For most private practice owners that work in their practice, the divide between the clinical and business work can be extremely difficult to balance.
In our experience, about a third of the private practice owners that we’ve worked with consider the clinical part of their role to be their “main job”, while the business side is just a necessary responsibility.
What’s wrong with thinking that way?
I can really understand why private practice owners might think there is nothing wrong with prioritising client appointments over business tasks. It’s easy to feel more motivated towards doing activities that yield immediate results (i.e., money) than activities that perhaps may never yield any results (that you can know for sure, anyway).
And it might not necessarily be bad or might even be required for sole practitioners to consider client sessions to be their main job. After all, without the clinical work, the business won’t yield any results and you’ll end up with zero revenue.
However, for established owners with their own team of practitioners, this can be a dangerous way of thinking. As you remain in the mindset of a practitioner rather than a business owner, you may miss opportunities that can grow your practice and take it to the next stage.
What are the signs that you are stuck in an unproductive private practice business attitude?
To evaluate your private practice business attitude, see if you agree with any of the statements below.
- “I can’t block out any hours for business tasks. What if clients want to book in during that time?”
- “I can’t do business meetings (or other tasks) during XAM-XPM because that’s my prime client time.”
- “I’d happily book in a spontaneous, same-day appointment in the time slot that I saved to do admin or business tasks.”
- “I’d rather do my business-related stuff in my own time and leave the business hours to just see clients.”
- “I don’t have enough time to work on my business properly because I’m seeing clients until late at night (or I have back-to-back appointments).”
- “I could never imagine dedicating a whole day a week to business tasks and miss out on a whole day’s worth of revenue.”
If you regularly think any of the above, then read on because it might be time for you to change the way you approach your business.
Why you might need to change your private practice business attitude
“I can’t block out any hours for business tasks. What if clients want to book in during that time?”
This is especially relevant to private practice owners who use a (virtual) reception team. With a reception team, your diary schedule is the bible. If a slot is blocked out then no client bookings will be made for that slot – simple.
So, in order to remain flexible between client appointments and business tasks, some private practice owners will instead not schedule in any designated times for business tasks in their week.
This might sound like a good idea when you first open your practice and have very few appointments. But an unstructured week such as this means you have no control over your hours and tasks. In fact, your work life is entirely determined by your clients.
“I can’t do business meetings (or other tasks) during XAM-XPM because that’s my prime client time.”
If you regularly say no to a business meeting, opportunity or event (including webinars) to leave the slot open for client appointments, then you’re in urgent need of a change of mindset.
This mindset represents your priorities and shows that when given the choice, you’d rather potentially make some immediate cash than work on building a practice that will generate more and more revenue.
“I’d happily book in a spontaneous, same-day appointment in the time slot that I saved to do admin or business tasks.”
There may be some exceptional cases where a client must see you right away. But these cases are rare.
When you can’t bring yourself to say no to a client booking in these circumstances, it can mean that you don’t truly value the time you spend working on your business.
Generally speaking, most clients will accept that you’re unavailable and find another time that works for both of you. That means you’re unlikely to miss out on anything.
“I’d rather do my business-related stuff in my own time and leave the business hours to just see clients.”
While it depends on your role as the private practice owner (e.g., you might have a full-time practice manager), working on your business is also your job. Among countless other things, your business tasks include:
- Posting on social media
- Writing blogs
- Liaising with service providers, and
- Having meetings with your consultant, accountant, etc.
If you believe that your main job is to see clients and the business tasks are just additional responsibilities, then you might need to work on seeing things a bit differently.
Treating your business tasks as an afterthought and not as proper work could drive you to be more tired, unproductive and even to burnout, if you’re still aiming to complete the tasks. Otherwise, while you might maintain your work-life balance, the tasks won’t get done and your practice can suffer because of that.
“I don’t have enough time to work on my business properly because I’m seeing clients until late at night (or I have back-to-back appointments).”
Similar to the previous point, this mindset shows the attitude that you consider your business tasks to be not as important as seeing clients. If you didn’t feel that way, you would just block out your calendar and not see clients during certain times!
If you often find yourself saying or thinking this way, then you could benefit from increasing your productivity and being more strategic about your work distribution. And again, you may do yourself a huge favour by avoiding potential burnout and stress overload.
“I could never imagine dedicating a whole day a week to business tasks and miss out on a whole day’s worth of revenue.”
Does the idea of cutting down your client hours terrify you? We’ve seen this with so many private practice owners. The thought of “missing out” on that revenue sends shivers down their spine, especially if they feel like they’re the only ones holding up the practice.
The consequence of this mindset is that, to be really frank, your practice may never grow.
There is a limit to the number of clients you can see in a week and how much you can charge per session. If you’re scared of cutting down your maximum available hours for clients, then your practice is likely to stagnate without new and fresh strategies. That means your maximum potential revenue will always stay at 100% capacity and 100% attendance.
Notice any patterns?
The common themes in the above approaches to your business tasks include the following:
Your business decisions for your private practice is run by fear.
Everyone fears different things but it’s most commonly the fear of losing client appointments and therefore revenue. If this sounds like you, first identify where this fear is coming from. Then, put in some strategies to rewire your thinking patterns whenever you notice yourself making decisions based on fear or desperation.
Your business tasks are unstructured, unproductive and unscheduled.
Sure, you might still get a few solid hours of work done in any given week. But if none of these are properly scheduled and well thought out, then it’s likely that your days are not always predictable and you’re unable to plan more than a couple of days ahead of time.
You have short-term vision.
Constantly chasing little and immediate successes like a few more client sessions in a week, instead of taking the time to properly work on your strategy, can mean that you have limited vision into the future.
If you were able to identify your private practice business attitude in the ways outlined in this article, then it may be time to address your approach. A change in your mindset may make all the difference in the world as you give your practice the structure and attention it needs. And once you start tackling your business tasks productively and strategically, you might start to see significant positive changes in your practice.