Updated: Jan 14, 2019
My husband and I had just gotten engaged when I started my practice. I am forever grateful to my husband for supporting me when I decided to quit my agency job to take that leap. I was so lucky to have his support. He wasn’t worried about the money I wouldn’t be bringing in. He believed in me even though he wasn’t bringing in big money himself. He was a soccer coach, he covered housing and insurance. We were good. I quit my agency job in September, the coaching position he wanted fell through, and in February he quit his job and decided to pursue a volunteer coaching position.
And that was it. From February 2015 to this very moment I have been the primary earner for our family. Me. When I was pregnant with my son I would talk about my maternity leave and my plans to return to work and people would say “we’ll see how you feel after the baby.” We’ll see how I feel?! I feel like I want and need to earn money for this family. My Amazon addiction is not going to pay for itself!
But y’all, I will be honest with you: starting out is hard. We moved in February and I remember searching for full-time therapy jobs in December. I was sick of the hustle of trying to build a practice (to be fair, I hadn’t done much). But, I wanted clients to show up, and they simply were not showing up like I’d hoped.
It’s a stark contrast from today. I wish I could go back and tell that girl who was crying on the couch just hoping that she would make it, hoping that everything would be okay and that she should follow her heart and stay out of the agency world, that it would all be alright. Since I can’t do that, instead, I will tell you. Read on to learn some of my top tips for launching your own practice without a safety net.
1. Don’t expect to build a thriving practice overnight. Expect it to take a year to build up to where you want to go. You may do it quicker, which is awesome, but I would recommend planning for at least one year.
2. Start building your practice while you are employed elsewhere. Your current job can be your safety net! Setting up an LLC, getting liability insurance, setting up a website, renting a space – it all costs money. Knock out those projects while you still have dependable money coming in.
3. Think about what you can do yourself. I filed my own LLC, set up my own website on Wixwhich is super easy to use and only cost $150 per year. It was a great way to start.
4. Work for yourself. Personally, I am not a fan of working under someone else because there are no guarantees and you are sacrificing a significant amount of your earnings. If you decide to go that route, make sure that they are able to fill your schedule and make sure you can eventually leave to build a business on your own. It may take longer to build your own practice, but in the long run, you can make a significantly larger income. 5. Build up a network for colleagues. My best friends are therapists, and I love having their support. Find other therapists in private practice and learn from each other.
6. Ask yourself why you want to start a private practice in the first place. I LOVE owning my own business. To me, that is half the fun. If the thought gives you a headache, then maybe a group practice or a more reliable job could be the answer.
7. Use a lead generator. Until your schedule is full, I recommend investing 90% of your time in cultivating new relationships. People want to go to a therapist that was recommended by someone they trust. Your work isn’t done when you drop off business cards; you need to keep working on relationships until someone is consistently recommending you.
I hope this list gives you some insight into what it takes to start your own practice! Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck.