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If one thing is for certain, being a private practitioner involves reflection and planning as you work to build your business to suit your personal and professional goals. It is important to take stock of your private practice on a regular basis to track your progress, make key decisions about the future of your business and even pivot when things do not go according to plan.
The start of a new year, or the summertime when things slow down a bit, are great times to review your goals. If you haven’t taken stock of your practice in a while (or at all!) you can do this anytime. Regardless of the time of year, it is crucial to the success of your business to take the time to determine where you are meeting your targets or where you might be falling short.
While there are many aspects of your private practice that you could review on an annual or even quarterly basis, there are two key questions to ask yourself when mapping out your path to private practice success.
What went well?
Tracking your weekly or monthly successes helps to gain and maintain momentum as an entrepreneur. Private practitioners are in a unique position in that you provide services to your clients while also owning and running your own business. It can be challenging to feel successful when you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list or are on the brink of burnout.
Spend some time each week or month to reflect on the wins you experienced. They could be major milestones such as onboarding a new client or launching your updated website. Your wins could also represent small victories like honouring your office hours and logging out of work to enjoy a tech-free dinner with your family.
Tracking these successes will not only help you feel motivated when running your private practice feels challenging but the wins that you take note of are also likely to give you some important insight into your true goals and hopes for your practice, and your life.
If you celebrate staying committed to a wellness routine or making quality time with your family a priority, you may start to realize that your goals for your business revolve around work-life balance. With this understanding, you can focus your efforts on moving away from a 1-on-1 business model and begin to explore options to diversify your offerings and revenue streams.
Where did you struggle?
Taking stock of your private practice also involves investigating the areas that were challenging to develop efficiencies or make improvements. As you set your goals for your business, think about the lessons you learned from the past month or year. Were there instances where you felt like giving up? Did you face challenges that could be prevented in the future?
Some common pain points that many private practitioners face include clients being late to or missing appointments, chasing late payments, coordinating client appointments, feeling burnt out with an overwhelming caseload and more.
By reflecting on the pain points or missteps you have experienced in running your private practice, you can take the time to implement solutions to support building a business that truly supports your clients and your goals.
A general rule of thumb is that implementing policies and procedures in the operations of your practice can often mitigate many of the pain points that so many therapists experience. This might look like introducing a cancellation and rescheduling policy to curb last-minute no-shows.
You may also find that setting up an appointment scheduling software alleviates some of the administrative burdens so that you can focus on providing optimal service to your clients without getting bogged down in your calendar.
Some pain points can be more difficult to manage. You may find yourself seeing clients who do not align with your area of focus or have trouble filling your caseload. These pain points indicate that you may need to look at refining your brand messaging on your website, Psychology Today profile or social media to ensure that you are attracting the right client for your services (and clients you are truly passionate about).
Make a commitment
Whether you are tailoring your goals to support your ideal practice or to mitigate your pain points, it is important to remember that in addition to being a therapist or service provider, you are also an entrepreneur. This means that running and growing your private practice is just as important as the work you do in session with clients.
Set appointments in your calendar weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually to reflect on your progress, celebrate successes and identify areas for improvement. Once you have identified these aspects, set aside time to actually implement the efficiencies you have pinpointed such as developing cancellation policies or updating your website with information about who your ideal client is.
If you liked this post, and want to learn more about balancing the dual roles of mental health care practitioner and business owner, why not sign up for Christine Hakkola’s webinar on this topic? It’s one of 4 sessions aimed at helping Canadian mental health practitioners thrive in private practice. Click here for details and registration.