I mean…is your LIFE ready for private practice?
There are several resources on the tools and tips you need to build a practice...but before we do any of that, I want you to look at your foundation.
Let’s embrace the basic social work creed of “Starting Where The Client Is” and apply that thinking to an honest assessment of where you are in these four key areas of life.
Clear your mind and allow yourself to be objective for a moment and let’s examine how ready you are for the rigors of practice building.
How is your health?
Do you have chronic health conditions that impact your energy level and ability to consistently focus and perform?
Do you have health insurance that you can maintain while you open your practice?
If you have a health concern, be sure that you are receiving the appropriate medical care and taking good care of yourself with regard to your sleeping and eating habits. If you notice that you are prone to unhealthy eating habits when stressed, start now developing alternative ways of taking care of yourself so that stress does not get the better of you…because trust me…a little bit of stress is coming!
Family and Friends
Do you have young children at home?
What are your family responsibilities that will impact your practice?
Do you have supportive family and friends that will be there to encourage you as you are growing?
Is your spouse supportive of your intention to build a business?
Talk openly with your spouse or partner so you can know exactly where they stand. If you have small children, you have to factor in those responsibilities as you are building your practice. When I first opened my doors in 2005, I had a toddler and was 5 months pregnant with my second baby. I learned pretty quick that practice building is a full contact sport. I also learned the truth of the statement that “one is too small a number to do anything great".
I had built in support systems from the start because my husband and mom always were willing to spend time with my little people. I also kept my baby in the office with me when he was small...I loved those days. Later when he was bigger and started sitting up and moving around, I had a provider that would allow me to bring him just a few hours a week. Perfect arrangement for me at that stage. What's going to work perfectly for you?
Identify your other supports as well. When you are building a business, it is important to protect your confidence and only share your dream with those that are supportive. Do you at least one friend or colleague that you can be open and honest with? Connect with someone that can relate to what you are facing. A compassionate listening ear that helps you build your confidence is a great asset. Nurture those relationships that feed you and help you move towards your dream.
Finances This is a biggie…financial pressure is the number one thing that chokes budding private practices. Not having enough clients or not ironing out reimbursement with insurance companies can leave you feel frazzled, overwhelmed and thinking…THIS IS NOT WORKING! There is a way to prepare yourself and avoid the weight of that pressure. Create a practice nest egg…3 months of basic living expenses and the estimated start up costs form your practice. This will help you not feel the burn. Better yet, ramp up slowly…maintaining your current income until your practice has matured enough to sustain you. Just plan for the 3-6 month time frame where you are still connecting growing your clientele and learning the ropes.
For my Pro-Insurance Practice Pros—-Have a realistic budget based on what you will earn is important for managing your expectations. Get a hold of some fee schedules and build your budget with that in mind.
If you are opting for a cash pay practice, you will also have to make realistic projections about the timeframe to build a full practice.
Fear Mindset Matters.
How often do you allow fear to stop you from moving forward in the accomplishments of your goals?
How often do you tend towards worry?
How do you calm and center yourself when confronted with a challenge?
You will approach so many unknowns in the building of your practice…and uncertainty produces fear. It is natural to have moments of self-doubt and overwhelm…but you have to have the inner fortitude to push on through. Business building will push you in ways you never imagined. It is one of the greatest personal development challenges I know. But you don’t have to go it alone. Having a good mentor or being a part of a group of supportive practice owners is essential to normalizing all of this.
Okay…so, do you feel ready? Maybe you don’t like your answers to a few of the questions. Well, I am a strong believer in the growth mindset. If you aren't were you want to be in any of these areas...set an intention to work on improving it.
You don’t have to wait to have it all solved before you can begin in your practice. The truth is none of us ever figure it all out. Just start where you are with the powerful knowledge of where you can improve. Building a plan that really suits your life …as it right now…and as it will be when you grow.