When you set out on your journey to grow a private practice, you will be putting to good use ALL of the skills you have developed throughout the course of your professional life. For starters, you will soon see that there is a part art / part science formula to building a private practice. The part art is everything you learned in school about how to provide services for our clients. The part science is the notion of being in business and what it takes to be successful. For most of us, it is that “part science” side that presents the most difficulty.
Prevailing advice on building a private practice is that having a niche or an ideal client is essential to success. I won’t disagree that having an expertise that helps you to stand apart from the rest of the practices out there can be a real asset. Having a niche is valuable to the marketing and sustainability of your practice, so starting out with a strong sense of who your ideal client is really is the best way to go.
But, what if like many people…you haven’t found your “niche” yet?
First, I want you to know that you are not alone and it doesn’t mean that your dreams of private practice are coming to an end! Don’t walk away from the idea of private practice thinking that you have to have it all together just to start.
Building a practice really is a journey. If you wait until you have everything completely in place before you start…you will never make any real progress. What is most important, is that you start where you are…with what you have and commit to moving yourself forward one step at a time.
So here are a few ideas on getting some momentum started in private practice before you have stumbled upon your niche:
1. Work in another private practice where you can see clients before hanging your own shingle and get clearer about who you want to work with. In that practice, accept a wide range of clients and observe yourself while doing so. While clients do you particularly enjoy working with?
2. Take a second look at your resume. Examine your employment experience closely. Do you see a pattern of progressive expertise that you had not noticed? You can look on your own or even ask a colleague to review it with you. What similarities do the positions have? Which positions and populations did you most enjoy working with? Start there to discover the area where you have been developing progressive expertise all along.
3. Rule out what you don’t want. When you feel unclear about what you want to do, sometimes the best way forward is to start with what you don’t want. Knowing that you don’t want to work with children is a great way to point yourself towards adults. Then start asking what kinds of presenting problems do you feel least comfortable dealing with? If the answer isn’t top of mind, work your way up from the bottom.
Still not clear….Well, that’s okay too. Give yourself credit for knowing the importance of discovering your niche’. Use the resources around you. Consider scheduling a Strategy Session with me to help you discover your niche. Together you and I can do the work of finding what will be the best fit for you and map out a plan to get you there.