In this solo episode, Gordon gives tips and tricks on pivoting in private practice. Whenever you’re thinking about making a change, the first thing to consider is “why?” What is driving your decisions and is private practice the right fit for you? One way to think about your “why” is by doing a brain dump. Get all your thoughts out on paper – Gordon does this every single week. Stay tuned as he speaks about knowing your numbers in private practice and the importance of outsourcing.
Think About Your Why
COVID has caused most of us to think about what we are doing and how we can change things. Think about your “why.” Why are you thinking about going into private practice? Many people want to make more money in private practice. However, why do you want the money? Think about your lifestyle. What is the life that you want to create for yourself within your practice? What is going to feed you emotionally, spiritually, and physically?
A person can go into private practice and realize that it’s no different than working nine to five for someone else. It’s not the best fit for everyone. You need to have a massive drive to succeed in private practice. An entrepreneurial spirit is an absolute must – there should be a growth mentality there. At the end of the day, you have to be a self-starter, and you have to hold yourself accountable. If you’re not wired this way, then private practice may not be the best fit.
Understand Your Numbers
If you are in private practice and you’re not making a profit, you will not survive. Get a clear picture of your numbers as you begin to change things in private practice. If you’re thinking about adding another person to your practice, make sure you understand your practice’s financial side. Do a deep dive into your numbers and understand how all the financial pieces work. How much do you get per session? What does it cost you per session? Break things down in that way.
Outsource Your Admin Work
Once you reach a critical mass with your clients, spending time on admin work is not a good use of your time. You make money by seeing clients, so don’t spend too much time working on admin work. Once you outsource your admin work, you’ll find that it pays for itself. That way, you have more free time to see clients. The hardest part around this is a mindset shift. You have to get your head around the idea of return on investment. In order to make money, you need to spend money. Think about the math!
Do A Brain Dump
Think about all of the things that are important to you. Every week, write down everything you need to do and everything you want to accomplish. Take a sheet of paper and jot down all of the things that you wish to change in your private practice. This way, you can capture all of those thoughts. Map out how you want to get to where you want to go. If you’re creative, you can take these thoughts and create a visual map on a poster board.
Cut Out The Deadwood
Have a space that is comfortable for you and allows you to do the things that you want to do. Throw things away or donate items that you do not need anymore. This is called cutting out the deadwood. You can do this in private practice. Look at your systems and processes. Are there things that you are doing that no longer serve you? Maybe your clients are filling out too many forms. Think about how you can streamline your systems. Also, think about your subscriptions. It may be time to change your cell phone plan. Are you paying for things that you don’t use? Then it’s time to clean things up and cut the deadwood.
It's changing times, I think for most of us, as I've mentioned, already has really caused us to kind of pause and think about what's most important to us in life. And I think w in, particularly with our practices, you know, I'm a big proponent of, of making plans and planning and mapping out plans. And I'm going to talk a little more about that, but you know, usually I think of one big transition time is usually, you know, around the holidays in terms of the new year and that sort of thing. I think most of us spend a lot of time thinking about, or maybe some don't, but thinking about, you know, new year's resolutions and, you know, what do we want to accomplish next differently over the next 12 months of the year? And I think we're kind of in a time like that to some degree, you know, here we are at as I'm recording this and the getting ready to transition into the fall of the year.
And even though there are times are strange, you know, kids are going back to school and that sort of thing. So I think for a lot of us, we've got kind of on our minds, just, you know, what's next, you know, how do we want to change things? How do we want to do things differently? And I think with, with the COVID, you know, with the covert pandemic and just all of that, it's really caused most of us to really kind of think about what we're doing and how we're doing things. And so one of the things that I think is important to always do, and you hear this message from me constantly, and that is really think about your, why, you know, all of us go into private practice for, for differing reasons. But I think if anyone goes into private practice, they really need to look at their why of why they want to do that.
Is it if it's just because you want to make more money, that's certainly a good motivation. I think that is one, one, yeah, good reason to go into private practice and that there is a lot of opportunity for more earning potential, but why do you want to make more money? So again, going back to the why, and I think tied to the why is really has a lot to do with lifestyle and really thinking about what is the life you want to create for yourself within your practice. You know, what is it that is going to feed you just emotionally, spiritually, physically, all of that sort of thing, because one, one thing that can happen in private practice and is that a person could go into private practice and they transitioned into it, and it really feels no different than going to work a nine to five job or somebody else, but they do have a little more autonomy with that, but they sometimes figure out this isn't really, for me, this isn't really a good fit for me.
So I think that is one thing that you have to really kind of look, look at private practice isn't for everyone. And I think that you have to have there has to be a certain bit of drive for you in terms of kind of like a, a fascination with kind of all things entrepreneurial and just stop being challenged by those kinds of things. So if you're, if you're in private practice you know, I think that's one, yeah, the things that seems to help and making a practice successful is that you have this to some degree kind of a growth mentality. Now, having, having, having said that it doesn't mean that you have to do it particularly that way, but one of the things about, I guess, what I really meant, meant to say is, is that being in private practice, you have to be a self motivated person.
You have to really be able to be a self starter and be able to kind of hold yourself accountable for things, because one of the things that can happen is as if you're, if you're not kind of wired that way. And if you depend a lot on others to motivate you and kind of get you going private practice might not be a good fit for you. So anyway one of the things about that too, is just when you think about your, why I mentioned lifestyle and our lifestyle really determines what we want to get out of our practices. You know, I think all of us have an idea about what that lifestyle is, you know, the type of house we want to live in, where we want to live, how we want to spend our downtime, you know, what's important to us in our families and just our values and all those things tie into lifestyle.
And so making sure that your practice fits your lifestyle there are some people that really like this idea of a lot of growth and that they want to be able to build a large practice. One of the things that I've figured out is that I don't necessarily aspire to have a, a huge practice. It sounds intriguing, and there's a lot of bells and whistles to that, but that's not really me. And I'm reminded of an earlier podcast episode I did with author Paul Paul Jarvis, who wrote the book company of one. And so sometimes being small is really just as fulfilling if not more fulfilling, just income-wise and all that sort of thing as to being big. And so think about that in conjunction with your, why, you know, what is it that you, you really prefer to do within your practice?
And so I think during these times of transition when we're making those changes in our practice, again, start back with your base. That's kind of your, your home, if you will, is why, why you're doing what you're doing and everything needs to align with your why. I think the other thing I think that is important to do when we think about transitioning is to really understand all the different inner workings of your practice. And so in particular, I'm thinking about just understanding your numbers. Now, why not say your numbers is understanding the financial side of your practice, because if you're in practice and you're not making a profit from just a purely business standpoint, you are not going to survive. You're not going to continue to be able to operate because it will just put such a financial burden on you. So one of the things that I think is important to do is really get a clear picture of your numbers as you begin to change things.
So one of the things that I've you know, during this, this whole season, I've had, I've recognized that it's time for me to add some more therapists because what I'm doing, if for myself and my own practice is I'm pulling back a little bit. And so in order for me to hire more therapists, I need to understand how all the numbers are going to work in terms of, you know, if I replace place, use somebody to replace me and what I do about practice, how does that flush out numbers-wise? And so having a good understanding of your numbers is is an important piece. And so being able to kind of do a deep dive into your numbers being able to understand how all the financial pieces work in terms of, you know, how much do you get per session?
What does it cost you per session and breaking things down in that way? And I know for a lot of people, it just in the beginning stages they're, you know, they, they recognize that they need a certain number of clients in order to maintain what they have, but also get ahead. And so, again, going back to the why and, sorry, this sounds like I'm jumping around a little bit, but it really is all connected. And going back to the why and thinking about your practice and your lifestyle is how many clients do you want to see in a week, if you're a solo practitioner, what is it that you need to do in order to, to maintain your lifestyle? And again, you have to think about this balance between the number of sessions you have each week. And also being able to maintain the lifestyle if you're doing 30, 40 sessions a week, which they believe it or not, there are people that do that, is that really, is that really living into the lifestyle you want to create for yourself?
Because one of the things that can happen is we can, we can make ourselves very busy and just really pile a lot of stuff on for ourselves, but that really doesn't, it becomes drudgery at that point. And so, again, going back to your, why, what is the lifestyle you want to have? One of the things that I've realized over overtime is that particularly with the practice of therapy, I like putting my time into the practice of therapy. And so I'm in that transition of transitioning away from seeing clients and putting more and more of my efforts and time into seeing into, into working on the practice of therapy and, and the things that I'm doing here. So those are things to have the things to think about, you know, what is your, what is your time worth? What is it that your the lifestyle you want to create around your practice?
And then also being who do, who are the people that you need to bring in with that in order to do all of that. So that, that leads us to kind of this other thing of just thinking about outsourcing, you know, one of them, one of the things that I'm a big proponent of is once you reach a certain for those folks starting out in private practice you know, certainly in the very beginning stages that make sense for you to do at all. So to speak to bootstrap, as we like to call it, of being able to return the phone calls, to be able to manage the appointments and, and do all of those insurance claims and all of that kind of stuff. And I think it's a good idea to do that in the beginning. Not number one is just that it's more, it makes sense economically to do it while you've got the time.
But also it lets you understand the inner workings of your practice in terms of how everything fits together. But once you reach our kind of our critical mass with your client yes. Spending your time, I'm on those things is not a good use of your time where you will make your money is when you're sitting in front of clients. And if you're having to spend a day or two working on all the administrative staff, it's much a much better idea to outsource that at that point you know, by hiring either a virtual assistant or hiring someone to handle your billing, hiring someone to return phone calls and set appointments and being able to do that. And once you do that, I think you will find that it will more than pay for it. So by freeing up that time to where you can, you can sit in, in a chair in front of clients and that's where you bring your income in.
One of the hardest things about this for people though, that I hear is just their mindset around that. Yeah. Because it feels like I'm, Oh, I'm going to have to spend money on this particular thing. And it's going to reduce the amount that I get to keep well that's where you really need to get your head around the idea of return on investment. You know, this, this idea that in order to make money, you need to spend some money. And so I'm spending if I'm spending $200 a week in order to free up some time by hiring someone to do these kinds of things, but it brings in a thousand dollars for me, I'm just making up these figures by them being able to create the appointments and free up the time for me I've netted I've netted $800.
So again, you gotta think about the math of it. So and otherwise I would have been essentially paying myself just $200 to do all those things, those myself. So hope that makes sense. And just really getting your head around just this whole idea of outsourcing and being able to hand things off to people. And also it just the, the other part of it is just the peace of mind that, that doing those kinds of things help you do by outsourcing things. The other thing that I think is a good idea to do, as you think about transitioning is to do what I like to call a brain dump. And I'm not I realized as I'm recording this, that I'm probably not putting these in a, in a logical order, but these are just things that are coming to me as a, as a record.
This is to be able to do kind of a brain dump, just really thinking about all of the things that are important that you want to do or want to accomplish in your practice. That's one of the things that I've gotten into the habit of doing every week with my planner, I I've mentioned, I use the full focus planner, which is by Michael Hyatt and company. And I really enjoy using that planner. And one of the, one of the things that's built into that planner is a weekly review. And so being able to go back and look at the previous week to look at what I accomplished and what I wanted to do within, you know, within my life, not only personally, but in the business and that sort of thing, and setting some goals around that, and then just reflecting back, but also being able to kind of free your head of all those things that are running through there that you need to do and what you, what you would like to accomplish.
And so in thinking about pivoting and transitioning your practice, if you were to think of, go back to your why and think about what, what it is that you really want for yourself and want for your practice is to do what I call just a brain dump of those ideas. So you just take a sheet of paper and you just start jotting down, all the things that you want to accomplish, that you want to change, that you want to pivot, that you want to transition into and all of those sorts of things as a way to just capture it. Because I think what can happen is, is that we just kind of keep those things kind of circulating and ruminating in our heads. And it it, it can get overwhelming when we do that. But I think by doing this brain dump that gives us a way to really begin to map out how we want to get to where we want to go.
And so, again, going all the way back to your why your why is where you want to cattle land, that's where you want to go. Now, the other thing about, about all of that is that that obviously can change over time. You know, the goals that I set at the beginning of the year, the brain dumps I've done along the way when COVID hit everything changed. And so all of those kinds of things, there was a lot of stuff that just had to be put on the back burner that I knew that those just couldn't take priority right now. We had to change some things. And so anyway, that that's an important piece. There is to be able to capture everything that you're thinking about, everything that you want to accomplish, and then create a map for that after all, you know, that old cliche, if you don't know where you're going how are you going to get there?
I think that's either attributed to either will Rogers or Mark Twain. I care that quote might be wrong about that, but anyway that's, that's what comes to mind for me is to be able to begin to map out how you want to do that. You know, for those of you that are visual and creative, you know, taking a big, big sheet of you know, like construction paper or like one of the post it notes or whatever is to be able to just kind of take those things and, and create you know, kind of a map or draw pictures and say, okay, this is connected to that. And I need to do this before that, and this needs to happen before that. And that's what I'm talking about is to being able to map it out of just thinking about where you want to go. So what are the small steps that are going to get you there? And so that's an important piece. And just thinking about any time we want to transition or change things or accomplish things that are different.
I think the other thing that when I think about these times, or, and, and I I've gone through this at, at home more than anywhere else is what I like to call cutting out the dead wood. So one of the things that I think is real important to us in just thinking about our lifestyle and our wise, and that sort of thing is having a space that is comfortable for us and allows us to do the things that we want to do. And so one of, one of the things I knew where I live now, we've been living in the house that we live in now almost 25 years. And so there's a lot of stuff. And a lot of clutter, at least in my mind that has collected over the years. And so during this, this, some of the downtime that I've had, and particularly while my wife has been in the hospital and we've been doing the you know just the whole new routine.
Is that, again, going back to the outsourcing, I've hired, hired a new housekeeper who is just absolutely wonderful. She is just, just a great, great person that is helping me here. She's really become a, I like to refer to her as my domestic assistant. But her, her name is Ashley, but Ashley is just one of those people that is very talented at organizing things and being able to you know, for example, look at a closet and say, okay, we need to reorganize this and put things in different order here. And she just kinda does that naturally I'll look at it and not just is kind of deer in headlights, but anyway, one of the things that we've done is we've, we've really kind of cleared out a bunch of stuff. We throw it a bunch of stuff away. We've donated a lot of stuff, realize that just things that we've hung on to that we just didn't need, and I call that cutting out the dead wood.
And so I think in our practices, we can, we can do some of those things too. You know, I think in addition to doing a deep dive into the financial side of your practice of really understanding those things is also looking at your systems and processes. Are there things that you're doing that maybe you started out doing in your practice that probably made sense then that maybe don't make sense now, or maybe things that you're doing that really kind of are, are duplicates, you know, kind of like you're getting having clients fill out too many forms or whatever those kinds of things of being able to think about with your systems and processes, what you could do to streamline those and get rid of the waste. The other thing too, to look at are our subscriptions and that sort of thing.
You know, one of the things that I've done is looked at my my cell phone service and my contract with the cell company and just really changed the plan to really kinda save us some money because I, you know, I was, I was paying for stuff that I really didn't use. And so again, that's just kinda what I call cutting out the dead wood, you know, kind of cleaning things up and really kind of making things run more efficiently by doing those things. And so I think that's an important, important piece. And just thinking about transitioning and pivoting it's it's cleaning out the closet, so to speak, so that that's, this is a lot, and I know I've I've said a lot. I'm just looking at the time that I've put into re recording this as I'm recording this.
It tells me the length of it. But anyway, just a quick review of the things that I kind of covered here in this episode, first of all in thinking about pivoting and transitioning your practices to begin with why, and the, that is very much tied to your, your lifestyle, a really doing a deep dive into really thinking about what is the type of practice, how do you want it structured so that it fits your lifestyle so that it is meeting your needs financially, and also giving you the time off that you need for you and your family? Number two is just being able to do a deep dive into the financial side of your practice of being able to really understand the flow of money within your practice and within your business. Really being able to understand what each client is worth to you and also what it costs to maintain, maintain your practice.
And I'll mention here is that in the, in the eCourse I put together money matters in private practice, which you can get firstname.lastname@example.org slash money matters. I got, I teach you how to do all of that, so that that resource is available for you. The second thing is just to really think about outsourcing more of being able to think about how you're spending your time and being able to look at those things that you can, that would really be a better return on your investment in thinking about having someone else do it rather than you doing it. Because I think a lot of times we hang on to hang on to that too long in our practices, particularly as we grow. The next thing is to do a brain dump, and that is just to be able to take all the ideas you want to have for your practice and for your life, and write them down in a way so that you can begin to discern and really figure out the small steps you need in order to reach those goals or those milestones within your practice.
And I think as I said, I do that weekly. I think it's a good idea to do that fairly often as do a brain dump and think about all the things that you're trying to do. That's kinda like your master to do list to some degree but you really break that down into smaller pieces. And then the other thing is to be able to take those pieces, to map a map, a course of action out. So once you dump everything, it's kinda like you, you, it's kind of like putting a puzzle together, you dump all the pieces of the puzzle on the table and you start turning them over. So you can look at them and then you start piecing everything together in order to get to where you want to go. And then the other part is to, to cut out the dead wood is to be able to get rid of those things that really are no longer helpful to you, or just don't make sense for you to use within your practice. So hopefully these are helpful tips for you. And I want you to, I will be sure to look at the show notes, cause what kind of have all this outlined within the show notes and the show post here.
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Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn and Pinterest “Like” us on Facebook