Top 4 Reasons Your Private Practice Needs a Business Plan

At the end of this you’ll be able to download The Private Practice Simple Business Plan.

When I opened my first private practice almost 18 years ago, I had no idea about business.

Let’s be honest: most therapists and wellness practitioners don’t. It’s not like we went to business school, after all.

Well trained in therapy techniques is what grad school gave most of us, but how to translate those skills into running a business built on providing psychotherapy… that’s where many get lost.

Early in my first practice, when I applied for a local grant, I was asked to supply a business plan and share with the committee my mission statement. I had no idea what either was or how to compose them. I certainly didn’t understand that having each of those would not only secure the grant but would also help direct my practice for years to come.

As you can imagine, they rejected that application.

All was not lost: I did develop both a mission statement and a business plan. At least I had them handy in case any accrediting body wanted to take a look.

But I didn’t rely on either to help direct my private practice, at least not in the beginning.

It took a few more years in business before I began to realize the real value of having a clearly stated business plan.

As Tony Robbins often says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” That’s why it’s essential you plan how to conduct the business of your private practice.

Here are four reasons why your private practice needs a business plan:

  1. Having a business plan means that you take your private practice seriously. It’s not a side hustle or a hobby; it is an actual business that you plan to commit to operating and growing.

  2. Laying out your goals and dreams is one thing, but when you commit to a plan of execution, you take action.

  3. A business plan keeps you accountable. It helps you measure your intention against your action and allows you to evaluate your growth and progress.

  4. Without a plan, it’s easy to get lost in the ever-demanding task of running your private practice. A plan keeps you focused and encourages your action forward.

Now as psychotherapists and healing professionals we’re familiar with treatment plans. We know how to identify short-term and long-term goals, how to base goals on strengths, needs, abilities, and preferences. We understand that having a clear plan helps not only to evaluate the efficacy of our actions but also the outcome of our efforts.

Your private practice is really no different than any client with whom you’ve worked and who has a goal toward wellness and growth. And just like your clients, you private practice needs a plan to make this happen.

Business plans are the treatment plan for your private practice.

When building the business plan for your practice, it’s essential to focus on these four areas:

1. The Vision Statement:

A vision statement helps you clarify and communicate the private practice goals you have, whether it’s to be the premier facility in the area for anxiety treatment or it’s to build a one-stop-shop wellness center. Stating this vision succinctly aloud not only focuses your intention and your actions, but it also gives voice to the very dream you are creating.

2. The Value Statement:

Your values are the core of your business. It’s the morals and mores of how you want your private practice to conduct business. Do you value autonomous client decision-making? Do you want to collaboratively participate in the decisions your client makes about treatment? Neither is right nor wrong, but by defining your approach meaningful, based on your values, you express the unique way you care for clients and how you care for the business of your private practice. Clearly articulating this can also help define your unique market or selling proposition. Want to know more about what that is? Here’s a blog I wrote about that.

3. The Mission Statement:

Your mission statement defines what you are hoping to accomplish, why you want to do this type of work, and how it benefits your clients and the community. For example, your mission might be to help parents know exactly how to help a traumatized child; or to bring couples back together after infidelity; or to give people who struggle with depression some much-needed hope.

Now there are going to be times in private practice when you become frustrated, burned out, overwhelmed, and even ready to quit. Your mission statement is an anchor to help you steady the course. It’s your talisman; your guidepost; your touchstone. It’s the heart of your private practice. It will give you hope to continue on and not give up because your work is essential and your mission statement reminds you of exactly that.

When the time comes to add clinicians and administrative staff to your practice, your mission statement will serve as a guide to their decisions. Because not only is your mission statement a guidepost, it’s also the essence of your business. It describes how you want your clients and the community to experience your business, which can be everything from the way in which you greet clients to how you want clients to feel once they leave your office. Just like identifying your unique marketing position, having a clear mission can also help you develop what is called your “brand,” which I define here.

4. The Action Steps:

Like a treatment plan, your business plan outlines the objectives, strategies, and steps you’ll take to make the goal of your private practice—your Vision, your Values, your Mission—a reality. One action might be to outline several other aspects of your business, such as a Marketing Plan, a Financial Plan, and a Growth Plan. Similar to a treatment plan, you’ll find that your business plan is a living, breathing document that requires regular review and update, which merely shows the growth of your private practice in action.

Ready to get started with your own private practice business plan? I’ve put together a straightforward and easy-to-use template for you. Get it here.

Sara Anderson marketing and business coach for therapists

Right now clients are desperately searching for your help. They just haven’t found you yet. Help them stop looking.


Sara Anderson