How To Develop A Private Practice Business Plan

Last week, Howard Baumgarten of Smart Practice Central joined me to share his expertise with the CounselingWise community. In the webinar, he talked about the importance of having a private practice business plan for counseling, as well as what goes into creating one.

One of the things I took away from his presentation was to be successful, you need to be prepared, and you need to have a plan.

As the owner of a small business myself, I know that having a solid plan in place has been a vital aspect of CounselingWise’s growth and success. I’ve found that having a plan is what drives a business forward to achieve its goals. Without a plan, as Howard mentions, you are less successful.

During the webinar, Howard talked about the 11 different parts (or “modules”) of a business plan. Each part is equally important and pieces together an organized view of any business. Today, I am going to highlight five parts of Howard’s business plan. To learn about the other six (equally as important) parts, be sure to check out the webinar replay here.

Before we dive into the different parts of a successful business plan, I want to lead you with something to think about. During the webinar, Howard advised, “Think about your business plan as a matter of survival in your professional life. It’s an opportunity for you to really organize yourself and appraise what is going on in your business.”

Business plan layout next to laptop.

5 Key Parts of a Successful Business Plan

1. The Four C’s Of Your Vision

If you are familiar with the SWOT technique (a planning method use to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), then the 4 C’s will be something you relate to

Because he didn’t want to focus on a person’s weaknesses or threats, Howard viewed this planning method through a different colored lens.

The 4 C’s stand for:

This piece of the counseling business plan is key to evaluating your practice from a personal and professional level. 

Take out a pen and paper and jot down all of the above as they apply to you. Get a piece of paper and breaking it into four columns. In each column, write down your professional and personal capabilities, challenges, chances and concerns. One thing to keep in mind—it’s okay to have the same thing in multiple categories.

By having your capabilities, challenges, chances, and concerns outlined on paper, you can better plan for the future of your practice and your personal life.

It forces you to take what’s kind of hazy and abstract in your head and makes it a tangible reality. That way then you know where you stand and how to move forward with your vision for your practice. 

2. Your Mission Statement

The next part of the private practice counseling business plan I want to highlight is your mission statement. In Howard’s presentation, he said to ask yourself… 

“What is my purpose? What was I born to do? What do I really want to do? How do I want to affect the populations I am working with? What am I empowered to do?”

By answering the above questions, and really digging down into the meat of the reason you get up every morning, you will develop a wholehearted mission statement for your practice.

But what does developing a mission statement look like in practice? 

For his therapy practice, Howard’s mission statement is, “Build something new in order to change something old in order to grow.”

One thing to keep in mind when writing your own mission statement… 

Make sure you are writing the statement in lay terms, and not professional/clinical terms. Try to stay away from words like “depression,” “anxiety,” etc. You are writing this not only for yourself, but also for your clients.

3. Your Services

This is the who, what, when, where and why of your services as a private practitioner. 

This part of the private practice business plan is key to giving you the clarity you need in terms of the services you provide, and the services you may want to offer in the future.

This part of the plan is powerful. It helps move you in terms of defining yourself and who you are. You will also draw from this part as your quick “this is what I do.”

As you are completing this part of your business plan, keep in mind that you will probably have three or four different sub-sections under each of these.

Answer each question for each service you offer or want to offer. Eventually, this will all be useful information that you’ll want to include on your website. 

If you’re thinking ahead and want to use this exercise to generate content for your website, check out how to write informative specialty pages.

4. Personal Growth

To grow professionally, it’s important to take care of yourself so you can grow personally. 

In order to have a healthy work-life balance, you will want to focus on 4 main areas:

Think of things that are important to you on a personal level and write them down. Personal growth is a key piece of your business plan.

Because if you don’t grow yourself, how can you expect to grow your private practice? It all works in concert, together. 

5. Administration

The Administration part of the private practice business plan can be hard, especially if you are used to being a one-person show. 

And if you think you can run the show without any professional support throughout your entire career, you will be spread very thin.

As part of your counseling business plan, you need to create an administration plan to ensure you have the support you need to build a successful practice—and keep your sanity. 

Think about the people who you currently have supporting your practice professionally. Then think about the people you may want to include in your group of practice professional support.

Naturally, some people may not be ready for this, so think about this part of your private practice counseling business plan when you are ready. 

You know you’re ready when you say to yourself, “I am getting really sick and tired of doing this admin task, and I am now in a place where I can afford to hire someone to do it for me.”

By getting support, you free up emotional space so you can pursue things that drive your interests and passions. This is a vital piece to your professional growth.

Administrative support includes but is not limited to… 

  • a medical biller (if you accept insurance),
  • a bookkeeper,
  • an accountant for tax purposes,
  • a financial manager/adviser,
  • an investment banker,
  • a corporate attorney,
  • an insurance agent,
  • a commercial real estate broker (rent or buy)
  • and a virtual/actual assistant.

Each part of the counseling business plan that I discussed today is vital to a successful practice. Your business plan, however, really isn’t complete without the remaining six. To learn about all 11 parts, and to learn more from Howard about a successful business plan, watch the webinar replay here.

You can also download the Business Plan Template here.

One last tip: Don’t just write your plan and forget about it. Howard recommends going back every six or so months to revisit the plan and stick to your goals.

You can also watch my interview with Howard Baumgarten, founder of Smart Practice Central, below. 

Enjoy the replay!

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