The decision to enter a solo or group private practice is a big one. I decided in 2012 to open a solo practice. This was several years after working for inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities. A few years later I had the opportunity to bring in another counselor, which changed it to a group practice. Since I had the opportunity to work in a solo and group practice, I wanted to share with you a few aspects of both as you consider which is the best decision for you.
It’s important to review all of your options before making your final decision. Be sure to gather as much information as possible about both options including any county and state laws that govern how you construct your business. You need this information to help guide you through the decision making journey. Here are a few differences in a solo versus group private practice.
Solo practices are best for clinicians that like to have control of every aspect of their business. These practices are perfect for those who want their autonomy and don’t have to take others into account in their business decision-making. Another benefit of solo practice is that you decide what clients you will treat and the price you will charge. This type of practice structure allows you to keep 100% of the revenue. This is very attractive to many clinicians and leads them to open a solo practice.
Clinicians who don’t do well in solo practices are those that like to have regular interaction with other clinicians. Solo practice can feel isolating and lonely at times. This is why networking and connecting with other clinicians is essential. The success or failure of a solo practice relies directly on you as the owner. This can cause stress and worry when it comes to financial pressure, ability to pay bills and sustain the business.
Starting a solo practice can be very rewarding and pave the way to reach your career goals. Be sure to get feedback from other clinicians in solo practice. Don’t be afraid to ask about barriers and problems that these clinicians face. For me, starting out in a solo practice versus entering a group practice was the right decision and helped me shape the direction of my future business. The most essential characteristics that helped me was my organizational skills, time management, being an introvert, my ability to hustle, and not give up when things got tough.
Group practices are best for clinicians who don’t want to worry or deal with the day-to-day aspects of running a business. For example, most group practices have an infrastructure already established. This means that you would enter the practice, have an office already set up, and be responsible for seeing clients. The administration, phone calls, client referrals, and often the processing of payments are covered in a group practice. You don’t have to worry about doing these tasks in most of these practices. This also means that you will not receive 100% of the revenue from your clients and each practice differs by the amount that is kept by the practice owner. For example, you may have an agreement that you keep 60% and give the practice 40%. The 40% may cover administrative tasks, insurance billing, checking client’s in/out, and accepting payments. It may also include office insurance, supplies, and other cost.
Clinicians who enjoy working with other providers can benefit from a group practice. However, most clinicians are busy seeing clients, so there is little time for chatting throughout the day. Another benefit of a group practice is that it may be more stable and consistent with new clients than solo practice. One of the reasons I decided not to enter a group practice is that I wanted to challenge myself and test my entrepreneur skills. As years passed in my solo practice, I had the opportunity to bring in my mentor to work with me. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to work side-by-side with my mentor who had trained me to be a counselor. This decision turned my solo practice into a group practice.
Entering into a group can decrease your fear of entering private practice because you are not alone in your endeavor. There are important issues that you need to explore when considering a group practice. Find out approximately how many clients you will see per week. Also be sure to read all of the fine print if you sign a contract. Ask what the practice will be covering in your payment percentage. Don’t be afraid to negotiate to make sure your needs are met.
Your decision to enter either a solo or group practice is a big one but don’t think that it will define the rest of your life. Don’t get stuck in the decision-making process. Your decision isn’t final, and you can change directions in the future. You will make the best decision for you because you will review all of your options and go with what feels right. You can do this, and I wish you all the best in your next steps to build the business of your dreams.