Interestingly, some NPs wonder if they are too old to start a practice.
In some ways, I’m not at all surprised because like the rest of the population, NPs are getting older too.
If I were to answer this question at face value alone, I would say “No,” you are not too old to start your practice. There are a number of NPs who are in the process of, or have already started their “retirement practices.”
However, when you’re older it’s important you take a step back and take a good look at your goals and your reasons for wanting to start a practice.
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 reasons for wanting to get into practice, the easier it will be for you to achieve your goals and objectives.
So ask yourself what it is you want to accomplish by starting your independent practice at this stage of your life.
- Are you looking to continue practicing, but at a different pace, perhaps part-time?
- Do you want to start a practice with the intention to sell it in a few years?
- Do you want a larger community practice that will be your legacy?
- What type of practice do you want to start?
There are so many iterations a practice can take. What kind of practice makes your heart sing? What will it be for you?
And if you’re fairly close to retirement age, take extra time to think this over. After all, starting a practice takes time, resources, and energy.
- Why do I want to start my own practice now?
- Do I have any hesitations and what are they?
- How will having my own practice benefit me on a personal and professional level?
- Am I willing to invest the required time and resources to start a practice?
- How will I “exit” my practice: just close the doors, bring in a partner, or will I try to sell it?
- What is my opportunity cost of starting a practice over continuing to work as an employee?
- How much income, benefits, etc. will I be giving up to start a practice?
- What will I be gaining from starting my own practice:
- Realize a lifetime dream
- Freedom to make my own decisions
- Financial freedom
- Time freedom
- What are the specific benefits for me?
As with any business startup, take the time to create a business plan for your new practice.
Outline Your Vision
Start your plan with:
- What will your practice be about?
- Who are the patients you’ll be helping?
- Will it be a certain demographic or will you focus on a specific health condition, e., diabetes?
Whatever your final vision statement will be, it should serve as a guiding light for you and your business.
Next, ask yourself how you will get your practice off the ground? Do you already have a following of patients, or will you have to start from scratch?
If you’ll have to start from scratch, how long will it take (realistically) to get your practice started? How do you plan to market your practice? Do you have the budget for it?
Pay Attention To Financials
Include financial forecasts and projections in your business plan. At minimum determine:
- Equipment needs
- Startup costs
- Ongoing expenses
- Fee schedule
- Projected income
- Break-even points
- Operational costs
Creating the business plan will help you decide if starting a practice makes “financial sense” at this time in your life.
Depending on how long you intend to practice, starting a practice too close to retirement may not be the best financial choice.
But then again, it’s not all about the money, right?
If finances are not the determining factor, getting started in your practice might be the right thing, regardless of your age.
Just make sure all the numbers make sense and work out for you. While the numbers are always important, they are more so when you’re older.
The reason for it is that you may not have enough time to recover, if the practice may encounter a rough spot.
So make sure you do your homework and due diligence BEFORE committing to start a new practice.
No matter your age, you’re the only one who can decide if starting a practice is right for you!
Do you wonder if you might be too old to start your own practice? Let us know what you think; share your thoughts by leaving a your comment below.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“