Guest Blog: by AAMFT affinity partner zynnyme
As a private practice therapist, you need a business plan.
But not just any plan. You want to create one that grows with your business and reconnects with those deep parts of you that give you the energy to make your plan a reality. Because private practice success looks different for everyone, and you want to be in genuine alignment with who you currently are — NOT the “you” from months (or even years) ago who had different goals.
Many therapists in private practice who develop an initial business plan, focus on a business plan that outlines broadly what they’ll do over the next 3-5 years. Then, that business plan collects physical or virtual dust as they start actually running their business. Often, the business plan and the day-to-day operations are completely disconnected from each other.
That is why we recommend starting with a 90-day business plan. It keeps things focused on things you can achieve and implement over the next 3 months. It helps reduce the overwhelm. And finally, it turns it from a dusty document to a game plan, so you know what you’re doing and WHY -- week by week and month by month.
An effective 90-day business plan involves eight key elements:
- Your vision for life and practice.
- Your schedule and organization.
- Your documentation.
- Your processes.
- Your financial plan.
- Your niche and messaging.
- Your private practice website.
- And your marketing plan.
Let’s cover each of these areas in more detail…
Private Practice Vision
This is the foundation of your business.
As a reminder, it’s okay to change. In fact, depending on how long you’ve been in solo or group private practice, that might be exactly what your business needs to reach that next level!
When you’re creating your ideal vision, you want to include not just time for your practice but also time for your life. Journal about your one-of-a-kind strengths as a therapist — or, if you have some people in your life you can ask, share a survey with them (even if it’s anonymous).
It’s all about identifying (or reconnecting) with your core values.
Schedule and Organization
Just like your vision — you’ll notice a trend here! — you want to create a schedule that includes time for the impactful work you do AND your personal life. Figure out a way to organize your plan and tasks that works for YOUR brain and learning style. This isn’t one-size-fits-all!
And don’t forget to get your calendar organized. If you have multiple calendars, ensure they’re all in sync with each other. We personally recommend software like Google Calendar where you can have a virtual record of everything you need (and want) to do and easily make updates.
Private Practice Documentation
Do you have a way of doing your notes that allows you to finish in 5 minutes or less? Do you have a clear informed consent with a clear cancellation policy?
We recommend a 48-hour cancellation policy at minimum, but feel free to set up something like 72 hours in advance if that works better for you. The goal here, like with all the other parts of your 90-day business plan for private practice, is to create something sustainable.
And speaking of sustainable… we recommend a paperless office.
The less you have to lock away in filing cabinets, the more ease of access (and, for many private practice therapists, peace of mind) to your business and clinical documents.