10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Private Practice

As I’ve said before, starting my own private practice was like stepping onto a rollercoaster in the dark. It was exciting, exhilarating, and at times, incredibly scary! It remains one of the boldest and most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. The early days were a heady mix of anxiety and ambition. I remember the jitters that came with the endless ‘what ifs.’ I was worried about building a caseload, managing risks, and financial viability. Thankfully, these anxieties gradually subsided as I found my footing.

Building my business has been a journey of self-discovery and resilience. Reflecting on everything I’ve learned along the way, I’ve compiled a list of ten things I wish I’d known from the start. Although I had to learn some of these lessons the hard way, doing so has shaped my path and helped me create a more sustainable, fulfilling practice.

10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Private Practice

  1. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Initially, I really underestimated the value of planning. I wish I’d dedicated more time to laying a robust foundation for my practice. Solid planning could have helped me avoid some early missteps and streamlined my path to success. Read Business Planning for Private Practice for more on this subject. Learning from people who have gone before me would have saved me a lot of time and offset a number of problems I encountered – one of the reasons I developed the Getting Started in Private Practice – Training Course

  1. Outsourcing Makes (Good Business) Sense

It took me a while to realise outsourcing certain tasks, especially things like accounting, could be incredibly cost-effective. Hours spent wrestling with tax returns and bookkeeping systems were hours I could have invested in my clients. Engaging professionals has not only saved me time but also ensured accuracy and compliance. For more information, read Everything You Need to Know About Outsourcing in Private Practice.

  1. Setting the Right Fees is Tricky, But Essential

Pricing services correctly is critical for sustainability. Your practice needs to be profitable to be rewarding and to allow you to support your clients effectively. For me, the biggest game-changer has been determining fees based on facts rather than mindset.

  1. The Pros Outweigh the Cons

Despite the greater commitment and responsibility, private practice offers unparalleled financial and personal rewards. For me, the freedom to set my own income, take holidays at will, and enjoy a flexible schedule is empowering. When things feel difficult or overwhelming, I always come back to this point.

  1. A Good Work/Life Balance Takes Work

Balancing the demands of running my practice with personal time is an ongoing challenge. Learning to manage my time efficiently has been crucial for maintaining my wellbeing and ensuring quality of care for my clients.

  1. Self-Funding Clients vs. Referral Companies

For me, working with numerous referral companies felt like serving multiple bosses, especially when they had different priorities and goals. In contrast, attracting self-funding clients who have done their research and chosen to work with me is extremely rewarding. They’re often motivated, committed to starting therapy and keen to begin making positive changes. Regardless of which route you choose, it’s important to carefully consider your options and make an informed decision that aligns with your values and professional goals.

  1. You’ve Got to Have Confidence in Demand

I’ve learned it’s important to understand and believe in the consistent demand for therapy services. Knowing that people always seek quality therapeutic support provides a sense of security and allows me to focus on doing my job instead of worrying about the future.

  1. Community Over Competition

Creating and being part of a supportive community like Therapists Corner has been invaluable. This incredible network of peers has provided support, advice, and a sense of belonging. I wish I’d had access to something similar when I was just starting out.

  1. Social Media vs. Websites

While social media is a powerful tool for outreach, it’s someone else’s platform. Ever changings algorithms, company buyouts and talk of certain apps being banned completely reveals how little say we have in how our content performs and who it reaches. Investing in a professional website gave me more control over my online presence and created a direct line to potential clients.

  1. Investment Equals Return

The thought of investing financially in my practice was initially daunting. However, it became clear that significant investments in a website, office space, and equipment were necessary for growth. While it’s possible to start small, scaling up requires both financial and time investments.

Getting Started in Private Practice

For those considering or just starting their own private practice, I hope these insights offer guidance and encouragement. I’m committed to helping others build a resilient, sustainable, and profitable business they can run with confidence. I want you to be free to focus on doing what you love most – delivering effective and transformative therapy to your clients.

I’ve designed my upcoming course, Getting Started in Private Practice, just for you. Taking place over five weeks, it’s your chance to learn from someone who has already walked the path you’re on and is ready to hand over the road map. The spring term is already in session, but you can join the waiting list for autumn enrolment now.

Useful Links

Your First Year in Private Practice – 11 Things to Expect

How to Go from Working in the NHS to Private Practice

Private Practice – Is It Worth It?

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