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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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6 Tips for Starting Your Own Therapy Practice

 

If you love to help people and have a passion for turning lives around—combined with an entrepreneurial spirit—chances are you’ll want to start your own private therapy practice. First and foremost, there’s nothing like the independence of your own company. You’ll also have unlimited room for creativity, and a higher of level of flexibility than you could ever have working for another organization. However, as the old adage goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Starting your own business is no walk in the part. Here are six tips for getting your therapy practice off the ground:

 

Choose a Location

Choosing a location for your practice is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make. Initially—especially if you have low funds—you might consider renting a space hourly. However, you have to think about the caveats of this. For starters, it has low flexibility. You never know when a session will go over the scheduled time, or when a person has rented hours very close to yours and you’re still speaking with a client.

 

If you do rent hourly, you’ll have to account for some “padding” of time on either end. A better alternative is to rent dedicated office space, which you can find inexpensively at coworking spaces. Once you’ve raised enough funds, or have the savings to back you, you can invest in an actual retail location that’s totally yours.

 

File Legal Paperwork

Without a doubt, filing your legal paperwork is a must. Without it, you leave yourself vulnerable to lawsuits and other complications. Most likely, you’ll be setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC). An LLC assumes a hybrid entity between a sole proprietorship and a partnership, and absolves the owner of the company (and its) members from the liabilities and debts of that company. The LLC structure is also much more flexible than other legal structures.

 

If you already have a lawyer, you can talk to them about filing the proper paperwork necessary for an LLC. However, today, there are companies like LegalZoom and Swyft Filings that handle all the paperwork for you. Within a week or two, you’ll have all your official paperwork in your hands, with fancy certifications that you can hang or keep in your custom binder on your desk.

 

Understand HIPAA Regulations

Contrary to what many therapists and independent psychcounselers believe, you are still required to be HIPAA compliant—even if you don’t submit electronic bills online. Several organizations, including the The American Psychological Association, state that all psychologies consider, subject to the Privacy Rule of HIPAA regardless of the type of practice they run.

 

HIPAA regulations regarding the privacy and security of digital regards are required across all therapy practices. Practices that are caught being non-compliant can face severe penalties. Not only can you lose your business and license, but you can be forced to pay $50,000 in fees, and even face jail time. Take online HIPAA training to stay informed on basic requirements and resources that can help you.

 

Set Up a Website

Today’s businesses wouldn’t fare well or get very far without a website. Websites are the bridge between you and your future customers. Your website will provide current and potential clients with everything they should know about your business, including the services you offer, testimonials from other clients, your location, and resources. Keep in mind that in today’s day and age, people make swift first impressions, and your website will most likely be the first impression a person gets.

 

Invest In Marketing

One of the most important aspects of starting a private practice is your marketing efforts. This reigns true for every new business. If you want to establish a successful business, you must invest in and sell yourself. You’ll need a strategic marketing plan to stay ahead of your competition. This means creating a social media plan and incorporating social media marketing, listing your business on Google, doing outreach to write guest blog posts, optimizing your website, and more.

 

If you want to focus on running the business and working with clients, you can outsource your marketing efforts to freelancers or agencies. Find freelancers on sites like Upwork or Fiverr. Or, conduct a search for local marketing agencies in your area. As a general rule of thumb, marketing agencies that appear at the top of search engine results inherently prove that they know what they’re doing. You wouldn’t want to hire an agency on page five of Google—if they can’t help themselves, they most likely can’t help you. Always do your due diligence; read online reviews, check out their previous work, and talk to multiple agencies on how they can help you.

 

Choose the Right Fees

The right pricing strategy can make or break your business. One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting their own practice is setting the wrong fees. Fees that are too high can easily alienate potential clients. On the other hand, fees that are too low make it difficult to have margins that make sense for your business’s financial stability. Don’t let “low costs” be the best thing you have to offer. It’s unsustainable, and you want to be known for your high quality services. Do the math to figure out what it takes to meet your financial obligations.

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