Thinking about starting your practice, but not sure where to start or what to do? Rest assured, you’re not alone.
Every week we’re getting emails, phone calls, and letters from Nurse Practitioners who are looking for information on how to start their own practice.
But before I continue, let me say “Congratulations!”
Because starting your own practice is rewarding in so many ways. It’s good for your patients, your community, our profession, and it’s good for you!
And, there’s no better time to get started in practice than now!
But before you can open your doors, you must get all “your ducks in a row.” You must get everything lined up, so you can hit the ground running when it’s time.
Because if you want to succeed in your practice, you must be informed and prepared. And much of your success hinges on the steps you take before you open the doors.
Of course, starting a practice doesn’t come with a guarantee for success. Here are three steps to take that will help you put the odds on your side.
Step #1 Know Your “Why”
It’s important to know where you are, where you want to go, and why you want to go there.
The more clarity you have about your goals, the easier it will be to create your vision and turn it into reality; it gives you direction, focus, and determination.
But beyond that, having clarity about your reasons for wanting to start your practice will help you stay the course when things get tough.
Knowing your “whys” will help you reach in, and access resources you may not know are there! It might also help you stay the course long after others would have given up.
That’s why I recommend you spend adequate time and ask yourself the following questions…
- Why do you want to start your own practice?
- What are you hoping to accomplish?
- Helping more people?
- Earning more income?
- Getting more control over your time?
- More freedom over how you practice?
- What are your reservations about having your own practice?
- Lack of funds?
- Lack of business experience?
- Fear of the unknown?
- Negative reactions from friends and family?
- What are you willing to give up to start your own practice?
- How will having your own practice impact you on a professional and personal level?
- How will having your own practice benefit you on a professional and personal level?
- How do your spouse, family, and friends feel about you starting your own practice?
Step #2 Cultivate the Right Mindset
I believe mindset is everything… well, almost everything.
How you think and what you think controls your mood, your outlook, and ultimately your actions.
Have you heard the saying “No matter if you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right?”
These few words hold true for everything we do in life.
If there are doubt and fear, there will be hesitation and missed opportunities.
But if there are optimism and a “can-do” attitude, there will be determination and progress.
Of course, positive thinking alone may not get much accomplished, because it takes real action to makes things happen.
But action alone may not get you far either.
You must cultivate both, the right mindset and the ability to take action!
It takes the right mindset to achieve and maintain business success. Having a positive and open mind is crucial to being successful as an entrepreneur.
If you don’t have this mindset now, don’t worry. You can learn to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. Below are two approaches for you to consider…
Be a Cautious Optimist
It’s a positive outlook and a sense of optimism that moves people forward. It’s what drives entrepreneurs to start a new or expand an existing business.
Generally, people who are filled with fear and negativity don’t start new ventures or try new things. They avoid change because they’re determined to live in their comfort zone.
But to be successful, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone. You must be open to trying something new. So be prepared to change and ready to try out new things.
Of course, there is always the danger of too much optimism, which might lead to ignoring potential risks and pitfalls.
That’s why you want to be a cautious optimist!
It allows you to remain open to new ideas while being aware of potential risks.
Be a Healthy Pessimist
I know, it sounds like I’m contradicting myself.
But I don’t think so.
We have this idea that negative thinking, or pessimism, is bad. However, there is a place and time even for pessimism, at least a healthy dose of it.
A healthy dose of pessimism simply means you’re aware of potential problems that may result from changes internal or external to your business.
You are on the alert!
Let’s look at an example… emails from patients.
Virtually all healthcare clinics today maintain a website. Many offices stay in touch with patients by publishing a newsletter or sending out educational emails.
The information you provide is informational. It’s not meant to be a two-way channel of communication. No, it’s meant to be a one-way channel of communication!
But of course, it’s not uncommon for patients to send an email or reply to the educational emails they receive from your office.
Perhaps accepting emails from patients may seem like a good idea at first glance. However, some issues need to be considered, before accepting emails from patients.
Ask yourself the following:
- Is the email communication HIPPA compliant?
- Do you have enough staff to monitor patient email?
- What about an email from a patient informing you of a medical emergency (even though they signed an agreement not to communicate via email)?
- What if you don’t see the email for a few days since patient email was never intended to be used for any medical information exchange?
Unless you are utilizing a platform specifically designed to handle email communication between you and your patients, caution is in order.
And that’s why a healthy dose of pessimism is essential. It’s what allows you to go through a “what-if analysis.”
Assessing potential risk is vital because it lets you anticipate potential issues rather than reacting to them after the fact.
Step #3 Planning
Planning your business, at startup and ongoing is vital to the success and growth of your practice.
Ironically, no one would…
- Think of building a house without a blueprint.
- Get on a flight without knowing where the plane will take them.
- Go on a resort vacation without having made reservations.
Unfortunately, common sense often goes out the window when it comes to business.
Too many businesses start with vague plans or ideas.
But there is value in proper planning! Take the time to create a business plan you can use as the blueprint for your business.
Keep in mind, developing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated.
Even if you only create a very simple and basic plan, you’ll be far better off than not planning at all.
When you spend the time and effort to research your business idea, you’ll get very clear on what it is you want to create. You’ll know the resources you’ll need to get your business off the ground.
It takes clarity and focus to create a workable plan for your business.
Because if you’re not sure what it is you want, it’s virtually impossible to draft any useful plan.
Businesses that neglect to develop a plan may experience confusion and lack of direction. And chances are they’ll waste their time and resources trying to find their way.
These businesses may be doomed to failure before they even get off the ground!
If you want to start your own practice or any other business, invest time and effort upfront; it will pay off down the road.
Here again are the three areas of focus.
- Get crystal clear on why you want to start your practice
- Work to develop the right mindset
- Spend adequate time planning.
While investing your time reflecting and planning doesn’t hand you a guarantee, it will prepare you for the entrepreneurial journey ahead.
Share your thoughts with us and leave your comments below…
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“