How to start a private practice

The 3-Step Plan You Need to Build the Private Practice You Want



If you’re a doctor, dentist, or lawyer nearing the end of your training, give yourself a pat on the back. Getting to this point hasn’t been easy—financially or personally. But you’re eager and ready to put all you’ve learned to task! After spending years answering to your professors, mentors, partners or attending physicians, you might even be thinking of starting your own practice.

Yet, while becoming your own boss can be pretty appealing, it can also be terrifying. Medical, dental, and law students often graduate with heavy student debt loads, but little practical training on how to start a practice. But that doesn’t mean that building the private practice of your dreams is impossible.

Follow SoFi’s three-step plan below to see if a private practice is right for you.

1. Understand What Makes You Tick

You’ve spent a lot of time doing everything necessary to earn your degree, but a lot less time figuring out what’s most important to you, what makes you happy, and how best to succeed. So to move forward, you’ll want to align your training with a clear understanding of the values you embrace and your goals.

Are you looking for freedom and autonomy in your work? Financial security? Time with your family? Your answers will dictate whether the risks and the work involved in starting a private practice are worth the benefits.

Related: Doctors, Dentists and Debt – Starting a Practice While Paying Down Student Loans

If you’re struggling with where to begin, a few strong online resources can help clarify things. SoFi’s Principles of Alignment three-part video series is a great starting point. The first part of the series, What Makes You Tick, will help you think through your personality, values, motivators, skills, and strengths. Complete the exercises as you watch, and block off some time to really look inward to answer questions such as, When have you been at your happiest? What does your ideal day look like? What do you do well? Where do you need a little more support?

Once you’ve completed part one of the video series, take a look at My Life Values Inventory, a free online quiz that will help you process what’s important to you in terms of both life and work. You’ll be provided with a full report that qualifies your values around privacy, independence, and interdependence, based on priority levels. The inventory also identifies the values that you’re spending more—and less—time on than you’d prefer. Download that information and use it as you work through the next step.

2. Decide If You’re Going to Make the Leap

Now that you’re armed with a clear concept of your talents, what gets you up in the morning, and what you want out of life, it’s much easier to make a final decision about your future. Part two of SoFi’s Principles of Alignment video series, Personal Strategic Planning, will help you focus on the opportunities that are available given your values and skill set.

If you’re a whiz on the web, for example, you’ll find it easy to maximize new technology and social media to recruit patients and build your practice. If you know a bit about accounting, but not quite enough, seek advice from a professional business manager or accountant. You can also increase your business skills through online or local community college courses. Your state Board of Equalization office offers seminars on starting a business, and an array of tax information and resources. Being able to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and compensate accordingly, is incredibly important to success of any new business leader.

Find My Rate

Next, consult as many entrepreneur resources as possible. Foundr.com, Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and The 4 Hour Workweek can be great sources of inspiration. And don’t discount podcasts, such as Physicians Practice, LawReboot.com, or I Love Marketing. Alumni and mentors in your field or specialty can also provide guidance. Networking, especially with people at the beginning or end of their careers, will allow you firsthand knowledge of their struggles and successes as you build confidence in planning for the future.

Recommended: Busy and Coupled? Here’s How to Strike a Greater Work-Life Balance

Finally, think long and hard about the personal and financial realities of your goal. When you start a private practice, you’re essentially starting your own business. You’ll have to sacrifice personal time and take on some financial risk. So make sure you’re ready for that. If you’re married, sit down with your spouse to discuss the long hours that a new practice will require. If you have student loan debt, you might want to consider student loan refinancing to gain greater control of your finances.

3. Take Action and Start Following Your Dreams

John Burroughs, author of The Art of Seeing Things, is famous for having said, “leap and the net will appear.” In other words, once you know yourself and you’re confident in your decision, trust the plan you put into place. By creating a business plan, you’ll empower the process. The Business Model Canvas, a visual business plan outline, is a good resource for mapping out the basics of your practice. While not specific enough for securing funding or investment, it’s good for conceptualizing how your practice will work. On just one page, you’ll identify your key activities and resources, revenue streams, cost structure, and more— everything you need to act on the many aspects of running a business.

Also focus on your personal brand at this point. How you express your vision, mission, and core values to your patients, partners, or clients in the real world and online is key to your ultimate success. A strong, compelling personal brand will ensure you hit the ground running. And since this topic doesn’t come up in med or law school, SoFi’s personal branding webinar, will give you a great head start.

For more help in making your decision and creating your plan, reach out to SoFi’s Career Strategy team. Also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for information about upcoming events, and on YouTube to be the first to learn of our webinars.

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ABOUT Janet Matta Janet is a professional Career Strategy Consultant on SoFi's Career Strategy team. She's an expert on early career strategy, small scale entrepreneurship, and the future of work. Janet has had a long career in education, consulting, and management, and uses her expertise to help members go their own way into meaningful work. When she's not on wifi you can find her hiking the mountains of Western Washington. You can connect with Janet on LinkedIn.


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