Private practice as a nutritionist or dietitian can seem super glamorous. You have more freedom, flexibility, the potential to earn good money. But there are also downsides to starting a private practice. It’s important to consider whether you’re willing to accept the cons along with the pros before you take the leap!
- Monetary considerations
There’s no sugar coating it, starting a private practice can require some serious cash. You need to set aside a budget to establish your practice, and market your services to get your clients in the door. Until you’re well-established, this may mean your expenses are higher than your income! So you have to be willing to operate at a loss, at least for a little while.
You also need to consider that it may take longer than you think to establish a strong client base. Owning a private practice means that your weekly income isn’t “set” as such – some weeks may be super busy, and others you might experience a bunch of client cancellations, or just generally slow weeks where your income suffers.
You need to thoroughly plan how you’re going to handle these cash flow fluctuations and initial cash outlay. Will you pay yourself a monthly salary to minimise the impact of the slower weeks? Will you enforce a no-show or late cancellation policy for clients to limit cancellations within 24 hours of appointments?
Remember, your time is money when you work in private practice. You need to prepare and budget for whatever happens – because after all, you can never be certain of where and how much money will be coming in the door, especially in the initial months!
Continuing on from our first point, diving into private practice is risky business! You have to consider whether you’re willing to risk your money, time and effort – with no guarantees!
When you work for someone else, you have a guaranteed salary, paid sick leave and annual leave, a set job description and a reliable safety net. When you enter private practice, all this disappears. So while the risk can pay off and turn out to be the best decision you ever make, it can also be detrimental. Many small businesses fail due to inadequate planning, lack of demand for their services, and similar issues. Be certain with your decision: are you willing to risk it to (potentially) win the biscuit?
- You’ll work harder than ever.
Sometimes private practice seems super glamorous. You can swan in at whatever time suits, schedule a couple of clients per day, and take a day off when you feel like it, right? Wrong.
Be prepared to work harder than you ever have if you decide to enter private practice. After all, what you put into your business is what you’ll get out of it. In reality, most people who start their own practices end up working late nights or weekends, as the workload is much more than you expect – particularly when you’re in the process of setting up a viable business! You might be required to spend more time on marketing, client relationships, book-keeping, admin, insurance… all the fun stuff! So you have to be sure you’re willing to go the extra mile!
However, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time! Use some of our free templates to get you started, like our Nutrition Assessment Form. Be smart with your time and work!
- It can be isolating.
Private practice obviously involves spending a lot of time on your own. Especially in the initial stages if you don’t have a team, this can be quite isolating. You have to be prepared for this, and know where to seek support when you’re struggling. (Luckily for you, we recently wrote a blog on where to seek support as a solopreneur, so check it out if this applies to you!)
Some people need a team environment to bounce off others, come up with ideas, and just to thrive! So consider how you work best before you get into private practice!
- It can also be very rewarding…
Working for yourself can be the most rewarding experience of all. Like we discussed earlier, what you put into it is what you get out of it. Working with your own clients means you can literally see the progress you’re helping people achieve, and watch your hard work paying off!
Remember, everything you achieve in your private practice is something YOU made happen, so you do get that feeling of reward and gratification!
While private practice might involve a lot of work, it does come with a certain freedom too. You can work with clients how you want, create a schedule as you want, determine your own salary based on how hard you want to work. You can schedule days off if you’re in need of a mental health day, and hire people as you need/can afford for tasks you really don’t want to do yourself.
You can make your business whatever you want it to be, provided you’re willing to pay the price to do so!
Just remember, with freedom comes responsibility! If you want to have a day off, you have to be willing to work extra hard to make up for it. If you want to outsource admin to save yourself time, you have to be willing to pay someone else to do it for you. It’s all about deciding what is more important to you!
So as you can see, private practice has endless upsides, but also plenty of downsides or risks. Entering this space requires confidence, professionalism, and a willingness to take risks – but this is met with reward, freedom and flexibility. Make sure you consider all of the pros and cons, before deciding whether it’s for you!
Want some support and guidance in deciding what’s right for you? Book your free Fire Starter session with us today! We can chat through your goals, and ways to help you on your journey!