Starting a private practice has been on my mind for a few years. It has been one of those things that I told myself I would do, but I kept on pushing it off because of one thing or another. If it wasn’t student debt, it was a lack of confidence. If it wasn’t that, it was the lack of time. What it really ended up being was the lack of a clear reason to push myself past the fear of failure.
Of course, when COVID-19 cases climbed, job security began to dwindle and physical therapists like myself weren’t immune to the economic effects despite being in the healthcare field.
Hours at my full-time job became limited and working at the second clinic was no longer an option. My income got cut in half and my colleagues were being laid off. I was afraid I would be next. Job security was a thing of the past. Then my wife reminded me that this is exactly the type of emergency that we planned for since starting our journey to financial independence.
My renewed clarity kickstarted the inspiration to start my private practice. If I kept on waiting until the perfect time, it’ll never happen. With the help of a friend, I decided to take the leap into going to work for myself in hopes of being in a better spot by the end of the year and in future years to come.
Fortunately, it did not take until the end of the year to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
My Start Up Timeline
There was a ton of work and research that went into starting a private practice so I kept a journal to ensure I stayed on task. This helped me summarize key actions below for those interested.
- Developed business plan
- Decided on business name
- Filed an LLC
- Drafted website
- Applied for a National Provider Number
- Applied for a PT direct access license
- LLC Approved
- Designed Brand
- Developed Website
- Obtained social media accounts
- Applied for Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Opened business bank account
- Completed Medicare Certification Packet
- Obtained business insurance
- Obtained office and fax number
- Researched Electronic medical records (EMR) software + Demos
- Training in using EMR
- Developed Intake forms
- Enrolled In various portals for medical insurance participation reasons
- Obtained first patient
- Learned how to Bill insurances
By October, I became profitable by a small margin. The only issue right now is that my income is still directly tied to my time. If I don’t see patients personally, I don’t get paid.
Separating that time-money relationship is going to be a challenge, especially with anticipated reductions in insurance reimbursement for physical therapy services.
To keep me motivated, I wrote down some reasons to push past these business-related growing pains.
Stay UPdated with My Business progress
Build your brand instead of someone else’s
Chances are, you’ve referred patients/clients to your place of employment. You may have gotten a pat on the back, but did you get any profit sharing benefits? Did you get any referral bonuses? Did it contribute to a raise? The answer is probably no, no, and no, especially in the healthcare field. Often your referrals to your employer goes unrewarded — at least financially.
While delivering outstanding services to your patients/clients, you are building your credibility, but only under the umbrella of your employer’s brand which you may or may not benefit from if you decide to move on. Building your own business will help build positive long-lasting relationships with both you and your brand leaving the possibility for long-term, compounding growth.
Push Past Your Income Ceiling
No one ever wants the value of their work to be capped, but that’s what most of us have conceded to whether we know it or not.
Like most people, there is only so much you can earn within your field. Starting something on the side will allow you to push past your initial income ceiling. If you can scale it, you might be able to turn your side-hustle into your main hustle.
It seems silly that highly credentialed professionals still feel the need to create side-hustles to fill a financial gap, but the struggle is real when you consider that the cost of college increases on average by 7% while our salaries increase by 1-3%. That being said physical therapists and other allied health professionals’ salaries has barely kept up with inflation. This is because of a number of reasons including lack of funding, insurance and corporate greed, as well as a flawed medical system that is more reactive than proactive. Bottom line, we are in a low margin industry and there is no way to break through the income ceiling of the typical physical therapist unless I start doing atypical things.
Atypical right now means starting your own side-hustle. For me, this was a private practice. The result? My income potential went from earning $45/hr to $150/hr. It’s mind-boggling that I have been fighting for a 3% hourly raise at my full-time job, but I just gave myself a 300% hourly raise by opening my own practice. By doing this, I just pushed past my initial income ceiling allowing me to diversify my time and efforts into other meaningful goals.
The Opportunity for Multiple Sources
Lastly, starting a business allows me to build multiple streams of income within that business aside from providing direct PT services. I can attach my brand to third party products I believe in, market and sell it. This is called white labeling products. I can develop digital products by creating books, courses, or exercise programs. I can create physical products. I’m not there yet, but some other physical therapists are doing it! Check out these infrared video goggles a colleague of mine developed to enhance vestibular rehabilitation. I can market any of the above from others who have already created products for a small share of profits.
Readers of this blog know that my wife and I are documenting our journey to reaching financial independence (FI) to make work optional by age 40. For us, financial independence allows us to move into another phase in our life where our daily efforts are not tied to our employer’s purpose, but to our own purpose and desires.
Building a business during a pandemic was initiated by perceived necessity and is fueled by both curiosity and purpose. If it ends up speeding up our journey to FI, that’ll just icing on the cake.
Curious at what’s next?
Art is the founder of Flexcents, a blog created in 2018 to help others reach their fitness and financial goals through sharing insights as a physical therapist, personal finance nerd, and self-directed investor.