Are you rearing to start your private practice?
Are you rearing to start your private practice….
But have no idea where to start? We have you covered with a comprehensive list of everything that you need to start a private practice. And yes, we break each item in this list step-by-step to help you along the way. This is a beast of a document and many practitioners that we have spoken to have said they would have given an arm and a leg for this information when they were starting out.
Do everything on this list and you will be all set and ready for your clients.
Here’s the quick checklist of everything that you will need to start and grow your practice. After you have downloaded the basic list, I will go into detail about each item on the checklist with extra resources for you to look into. These will help you make the best choices for your practice and make your private practice dream a reality. You will need to download and print the document to check off these items as you go. While you follow along using the clickable links on the rest of this page.
Take a deep breath, and carve out a bit of time each week to do the groundwork. Remember tackle one Item at a time and you will get there. You’ve got this!
Ok, let’s face the truth, you most likely want to jump ahead to the next steps. So you can dive straight into your private practice. Don’t skip this step!
Registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is a pre-requisite for professional practice. It is also required by law that you keep all your personal information up to date with the council.
To have your own private practice you need to have a practice number this is critical! As you cannot run a practice without it.
It is important to know how much you plan to spend before you start spending anything on your private practice.
As a healthcare practitioner, you have made a huge investment into your career and practice it is vital that you protect that investment.
6 :: Choose Your Business Entity
Under HPCSA regulations an allied healthcare professional has two options in regards to running a business. You can either register as a Sole Proprietor or an Incorporation. You will need to choose how you want to run your private practice.
Each of these options has its pro’s and cons’s but you will need to determine upfront which will work best for you.
7 :: Medical Aid or Cash Based Practice
This is often a tough choice to make when you are starting out in private practice. But it is an important choice to make and will determine the trajectory of your practice.
You need to have a look at the demographics of your potential clients as this will assist you in making this decision. Each scenario has its benefits and downsides. You will need to investigate which would be the best for you.
Now that you have your most essential structures in place, it’s time to develop your marketing strategy. If you can, it’s great to have a strategy in mind before hopping into the rest of the costly checklist items like renting an office. You want to make sure that you have a strategy that works before you find yourself paying for an empty office for months.
Now that you are marketing your new practice and ready for a waitlist, you need to have a secure way for clients to contact you.
10 :: Decide, Are You Offering In-Person Sessions
These days, you can set up a 100 percent teletherapy practice, which is amazing. You will save a lot of money on renting practice space and can work from anywhere while you earn an income.
Another option would be to start off by offering teletherapy from your home and building your practice in the side until your premises is ready for you to do face to face or in-person sessions.
This is where things start to feel real. You care actively looking for office space. For many people, an office is a symbol of legitimacy and gives the feeling of “I am really doing this”
12 :: Set up a Business Bank Account
You will need to set up a business bank account, it is vital that you have an account for your business and one for your personal transactions. There are some wonderful advantages to having a separate bank account.
- Easily keep track of your cash flow (Expenses and Revenue)
- Have a papertrail for SARS in case you ever get audited
- Stay on top of what expenses you can deduct from tax
- Makes if easier to protect your personal assets in a lawsuit
- Have your business address listed on ducments instead of your home address
- Reap the benefits of certain business bank accounts (eg. qualify for business loans, cash back on cash spent ect. )
13 :: Get Great Headshots
You will not believe how many therapists have listings on directories with either no photo or grainy photos that were clearly taken at a social event. These often have their loved ones cropped out and just look bad.
You are a professional, even if you don’t want to spend cash on a photographer and don’t have a fancy camera. Put in the time to get ready and have someone take a photo of you in good lighting on a smartphone.
You won’t believe how many people pick a therapist because they “looked like a nice person” in their photos.
14 :: Set Your Rates
I feel that is one of those topics that therapists rarely talk about, yet everyone thinks about it. How much do you charge in private practice?
Setting your rates does not have to be a guessing game, You can figure out how to set your rates by working out how much you need to charge and how many sessions you need to earn the income that you want. You can look at what the medical aid rates are for your services and charge in that range.
Here are some helpful resources.
As a healthcare practitioner, one of your daily tasks is billing your clients and allocating payments. This is going to become more time consuming as your client base grows. This is where practice management software comes in.
16 :: Get Your Paperwork Ready
Before you see your first client you need to make sure that you have your paperwork in place.
You need to be aware of the POPIA act and have to make sure that your consent forms cover both yourself and your patients with regard to these regulations. You can ask your supervisor or a mentor to assist you and send you examples of their forms. Or you can contact an attorney to assist you. It is vital that you get these documents right, to begin with, and set everything up on a solid foundation so that you can simply hit the ground running when it’s time. Having a thorough contract drawn up by lawyers is your best and safest bet.
17 :: Choose Your Bookkeeping System
Running a private practice costs a lot of money. It is vital that you have a way to keep track of your expenses as well as your revenue. This will make paying tax less of a pain as you will be able to see what your monthly profit and loss is.
I know you trained as a therapist and that taxes are not your area of expertise, but as a business owner you do need to have a basic understanding of how they work and great software will assist you with that.
18 :: Decide on Accepted Forms of Payment
Often practices end up with a large bad debt book because they sone make it easy for a client to pay them.
Taking card payments, or payments through Zaper, SnapScan etc do come with processing fees that you need to pay. But at the end of the day, you can deduct that fee as a business expense and ensure that your clients can pay you easily.
You can offer a discount for cash payments, but the reality is that the easier it is to get paid while the client is in your office the better for your practice.
19 :: Join Online Directories
Online directories get very mixed reviews but you have nothing to lose by trying out some of the free options and seeing what kind of leads they generate for you.
Be sure to get listed with Google My Business, it’s free and it gives a huge boost to your practice as well as helps with your website’s SEO.
You can also consider adding your practice to Facebook and Instagram to give your practice more credibility and make it easier for people to find you.
Do your research and see which practitioners are in your area, reach out and let them know who you are and what you do.
21 :: Analyze and Tweak Your Marketing Strategy
Congratulations, you are ready to see clients in your brand new bonafide practice.
By now you have spent the last few weeks or months going through the checklist and getting ready. You have spent time using your original marketing strategy, go back and analyze what worked and what didn’t. Tweak the strategy so that you hone your marketing and are not wasting time and money on things that don’t work.
Now is a great time to get Google Analytics set up so that you have access to detailed information about who is visiting your website.
You made it !
Yay! If you made it all the way through the checklist, give yourself a pay on the back, pour yourself a glass of wine or grab a coffee. However, you like to celebrate, be sure to take a moment and relish your achievement.
It’s huge you have a bonafide private practice with a strong foundation, the only way is up from here.