Three Pitfalls to Avoid When Starting a Private Practice

Opening a private practice can be a natural next step for many clinicians. As you begin to take the steps to open your practice, be aware of some common obstacles. In The ASHA Leader's "Watch Out for These Private Practice Pitfalls," audiology private practice co-owner Stuart Trembath identifies three pitfalls to avoid in private practice.

Pitfall #1: Not having a sound business plan to follow (and not readjusting it throughout the year).

Having a sound business plan is a road map for success. It helps you identify the key parts of your business and outlines how you can measure success. The key portions of your business plan: 

Your plan outlines your business in a clear manner for not only for you, but also for investors or banks, if you are seeking a loan. It is also your blueprint for where you should focus your efforts. But this blueprint can change—and you must change with it. Conditions can evolve throughout the year, and certain products and services can have varying popularity. It is important to funnel resources into the areas that need support or make you profitable.

Pitfall #2: Not following up with your accountant to make sure everything is going according to plan.

When running a business, it is easy to get overwhelmed with day-to-day functions and lose track of your bottom lines. In your business plan, you should identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure the growth and health of your business. These KPIs should be shared with your employees and accountant to help ensure progress toward your goal.

In the end, you want to be able to pay your bills, take a salary, and meet your tax obligations. Working with your accountant on a regular basis can help you avoid scrambling to meet obligations and help you make appropriate adjustments to make your business successful.

Pitfall #3: Not checking in with yourself.

Even the most seasoned clinicians are likely to encounter situations in private practice that are new to them or constantly changing. It's important to have trusted advisors to guide you through the process. These advisors can be accountants, attorneys, other private practitioners, insurance advisors, marketers, and others. The key is to acknowledge when you are entering unfamiliar territory or need support. Reach out to someone who can help you. (But remember that many of these services have a fee attached, so it is important to budget for them.)

You also want to budget for professional development that will help you become more comfortable in certain areas such as billing, bookkeeping, marketing, and other practice-management skills. There are conferences and online courses that can help. Each year, identify an area of your business you would like to learn more about or get a refresher. The longer you are in practice, the more things around you will change, so it is important to familiarize yourself with new trends and strategies.