everyone. Keep in regular contact and report to your psychologists/clinicians but don’t be surprised if no one says thanks for the email. You are the leader so they want you to lead.
Love those statistics and financial reports
Many psychologists tell themselves that they don’t know how to read a P & L statement, have no idea how to decide whether their business is succeeding or sinking, have no idea where the money is going and/or treat their business account as their private slush fund. Get real about money and determine what reports you think you will need and how often to know if you are on track. Get someone objective to look at the reports with you and teach you accountancy 101. Its not as scary as it seems! Determine a method of measuring treatment efficacy and stick to it. It will be the foundation of your marketing.
If you succeed, it will be worth it
If you like autonomy, being your own boss and ‘eating what you kill’ then operating your own practice is for you. If you find out that these ideas don’t float your boat, or it is not the right time for you to be going it alone, then re-group and review down the track. Keep the long game in mind. A good stable profitable psychology practice is not built in a day!