You wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation, so why develop your small business any differently? When planning your transition to a private consulting practice, you’ll want to start with a solid business plan. You might even need this plan if you intend to apply for a loan to fund your young therapy practice. Potential creditors may not want to take the risk of a business that does not have a detailed strategy for success.
Developing a plan for your private practice gives you the opportunity to identify important points to consider for any small business, including finances, goals, and potential barriers to success. Taking these factors into account now can help prevent business difficulties, or even business failures, in the future.
Key elements of your business plan for private practice consulting
While you will likely customize the structure of your business plan to meet the unique needs of your private practice, all business plans should include some essential information that outlines the path to success.
Mission and vision
Your mission and vision statement communicates the purpose of your private practice. Writing this statement can seem intimidating, but it only takes a few sentences to answer at least some of the following questions:
- Why are you doing therapy?
- How will your private practice help others?
- Who do you work for to help?
- What concerns do you help them?
- What personal values, if any, contribute to your mission to help others?
Like other elements of a business plan, specific mission statements may vary depending on your practice’s approach. Just take the time to think about exactly how you want to help others and how your specific experience, training, and approach can be beneficial, then state it clearly in writing.
The description of your private practice can be a general overview of your business. Include all relevant information about your business, such as:
- Your niche as a therapist
- Therapeutic approaches you use in your practice
- Specialty areas
- Age groups or populations you typically work with
- Special skills that enhance your practice (Are you bilingual? Trained to work with children with special needs? Have a therapy dog on staff?)
- How many clients you will ideally see in a week
- How many current customers, if any
- How many current staff, if any
If you intend to use your business plan for something other than your own reference (for requesting a loan or creating a proposal, for example), consider providing some information about yourself and your practice. Keep things professional, but take this opportunity to personalize your description and make yourself more accessible.
Taking the time to research the therapy market in your area can help you make important decisions about your niche, location of your office, and methods of reaching potential clients.
Finding nearby therapists can provide a clearer picture of the needs of a specific location. If your target area already has a number of therapists who practice similar approaches or deal with the same issues, consider targeting a slightly different demographic or training in a new specialty.
For example, instead of saying “I work with children of all ages,” think of, “I see clients of all ages, but I specialize in working with teens who have ADHD, learning disabilities. , school problems or behavior problems ”. Consider your skills and think about what specific help you can give. You might be concerned that restricting the focus of your practice will reduce the number of potential clients, but the reverse is more likely to be true. People who are looking for a therapist for one of these specific concerns may find you before they find a therapist who does not indicate a specialty.
When choosing a location for your office, you should also make sure that potential customers in your demographic can find and reach you easily. Once you’ve found a great location, you’ll need to consider marketing strategies, another key part of market research. How will you get the word out once you are ready to receive clients?
The financial part of a business plan should consist of several elements.
First, you’ll want to calculate your operating costs or expenses. These costs may include:
- Software or technology fees
- Staff salaries
- Office rental
- Office utilities
- Office products (tea, toilet paper, bottled water, etc.)
Once you’ve determined your monthly (or annual) operating expenses, you’ll need to calculate the minimum amount of income you need to support yourself and keep your practice in business. Once you have that number, you can use it to set your therapy fee and create a sliding scale, if you decide to use that fee structure. It can be helpful to determine how many sliding scale clients you can support at a time
Deciding whether or not to accept insurance is also an important decision you will need to make before you start seeing clients. Some practitioners prefer to avoid working with insurance companies, so it is important to research the necessary steps and decide if accepting insurance will meet the needs of your practice.
If you have independent funding to start with, write it down. If you need some income to get started, write down your strategy for getting those funds as well.
You will find that it is virtually impossible to reach many new clients without investing time and effort both to develop your reputation as a mental health professional and to put yourself in front of potential clients. Including ideas for marketing strategies in your business plan can keep you focused. Consider these possibilities:
- Commit to devoting a certain number of hours each week to marketing strategies. Use these hours to network and meet potential referral sources, plan new marketing strategies, or make yourself available in your community.
- Create a website (or hire a professional to create one for you). Developing social media pages for your private practice on platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also help you reach more people. Social media pages can also make it easier for potential clients to contact you, as they can send messages directly from your practice page.
- Create quality content by blogging on topics related to your practice, including your approach to therapy, self-care and self-help approaches, or strategies for improving well-being. It can help improve your website ranking in Google and other search engines. Higher ranked websites show up earlier in search results, which can put you in front of more people looking for help.
- Join a directory of therapists. In the GoodTherapy directory, your profile allows you to describe your approach to treatment, the types of therapy you practice, and the types of clients you would ideally work with. GoodTherapy members can also write and post original content related to therapy and mental health issues. Links to your published articles will also appear on your profile, encouraging interested clients to learn more about your approach.
The final (and perhaps the most important) element of your business plan? Your goals for the future. These goals should include a time component, and they should be focused and specific.
Your main goal when you begin your therapeutic practice is probably to help people. But consider more detailed goals. How exactly do you want to help? If you are interested in helping young children overcome trauma, your goal may be to pursue continuing education in trauma-focused approaches to therapy during the first 6 months of practice. If you want to counsel pregnant teens, it can be helpful to aim to learn more about the various school, family, or health challenges that adolescent parents face.
Other goals, including planning for the growth of your practice. Again, it helps to jot down specific and achievable milestones as well as responses to reaching those milestones. For example, you might say, “In 2 years, I hope to see 20 clients each week. When I have more than 20 clients for a 2 month period, I will look to add another professional to my practice.
Some details may change over time as your business grows and you adapt your practice to meet new needs. You can add more staff, acquire new specialties, or become certified in additional therapeutic approaches. As your situation changes, the needs or goals of your practice may also change. It’s a good idea to review your business plan once or twice a year, just to update the information and address the parts that have become less relevant.
- Bavonese, J. (nd). A business plan to develop your therapeutic practice. Networker in psychotherapy. Retrieved from https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/509/a-business-plan-for-growing-your-therapy-practice
- How to Create a Business Plan for Your Perfect Private Practice. (2016, October 24). Retrieved from https://www.aperfectpractice.com/blog/2017/1/18/how-to-create-a-business-plan-for-private-practice