Ever thought of starting your own private practice—but then asked yourself the following:
“Where will I find a space?”
“How will I afford the rent and materials?”
“How do I build my clientele?”
“Who do I hire and where do I find the right clinicians?”
What if I said you don’t need space, staff or rent money to create a successful practice? You can not only pull off having your own private practice, but you can thrive! I know, because I’m doing just that after two years in my own private practice.
Here are 10 steps that worked for me to build a thriving solo practice!
- Hire a talented web designer to create a well-informed website full of visually appealing and professional content. My dad served as my first web designer. Don’t get me wrong. I was happy to have the help, but I soon realized he didn’t know the newest platforms or how to implement complicated links and the interactive tools I wanted. I realized my website was an investment worth making and hired an amazing web designer to pick up where my Dad left off.
- Spread the word! Tell your professional connections, colleagues and previous clients about your plans. Word-of-mouth might be all you need if you talk to enough people and get rave reviews from clients. School-based speech-language pathologists sometimes refer their students to me for additional treatment or for support during summer break. I also get referrals from parent organizations and families I worked with previously in schools. Reach out to local pediatricians, physical and occupational therapists, or other related professionals you know, and offer to cross-promote services.
- Determine what populations you want to serve and get additional specialty training or certification in those areas. Many training organizations allow you to add yourself to their list of providers. And don’t forget to include your list of certifications on your website!
- Write guest blogs when you can and add link-backs on your web page. This will alert Google that you know what you’re talking about and are considered an “expert” in your field.
- Learn about search engine optimization (SEO). This will help you decide what terms, resources and outside links to include on your website to earn SEO and increase your standing when people search for a speech-language pathologist. You can do this research on your own or have a quick consultation with someone who knows how to make sure your website performs well in Google’s enigmatic algorithm.
- Tap into local mothers’ networks and find someone to recommend you on their listservs. I offered pro bono treatment to a friend’s child and she recommended me on my neighborhood’s mom listserv. That post is the gift that keeps on giving. Her recommendation led to at least three referrals and those families went on to refer to me again. I’ve never formally advertised my practice and continue to get new clients who find me via word-of-mouth, colleague referrals or Internet searches.
- When you first start, build clients by visiting preschools and offering free or inexpensive screenings. If you provide early-intervention services, apply to become a provider through your state’s early intervention program. Once you are accepted, they will send you clients.
- Join professional networks such as the American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology (AAPPSPA) to connect with fellow private-practice owners willing to share their expertise and insights. This connection has really helped me learn as my practice grows.
- Create a Facebook page for your business. Some people may discover you through a friend on Facebook and when your clients follow you, their friends get notified. Use the page to share professional articles and ideas and generally show off your knowledge. Share how you continue to gain knowledge through completing CEUs and how you grow as a clinician by attending conferences or reading professional publications.
- Most importantly, provide treatment with the parent present as an active participant as much as possible with clients of all ages! I find this aspect to be important on many levels, because having parents in sessions forms a bond of trust with the entire family. This involvement also creates a family-centered approach to interventions and gives parents ownership in their child’s progress. Parents or caregivers become more invested and this translates into great gains by your clients.
Good luck if you’re thinking of jumping into the private practice pool, and please share what ideas work for you in the comment section below.
More insights on growing a private practice:
Annick Tumolo, MS, CCC-SLP, founded Naturally Speaking San Francisco, a private practice specializing in home-based speech and language treatment. She also works part-time in the schools and lectures at San Francisco State University,Like her on Facebook, follow her on Pinterest or contact her at Annick@naturallyspeakingsf.com.