I started part-time with Peak-Careers while I was working as the Director of Advising & Career at a community college and never thought I’d go full-time with it. After 10 years my consulting business kept growing and growing and I finally took the leap to private practice full-time with Peak-Careers Consulting in 2012.
Here are a few tips I have learned over the years that I wished I had known when I was starting out.
- Begin now.
Don’t worry about what you have not done or what you “should” do. Start now and write down what you want to do and how you want to do it. What is your “super-power” that makes you unique? By writing it down it helps you take it out of your head and make it more real. (link to journaling)
- Take the time.
The most powerful gift I give myself is my monthly, or bi-monthly, tech-free day-long retreat. You need to find the time to sort out the many details of what you want to do, how you will do it, when you will do it, and who needs to help. Find at least a half of a day where you can leave all the “to do’s” aside and really focus on what your private practice could be.
- Set goals.
Just like you do with your clients or students, writing down goals and creating concrete, measurable steps that need to be done is important for yourself as well. Give yourself deadlines on when things need to be done so that you see progress.
And then, share them with someone who can keep you accountable.
- Seek advice.
Starting your own business has a lot of moving parts to it. How do you set yourself up? How do you handle collecting money? What legal considerations do you have? How do you write a business plan? How do you market?
Talk to other people who have a private practice – there are lots of social media groups out there.
Consider hiring a business coach.
Definitely check out the Small Business Administration free support near you. Your independence may be important to you, but don’t do this alone.
- Trust Your Instincts.
Make the best decisions based upon facts, research, and advice but trust your instincts too. Know when to move forward and when to change directions by listening to the voice…that gut feeling…your guardian angel who is watching over you.
- Take the time to evaluate.
Yeah, I know #2 is “take the time” as well but after you get started in your private practice, take the time to evaluate what is working, what didn’t work, and why, what other opportunities might exist. Even if you are busy juggling a full-time job and your side-gig, find the time to think about your business. My regular tech-free retreats are great at allowing me the space to reflect on my business from the 10,000-foot view.
- **Added 7 & 8 after original went out because my good friend Scott Woodard pointed out these two important thoughts.
One I would add is to remember that it’s a business. To me, the term “private practice” doesn’t carry enough “heft,” it’s almost like a hobby rather than a business. Scott.
Having come from higher education and K-12 education…I was clueless on running a business! This is such a great point that Scott makes. It really is a business and it really was a ‘mindset’ change for me to think like a business.
- The other thing I’ve learned is that I tend to spend a LOT more time in my business (admin, marketing, etc.) than on my business (coaching, consulting). Scott.
I was shocked at how much time I spent on the business side compared to the time I actually provided career coaching. If I wanted to do more career coaching, I should have stayed at the community college where I would see 5+ students every day and more when I taught the career decision making class.
I wish you the best in your adventure of private practice.
I know I will never work for someone again 40-hours per week. I love the independence and creativity of owning my own business.
If you’d like more assistance (see #4 above) you may want to check out the 5-week, discussion-based online seminar Mark Danaher and I are offering in October – November. Building Your Coaching Business.
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a weekly email for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
He is the author of A Field Guide for Career Practitioners: Helping Your Clients Create Their Next Move and The Adventure of Finding Me in New Zealand. He is also the recipient of the 2020 Kenneth C. Hoyt Award from the National Career Development Association and the Mid-Atlantic Career Counseling Association’s Professional Contribution’s Award in 2020.
Sign up here to receive my TOP 10 TIPS WHEN WORKING WITH AN UNDECIDED PERSON. You will also receive the career practitioner’s weekly email on a variety of career topics, industry news, interesting events, and more.