Why I Started A Private Practice

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Starting a private practice has been on my mind for a few years. It has been one of those things that I told myself I would do, but I kept on pushing it off because of one thing or another. If it wasn’t student debt, it was a lack of confidence. If it wasn’t that, it was the lack of time. What it really ended up being was the lack of a clear reason to push myself past the fear of failure. 

Of course, when COVID-19 cases climbed, job security began to dwindle and physical therapists like myself weren’t immune to the economic effects despite being in the healthcare field.

Hours at my full-time job became limited and working at the second clinic was no longer an option. My income got cut in half and my colleagues were being laid off.  I was afraid I would be next. Job security was a thing of the past. Then my wife reminded me that this is exactly the type of emergency that we planned for since starting our journey to financial independence.

My renewed clarity kickstarted the inspiration to start my private practice. If I kept on waiting until the perfect time, it’ll never happen. With the help of a friend, I decided to take the leap into going to work for myself in hopes of being in a better spot by the end of the year and in future years to come.

Fortunately, it did not take until the end of the year to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

My Start Up Timeline

There was a ton of work and research that went into starting a private practice so I kept a journal to ensure I stayed on task. This helped me summarize key actions below for those interested.

April 2020: 

  • Developed business plan
  • Decided on business name
  • Filed an LLC
  • Drafted website
  • Applied for a National Provider Number
  • Applied for a PT direct access license

June 2020:

  • LLC Approved
  • Designed Brand
  • Developed Website
  • Obtained social media accounts
  • Applied for Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Opened business bank account
  • Completed Medicare Certification Packet
  • Obtained business insurance

July 2020:

  • Obtained office and fax number
  • Researched Electronic medical records (EMR) software + Demos
  • Training in using EMR

August 2020:

  • Developed Intake forms
  • Enrolled In various portals for medical insurance participation reasons
  • Obtained first patient
  • Learned how to Bill insurances

By October, I became profitable by a small margin. The only issue is that my income is still directly tied to my time. If I don’t see patients personally, I don’t get paid.

Separating that time-money relationship is going to be a challenge, especially with anticipated reductions in insurance reimbursement for physical therapy services.

To keep me motivated, I wrote down some reasons to push past these business-related growing pains. Hope they can help others push past their comfort zone as well.

Stay UPdated with My Business progress

Build your brand instead of someone else’s

Chances are, you’ve referred patients/clients to your place of employment. You may have gotten a pat on the back, but did you get any profit sharing benefits? Did you get any referral bonuses? Did it contribute to a raise? The answer is probably no, no, and no, especially in the healthcare field. Often your referrals to your employer goes unrewarded — at least financially. 

While delivering outstanding services to your patients/clients, you are building your credibility, but only under the umbrella of your employer’s brand which you may or may not benefit from if you decide to move on. Building your own business will help build positive long-lasting relationships with both you and your brand leaving the possibility for long-term, compounding growth. 

Push Past Your Income Ceiling

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

No one ever wants the value of their work to be capped, but that’s what most of us have conceded to whether we know it or not. 

Like most people, there is only so much you can earn within your field. Starting something on the side will allow you to push past your initial income ceiling. If you can scale it, you might be able to turn your side-hustle into your main hustle.

It seems silly that highly credentialed professionals still feel the need to create side-hustles to fill a financial gap, but the struggle is real when you consider that the cost of college increases on average by 7% while our salaries increase by 1-3%. That being said physical therapists and other allied health professionals’ salaries has barely kept up with inflation. This is because of a number of reasons including lack of funding, insurance and corporate greed, as well as a flawed medical system that is more reactive than proactive. Bottom line, we are in a low margin industry and there is no way to break through the income ceiling of the typical physical therapist unless you start doing atypical things. 

For me, this was a private practice. The result? My income potential went from earning $45/hr up to $150/hr. It’s mind-boggling that I have been fighting for a 3% hourly raise at my full-time job, but I just gave myself a 300% hourly raise by opening my own practice. By doing this, I just pushed past my initial income ceiling allowing me to diversify my time and efforts into other meaningful goals.

The Opportunity for Multiple Sources

Lastly, starting a business allows you to build multiple streams of income within that business aside from providing direct PT services. I can attach my brand to third party products I believe in, market and sell it. This is called white labeling products. I can develop digital products by creating books, courses, or exercise programs. I can create physical products. I’m not there yet, but some other physical therapists are doing it! Check out these infrared video goggles a colleague of mine developed to enhance vestibular rehabilitation. I can implement affiliate marketing where I sell products that someone else developed for share of the profits.

Final thoughts

Readers of this blog know that my wife and I are documenting our journey to reaching financial independence (FI) to make work optional by age 40. For us, financial independence allows us to move into another phase in our life where our daily efforts are not tied to our employer’s purpose, but to our own purpose and desires.

Building a business during a pandemic was initiated by perceived necessity and is fueled by both curiosity and purpose. If it ends up speeding up our journey to FI, that’ll just icing on the cake.

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6 thoughts on “Why I Started A Private Practice”

  1. Art,

    Congrats! I’ve been following along via Twitter as you’ve made progress on this (and the initial — “Ok, really, I’m going to do this!”). Great story to watch unfold.

    We’ve got a good friend who started her own massage therapy practice some years ago. She focused on ART (active release technique—heh). She had some successful years but it seems the pandemic broke it. She switched to real estate in the middle of 2020.

    I’m thinking if you’re starting a business in one of the most trying times, you’re going to have the wind at your back moving forward. I know it took me years—and a couple of tries—before I had my own professional consultancy making me enough money to support my lifestyle.


    • I’ve been so busy with it, I completely missed this comment! That’s incredible that your friend was able to pivot into real estate in the middle of the pandemic. That takes some serious guts. Thank you so much for the positive encouragement. I’m hoping I can build it into something that will eventually support my lifestyle. The only issue right now is scaling it to the point where it doesn’t require my direct time. The goal for 2021 is to hire a contractor *Crossing fingers*

    • Hi Erin, thank you for stopping by. Congratulations on nearly completing your program! I work as a mobile PT, but have plans to convert a residential property into a mixed unit property. It’ll serve as a rental space with the ability to pay for itself while giving patients the option to meet me at a physical location other than their home. However, this plan is not anything emergent since I’m satisfied on the mobile end. I also heard of PTs setting up contracts with independent gyms to minimize the cost of entry and increase their brand awareness. There are many ways to starting up and it’s often a balance of risk and reward. Good luck with finishing up your last year!


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