What can you do right now for your business? How do you level up your marketing to showcase your practice from local to state-wide? Which mindsets do you need to address to function at your best?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about laying the foundation of your solo practice with Andrew Burdette.
Podcast Sponsor: Level Up Week
You’re probably entering that phase where you start to set yourself up for 2023, you’re thinking about what your goals are gonna be, what you’re not going to do, and what you hope to achieve.
But regardless of where you are within your private practice journey, I’m challenging you to make these last few months count, to dig deep, and to make next year the one for big changes within your business – and more importantly – within yourself.
So if you’ve been looking for a sign to either start your own private practice, grow from solo to group, or become a next-level group practice boss, this is it…and you’re certainly not alone, because Practice of the Practice is doing something we’ve never done before.
We’re so convinced that now is the time for you to grow that we’re dedicating all our resources to help you do it. We’re all in. Every single one of us. And we’re inviting you to go all in and level up.
From September 12 to 15 we’ll be running ‘Level Up’ week to help you decide what will work best for you in your private practice journey. There will be webinars, Q&As with experts, and a chance for you to meet your accountability partners, facilitators, and community.
Make September 2022 the month that you start your journey and level up.
Meet Andrew Burdette
Andrew Burdette is a professional counselor and substance abuse professional, partner, friend, family member, fly fisher, film nerd, audio and music buff. Andrew came to counseling first as someone wanting to be free of feeling terrified of his own emotions, feeling anxious and inept about a lot of things in life.
He works well with clients challenged by anxiety, depression, substance use, overwhelming life transitions, relationship health and quality, or self-esteem because at different points, he has had to face these challenges himself.
Install the foundational “bricks” of your business ahead of time. In other words, what can you do now that you won’t have to go back and change later on?
These are things like:
getting the right licensures
separating the business identity from your own
setting up a consistent business address
Going from local to state-wide
Identify which areas within marketing you are good at and focus on those. Some of these skills include:
posting IG reels
For me, rather than opting for an SEO-friendly website for the Google algorithm, I opted for something that was a little more people-friendly. I have a relatively lightweight website but it is focused and deliberate about what’s visible [for viewers].
Address your mindsets
Because the business comes from you, it is important that you check yourself and do your inner work.
Your mindsets may not impact the business functioning but they influence you, and you directly influence the business.
I think time management and structuring time management is a big thing.
Use your time wisely. If you have office hours where you are not seeing clients, then use those office hours to get other work done that relates to your practice.
Work on your practice during business hours, and then properly rest when you are not working.
Get past your shyness and network. Ultimately, it is just a conversation over coffee with someone who works within your field and also lives in your community.
Get to know your finances.
Become practiced in setting and following boundaries – even your own!
I know I have to sometimes rein in my “boss mind” at two o’clock in the morning when I wake up in the middle of the night.
Get someone to do what you do not like to do.
Andrew’s advice to private practitioners
Remember that this is very doable, and it is worth it.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
Level Up your practice and business mentality on September 12th to 15th
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 784.Well, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I’m Joe Sanok, your host here to help you level up whether you’re starting, growing, scaling, or even exiting a private practice. As you know, we have had so many episodes all about growing your practice leveling up in a variety of ways. This week is Level Up Week. It kicked off on September 12th and that was yesterday and we have so many different webinars and trainings totally for free for you. Make sure you head an over to practiceofthepractice.com/levelup to read all of those. Today we have Andrew Burdette, who is one of our consultants. He also has been in Next Level Practice. He has a thriving solo practice. Andrew, welcome to the Practice of Practice podcast.
Thanks. It’s nice to be here.
Well, tell us a little bit about your practice and your business and maybe who’s important to you in your world.
So let’s see, I graduated in 2018. I’m located in Asheville, North Carolina and got things started business formation, PLLC, those setup things in June of that year. I jumped out of some agency stuff at the end of 2019 and went full on private practice at the start of 2020 and had to rapidly shift over to telehealth. Now I have a really thriving telehealth practice. I hired my first contract earlier this year and I’m in the process of scaling out into a small group. That’s in a nutshell of what my practice is about and how I got started. Yes, family, I’ve got a couple really excellent local people in the area, excellent partner and some really cool friends and stuff that are also colleagues and have the whole work spouse and work family thing going on pretty well.
Ah, that’s awesome. Well, our focus today is building a solo practice that’s thriving and you have been like a very active member in Next Level Practice. Dana, our accountability coach was like, you have got to get Andrew on our team. After you and I talked a little bit more and I knew you as someone in Next Level Practice, but then talking about how you have thought through your solo practice, would love to just have you dig into that first six months or so of starting your practice, what were some mindsets? What were some things that were helpful to help you really get a thriving solo practice going?
I think one of the biggest was listening to the podcast in grad school, this podcast and a couple others, but primarily this one, just thinking about building those lingos foundational bricks ahead of time and trying to conceptualize as much of what do I not want to have to redo down the road. So things like I’m an insurance based practice, so as much as I could do to get PLLC and those business differentiation set up so that as I was adding things in later on and take some time to get going. Everything was laid in place and ties back to the business as a separate identity. I think that was probably one of the biggest, most helpful things initially.
What were some of those things that you wanted to make sure you had set up that you wouldn’t have to redo later on?
Business address. I’m using a UPS box as my primary thing. I’ve had a sublet for about three years. I have a full-time office space now. But just having a consistent business address that everything can tie back to. I’ve considered renaming my practice. I think I’m actually going to stick with it because it’s become a brand. People are seeking out now. I don’t know if I, maybe I think if I were to maybe in hindsight like do it, I might pick something a little less generic, but I think it really fits the mission and ethos of the practice as well. Then also shifting over to telehealth opened up a lot of opportunities to become a statewide service provider and really benefiting from having the entire state unlocked has been really helpful as well.
How did you market or do SEO to go from just being locally known to being statewide known?
I just tried some things out to be honest and see what worked. There’s, I think it was Alison, I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing her name right. She’s another Asheville local. She talked about in the Next Level Practice stuff about picking a couple different areas of marketing to focus on being good at. Among them have been networking with people and other professionals that do different populations than I do. Like, for example, I don’t work with adolescents. I do get inquiries about that. So finding other providers that I could refer those inquiries too and or people that specialize in say IFS or EMDR, any of those other specialties has been really helpful in terms of like web presence, which became really crucial with telehealth. There’s a service called Bright Local, which focuses a lot on citation building which is like you get listed on random websites, like the Better Business Bureau and how you show up in Apple Maps and those things. So use their paid service to establish a presence across like all these little in like smaller directories across the web and focused on having decent content as well. I think that nutshell sums up everything.
Now when you say decent content, was that mostly blog posts or was that like specific pages? What’s decent content?
For me, so I have a background in working in film and television and doing post production stuff, so user interface things around DVD and Blu-ray menus was something I worked a lot with. For me, rather than opting a very SEO friendly website for the Google algorithm, I more opted for something that was a little more people friendly. So I have a relatively lightweight website, but it’s very focused and deliberate about what’s visible and there are some plug-ins that allow you to specify to Google what’s going to display on that like initial page, display name and then the one or two lines underneath it. So just I guess being really specific and really focused on a little bit about a text that I’ve got on there.
I think that’s a big decision to make of I’m not going to appeal to Google. I mean, do you think that that’s served you well so far?
It seems to be. I’m meeting with a marketing consultant about a month and just in bumping into him in the coffee shop, he Googled a couple search terms, he’s like, your SEO’s apparently working well. So it seems like I either lucked out and just managed to pick some things along the right lines or read the right guides, but, yes, I know if you’re searching business name, I tend to like rank in the first four or five hits nationally, which is nice. Then several people in terms of tracking referrals and how they found me a mention like Google search and web search things for things like Ashville anxiety counseling and other things. Honestly don’t quite know how I end up in the mix there, but it seems like it works.
That happened to me when I wrote a blog post about how to name a counseling practice and I was looking at my analytics, this was years ago. It was like my homepage, my about page were like one and two and this random blog post I had written like a year earlier. I realized I was ranking number one for how to name a private practice and it was like, oh, that’s good. But it wasn’t intentional at all. It was just me sharing what was working. So it’s nice when you can see that stuff happen. I know Andrew, you were really involved in Next Level Practice until I stole you away from that consulting. You’re still involved but just in a different light and you were doing sort of informal consulting with people and really just like helping people as someone that was a member also. If you were to look back and say what are the top three to five maybe mindsets or things that people need to address when they’re first starting a solo practice that you’re like most people think this way, but really, they should be thinking this way? Are there mindsets or actions that you noticed that a lot of, whether it’s people in Next Level Practice or other folks starting solo practices should address early on?
I think time management, structuring time management’s a big thing. I know any of us in this field have gone through grad school, which is definitely a test to like how you structure time and time outside of like being scheduled physically in person or telehealth or however you’re doing class and stuff. But one of the things that really shifted how well my practice was doing, and this coincided about the same time I started Next Level Practice was like about a half caseload, like probably like 10 people a week average and had a lot of extra time but didn’t have a lot of fun. So just invested like the time I had available and learning how to what works in a business and specifically like businesses in our field and think conceptualize like a 32- to 40-hour work week around that.Even if I was only maybe doing about 10 hours of clinical work, really tracking like referrals and how stuff’s coming back to you. So the energy you put out, seeing if it comes back. The networking thing I know is one thing that seems to like really ruffle people’s feathers in our industry about, well, we’re introverted. I don’t want to go out and meet people. It’s just a conversation. You’re meeting people for coffee that happen to be in your community and doing that, even if it’s just a couple times a month is really crucial. Thinking about finance in terms of recognizing like investments and things like if you’re going to pay for directory listings on some of the larger ones in our field. Our field’s actually really unique in that we have directories that specialize in matching clients for our services to our services themselves. My partner’s a physical therapist, nothing like that exists for her field.
Really? Maybe we should start it
Yes, actually that probably would be a good thing because she’s commented on that before too, where she’s like, I don’t have the same, how I’m going to go about connecting with the community or finding resources and things and referrals is different. So I’d say capitalizing on that and just really, just I guess being disciplined on boundaries and other things too. I know it’s real easy to, like my friend Sarah, she’s probably going to get upset that I’m calling her out, but she was talking to a friend of hers and was like, boss mind and employee mind. In our field, I think as a business center is when we’re seeing clients and doing the clinical work and then boss mind has everything else that goes with it.I know I have to sometimes reign in boss mind at two o’clock in the morning when I wake up in the middle of the night and it’s like, hey, we could go work on this and I’m like, yes, but we could do it at eight o’clock in the morning over a cup of coffee and wouldn’t that be better? So learning those types of things. Then I think the last thing is as you go through different things, learn what you really don’t like to do. I finally successfully have a bookkeeper in place, which is something that I have done, but I always like begrudgingly have done. So after spending some time really finding the right fit for that, I’m really thankful and happy to have someone handling all of that. It’s going to, I’m sure, give me a better lens on like where my money goes and tweaks and things and profitability and those other types of things. But just having a sense of what you don’t enjoy doing is really key because those are going to be things that as you grow, you’re going to want to hand off to someone else.
[LEVEL UP WEEK]
I think it’s time that we speak about you and your goals for a minute. Hear me out. For a while now, we’ve been speaking about, about how to market your practice, how to grow your practice, and how to be a better boss and encourage a company culture but isn’t it time to start making it happen? I’m serious, I’m challenging you to just do it. Take that leap of faith, put yourself out there and level up in your practice. Think about it. You’re probably entering that phase where you start to set yourself up for 2023. You’re thinking about what your goals are going to be, what you’re not going to do and what you hope to achieve. But regardless of where you are within your private practice journey, I’m challenging you to make these last few months count to dig deep, to make next year the one for big changes within your business and more importantly within yourself.If you’ve been looking for a sign to either start your own private practice, grow from solo to group, or become a next level group practice boss, this is it. You’re certainly not alone because Practice of the Practice is doing something we’ve never done before. We’re so convinced that now is the time for you to grow, that we’re dedicating all our resources to help you do it. We’re all in every single one of us and we’re inviting you to go all in and level up. From September 12th to September 15th, we’ll be running Level Up Week to help you decide what will work best for you in your private practice journey. There will be webinars, Q&As with experts and a chance for you to meet your accountability partners, facilitators, and community.If you’re ready to make a change and level up register at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup and follow our Facebook and Instagram pages at Practice of the Practice for live updates and event details. Lastly, before I jump back into this episode, I just want to say that I really hope to see you there, even if it’s just online. Remember that leveling up week isn’t about us. It’s not about me or about Practice of the Practice. It’s all about you and growing your practice, whether it be your first solo practice or growing you from Group Practice Boss to reaching a national audience. Make September, 2022, the month that you start your journey and level up.
Now when you think about your own consulting with people, if you structure out what three to six months of consulting with you would look like, if you were designing the perfect model or flow for people, what would that look like if someone spent three to six months working with you and talking through growing their solo practice?
I think I admittedly, like I’m pretty new to the consulting thing in terms of a formal structural sense, but yes, I’ve certainly helped a number of people get off the ground or out of agencies and get going. Working with them, a lot of it’s been just trying to like plot out here’s your necessary foundational, the Legos you need to have put together and what they each do. There’s some things you can do at the same time and some others that are going to like be in a sequential order, so identifying the nonlinear and the linear ones would be really a big, taking an assessment at that at the starting point and then asking about what’s your niche of people that you really want to work with, where do those people tend to be found, where do they tend to go looking for services? Is there anybody you really don’t like working with? Those types of considerations and ideal client things. What’s your, like three to five year plan? Are you looking to scale out into a group practice or you looking to just grow a solo practice with something on the side as a passive income or a different non-clinical thing? I guess a six-to-nine-month window would be where would you like to be this, what would your future self a year from now looking back like to really say that you had in place and work between today and that down road vision.
Well, and I think it’s so important to know what does success look like for you? When I do consulting with people we write in the first session, look at what are the two KPIs, key performance indicators that for you would be success in our consulting together. So that could be, I only want to work 20 hours a week or I want to work 50 hours a week. Usually, it’s something around time and then it’s also something around money and to just say, let’s keep that top of mind. So for some people it might be I want to just leave my full-time job into doing my solo practice. For other people it might be, I want to be well-positioned to start a group practice. That’s what I love about doing one-on-one consulting with people is you get to really go into that nuance and do that individual hand holding instead of it being more of a group program for folks. When you think about your own successes and your own movement forward with your practice what are some things that you currently or even in the next, say, six to 12 months that you’re thinking through in regards to growing your practice and expanding maybe beyond even just your own clinical time?
Between now and the end of the calendar year, I want to have another two contractors hired on, which would put my team up to four, including myself. I may end up with five depending on how much office space interest there really is. My ideal balance is to have a primarily telehealth-based practice going forward even into next year. The insurance thing’s real interesting. I’m on a number of panels now. I have the opportunity to join some more now that I’m fully licensed. I don’t really know, know that I really want to go that route. I think I would rather learn how to better balance things out with a private pay model as much as possible for myself and for other clinicians. It definitely simplifies things with associate level as they are identified, so clinicians under supervision in my state.Several people have mentioned really wanting to do groups as far as people I’ve talked to that are possibly interested in joining my practice, so contemplating like a maybe a larger office space. If I decided to do one in Asheville, it’s probably going to accommodate groups. Then a year from now I think I would rather really like to have a large office space presence in say, Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s a bigger market. I have family there. It would be a great opportunity to position myself to have a different location further out in the state where the market’s not quite so saturated. Then have a three-day-work week when it comes to clinical time. So having a 12-to-15-person caseload at the most consolidated Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and have Friday and Mondays for consulting and networking because I really enjoy it.
Yes. Well, I think starting to think through where do you want to spend your time? What do you want to do next? Now that jump from a solo to a group walk us through how that went for you and what was easy, what was hard, but how’d you know it was time to add somebody to the practice?
I’m laughing because I spent, a little over a year ago I talked with or did a consult with Alison and just timing wise, where I was at for looking to grow didn’t quite match up with Group Practice Launch and the things she was doing at the time. But my NLP small group honestly kept coming back to the question of why not a group? Why not a group, why not a group? Initially, it just seemed like I’m taking a percentage from somebody that’s perfectly capable of doing this for themselves and didn’t really see the value added in terms of offering a group to somebody that wanted to join. Over the course of a year, people really pointed out there’s a lot of people that don’t have any interest in running a business or doing any of the business side of things and also don’t want to go work for an agency.That’s where having a group practice or certainly considering it, I think comes in as a way to, as a vehicle that invite people along for the journey. I guess I consider my business like a bus and so it works well. It’s my job to drive, point it in the direction and maintain it, but there’s opportunity for other people to benefit from the business structure that’s in place. So things that were hard, I guess were finding the right fit when you’re outsourcing things. That’s been the struggle this year as far as knowing at the right time. My first hire has been somebody I went to school with and we’re good friends and told her, I was like, fundamentally what I most wanted to have our friendship be maintained and we’re just talking logistics about can you do telehealth for me through this and be patient as I switch EHRs and other things?I think the biggest growth challenge has definitely been the one realizing all the things that you do as a solo practitioner that you just do for yourself and then having to realize the volume of those things to communicate to somebody else to do for you, whether it’s how you do your finances, how you do the insurance billing, how you do notes in your EHR, those other types of things. I’m thinking about systems that can scale versus just maybe work for you as an individual. I don’t know if that got off track or answered your questions.
No, that’s great. Now, in thinking about those things, are there things that you wish you had done differently at the beginning that would’ve positioned you differently to have a group practice?
So far, honestly, like I haven’t really run into too much, which I’m really thankful for because apparently how I built things up as a separate entity from a business seems like it stands alone, which is great. Yes, I don’t have a whole lot that I can think of that I would do differently other than timing wise, my friend that joined me in the spring, she was coming in right after I outsourced all my insurance billing and then right before I was switching EHR systems. So part of our conversation about timing was just around here are some additional systems like having a virtual assistant in place, having a bookkeeper in place, switching EHR platforms altogether, just seeing if she was going to be willing to be along for that ride, which she was and was actually a huge help with all of that.Built out a lot of different things in my EHR, happily paid her for her service and insight on how to build that and drawing on some expertise from a previous group practice. So I think the one big thing is just if you’re going to go through those types of changes as in scaling from a solo to a group as much as you can do step-by-step so it doesn’t feel like you’re doing all of it at once, like I did. Also to reflect on one of the what’s working things from last summer. I think I asked when is a good time to scale to a group? I think you and Alison both were saying when you’re about two-thirds full of a caseload and definitely do that versus where I was at in February and March this year of having like a full caseload plus a few extra
Yes, it is sort of the same time that you want to raise your rates too, when you’re not, when you’re bursting at the seams, but when you’re almost there to raise your rates, start to add a clinician if you want to be a group practice owner. There’s some people that they just want to be a solo practice owner and that’s fine. That’s what they want their business to be. Well, Andrew, the last question I always ask everybody is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
This is very doable and it’s worth it. I think it’s probably the best thing I can offer. If I were to steal something from a friend of mine, she’s like, my worst day in private practice is better than any of my 20 years working for someone else in the field. If you’re just getting started and your caseloads are small or you’re having the summer slump or having the big changeover that seems to happen going from summer to fall where people just disappear after vacations and you never hear from them again that’s all okay. It’s going to work out. I think that there’s so many resources and with the interconnectedness of our community, whether it’s through this or through a lot of other people that have some insights on like how to write good directory profiles or how to market and these other things. If you have some patients and are willing to invest in the business end of things, like creating a private practice that serves you as the place you want to keep coming back to work, I think it’s a very doable thing.
So awesome. If people want to check out that super minimalist website of yours, what’s the best place for them to go?
It’s mindfulcounselingpllc.com. That was the domain that was available rather than just mindful counseling. So if you do the PLLC for Professional LLC, we’re required to have in North Carolina, mindfulcounselingpllc.com.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Thanks for having me.
Starting a practice can be so confusing at times. That’s where we have lots of community supports but also handholding one-on-one consulting. If you want to talk to Andrew, we do a free 30 minute pre-consulting call. So you’ll apply over at practiceofthepractice.com/apply, enter all your information in there, your phase of practice. If you’re a solo practitioner or want to be, we know that we want to keep it reasonably priced for you to work with Andrew. So head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply. You fill that out, Jess will then talk with you and verify the information, make sure that you know what offerings we have. Then Andrew will do a 30-minute free pre-con consulting call. Really the goal of that is to say is it worth your time and money to be able to work with Andrew or to work with any of our consultants?Then in that we walk through some of the low-hanging fruits, some of the directions you’ll leave with some action items, whether or not you work with Andrew. But then if you decide you want to, Andrew will say, here’s what that would look like. Here’s what a thre-month or six-month consulting program would look like with me and will walk through that. He has my full support, also the other consultants, LaToya and Ashley, and if we add others. We meet regularly to talk through cases, to talk through situations. We have a text thread also, so it’s not like Andrew’s just out on his own. If that sounds good, do you, if you want some extra help in your solo practice, head it over to practiceofthepractice.com com/apply.Also this week we are doing Level Up Week. We have so many amazing things going on. It’s just really exciting to see how many people are registering for different things and are really a part of this. Today the 13th we have kicked off a handful of different things, so September 13th at 10:00 AM, if you’re listening to this first thing in the morning, 10:00 AM Eastern, we’re using Instagram reels to level up and then at 11:00 we have the level up webinar talking about every phase of practice where and how do you level up. Then at 1:00 o’clock Eastern we have how to use directory sites to fill up your practice and also CTV ads. Then we’ve got at 2:30, a Q&A, at 8:00 PM we’ve got another leveling up one and then tomorrow one about Killin’It Camp, another one about moving from solo to group and then how to get a book deal.I mean, so many amazing webinars that we have going on. Also, if you level up this week the first hundred people get a free Killin’It Camp ticket to come to our event. Killin’It Camp is going to be in Cancun, Mexico kicking off October 20th, 2022. Come hang out with us there. As well, the first hundred people are going to get a free premium profile worth just under $400 for TeleWellness Hub. You’re going to get free CTV ads and all sorts of other things. So we’re given all sorts of giveaways away during Level Up Week. Make sure you join us for any of those webinars that sound good. They’re totally free. It’s for every phase of practice. Find the ones that work for you over at practicethepractice.com/levelup.Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon.Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music.This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the producers, the publishers, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.