7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Private Practice

After 12 years in private practice, I’ve learned so many things. The most important being that I love being in private practice, and there’s no way I’d ever go back to working in a hospital. 

With that said, there are still many things I wish I knew before I started my practice, so I want to share the struggles I had and the solutions I’ve developed.

1. Time Commitment 

Know that private practice is a time commitment. Yes, you’re going to see clients, but there’s so much more besides that. There’s billing and admin work, submitting to insurance, scheduling, office upkeep. The list is endless. 

The solution I’ve found most helpful is time blocking. I block out my schedule to see clients on Monday’s from 10 to 5, do admin work on Tuesday’s from 10 to 2, and focus on marketing Wednesday’s from 9 to 5. 

Time blocks let you focus on one specific part of your practice and ensure no part is left suffering. 

Time blocks let you focus on one specific part of your practice and ensure no part is left suffering. 

2. Shift in Confidence 

Any time you try something new, you’ll shift your confidence. That’s inevitable. When I first started out, I noticed a shift in my confidence because I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of. 

I overcame this by finding a community. You can search for a local Meet-Up, Eventbrite, or even local Toastmasters groups in your area. Be sure to ask your Chambers of Commerce, and check if there are Facebook groups that have local meetups. Find one that fits so that you have people to bounce ideas off and you feel supported. 

3. Financial Investment 

Originally I thought, “I’m going to start my private practice… 6 figures here I come!” I quickly discovered that building a new business requires investment and time before becoming profitable. 

When you’re first starting out, it’s important to track everything and understand the investment it takes to run a sustainable practice. Know how much money is coming in, how much money’s going out, and what everything costs. Once you understand what all of your outgoing expenses are each month, you’ll know how many clients you need to see each week. 

It’s helpful to think of business expenses in terms of appointments. If you want to go to a conference, buy new furniture, or purchase an EHR, think about how many extra appointments you’ll need that month to cover the cost. Weigh the cost versus benefits. This will help you determine whether or not that investment is worth it. 

4. Schedule Downtime

Technically, I could always be working. I could take my computer home and easily have a project because there’s always something to do. If I didn’t schedule downtime, I’d forget about holidays!

My fix is to go into your calendar and plan a vacation. Schedule it out and have boundaries. You’ll be a better provider when you have rest. 

5. Marketing Never Stops

Marketing was something I didn’t want to think about because it wasn’t my forte. I am a provider, not a marketing expert. I thought once I got a client, they’d always come back and see me. That isn’t the truth. 

Now I have a dedicated marketing day. Every Wednesday, no matter what, even if I have a waitlist, it’s marketing day. Spend the day connecting with other providers in the area or planning what marketing events you’ll attend in upcoming months. Even if you have a full caseload, make sure you stick to it. 

6. You Can Get Lonely 

I love talking to people and connecting. When I worked in a hospital, it was easy to pop over to my neighbor and spend a few minutes decompressing and socializing between clients. When I started my own practice, I was alone between clients.

I have a few solutions to combat this. The first one I mentioned earlier: find an in-person entrepreneur group. We’re humans, we love to connect. I belong to a few local groups, and they provide a sense of not being alone while you run your own practice. 

My other solution is co-working spaces or working at a coffee shop. After a day of seeing clients, maybe you’re working on something that can be done in a public space. Go to a coffee shop or co-working space, and don’t be afraid to say hello to the people next to you. Who knows, they might be a great referral source later down the road!

7. You’re the Boss

It’s so exciting that you’re now the boss. But holy bananas, it’s also kind of scary! You’re in charge of everything. It’s now your responsibility to make sure you’re making money, paying the bills, and figuring out your savings. When the door knob to your office falls off on the Fourth of July, it’s you that has to figure out how to put it back on. Not that that happened or anything… 

My solution for this, AGAIN, is support. Can you see a theme? It takes a village in so many aspects of our lives. It’s going to take a village when you’re starting a practice. Yes, you can do it. Yes, you’re going to do it. But it’s great to have that support whether your door knob falls off or you’re trying to figure out taxes. 

And the last piece to remember… Have fun. This is your practice. This is what you’ve dreamed about, and you’re going to do amazing!

For more great tips, please check out my video series, How to: Private Practice

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