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Starting a Private Practice

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A private practice can be empowering and rewarding, but it requires more planning and responsibility than being employed. See below for guidance in planning your business and getting started!

Step 1: Identify Your Personal and Professional Vision

This is a MUST DO step for success. When your personal and professional vision is clear, the probability of reaching your goal is significantly increased. 

Take some alone time to get clear on what you want to accomplish with your life and your business. 
If you are not already clear on your vision, here is an easy exercise to help you get started. Allow between 20 and 30 minutes to complete the exercise.

  1. Choose a setting where you will not be interrupted during the exercise, then start by closing your eyes, taking several deep breaths, allow yourself to tune out external distractions and bring your attention to your internal self.

  2. Set a timer for three minutes, then ask yourself "What are my personal life goals?" Take three minutes to hear and feel the answer, then write, draw or talk into a recorder to express your personal life goals. Use only three minutes so you are encouraged to only focus on the things that are the most important to you. You can add more to this later, if you wish.

  3. Next, ask yourself "Why do I want to have a private practice?" and "What outcome do I want from it?" Take three minutes to hear and feel the answer, then write, draw or talk into a recorder to express what you would like to accomplish in your business in the next three years.

  4. Now take about two minutes and imagine that you learn you will die suddenly in six months. Write, draw or talk into a recorder to express how you would like to spend the time you have left.

  5. Review the notes you've taken, and write a statement that expresses your personal and professional vision, as it is today. Don't worry if you feel it is incomplete or imperfect. This is a work in progress that you will refine as long as you are in business. What is important is that you envision and document your starting place and refine it as you go forward.

  6. Next, picture your ideal day and consider your work/life balance. What do you want? Do you want to have an office or be mobile? Do you want to be a solo practitioner or work in a group practice? What do you want to model for your clients and other practitioners? How much vacation do you want? How much flexibility do you want in your work time? What kind of support system do you want?

Next Steps

Once you have identified your overall vision, it's time to dive deeper by answering the following questions. This will require you to assess who you want to serve and what services are currently available to them.

  1. How much money do you estimate it will take to actualize your vision? Break this into monthly and yearly figures.

  2. What skills do you have that a number of people urgently want and will pay for?

  3. Who is that group of people? What specific results are they looking for?

  4. Now brainstorm all the ways you can think of to help that group of people get the specific results they want.

  5. Go back through those potential ways of helping others and remove any that will not give you the income you need to actualize your vision. Record the remaining ways and post them in a place where you can easily refer to them often.

  6. Check your state board of nursing regulations and the Holistic Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice to make sure your business ideas are allowed. Tip: Much of holistic nursing practice fits into the area of educating clients in self-care, health maintenance and disease prevention behaviors. 

  7. Choose the idea that you are most excited about and create a business plan for it. Include your income and expense projections for one, two and three years. Ask for help to do this step, if necessary. Click here to see the Business Resources section of this website, plus check for business planning help in your local area.

Startup Business Expenses and Funding

Many businesses do not survive beyond their first year because the owner did not have sufficient startup funds. Be sure that you have at least 9 months (preferably 12 months) of your living and business expenses saved before you give up your "day job".

One path to starting your own business is to remain being an employee for another organization while you build your new business. Sometimes you can move to part-time employment while you develop your new business. This usually works for a while, until you reach the point where you need to focus the majority of your energy on your business.

When you decide to completely move to your new business, make sure you have enough startup funding so that you do not feel anxious about finances. The amount of money you need as a safety net will be different for each person, but having enough money to cover 9 to 12 months of living and business expenses is wise. Ask for help, if necessary, to do this type of planning. See the Business Resources page [insert link] for help.

Tip: Take on as little overhead as you can for as long as you can. It is best to have the growth of the business push you into the next level of expansion rather than have an expanded operation from the beginning and hope to grow into it.

One way to save on your monthly overhead expense is to work from home. Of course, this depends on your services, and working from home has its pluses and minuses. The obvious plus is that it may save money and time. Consult your tax advisor for specific advice on this. The disadvantages are that you might bring people into your home who you do not know and it might be a disruption to any people who live with you.

If a home office is not practical or appealing, you can compare sharing office space with having a space dedicated to you. Shared office space is usually less expensive and it can boost your clients if your office mates refer clients to you.

What Is YOUR Next Step? 

Do you need to let the idea of starting a private practice germinate? Or are you ready to move forward? Either way, we encourage you to set specific measurable set weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. 

Click here to download a one-page exercise to help you plan your goals each week. The best plans are accomplished one step at a time. To get started, think about one goal that you could easily reach… one that is even fun. Then partner with a colleague, a friend or a coach and use accountability to help you stay on track.