Gaining a Voice in Private Practice: 4 Tips

The daily grind is such a depressing term. What if we all went to work excited about helping clients or progressing in our research studies? I know folks who are perfectly happy working for a large company, receiving benefits and vacation days. I find, however, such a different happiness working for myself.

I get to set my own hours, I get to maximize my efficiency as I learn how to be quicker and more accurate, and only I am responsible for my company name. If you have fantasized even once about owning your own business, here are a few tips to get you started. 

Start small, but start.

It's a misconception that you have to take a "plunge" when you begin working for yourself or owning your own private practice. I would never have made the plunge, if that was the case. Chances are, you have bills that need to be paid, so you work a job that pays. If you are serious about transitioning, start with 1-2 clients per week after your work hours. Use the time that you might be vegging out watching TV to sketch out what a reasonable growth pattern would look like. Would you add 1 client more per week? 2? As time goes on, you will eventually have enough clients to cut down on your hours with your employer, and dedicate a half day or more to your growing business. You'll have to quit full time work there, so benefits might go as well, but you must weigh the options. 

Learn all you can about numbers

Most of us did not take classes on finance or business management in undergraduate studies. Kudos if you did, and you have an advantage. Teach yourself about profits and losses, about a company's worth, and about taxes, write-offs and incorporating your business or yourself. There are many tax breaks associated with owning your own practice, but you are constantly fronting the money without the security of knowing you'll profit. 

Make yourself efficient

We are all busy with things other than work. To make the best out of your time, get a targeted planner like this one specifically designed for SLP's from Erin Condren to help keep you the most efficient you. Making sure every moment of your time is productive is they key to making any business work. As we say in voice disorder treatment, "We're aiming for the least amount of effort and the most output." It's applicable for voice production, and it's very applicable here. 

Market yourself to the right audience

There is so much social media out there today. You can pay $10 for a boost in target audience for your Facebook posts. Twitter keeps you short and sweet. Instagram allows for instant snap shots or videos of things to keep your fans interested. If you have an internet presence, it will help patients or clients make the leap who are on the fence about contacting you and your company. Pictures and videos with written words perform much better, as the average scrolling user spends less than 3 seconds per post. 

ASHA has some tips on private practice, you can benefit from purchasing this billing and reimbursement book for help with coding and what you can expect regarding superbills and billing yourself. Companies like Therabill offer a variety of services for billing, scheduling and documentation. Jena Casbon, SLP, has made it her job to help us take the "plunge" offering consulting and education opportunities. Good Luck!  

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She provides voice, swallowing and speech-language treatment in her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on vocal health to area choirs and students. She also runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at  www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.