By Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT
How to prepare
So you know you want to start a family one day but feel totally freaked out about how that all works when you are in private practice, right?
Well you have come to the right place. I want to help you prepare for family time off so that you can get the rest you deserve when you have it.
In Part 2 of this series (you can read part 1 here), I am going to talk to you about how you can prepare your practice to be maternity leave proof so that you can leave the worry behind and get excited for next steps!
How I prepared
Brought on other clinicians
Bringing other clinicians into the practice was the best decision I could make for preparing for maternity leave. Although I wouldn’t be making the big bucks while away from work, the work they were doing was good enough to cover the rest, utilities, maintain the website, and pay for other recurring charges. This meant that while I was away on maternity leave I had NO business expenses that I was responsible for covering.
If you don’t want to bring on other clinicians in a group practice model, I still suggest finding ways that your office and utilities are paid for. Consider renting out your space regularly or for a short term sublet. Charge enough that rent, utilities, and your other recurring business charges are covered.
Paced myself with my paychecks
When I knew I was going to be going away on maternity leave, I started pacing myself with my paychecks. I set an amount I would pay myself and I always paid myself that same amount even if I made WAY more money one week. That way, I would be able to continue to pay myself a small paycheck while I was away.
Maintained a low overhead business
This is the first year I have actually invested a significant amount of money into my practice – I bought all new furniture, had an amazing space built out, and have an amazing website designer building a new site for more.
Before I had my son, though, I kept my business as low overhead as it gets. Only the essentials. I made sure to cut costs in certain places that I found to be WANTS instead of NEEDS – ahem, stop printing so much stuff! Ink if expensive and the digital world is good enough.
The business didn’t spend money on ….stuff. We had offices with furniture but that’s about it. Remember, people don’t come to you because you have a fancy office or a state of the art copy machine or an expensive aquarium filled with fish (if you want these things one day – by all means! do it! But CUT.THE.COSTS. prior to stepping away.
Create a brand and build relationships
Spend your time creating a brand and building relationships. As I mentioned, the way your office looks is not what brings people to your office. Your reputation and brand is.
Begin building a “library” on your blog or Instagram that can be used to set up autosharing while you are away (I will share more on this in the next part).
Figure out the type of person you are speaking to and keep speaking to them – write, connect, offer workshops. Don’t exhaust yourself, but doing the legwork before you step away will make it much easier to maintain your marketing efforts WHILE you are away.
Create simple systems
If your office is set up in a way where you have to go into it for it to still run then things are too complicated. Notice what is sucking up your time and ask yourself if it really needs to be that way. Can someone else do it? Does it need to be done at all? Is there an app or automation that would better serve you? Simplify, simplify, simplify.
How to create some “passive income” for those months you are away from the office. Stay tuned.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is a private practice consultant that helps therapists develop a business mindset that helps them build a thriving practice.