As mental health needs continue to grow across the United States, more clinicians may see a need for independent behavioral health services. However, launching your own practice is also full of challenges. Here’s how to address some of those.
1. Lack of clinical experience
If you are a recent graduate, newly licensed, or have been out of the workforce for a while, you may wonder if you have the professional experience to open an independent practice. In many cases, it is beneficial to join a group practice first to build up your experience and skills.
Make sure that your licensing, clinical hours, and other professional requirements are up-to-date, as well. Additional training and continuing education credits can help get you the experience you need.
2. Lack of business experience
Opening a behavioral health practice requires both entrepreneurial and clinical skills. Fortunately, there are many ways for clinicians to learn how to operate a business:
- Connect with other independent clinicians, locally or online.
- Ask your local chamber of commerce for business resources.
- Join local groups for business owners.
- Online classes and tutorials, from accounting to marketing, can give you basic business education.
If you are new to running a business, there are other things you should keep in mind:
- Create a business plan right away.
- Set aside portions of your day or week for business-only tasks, including learning to run your business and addressing paperwork, such as taxes and reimbursement.
- Consider outsourcing administrative tasks so you can concentrate on more clinical tasks.
3. Financial limitations
There are startup costs of launching a private behavioral health practice, though it can vary depending on a variety of factors. Fortunately, starting costs for many behavioral health providers can be relatively low compared to other types of businesses.
Here are some ways to keep costs down:
- Keep a careful, ruthless budget. Some expenses are non-negotiable, like taxes, licensing fees, and Internet service. Others may be more flexible, such as your insurance coverage and whether you hire employees.
- Consider subletting your office space, or working out of your home. If possible, you might try using remote-only services.
- Use a “side hustle,” such as teaching or a group practice, to supplement your income while you build your independent practice.
- Calculate the bare minimum you need to stay in business, and focus on just making that much for the first few months.
- Keep your expectations realistic; you don’t need a fancy office right away.
- Get used to charging a fee that accurately reflects the worth of your services.
4. Getting new clients
Exceeding your clinical requirements and possessing flawless business knowledge doesn’t guarantee you will have clients to serve when you open your practice. The best way to overcome this challenge is by learning to sell yourself and your practice with excellent sales and marketing skills. This includes:
- Community activity, such as giving talks or volunteering
- A strong website that attracts clients and explains exactly what you do
- Building a referral network, either with other local professionals or through online portals like Psychology Today
Ready to launch your independent behavioral health practice? The right software can make the difference between frustrating disorganization and streamlined profitability. Contact the team at BestNotes to learn how our software can help your practice start out strong.