The New Year is here, and most of us are back at it after having a few days off. Many of us are thinking about how to run our practices smoother, earn more money, and have a better work-life balance. In working with hundreds of practice owners to launch and scale their businesses, I’ve learned that there are several commonalities among those who are successful and thriving in practice. The New Year is a great time to reflect, readjust, and reengage in building a practice that honors our vision for our business and life.
Here are 10 things that all private practice owners should consider as we embark on a New Year.
1. Reflect and align
If you haven’t already taken the time to reflect on your practice, now is a good time to do so. It’s so important to take inventory of the wins and losses as well as the lessons we’ve learned. Sometimes we find that, throughout the year, we received opportunities that seemed like a good fit at the time, or let’s face it, it was our slow period and we needed the revenue. We might find that we accepted opportunities (or clients) that are misaligned with our vision for our business. It’s okay, it happens. The New Year is a good time to look at your business and identify areas that need some tweaking.
Whether you use vision boards, business plans, or other methods of setting goals in your business, it's important to have a plan. This plan should include an overview of your business today, what you’d like to see from your business in the future, and measurable actions or steps that will allow you to achieve your goals. Additionally, the part that many of us leave out in our plan are the threats or barriers that naturally exist and that may derail us from our plan. Try including internal (within your business) and external (outside of your business and control) and actively identify ways to mitigate those threats.
3. Evaluate your fee
The cost of doing business increases for most of us each year. I don't know about you, but my rent automatically increases 5% each year, in addition to other increasing expenses. We’ve built in an annual rate increase of 5% in our informed consent and remind our clients in November (or 60 days ahead) of the increase that takes effect January 1 of the New Year. Consider your expenses and see if you should also plan to change your fee.
4. Negotiate your contract
If you’re in-network with insurance companies, we recommend that you routinely ask for rate increases. We request a rate increase every year in alignment with the increased cost of good and services. We generally receive an increase between 5-7%, so this is a great step to ensure that you continue to be fairly compensated for your services.
5. Review your systems
We routinely evaluate the systems we are using to run our business, including our payment processor, customer relationship manager, email marketing system, etc. When we do this, we look for a few things: Do these systems still meet our needs? Are they redundant? Are they cost-efficient? My goal is always to optimize our processes while controlling expenses. For instance, we recently upgraded our email marketing system because we outgrew the functionality of the previous one. Our newest email marketing system allowed us to get rid of one of the form generation services we were previously paying for, saving us nearly $60 per month.
6. Review your schedule and priorities
Look at your current schedule to see if there are adjustments that you can make to give you more freedom and flexibility. When I started my practice, I saw clients on Tuesday and Thursday from 10AM until 2PM because that aligned with my daughter’s daycare schedule. My priority has always been to build a business that supports my life, and being able to pick my kids up from school and having control of my time were motivators for me to launch my practice. Reviewing your schedule also includes ensuring you have time to engage in business building activities, such as marketing, financial planning, identifying community partners, and hiring, to name a few. Striking a balance between building a business and also seeing clients is important to the sustainability of your practice.
It is impossible to wear all the hats in your business, and having a sustainable, service-based business requires that you are intentional about delegating. One of the first things I tell new private practice owners is to give yourself permission to outsource or delegate tasks that need to be done but don’t require you to do them. One task I recommend clinicians outsource is the intake process, specifically managing their phones. You'll save both time and money by hiring a Virtual Assistant to answer your phone and respond to scheduling requests.
8. Get support
Entrepreneurship is a lot of work, but it’s also rewarding. Make sure that you have the support that you need personally and professionally to build your business without compromising your quality of life. This might include connecting with a group (like the Private Practice Academy) of other private practice owners, hiring a business coach, having support in your home, and more. The key is to have community and support on this journey.
9. Add passive income
Being an entrepreneur is rewarding but can be a bit unpredictable. If you’ve been in private practice for any length of time, you know that there are periods or seasons in your business where things just slow down. Passive income allows you to create a buffer during these slow times and can give you the stability you need to embrace the slow periods without panicking about income. Passive income also allows you to monetize your knowledge, skills and abilities. In my Pajama Profits Mastermind, I’ve helped tons of clinicians leverage their expertise and generate recurring passive income.
10. Go deep before you go wide
Far too often we get caught doing ALL THE THINGS and find ourselves overwhelmed. We are trying to be on all the social media platforms, offer workshops and groups and everything because that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. We might feel like we aren’t getting anything done which doesn’t make sense because we are always BUSY and EXHAUSTED. One piece of advice I give to all my Academy members and consulting clients is to go deep—in other words, get really good at what you do before you add additional areas of focus. This is true whether we are talking about adding additional clinical services or adding another social media outlet. Make sure that the foundation is solid on what you are doing (go deep) before you expand (go wide).
Here’s to a New Year that is full of abundance, purpose, and peace.* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.