ACA Blog

Deb Legge
Mar 25, 2010

Building A “New & Improved” Private Practice

Whether you are building a Private Practice for the first time, or you are looking to “build” your existing Private Practice, it is important to know the opportunities and risks that exist today. As with almost everything in life, building a Private Practice carries both risks and benefits. A huge focus of my work as a Private Practice Mentor is helping my clients reduce their risk and reap every benefit possible.

Here are a few tips that might help you as you establish or grow your Private Practice. First, here are 3 challenges that will require you to reach out for help in order to reduce the potential for risk:

1.Business collaborations are rarely “simple”. Some folks think that because they form a simple partnership (that they not incorporate) just to make things more efficient (like signing a lease, collaborative marketing, or taking a small business loan), they don’t need to get the advice and guidance of an attorney. My experience is that no matter the structure of your collaboration, it is critical to have a partnership agreement that covers things like: the requirement for your partner to carry life insurance with you as the beneficiary so you can cover the costs should s/he die; how the business will be handled if you do pass away – will your share be left to your business partner or will your family have a stake in the business?; if one of you loses your license to practice, will the partnership go on?, etc

2.There are many ways to rent space, and all space is not created equal. Will you rent an office in an existing office suite? Will you sublet a couple of days in another practitioner’s office? Will you lease a couple of offices and sublet to others? Be sure to know the nuances of any agreement you make with regard to space. Be clear on things like: Who will carry the office (general) liability? Is there a condition of the lease that allows you to sublease to others? Is your monthly rent the only bill you will get, or will you get bills for utilities or annual expenses that are not included in the lease? Are you signing this lease as a business or are you required to sign personally on the lease?

3.Before you simply change your address with the insurance companies for which you are on panel, know their policies and procedures! You don’t want to change your address only to lose your place on panel because they don’t need another provider in the new zip code you’ll be practicing from!

Now… here are three things you might find beneficial to your new Private Practice…

1.Broaden your vision! If you are looking to rent part of your space in order to offset some of your expenses, don’t limit yourself to other therapists. There are plenty of professionalss that might share space to your mutual benefit.

2.Even if you are not a “techie”, recognize the importance of having a presence on the web. You can put up a simple website for as little as $5 a month, where you can provide great and helpful information for your clients and you can reach potential clients with just a little attention paid to how you get your name out there.

3.Use the 3-mile technique to maximize your marketing efforts. Get in your car and drive a 3-mile radius around your practice. Note every business and office that might be a potential source of referrals. This is your “home base” for your customers. From those customers, will come many of your clients. Striking up a couple of good relationships with 2-3 primary care offices could keep you busy all year! Don’t forget to look in your own back yard. Find out what you can do for your customers (provide newsletters for their waiting rooms, do a free seminar at their location, triage their patients who require mental healthcare into your practice or into the community if necessary), and they will pay it forward for years to come.
I’ll talk with you next time…

Deborah Legge is a counselor in private practice and an assistant professor at Medaille College. She specializes in coaching counselors in private practice and is the founder of

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