On a weekly basis, I am finding email, phone calls and letters from Nurse Practitioners who are looking for information on starting their own business.
This article is a synopsis of an article I wrote that was orginally published in Advanced for Nurse Practitioners. It has since been updated and can be found at NPBO.
1. Develop a support system.
None of us operates in a vacuum. It is essential that you develop a team of professionals to assist you. That team may starting with an business attorney and CPA in order to start you out on the right foot both legally and financially.
You will also want to network and mastermind with other NP Business Owners who have already traveled this road. It will likely save you time, money and frustration.
2. File the necessary paperwork.
The paperwork alone will keep you busy! You will need to file for the necessary business licenses and permits. You need to get an NPI number, which should correlate with your new Tax ID number. As soon as humanly possible, if not before, begin the credentialing process with Medicare. That one will take the longests. File the others as soon as you can.
3. Find an affordable location.
Where you want to locate your practice is an important decision. Consider how much space you need now and for futuer growth. In your mind, walk through your space to determine what you think you will need. Make sure it feels good as well as make good financial since. Considerations including leasing a medical office, buying and remodeling a space as well as building from the ground up.
4. Research budgetary projections.
As soon as possible, start gathering information about reimbursement rates from payers. With this information, you’ll be able to make some projections about your potential gross and net income. Don’t forget to factor in the lower reimbursements that many still pay NPs.
5. Scout around for insurance.
Shop early for your liability insurance. Almost all payers want to see proof of your malpractice coverage prior to credentialing you. This includes many of the plans you may already be credentialed with.
6. Hunt for affordable and functional equipment.
I don’t buy the idea that you have to spend a huge amount of money to open your business. Nor does everything need to be brand new. I did a lot of shopping at surplus retailers as well as eBay. Likely you will purchase both new and used equipment. Consider keeping your shopping list to those items that you will really needed initially, as well as those items that you can show a good return on investment (ROI).
7. Outline your staff strategy.
What roles will have to be filled as your practice grows. Who can you utilize in more than one positing as you get going? Remember, when thinking about staff, you will have lots of additonal fees and taxes associated with being an employer.
8. Learn all you can about billing.
If there is one thing I wish I had known more about before beginning this practice, it would be billing. Reimbursement is the cause of most of my business headaches, and has nearly closed more than one practice. I cannot emphasie this enough. Learn it, and then monitor those who are doing it for you.
9. Let people know about you.
Marketing! I once read that we only think we are in busines to provide whatever widge we are providng, when it truth, our true job is to market. We have no business without our clients and patients. The way they find us is marketing – yellow pages, word of mouth, referrals, insurance companies, websites, and newspaper ads to name just a few.
10. Look Ahead.
Take the time to identify your goals and keep them updated. Decide how you want to grow and when it is time for you to move on. Make sure, as much as possible that you build a business that fits you and your lifestyle.
I believe that more and more resourceful and creative nurse practitioners will make the jump into private practice. It only takes a few core steps to mark out the path to myriad opportunities.