What are the most basic steps to starting a practice? What are some do’s and don’ts to naming your new practice? How do you create successful and streamlined systems?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to name your practice, file your LLC, and connect with your clients.
In This Podcast
- Giving your practice a name
- File your LLC
- How will you connect to your clients?
- Get started!
Giving your practice a name
The first step to starting your practice is to think about what you want to name it.
Avoid giving it your name or surname, because that can make it difficult to grow and later on potentially difficult to sell.
[One way to name your practice] is to think through the outcomes of your practice. So, healthy living, mental wellness? So that when someone comes through and does counseling with you what it happens. How does [that outcome] unfold? (Joe Sanok)
Consider working with these different ways to name your practice:
- Focusing on the outcomes
- By geographical location like a town or city
- Getting creative and using something that stands out
Make sure to be careful with spelling and avoid using overly complex or tricky words.
File your LLC
Most states work with LLC but make sure to check what the processes are in your state.
In most states filing an LLC is going to help you protect yourself from any sort of business things that could happen … it is like a separation between [you and your business]. (Joe Sanok)
Make sure to chat with your attorney and your accountant to make sure that you are doing everything according to the laws in your state.
How will you connect to your clients?
How will your clients find you? For the most part, prospective clients will be searching for counseling services online, so you will need a website and some social media presence.
Consider opening a Google My Business account, a website, and perhaps an Instagram or Facebook page.
Make your social media interesting. What are people coming to you for? Which information can you make available to them to pique their interest in your services and therapy?
Remember to network. Think about who you want to associate with and who you want to be associated with you.
When you’re first starting, I suggest you just pick one or two days a week that you will be in the office or online depending on if you are going to be in-person or virtual. (Joe Sanok)
Think about how your clients will come to see you. How will they go from liking you on your website to scheduling their first appointment?
Choose the option that your clients would use to communicate with you to organize a session via your website:
- A phone call
- An email
- An online scheduling platform
Observe your systems and that they are flowing well. Test your systems and see where you can improve on old systems and recreate something that is working well.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Use promo code ‘JOE’ to get three free months to try out TherapyNotes, no strings attached!
- Check out these free trainings made available by POP
- Search name availability for your brand
- Sign up and read about Next Level Practice
Check out these additional resources:
- How to start a practice with our Accountability Coach Dana Barber | PoP 681
- Apply to work together
- Next Level Practice – next cohort opens in March 2022
- Sign up for Next Level Practice — Cohort Open!
- Events – click on the event’s dropdown
- Sign up to join the free webinars and events here
- Podcast Launch School
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Free resources to help you start, grow, and scale
- Apply to work with us — decision-making matrix for your next steps
Meet Joe Sanok
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.
Thanks For Listening!
This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 682.
I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. We talk all the time about innovative ideas to start, grow, and scale your private practice. That’s all we do. Sometimes it’s curiosity that we’re diving into with people that can help you start grow and scale. Sometimes it’s going beyond your practice and scaling into podcasts and things like that. But today we’re going back to the beginning of that moment when you think to yourself, I want to start a practice. What do you do to set up a solo practice? What are some quick hacks that we can walk you through and how do you dive right on in.
So we’re going to be covering all of that today. Part of this is because right now we have opened up Next Level Practice. This only opens a couple times a year. Next Level Practice is our membership community for people starting a solo practice all the way up till you’re ready to hire your first clinician, usually your first hundred K or so. Those doors just opened on Monday so if you want to read more about Next Level Practice, you can go to practiceofthepractice.com/invite to read all about it.
We have small groups, we have large group meetings where we come together. We bring in experts every month, like Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, or we brought in Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, some really big names that we bring in. We also bring in people that clinically you just want to learn from. So we actually pay these people to come and to hang out with us so that you can dive right in and hopefully get the help that you need in starting and growing a practice.
We also have small groups, accountability, partners. It really is the comprehensive program to help you be able to get to that next level to really just start quickly, to dive in with other people that are doing the same thing as you. We typically see within six to nine months, people are full and then they move into if they want to grow group practice. So for that a hundred bucks a month, I mean, that’s like one session or less than one session. If you’re interested in hearing more about that, actually, if you go to practiceofthepractice.com and just click on Trainings.
We have some trainings coming up about going from that zero to a hundred K. We actually have one today. On Wednesday that’s going live tomorrow. We have a training, that’s all about Next Level Practice. If you have questions about it, if you’re not sure if it’s a fit just go to practiceofthepractice.com and right at the top there, just click on Trainings. You’ll see all of the trainings we have coming up. We have all sorts of free trainings that we have started putting together to help you just get that help in as many ways as possible.
So how is it that you start a private practice? Well, let’s just start with some of the marketing things and some of the infrastructure and looking at money and all of that. At the very beginning we want to think about how do you name your practice? What do you want to name it? Do you want it to be your last name? Sometimes that makes it harder to grow into a group practice. You want to think through some different ways of naming your practice. So one is to think through the outcomes of your practice and so healthy living, mental wellness, what is it that if somebody comes and does counseling with you that happens? How does that unfold?
Another way to think about it is why are people coming? That could be marriage counseling. So maybe weave that into the name. Or it could be regional, like Traverse City Counseling here in Northern Michigan, or Michigan Online Counseling, something like that. Also, you can take a little bit more creative approach Andy down at Blue Boat Counseling, when he was a little kid loved the color blue so much that if he was in line at the fair, he would wait for that blue boat to come around. Even if he was next in line and it was red he would wait for the blue boat and for him naming his practice that meant I’m going to go after the things that I care about, that I like, and I’m going to give people permission and encouragement to do that. So he chose more of a unique name.
Cortland also, he owns Little Red Telescope Counseling out west. Little Red Telescope, what it does is, he had this little red telescope as a kid and he saw the universe and it made him think of things bigger than his family situation. So you can name it that way. Start to think through your name. You want to look to make sure that there’s nothing that’s super hard to spell. The average person doesn’t spell real great. So if you have a really unique name that can be hard, every little barrier that you set up is a barrier that makes it harder for people to find you and get to know you. So that’s where we want to think through the spelling.
Put it into a URL to see if it’s available. So just go to practicethepractice.com/namecheap and right there, you can get a discount on any of the URLs that you purchase. You can also then just see if it’s available? You don’t want to have mental wellness counseling as your name, and then you can’t have mentalwellnesscounseling.com. So to be able to think through those things and understand them better that’s really an important thing overall to think about.
Also you want to look at the URL to see if there’s any ways that someone looks at it and then may see other words. I remember this place here in town, it’s a great taco place. It’s called Mama Lus and Mama Lus is really awesome. So they bought the website, Mama Lus TC for Traverse City, but when you look at it, you see mama lust. So the joke town is we want to go to mama lust, but it’s like, they just didn’t look at the spelling of it by adding that TC to it. So to be able to look at it, can it be misread? You don’t want to like, have something that can be misread.
Then you think through that, buy the URL. Next we’re going to want to in most states file an LLC. That’s not true in California. You want to check with your own state just to make sure. But in most states filing an LLC is going to help you protect yourself from any sort of business things that could happen. So if someone files a lawsuit against the business, they can’t file a lawsuit against you personally. It’s like a separation between the two, I’m not an attorney or an accountant. So make sure you chat with your own. But you want to just think through that.
You want to keep your business, finances, your business book, keeping all that separate from your own business type of things, away from your personal things. If you do need to reimburse yourself, because maybe you forgot your business credit card, you want to note that and keep track of that. Use something like QuickBooks. It directly integrates with your bank account. It directly integrates with your credit cards so that if you have a bookkeeper eventually or have that accountant that’s looking through it all, it really helps you understand, here’s where I’m spending money. A good bookkeeper can help you notice those trends and really understand all those different types of trends
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All right. So once you get the name down, LLC then we’re going to start to think through how are people going to find out about you? So they’ll find out about you naturally through your connections, but for the most part, it’s going to be people searching stuff on Google. So you’re going to need a website. You’re going to want a presence on Google My Business. You’re going to want to file with both with that. You want to get a website started.
There’s a lot of options with websites. One of our sponsors, Brighter Vision they take more of what you might consider, like a lease type option where you’re leasing the website. You can eventually buy that out, but you’re paying a monthly fee, but there’s a lot included in that. So they’re usually $59 a month, except for when they’re having sales. That $59 includes all of your hosting, all of your IT support, all of the build of your website. So if you use promo code [JOE], so brightervision.com/joe they can get you started there. That just helps them know that their sponsorships are working and I think you get two months for free or something like that.
So you want a website. You could lease it in that way. Then the other mindset is sort of purchasing the website. So you may have a website that’s built for you. We have someone on staff that builds websites for therapists. So the cost for that’s two grand. Other places may charge like five to 10 grand. You can also learn to do it yourself. We have some video walkthroughs on Practice of the Practice that you can just search, like how to make my own website. It walks you through getting your hosting, integrating your WordPress in, getting the WordPress theme installed, all those steps to take for your website.
Once you get your website going, you’re going to want to tell people about it. So that’s where having some level of social media is important. And have you be interesting, not just come see me for counseling, come see me for counseling. You don’t need to do that all the time. You want to be able to think through, all right, so like what, what are people coming for? If you’re talking about marriage type issues, you should be doing marriage counseling. If you’re helping people with anxiety and life changes, what life changes can you give them ideas on, through a Facebook live or through an Instagram live or Instagram stories, or Instagram reels, all these different ways.
But finding where is it that your local audience is hanging out? What are the problems they’re showing up with? What are the solutions that they want and really just get started because compared to most therapists, you’re probably not going to, you’re probably not going to stand out that much if you’re not doing some of this. Even just by doing some of this, you do stand out significantly more. Oftentimes a Psychology Today profile’s very helpful for 29 bucks a month. I think I did the math a while back. If every 31 months you get a new client that, I don’t remember the exact math, but it was like if every couple years you get one client it’s worth it financially. You can get six months for free over at practiceofthepractice.com/psychologytoday. That’s a deal that we worked out with them. So there’s that.
You’re going to start getting listed, getting marketing. Maybe get some business cards. Now that’s less important COVID, post-COVID, there’s so many ways that you can share your information via different apps. But having a business card, there’s nothing wrong with that. Then you’re going to want to start to think about networking. Where do you want to network? Who do you want to network with? You may, if you’re going to take insurance, you want to do that towards the beginning too, where you’re then out there getting on those insurance panels or hiring someone to get you on those insurance panels. If you’re going to be on insurance, I would highly recommend right from the get go, having a biller.
A good biller is going to cost you five to 8% of what you bring in but it’s going to save you so much time. You don’t want to have it be per claim because there’s no interest for them then in making sure you get paid. So if they send in the claims, they keep getting rejected. They have no vested interest in that money. So usually you want to have it as a percentage of money collected. If you’re on insurance, you’re doing that. If not, private pay, you’re going to have some sort of payment system. That could be Stripe. It could be credit card machine, could be Square. So having that and then really just getting your hours going. When you’re first starting, I suggest you just pick one or two days a week that you’re going to be in the office or that you’re going to be online depending on if you’re going to be virtual or if you’re going to be in person.
Obviously, if you’re going to be in person, part of these steps is you’re going to have to find a place to rent. Then once you start seeing clients, it’s keeping up with the referrals, making sure that there’s a good user flow. Like how do they figure out how to go from liking you on your website to scheduling the first appointment? Is it a phone call? Is there an automated schedule thing within your website? Is it an email? Is there some sort of popup on the website? So making sure you have all HIPAA-compliant things there and then you get going.
Those are really the very basics of getting started. The real work happens after you get your first couple clients and you start to say, okay, what’s working? How many hours do I want to work? Then just go for it. So if you want to work, say 20 sessions a week, I would suggest from day one, work 20 hours a week. Or if it’s 20 sessions really with paperwork, you’re probably going to be working 25 hours a week. Start working those 25 hours a week, right from the beginning so that as you get clients, you then are doing less of that marketing and branding, but you’re going full tilt right at the beginning. You’re not just limping along.
That’s where having a community of people around you that can push you, can be really helpful. So that could be an accountability partner that you find or small group that you find, but then really making sure that you understand that exactly where you need to grow and how you’re going to be accountable. I use Trello all the time for keeping track of what I’m working on. For example, I’m in the middle of purchasing an investment property for a short term rental. So all my ideas I’m starting to put into that Trello board of furniture. So how much furniture do I need? I have to furnish an entire house. So how many side tables, how many lamps, how many pieces of art? How many couches, how many beds?
Thinking about marketing it, so I have a drone, so going to be doing some drone footage at some point. So just keeping track of my new financial project with this investment property. Same sort of thing with a private practice, keeping track of where are you doing things? What needs to come next? Understanding that whole flow. So then once you get going and get going with the practice you’re going to want to figure out which systems are working best. So networking wise who are the best referrals, how would you find them? Then repeat that.
Do some AB testing with your ads. Excuse me. Hey, yawn, Hey, yawn just crupped up on me. It was like sitting there. I stopped drinking coffee after 11:00 AM. I just read Michael Pollens. This is your brain on plants, or this is your mind on plants and he was talking about coffee and how if you don’t have as much as late in the day you wake up more rested and you went through all the brain signs. I knew that, but I used to drink a little cup of coffee, like one in the afternoon, but now it’s been 11 and I went for a hike and had some fresh air. So my brain’s just ready to rest and hang out with my daughters. Total side note. They had nothing to do with it, but self development books. I liked the book.
So figuring out on an ongoing basis what is that 20% that’s getting you 80% of the results? Who are the people that are great referrals? You’re connecting with other therapists that are doing good work that might be getting full and want to refer to you and you’re having that community of people to reach out to. So if you’re looking for people that you want to hang out with, that you want to have push you go over and read about Next Level Practice over at practiceofthepractice.com/invite. That’s where we’ve got, this is only open until tomorrow, Thursday afternoon. It closes at 5:00 PM Eastern. Then our next one, I want to say, it’s not until like June or July that it opens up.
So don’t delay. Make sure you sign up for this cohort. We get everybody onboarded at once. It’s going to be an amazing group of people this time. The folks that have reached out to us that are planning to join, it’s just really exciting. And Dana, our accountability coach does such a great job of just keeping people organized and pushing them and celebrating with them. So we’ve got a whole team that’s here to support you as you launch your private practice.
We have 20 folks or so on our team between our South Africa crew, our sound engineers and then all of our consultants. So we have people that can help you, whether that’s in the form of Next Level Practice or consulting. So reach out to us. We have a live chat where Jessica is sitting there every day, answering questions. So if you’re stuck, just head in order to practiceofthepractice.com. We have tons of resources over there, articles, videos that are going to help you with starting up that practice.
So we also couldn’t do what we do here without our awesome sponsors and today’s sponsor is Therapy Notes. Therapy Notes is the best electronic health records out there. As you start a practice having Therapy Notes by your side to really help you grow and expand is such a great thing. You can try Therapy Notes totally for free. Just use promo code [JOE at checkout, and you’ll get those free months. They’ll also help you transfer over from your old service provider for your electronic health records. I mean, they just knock it out of the park and do such a great job. So again, that’s therapynotes.co. use promo code [JOE] at checkout to get those free months.
Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. In the next episode tomorrow, we’re going to be talking about how to buy or sell practice with Nicole Ball who actually bought Mental Wellness Counseling from me. Then on Friday we have Alison Pidgeon that’s going to be talking all about how to design an office. Then next week we’re going to be talking about franchising your business, and then brainstorming on how to help new clinicians in your practice. Then we’ve got some really amazing people talking about how they left their full-time jobs to go into private practice. So some awesome episodes coming up.
Make sure you come hang out with us. We’re doing four episodes a week now. So Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and just really exciting things coming up from, we’ve got some Wall Street Journal best sellers coming up. We’ve got some different, just really cool stuff that’s coming. So wanted to just thank you for hanging out with us.
Thank you 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. We really like it. And 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 publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.
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