Building a private practice is a lot of work, but it’s the right path for many, something that’s become abundantly clear while speaking with the speech-language pathologists featured in our “Private Practice Possibilities” series. For some SLPs, it takes years before they’re ready to venture off on their own. For others, like CASA Speech Therapy’s Ebony Green, that transition is more immediate.

In the most recent episode of The Missing Link for SLPs podcast, Green spoke about going straight from graduate school to opening her own private practice. It’s not the most common way of doing things, but Green has managed to scale her business quicker than most. Fortunately, for the SLPs still in the process of becoming private practitioners, she shared some of the keys to her success.

Find a Mentor

One of the biggest tips Green offered when recounting how she managed to scale her business is to find a mentor. Starting a private practice will come with numerous obstacles SLPs will need to overcome. And although there are classes and online resources that can help with the business end of things, nothing beats a mentor who’s been through it before.

When it comes to finding a mentor, Green suggests not limiting yourself to supervisors. Although our bosses can make great teachers in certain situations, there are plenty of other SLPs you can connect with for the same purpose. The important thing is that they know how to get where you’re looking to go.

Expand Your Reach

At the beginning, opening a practice is all about finding clients. That’s why it’s critical to look for ways to expand your reach early on, whether that’s through social media, pre-established connections, or contracts with outside organizations. The key is to locate the clients who are in need of your services. Green recalled how teletherapy helped her to expand her reach, allowing her to provide services to patients who weren’t close to where she lived. That’s certainly one route to building your client base, but it’s not the only one. Do your research and reach out to those in your network. You’re bound to come across someone in need of an SLP, and that’s how you get the ball rolling.

Quality Over Quantity

Although it’s important to expand your reach early on, you’ll also want to consistently choose quality care over quantity. Plenty of practices serve high volumes of clients but aren’t able to give each patient the attention they deserve. This could push clients to seek out care at smaller facilities. In fact, some of Green’s patients left larger practices in favor of her smaller, more personalized business model.

Building rapport with clients is a huge part of treatment, and it’s hard to do that when you have dozens of therapists who have hundreds of names on their caseloads. Focus on the quality of treatment instead of the number of clients you have, especially at the beginning. This is what will get people talking about your practice.

Be Flexible

If you’re opening your own private practice, accept now that every day is going to look different. Green works the same hours each day, but those hours are spent differently depending on what aspects of the business she’s focusing on — and what challenges are thrown her way. The best way to deal with this reality is by being flexible and learning to adapt.

Seek Out Contracts

SLPs don’t always know how to go after school and government contracts, but landing such agreements can be a massive benefit to your practice. Green has several school contracts, and they helped her income remain stable through the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, she never even had to lay off her therapists.

School and government contracts can be a consistent means of securing income, provided SLPs know how to acquire them. That’s why Green also runs Contracts 2 Coins for SLPs, a program that teaches practitioners how to bid on and land such contracts. If that’s a path you’re interested in taking, but you have no idea how to start, Green’s program may be a great kicking off point for scaling your business!

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