Here are my top four mistakes I made so you don't have to.
1. Fear- I was a speech-language pathologist with 7 years of experience when a friend approached me and suggested that I start my own practice. I was immediately struck with fear and dismissed the idea. I was trained to be an employee and to meet productivity standards in graduate school. My externships prepared me to work in the school setting or in the hospital setting where I would clock in and clock out of a job and accept whatever rate of pay I was offered. I knew becoming a speech-language pathologist gave me the option of working in different settings and with different populations. However, the idea of working in my own company was simply inconceivable and petrifying for a long time. Thankfully, my friend reached out to me for speech therapy for her child who was on a waitlist which planted the thought in my mind. It took me an additional five years before I was finally ready to take the leap into the world of owning and operating my private practice business despite not having any prior knowledge or experience as an entrepreneur.
2. Ignorance- I am not sure where the phrase "ignorance is bliss" came from; however, I strongly disagree with this saying. Before I decided to officially launch my business, I read a couple books, watched a couple videos on social media, paid a "business coach" and made a lot of costly errors. I did not know what I did not know, and I made very expensive mistakes that led to frustration, anxiety and confusion. I thought by paying an experienced therapist with a thriving business in a different state money that I did not have, that I would have gotten the right advice to launch my private practice. However, I was very wrong and misinformed. My research was limited. I did not utilize ASHA's website and other resources that were available for private practice owners. I strongly recommend doing thorough research before deciding to start your private practice.
3. Desperation- After starting my private practice with very limited information, I struggled to get my business up and running. I emptied my limited funds on lawyer fees, website fees, consulting fees and all the other costs that are involved in launching a business. I began wondering where all my clients were and why wasn't my caseload growing. I invested all my time and money into establishing a business and literally thought all I had to do was build it and they would come. However, no one came. I became frustrated that my phone was not constantly ringing and I did not know how to reach my clients with a cash-based model. After several months of making very little progress, I became desperate. This desperation led to poor choices. I ended up spending more money on more business coaches and consultants and my business bank account was officially in the red.
4. Lack of mentorship- The truth is I sought out mentors. However, I did not know what I was really looking for or who would be a good fit for me. I needed a mentor who was already practicing in the state of Texas where I am licensed and was willing to share their time and knowledge with me. I needed to do more diligent research and ask questions about the expected outcomes of a paid mentorship program. I needed someone who was equally invested in my success rather than threatened by it. I needed an authentic and open individual who was available to help me turn my dream of becoming an entrepreneur into a reality.
This post is meant to inspire and encourage my fellow speech-language pathologists who are considering starting their speech therapy private practice. Lifespan Speech and Swallow Therapy is happy to announce that we now offer business consultation services to Texas-licensed pediatric speech-language pathologists who desire personalized, direct, guidance and information on launching a successful private practice. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 210-876-5282 for your free fifteen minute business consultation.