Opening a counseling private practice can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful counseling private practice.
Importantly, a critical step in starting a counseling private practice is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here.
15 Steps To Open a Counseling Private Practice:
- Choose the Name for Your Counseling Private Practice
- Determine the Type of Counseling Private Practice You Will Launch
- Develop Your Counseling Private Practice Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your Counseling Private Practice
- Secure Startup Funding for Your Counseling Private Practice (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your Counseling Private Practice with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your Counseling Private Practice
- Buy or Lease the Right Counseling Private Practice Equipment
- Develop Your Counseling Private Practice Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Counseling Private Practice
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your Counseling Private Practice
The first step to opening a counseling private practice is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your counseling private practice:
- Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your counseling private practice.
2. Determine the Type of Counseling Private Practice You Will Launch
The next step is to determine the type of counseling private practice you will launch. The four main types of counseling private practices are:
- Couples Counseling: This type of counseling helps couples to build better relationships, identify and resolve conflicts, and improve communication.
- Individual Counseling: This type of counseling helps individuals to address issues such as depression, anxiety, anger management, trauma, and more.
- Group Counseling: This type of counseling works with multiple people at the same time to address issues like relationships, substance abuse, and more.
- Psychiatric Services: This type of counseling provides mental health assessments and medication management.Once you have decided on the type of counseling private practice you will launch, you can move onto the next step in the process.
3. Develop Your Counseling Private Practice Business Plan
One of the most important steps in opening a counseling private practice is to develop your counseling private practice business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.
Your business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your counseling private practice.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your counseling private practice and what type of counseling private practice you operate. For example, are you a solo practice or do you have a team of counselors?
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the counseling private practice industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing services like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer
- Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
- Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your counseling private practice? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your counseling private practice make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
4. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Counseling Private Practice
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your counseling private practice and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the counseling private practice and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to open a counseling private practice together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a counseling private practice include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a counseling private practice is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your counseling private practice, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
5. Secure Startup Funding for Your Counseling Private Practice (If Needed)
In developing your counseling private practice plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for a counseling private practice to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a counseling private practice that they believe has high potential for growth.
6. Secure a Location for Your Business
Having the right space can be important for your counseling private practice, particularly if you’d like to meet clients there. When looking for a location, there are several factors to consider, including how much space is needed, how accessible the space is to clients and how much it will cost.
To find the right space, consider:
- Driving around to find the right areas while looking for “for lease” signs
- Contacting a commercial real estate agent
- Doing commercial real estate searches online
- Telling others about your needs and seeing if someone in your network has a connection that can help you find the right space
7. Register Your Counseling Private Practice with the IRS
Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
8. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your counseling private practice’s name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
9. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your counseling private practice to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
10. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
The business licenses and permits you need for your counseling private practice will vary depending on the state you operate in. However, there are some general licenses and permits that are typically required for most businesses, including:
Business License: A business license is a permit that is required to operate a business within a certain jurisdiction. In order to get a business license, you typically need to submit an application and pay a fee.
Tax Identification Number (EIN or TIN): An EIN (or TIN) is a number that the IRS issues to businesses for the purpose of tracking their payroll tax payments. Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account.
Sales Tax Permit: A sales tax permit is a permit that allows businesses to collect sales tax from their customers. In order to get a sales tax permit, you typically need to submit an application and pay a fee.
Nearly all states, counties and/or cities also require:
- Zoning Approval: typically at the city or county level, this provides authorization for construction or use of a building or land for a particular purpose
- Health Facility Licensing & Certification: to ensure safe rendering of healthcare services
- Fire Department Approval: a process by which the local fire department reviews and approves the installation of a fire alarm system.
Depending on the type of counseling private practice you launch, you will have to obtain the necessary state, county and/or city licenses.
11. Get Business Insurance for Your Counseling Private Practice
Business insurance is essential for protecting your counseling private practice from potential risks and liabilities. Some of the most common types of business insurance include:
Commercial Property Insurance: This insurance protects your business property from damages, such as fire, theft, and vandalism.
General Liability Insurance: This insurance protects your business from third-party claims, such as injuries or property damage.
Professional Liability Insurance: This insurance protects your business from claims that arise from professional services you provide.
Business Owner’s Policy: A business owner’s policy is a package policy that combines general liability and property insurance into one policy. This can be a helpful option for small businesses who want to simplify their insurance needs.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
12. Buy or Lease the Right Counseling Private Practice Equipment
When starting a counseling private practice, there are a few key pieces of equipment that you will need. This includes:
- A desk and chair for your office
- A computer and printer for your office
- A phone for your office
- Medical supplies, such as bandages, gauze, and tape
You can lease or buy the equipment you need for your counseling private practice. If you have the funds, buying the equipment will save you money in the long run. However, if you don’t have enough funds to purchase the equipment outright, leasing can often be a good option.
13. Develop Your Counseling Private Practice Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your counseling private practice.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your counseling private practice. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
- Website: Likewise, a professional counseling private practice website provides potential customers with information about the services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your counseling private practice.
14. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Counseling Private Practice
The software you need to run your counseling private practice depends on the type of practice you plan to have. However, some of the most common types of software used in counseling private practices include:
Computer-based billing software: This software allows you to track payments, generate invoices and manage your billing.
Client management software: This software helps you keep track of client information, appointments, treatment plans and more.
E-mail marketing software: This software helps you cultivate customer relationships by sending targeted e-mails about your services.
Research the software that best suits your needs, purchase it, and set it up.
15. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your counseling private practice. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Open a Counseling Private Practice FAQs
Counseling private practice can be a very rewarding career path.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can give yourself the best chance of success.
If you have no experience in the field of counseling, you may want to consider first working as a counselor's assistant or intern. This will give you the opportunity to learn about the counseling process and how to work with clients.
You may also want to consider taking some courses in counseling theory and techniques. This will help you develop the skills you need to run a successful counseling private practice.
Finally, make sure you are well-organized and have a good business plan in place. This will help you manage your counseling private practice effectively and efficiently.
Couples counseling private practices tend to be the most profitable, as couples counseling typically involves two people, so it can lead to higher fees than individual counseling. Other types of counseling private practices that are often profitable include substance abuse and addiction counseling, family therapy, mental health counseling, and career and executive coaching.
Opening a counseling private practice can be a relatively affordable endeavor. The average start up costs for a counseling private practice vary. These costs include the cost of office space, marketing materials and services, and software. Of course, these costs may vary depending on how large your practice is and how much equipment you need to purchase.
The ongoing expenses for a counseling private practice can vary depending on the size and scope of your business. These expenses often include rent or mortgage payments for the office space; internet and phone bills; costs for equipment maintenance and repairs; marketing materials; insurance premiums; website hosting fees; professional association membership fees; and taxes.
A counseling private practice can make money in a number of ways. The most common methods include charging clients by the hour, charging for sessions in advance, and offering package deals. Counselors can also charge for phone consultations, provide consulting services, or offer workshops and training seminars.
Yes, owning a counseling private practice can be very profitable. However, the profitability of a counseling private practice will vary depending on the specific industry and services offered.
Some of the key things you can do to make your counseling private practice more profitable include:
- Offering a variety of services
- Charging a fair price
- Investing in marketing and advertising
- Maintaining a high level of professionalism
- Optimizing your website for SEO to increase online visibility
- Providing outstanding client service
One of the main reasons that counseling private practices fail is a lack of planning. This can include not having a detailed business plan, not doing research on the industry, and not targeting the right customers.
Another reason is a lack of marketing and sales skills. This can include not creating a sales process and not have a clear and strong value proposition.
The last main reason is a lack of financial management skills. This can include not having a realistic budget, not tracking expenses, and not investing in the business.
The counseling private practice market is made up of a variety of different players, including small businesses, large enterprises, and even individuals.
Some of the key players in the market include:
- Insight Counseling Centers
- National Institutes of Health
However, there are many other players in your specific target market, and it is important to research the market to identify the key players that may have the most direct influence on the success of your business.
Counseling private practice fees can vary depending on the type of counseling private practice services being offered, as well as the size and scope of the project.
However, some common counseling private practice fees include:
- Hourly rate – $75 - $150
- Flat rate – $350 - $1,000
- Retainer/Monthly Agreement – $800 -$2,500
The best way to determine the right fee for your counseling private practice services is to research the rates of similar businesses in your industry, and to also consider the value that you will be providing to the client.