Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting an SLP Business
Have you ever wanted to start your own SLP private practice, open a related SLP business, or simply expand your roles and responsibilities as an SLP and try to do something different with your expertise? Oftentimes, the first challenge of the transitional process from a clinical role to that of a business owner is making decisions about what entrepreneurial venture you want to start, when to start, and how to initiate making this dream into a reality. Here are the top three questions to ask yourself, and perspectives to consider, as you embark on this journey of SLP entrepreneurship.
- What should I start?
There are avenues to offer different products and services to the mainstream public utilizing your SLP knowledge base. By utilizing your knowledge and experiences as an SLP, you can establish a traditional private practice, become an advocate, community educator, or advisor, or create content, courses, and applications to train other speech-language pathologists. Our field has become extremely vast in terms of potential areas of practice. Having expertise in all areas of our discipline is really quite rare, so this is a great opportunity for those experienced in certain areas to offer their services to help train others wanting to pursue potential career changes into a different area or niche market of our field, or incorporate some of those elements into their own private practice.
- When should I start?
There are several considerations that you want to reflect upon before embarking on this journey. Knowing when you are ready to start your own business can be answered by exploring whether you have the time, money, and expertise to get started.
● Do I have the time? If you’re going to be your own boss, you must consider how much time it takes to run a business. Unless you have help (and many people don’t when they are just getting started), you will be involved in everything from marketing to billing to bookkeeping. Do you have the time that it takes to wear all those hats? While you may feel as though you don’t have any extra time, keep in mind that it is a choice you are making—a well-thought-out priority shift—in order to turn the vision of your business into a reality.
● Do I have the money? Depending on the type of business venture you decide to embark upon, the cost of starting your business will vary. In general terms, however, in the context of whether you have the money to start a business, one must consider (a) the stability of your current income to support your regular personal life expenses (including medical-dental benefits), and (b) the costs of starting a business.
● Do I have the expertise? Our recommendation is that you wait until you have at least three to five years of strong clinical experience to allow you to gain confidence and demonstrate ease with your clinical decision-making. You also gain the experience of being an employee, part of a larger team, and perhaps gain some leadership experience within your roles, which will help when running your own business.
Reflecting on whether you have the time, money, and expertise to start your business will help guide you when deciding what the right time might be to start laying down the foundation of your business pursuits.
- How should I start?
If you are currently employed as a speech-language pathologist in either a school setting or healthcare facility, it is not necessary that you abruptly stop your employment at that job and then start your own business. Most likely, if that were to happen abruptly without planning or strategizing your business plan, you would have fewer chances of success. Starting off small, while picking up additional clients if a private practice or private consulting is what you want to do, not only can be lucrative but also allows you to start getting pieces in place in order to have a private practice of your own. If there are other ventures that you wish to embark upon, the same holds true. Start small and build up. Use the time when your caseload or other opportunities are lower in volume to plan and strategize how you will grow and eventually get to “cruising altitude.” You might find initially that if you are starting at a smaller volume, it might help to navigate some of the procedures, policies, and products/services that you need to consider organizing and establishing for when your business is larger and encompassing a higher volume of clients or customers. By starting small, you have the flexibility to take on what you can at that moment, and also continue to have a stable income with your current position. You are also allowed the opportunity to get a “taste” of what some potential business opportunities might lie ahead for you, and whether this is the right fit for you.
In The SLP Entrepreneur: A Speech-Language Pathologist’s Guide to Private Practice and Other Business Ventures, we go into more depth about these initial steps as well as deep dive into the various elements of establishing an SLP-related business. We wrote this book to provide our readers with guidance on establishing and growing an SLP-related business based off of our own experiences, the advice of other SLP Entrepreneurs, and the perspective of external non-SLP professionals. Establishing a private practice or other SLP-related business can be both personally and professionally rewarding.
We encourage you to take those first steps and reflect upon these initial questions, and seek out guidance, knowing that while you are creating something on your own, you do not have to navigate this process alone. We’ve created a community to provide additional support through courses, coaching, and resources. Visit http://www.TheSLPEntrepreneur.com for more information. We are excited to see the remarkable pursuits our SLP colleagues can achieve utilizing their passion, creativity, and SLP expertise.