Through our years of consultation with other mental health professionals, we’ve seen highly competent clinicians fail miserably in their private practices because of poor business decisions and procedures.
Here are three common mistakes, and how you can avoid them:
1. Not enough thought to the structure of one’s practice. Many clinicians jump at the first opportunity without considering whether it’s a good fit for them. To minimize mistakes, answer the following:
- How much time you want to work?
- What kind of work environment suits you best?,
- How much money are you are willing to work for?
- Do you want to practice in a group setting or solo?
2. Not having a system of financial accountability. Many clinicians make business decisions without thinking through the risks and implications. Imagine that you were asked to invest money in such a practice.
Would you do so without any kind of plan or accountability from the practice owner? Of course not. You would want some demonstration or projection that your investment will be used wisely, as well as accountability during the process.
When setting up your own practice, consider that you are the investor in your own practice. Make sure you are making your business decisions responsibly and affordably.
3. Not having an adequate business infrastructure. Administrative tasks are not very stimulating or interesting, but they are very important. Yet too many mental health professionals are haphazard in taking care of them. As a result, they can miss out on thousands of dollars per year in income and/or cost savings.
To avoid such losses, we strongly recommend that you have in place the following:
- A good back-office and policies and procedures
- Sound billing practices
- Collection of data - income, expenses, referral patterns, outcomes, etc. Make adjustments as necessary.
All the above are laid out in detail in our Private Practice 101 home study course, geared to help you customize a business plan that fits with your values, goals, interests and circumstances.
Thanks to Dr. Jeff Zimmerman whose work comprises the basis for this blog post.
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