Is Freelancing The Best Private Therapy Business Model For You?

In my honest opinion, yes.

A big, resounding yes.

I’ve been in private therapy business practice since 2008, and I’ve seen many therapists and therapy businesses come and go. These starry-eyed therapists come to “try” therapreneurship, and they fail within 3-6 months.

I understand: many of my therapist classmates and friends speak of “owning their own therapy practice one day” – it seems to be a common dream (next to everyone wanting to have a cafe of their own), but they didn’t do enough research to understand the true depth and requirement to be true therapy business owners.

Yes, the name and title does sound glamorous:

“Wow, you’re your own boss.”
“You have your own practice? Amazing!”

Either people think:

  • you’re stupid / it’s so easy ie “if Nigel can do it, anyone can!”
  • you’re making super a lot of money

But it’s not true.

Myth #1: It’s So Easy A Dumbass Therapist Can Do It

It. Is. Not. Easy. At. All.

In fact, let me spell it: it is fucking hard.

Many people today see “woah, look at this therapist, he now has X number of therapists and Y amount of therapy clinics, and it’s so easy!”

It’s similar to seeing celebrities and top guys in the fields and just seeing the success part…but there’s so many facets to it:

  • It takes a lot of grit, patience and dedication. Like what Malcolm Gladwell shared: 10,000 hours to mastery. No one is able to transition from being a therapist to being a business owner making hundreds/thousands of business decisions in a heartbeat – it takes a lot of efforts, mistakes, tears, money and sweat…and maybe you may make it, if your mistakes don’t overwhelm the therapy business.

    No one patted me and my wife on the back when we worked 16-18 hour days, seven days a week for 5 years between 2008 to 2013 when we have a major breakthrough. We had lost 3 practices before our 4th one made it, and we never looked back. Hundred of mistakes and 31,025 therapy business hours later: some elements of therapy business mastery (and we’re still learning).

  • There is an element of luck. We had help along the way. We had doctors and patients who supported us in the beginning, and who still support us today. We had doors and opportunities open for us too, but we attribute a lot of it to hard work and grit that made all the luck we needed.

Myth #2: You Make A Lot Of Money As A Therapy Business Owner

Depends on the size of your therapy business and how you structure it.

We run a pure revenue-sharing commission model for all our therapists, meaning that every therapist takes 50% on every service rendered/billed, and if they hit a certain stretch target, they get an additional 5%.

I like this model because of its simplicity:

  • it’s clean (everyone is on the same model)
  • it’s fair (therapists do clinicals, we do everything else)
  • therapists are in control of their own hours (this is our practice)

Given the size of our business, the amount of front desks we need to hire to manage the business, accounts/finance, equipment maintenance, overheads, rental etc, all of which eats into margins.

Given the amount of work we do to keep the business tip-top, it’s about the same as what the therapists earn, but because we take care of a group of therapists and patients, we do make a fair sum.

But it’s a 24 hours, 7 days a week and 365 days a year commitment.

To me, it’s a labor of love that pays the bills and more. But I love what I do as a therapy business advisor, business development, guiding therapists and growing the business and team.

If anyone asks me if they should freelance or if they should start a practice, I ask them these questions:

  • freelancing IS a private therapy practice: the patients are the therapists’, therapists are in control of their time, they earn as much as they can/want
  • if they have limited amount of time and money, then freelancing is the way to go with no fixed costs ie rent, overheads; and one can take leave anytime you want to
  • if they have time (years), money (tens of thousands and more) and want to start/build their own brand, can take the risk of failing and losing all their money – then they should start their own business

Freelancing is the easiest way forward, but of course, it’s dependent on the terms and conditions of the therapy companies that they work with. Maybe it’s the way I setup our therapy clinic that offers good setup and conditions that our therapists love working with us (plus the fringe benefits of indemnity insurance, outings etc).

I highly recommend therapists to freelance as it’s just so much simpler, with less complexity and more flexibility – I’ll come up with a more indepth comparison later to show you the differences.

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