Today’s Guest Post is from Bina Bird, of Haslet, TX. Bina’s an active member of the Abundance Practice-Building Facebook Group (feel free to hop in for some great community and support) and it has been awesome to watch her transition from a total newbie to private practice, to getting enough clients that it’s TOUGH to work full time. I love this blog post because she lays it out simply in nuts and bolts fashion as she’s going through it (vs. my version that involves hindsight). Check out her awesome therapy blog and leave her some comments!
So after weeks, months, or even years of dreaming and planning you are finally starting to build a private practice. You’ve rented your office space, got your insurance and forms in order, and even have a fancy website. You are excited and energized and feel like you can take on the world! But one thing you may have not thought about is the reality of balancing a private practice with your current full time job. We won’t go into the reasons you are staying full time while building private practice, but the chances are if you are in this situation you’ve already given this thought and feel this is the right situation for you.
Here are a few things you can do to help balance the two while still doing the best you can at both “jobs”
Find office space close to home. This one seems pretty obvious in that the less time you spend driving, the sooner you’ll reach home if you have a late evening seeing clients. But another reason for staying close to home is that you can easily drive in to see just 1 or 2 clients and not feel like it was a waste of time. Or if you get there and have a client cancel last minute or not show up. When you’re balancing private practice with a full time job, your time is at a premium.
Set a schedule that works for you. There are many ways you can choose to schedule your clients but whichever schedule you choose, do your best to stick it. For some it makes sense to set aside a Saturday and 1 evening to see clients while for others they may schedule 1 client every evening 5 days a week. While it may be tempting to change your schedule to accommodate clients, if you are too accommodating you’ll find yourself spread too thin and likely to burn out. If you are sharing office space or subleasing the chances are that you have limited days and times you can use the office, which can actually be a good thing! Be sure to have at least one day a week in which you are not working at all.
Networking. Marketing and networking may seem like they will have to wait due to time constraints but there are ways you can include these. Pick one lunch break each week to go out to lunch with a new contact. Or use one morning before work to visit one new medical office or school. Spending 1-2 hours a week over several months is going to be better than waiting until you have large blocks of time free for networking. Consistency is key when it comes to networking.
Try to compartmentalize. When you are at your “other job” try to not focus on your private practice but be fully present. If you spend too much time and energy on your private practice during times that you should be doing our other job it will soon show. This is not to say that you can’t use your lunch breaks to return phone calls or check emails but find a way to shift your focus back. You want to continue to have the strong work ethic that has gotten to where you are now. And when you do leave your “other job” you want to leave on good terms and with the support of those around you. Also, people at your current job may be future referral sources!
Self-Care. I can’t say enough about the importance of this one! We have to practice what we preach. No matter how busy you are, be sure to carve out time to do what rejuvenates you. Whether that be reading, meditating, exercising, playing with your kids, and so on. Also be sure to eat well and find time to sleep. It can be hard when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day but a healthy you means you’ll be able to be at your best in your work with clients. When you’re building your private practice, you want your clients to tell people they know what great work you are doing with them. This won’t happen if you’re not taking care of yourself.
Patience. This is a tough one! At least for me it is. When you’re balancing a full time job with the demands of a growing practice it can be hard to be patient. Try to remind yourself that the reality is that growing a practice takes time and that while you can do your best to network with referral sources, get on insurance panels, and so forth, at the end of the day you just have to keep plugging away until you grow your practice enough that you can reduce hours at your job or leave altogether. Not knowing when you’ll get to that point is hard, but have faith that you will get there if you keep moving forward. Remind yourself that you are working more now so that you can work less later! You’ve already done the hard part in taking the leap, you can do this!
Bina Bird, MA., LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Haslet, TX, serving Haslet-Alliance-Keller and the surrounding Dallas Fort Worth area. She specializes in couples therapy, preteens/teens, and women’s issues-infertility, miscarriage, postpartum. Visit www.hasletcounseling.com for more information or to schedule a free phone consultation.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.