I get to hear a lot about the various stories therapists hear from their colleagues about starting a private practice.
I receive emails from all over the world of therapists feeling concerned, intimidated and cautious from these stories. It’s pretty common that therapists will tell me they would rather abandon their dreams altogether when it comes to starting a private practice, because of how difficult it sounds.
So many clinicians are afraid they don’t have the business skills to succeed. Many just feel like they lack the confidence required to be an entrepreneur.
Unfortunately, when you abandon your inner knowing around your career aspirations out of fear there are many consequences. In the field of mental health, we often find practitioners who have stayed in organizational work for longer than they want. This situation lowers the quality of care and also leads to career dissatisfaction. It can result in burnout, stress and a general sense of frustration.
After working with many therapists over the years, I’ve started to gain a sense of the origins of the fears to starting a practice. In reality, these fears have been perpetuated by colleagues who have struggled in their private practices or are using outdated marketing methods.
So, let’s take a look at the 7 Big Myths of Starting a Private Practice, why they are floating around, and if they are true.
- It takes a lot of money to start a private practice.
This isn’t true. You can start part-time and reduce your costs if you need to. Starting a private practice probably has one of the lowest barriers to entry financially when it comes to small business entrepreneurship.
Often therapists say it takes a lot of money because they aren’t adept at modern marketing methods and haven’t refined their own relationship to money. They also say that because they were afraid to invest any money whatsoever upfront. Yes, if you’re willing to invest money wisely you will attract money back to you. However, don’t get stuck on what you don’t have financially going into this. Focus on what you want to create.
- You need money to make money.
Partially true. You need money to provide for your basic needs. If you’re trying to launch a full-time practice and you are going to try and make it without another job you will likely need at least three months of living expenses in your savings.
That factors in the income you will start to earn from a handful of clients in the beginning. As your caseload grows, you can start to replenish that savings and make sure your do! Owning a small business isn’t the same as a salaried position. You need to manage your money differently. However, you don’t need a ton of money to invest in your practice in order to attract clients into your practice.
- A private practitioner will always need another source of income.
Definitely not true. I know hundreds of very successful therapists that live an abundant life from their private practice. Therapists do often choose to engage with other career opportunities such as writing, speaking, workshops, etc. because of the fulfillment of these activities. But it’s hardly a job requirement. In fact, an abundant private practitioner often reports working less hours, earning more money and having less stress than organizational work.
- You’ll never earn six-figures in private practice and will always struggle.
False. If you want to earn six-figures in your private practice, therapists are doing it all around the world. It’s just a matter of priorities, knowing how to structure your business model, and how many hours you’re willing to work. It takes discipline and commitment to your business, but it’s completely possible. Also, six-figures isn’t for everyone. Just know what you desire and work toward it.
- It takes three to five years to grow a full-time practice.
Maybe 20 years ago. If you’re unwilling to use the best of modern marketing methods–sure. But if you know how to market yourself locally, utilize the right paid online advertising for your location, use social media, capture leads and nurture them online, there’s no reason you can’t speed this process up and completely dispel this myth. I’ve seen therapists fill practices in three months, six months, one year and longer. It’s about your willingness to try new tasks, adaptability and commitment to yourself.
- You need to be an extrovert to build a private practice.
It helps when marketing locally to feel very comfortable with putting yourself out there, giving public talks, engaging with small groups, and reaching out to individuals. However, there are lots of ways to build a small business and even though local networking is very important, there are ways for introverts to be very successful in private practice. In fact, many therapists identify as introverts and have successful practices. They did it. You can do it as well.
- There’s too many therapists and not enough clients.
Not true. Ever. That’s just an attitude. It has nothing to do with reality. There are always clients that are only right for you. That’s why they will find you and you will find them. Even if you’re in a very competitive region, keep in mind that a thriving private practice usually only holds a caseload of 25-35 clients. In reality, that is an extremely small number of people that need to find your services. Most small businesses are operating on exponentially larger numbers in order to survive. So you got this!
Believe in yourself. Only take mentorship from others who have been successful and understand the current landscape of private practice marketing. There’s no reason you can’t achieve your vision in private practice. And it’s important that you do. Your future clients are waiting for you to help them.
Keith Kurlander, MA, LPC is the Founder of higherpractice.com, a company dedicated to empowering therapists to achieve their highest potential in private practice. With this in mind, Higher Practice provides therapists with all of the necessary business tools and emotional support needed to succeed.
You can download our free guide on How to Get 5 New Clients This Month at the following link: lp.higherpractice.com/five-new-clients