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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

This episode is brought to you by PAR. PAR offers the RIAS-2 and RIST-2 remote, to remotely assess or screen clients for intelligence, and in-person e-Stimulus books for these two tests for in-person administration. Learn more at parinc.com.

Okay, y’all, welcome back to another Testing Psychologist podcast episode. This episode is going to continue our beginner practice series. In the episode today, I am talking all about starting a testing practice on the side.

We’ll dive into why you might want to do that. What you have to have for a [00:01:00] part-time testing practice. I’ll talk about how to rent office space in a financially responsible manner. I’ll also tackle whether or not you really need an EHR if you’re just part-time among many other things. Those are just a few highlights, though. So, stay tuned. This one is for all of you who might be considering that side testing practice. If you can’t quite jump in full-time quite yet, I think there is hope. Let’s go.

Okay, everyone. Here we are talking once again about a beginner practice topic. Now, this is interesting. It’s a beginner topic in the [00:02:00] sense that it may be new for those of you who are just leaping into private practice. It is not necessarily aimed at beginners in the clinical sense. You can start a practice on the side at any point in your career: early-career, later career, or anywhere in between.

The reason I wanted to tackle this topic is because I think private practice can be intimidating for many folks. I know it certainly was intimidating for me when I started out. I’ve told the story on the podcast before about how I started my practice basically out of necessity and fear of completely running out of money. And so, even though it was intimidating, I think the fear of not making a living overrode the fear of jumping into private practice and the instability that that could cause.[00:03:00] For a lot of us, that process can be quite fraught.

So, if you’re thinking about jumping into private practice, but you may not have the ability to just quit your job or to just start from zero and wait for the time it takes to build up a practice, this is an episode just for. Let me talk first about why you might want to start a practice on the side. There are a few reasons that you might want to do that.

One, and this seems to be the most common, is you maybe want to eventually leave a full-time job but you can’t take the leap right away. So, these are folks who have been or who are employed full time and want to keep that job either for benefits or financial reasons or [00:04:00] prestige or being vested in a retirement plan, any number of reasons really, or you’re just needed at that job, or you love that job. There are many reasons why you might not want to leave the full-time job. So that is totally fine. You can absolutely start a testing practice on the side. It’s just a matter of finding the time to do that. So that is one reason. You want to maybe eventually leave a full-time job, but for the moment, you don’t want to take the leap.

Another reason that you might think about a part-time testing practice is financial. For many folks, again, it’s quite a leap to just jump into private practice. Now, if you’re starting from zero, that’s a different story. Any income is going to be positive income. You aren’t likely to take a huge loss with [00:05:00] your practice if you’re starting from zero. So, it should be profitable certainly within the first several months. But if you’re not starting from zero, it can be a big financial leap to just jump into private practice. If you’re giving up a steady paycheck, if you’re giving up retirement, and if you’re giving up benefits, that can be a lot to just throw out the door for the sake of doing private practice. So, financial reasons are other reasons that folks might want to jump into part-time practice.

So, if you’re finding yourself listening and identifying with either of these, then that’s good news. You’re in the right place.

Now, another reason that people might want to do a part-time practice is just to build up slowly, right? Any number of life circumstances can lead us to want to build up slowly. I would even argue looking back that I [00:06:00] wish I’d been a little bit more deliberate in my practice growth than trying to just get as busy as possible, as quickly as possible.

So starting a practice on the side allows you to learn as you go along and it keeps you in some ways from getting underwater or getting overwhelmed and developing maladaptive systems or processes that then scale to being extra busy and a larger practice, and which is not a good thing. So, building up slowly can be helpful in the sense that it gives you time to be deliberate, being the […], develop your systems, and test your systems on a small scale before folks really start rolling through the door.

Another reason that people might want to do a testing practice on the side is, you [00:07:00] just simply don’t have time to do full-time. So even if you are starting from zero or you’re trying to transition out of a full-time job or something like that, there are many of us who simply just do not have the time to put in for a full-time practice.

Especially in the beginning, you have to account for the time that you’re going to spend on the business, as well as the time you’re going to spend in the business. So you might say, yeah, I want to start a private practice and see 20 to 30 billable hours a week, but the time that you spend outside of that when you’re getting started can easily go up to 5 or 10 more hours a week. So when you scale that down to just part-time, it makes it a little bit easier to bite off just in terms of a time commitment.

I work with a lot of stay-at-home [00:08:00] parents or parents who want to be home with their kids for a certain portion of the week, it might simply be for self-care. It might be to dedicate time to other pursuits or hobbies or traveling, any number of things. And it could just be other family obligations as well, taking care of a parent or something like that. So, the time issue is quite a relevant one for moving into a part-time testing practice.

If you find yourself identifying with any of those reasons, this is right up your alley then. And I guess I just want to give you permission to go part-time first. It can be really tough to take on a full-time practice. And for many of us, this is the right choice is to build up slowly.

And in fact, when I built up my practice, it was relatively [00:09:00] slow. I was at that point literally starting from zero. I had come out of my post-doc. I’ve told this story before like I referenced earlier, waking up the morning after my wedding which is right at the end of my post-doc and realizing that I literally had no job and no income and promptly broke down in tears and needed to be consoled by my new wife who thankfully stuck around. We are still married over 10 years later.

So, I was starting from zero and I built up really slowly. It probably took me 6 to 8 months to get to the point where I would call myself full. And that was the point where I transitioned into… well, I made a lot of changes at that point. I rented an office full-time rather than just by the day. And that’s also right around the time I started buying all of my [00:10:00] own testing materials. So, it’s okay to build up slowly. And I think it actually makes a lot of sense.

Before I transition to the must-haves for a part-time practice, let’s take a little break and hear from our featured partner.

PAR has developed new tools to assist clinicians during the current pandemic. The RIAS-2 and the RIST-2 are trusted gold standard tests of intelligence and its major components. For clinicians using tele-assessment, which is a lot of us right now, PAR now offers the RIAS-2 Remote, allowing you to remotely assess clients for intelligence, and the RIST-2 remote, which lets you screen clients remotely for general intelligence.

For those assessing clients and office settings, PAR has developed in-person e-Stimulus books for both the RIAS-2 and the RIST-2. These are electronic versions of the original paper-stim books. They’re an equivalent convenient and more hygienic alternative when administering these tests in person. [00:11:00] Learn more at parinc.com\rias2_remote.

All right. So let’s say that a part-time private practice sounds good to you. There are many reasons, many benefits to going into part-time private practice. As I referenced though in the last business episode, you do have to be deliberate and you do have to put some energy into it and dedicate some intention to starting your practice, even if it’s part-time. So keep that in mind. Just because you go part-time, that doesn’t mean that you can put less energy into it or have it be less important in your life.

There are many benefits to doing so. I talked about that right before the break. Those include financial, so investing less money at one time, giving you the time to build up slowly and deliberately, giving you the opportunity to try out private practice before [00:12:00] you totally make the leap just test the market and see how you like it, and it also allows you to do private practice without totally dedicating your life to it, which can happen in the beginning as you spend a lot of time.

But there are some tools and things that you need to need to have before you can jump into even part-time practice. Let’s talk through those for the next few minutes.

One of the things that you are going to need, I would argue even during the COVID-19 pandemic, is you are going to need office space. In this regard, I strongly advise people to go slow. Start low, go slow. So in office space when I started out, and there are many circumstances like this around the country in different areas, but when I started out, I was able to find a [00:13:00] friend and colleague who was willing to rent me office space for one day a week. That’s it.

So I started with one day a week. And that was super affordable. You can work out the finances, but you can just ballpark. It would be about 20%, maybe a little bit more of a full-time rent. In many areas, you can get away with $100 to $200 for an office for one day a week. And that’s per month. If you just think about it, the overhead is very, very low. So you could start with one day a week and build from there.

So if you have colleagues who are able to rent you part of their office for one day a week, you may have that conversation from the beginning and just say, what’s going to happen when I’m ready to expand. Is there room to rent here or to gain space here? And if not, that’s okay. [00:14:00] I definitely moved offices two times over those first 6 to 8 months simply because I needed more days, but if you can save yourself that trouble, that is fantastic. So with office space, start low, go slow, start with one day a week and then see if you can expand from there.

Now, there are a number of coworking spaces out there that can sometimes be well-suited to an arrangement like this. So you might check out two of the big ones I have run across are Regus and We-work, of course, but there are a number of co-working spaces around the country that go by different names. You can check those out. So, the issues that we tend to run into are things like confidentiality. Are the offices truly confidential? Can you set and sort of make a home in an office or are you going to be bouncing around?

Coworking spaces [00:15:00] can work for some folks, especially if they provide something like a shared admin team or a receptionist and a waiting area, coffee bar, stuff like that. You would likely pay a premium for those things, but for some people, that is a really good arrangement. So check out co-working spaces as well, but the moral of the story is to go slow. You don’t have to jump in and rent an office full-time just to do a part-time practice. And in fact, I tend to err on the side of having less office space than you think you need if that makes sense.

So, start with one day. And then the vast majority of the time, offices are going to be available on the weekend even if you’re renting from someone. So rather than going out and renting your own office, really consider if you could stay in the same place and just maybe rent an extra [00:16:00] day on a weekend to get a little more time, or if you’re willing to rent the space in the evening when it tends to be yes, less utilized. Don’t jump too fast into office space.

There was a thread in the Facebook group the other day, The Testing Psychologist Community, where people were talking about office space and rent and how much of your income it should comprise. And the ballpark for me is 10 to 15%. So your rent each month should equal about 10 to 15% of your gross monthly income. So just to give a ballpark, let’s see if I can do some math off the top of my head. I didn’t really plan on this segment. If your office rent was $100 a month, then you should be bringing in somewhere around $850 to $1000. That would [00:17:00] be pretty solid.

Okay. So what else do you have to have? You have to have testing materials. Now, part-time private practice is a really ideal situation for something like Q-interactive. We’ve talked about Q interactive a lot on the podcast, but the story with Q-interactive is that you pay by the subtests as you go. You do pay a yearly licensing fee, but after that, you just pay by the sub-test.

So it’s great for folks who don’t want to jump in and buy paper and pencil test kits, which can get quite expensive. The Q-interactive yearly license ranges from about $250 to $350 a year. And then you pay by the subtests. It’s basically $1 per sub-test give or take. So you can pay as you go rather than leaping right in.

Let me back up. Q-interactive is going to [00:18:00] cover most of the cognitive assessments that a lot of us would give, not everything of course, but you can get a pretty solid battery from Q-interactive. If you are only doing a personality assessment or behavioral emotional assessment, for example, then that’s even better. There are a number of resources out there to administer checklists and personality measures online. Our featured partner right now, PAR, of course, offers tons of online personality, mood, and behavior assessments, but then there are other options as well. Q-global is an option. WPS has an option. There are many options for online administration of questionnaires and personality measures. And that is also pay as you go. There’s not even a yearly licensing fee in the majority of those cases.

Okay. What else do you need? [00:19:00] Now, I am going to tackle a controversial topic, business cards. Do you really need business cards?

I am going to take a stand and say that I don’t think we need business cards anymore. Maybe there are some folks out there. You can write in, send me a message, jeremy@thetestingpsychologist.com, if you can make a compelling argument for why we need business cards, I would love to hear it. 

I’m not saying that you have to do away with your business cards entirely, but when you’re starting out, business cards are an expense, right? So what you can do instead is design a business card on Canva, which is a free tool. If you want to upgrade to Pro, it’s actually quite inexpensive, quite affordable. There’ll be a link in the show notes, but you can design a business card on Canva, download it, save it to your phone, and then you can [00:20:00] simply text or email your business card to anyone who might be interested. That way, we cut down on the cards that are floating around.

Maybe some people still keep Rolodexes. I definitely do not. I’m trying to get rid of paper in as many ways as possible. So, if someone is willing to text me a picture of their business card, I will take that over paper any day. So think about that. You can design on Canva, download it in a high-quality format and simply save that and send it whenever you need to.

A similar option that’s a little fancier is to create a QR code. You could design your business card, upload it to your website and host the image there. And then you can create a QR code that people can simply scan. And that even saves you the time and effort of emailing it to them. [00:21:00] So if you haven’t checked out QR codes, you can google how do I create a QR code? And it’s actually quite simple. You can walk through that process and QR codes can be pretty helpful as well. So again, that’s just something you would keep on your phone in an accessible place. And when someone wants your business card, you can show them the QR code, they scan it, and then it, in some cases, we’ll even, auto-populate a contact card in their phone. So that’s another option or alternative to paying for business cards.

Let’s see, what else do you need? You’re going to need furniture, of course. Now, if you can rent an office that’s furnished, that’s fantastic. If not, you can finance your furniture with a solid business credit card that has a 0% interest rate. You should not have to spend more than $1000 on office furniture by any means. So, considering that. [00:22:00] And then you can also buy used, of course.

So let’s talk about the EHR. I get a lot of pushback about this as well. Like, do I really need an EHR if I’m only part-time It’s so expensive. Again, I’m going to take a stand and say the time that an EHR will save you will greatly outweigh the cost that it costs you financially.

Most of the EHRs are going to be 40 to $50 a month. So let’s say you’re working, even on the low end, you’re working one day a week. You can squeeze in 6 hours a day. Let’s multiply that by four days a month. So you’ve got 24 hours that you’re billing. Even on the low end, you’re going to bill, let’s just say $100  to keep it nice and easy math-wise. So, you’ve got 24 hours. You’re billing $100. [00:23:00]You’re making $2400 a month maybe. Your rent is only going to be $100 maybe $200. So, $40 or $50 more for an EHR is nothing.

The EHR is going to serve so many purposes for you. It’s going to be record storage in some cases. It can be an online portal. It can allow clients to fill out paperwork, maybe make payments. It will do some accounting for you. So it keeps track of your payments and outstanding balances and can take credit cards for you. It does calendaring. It does notes. So your EHR is going to cover so much that it just doesn’t make sense to me to spend all that time doing that manually or with piecing together like a Microsoft word and a Google calendar and this and that. Having it all in one place, it’s going to be super helpful.

Now, I’ve been very outspoken about [00:24:00] TherapyNotes. We love TherapyNotes in our practice. There is a link in the show notes that if you use that link, you can get an extra month for free from TherapyNotes. So, there are a lot of options for EHRs, but like I said, I love TherapyNotes. just because of the out-of-the-box utility for testing practices.

The last thing that I would say you must have to go into part-time private practice might be fairly intuitive, but you need referrals. How are you going to get referrals? You can either in part-time practice, we’re full-time practice for that matter, but it’s a little more relevant for part-time because your time is limited.

So, for a part-time practice, you might consider something like Google ads a little more strongly. Why do I say that? I say that because Google ads are a way to get quick visitors to your [00:25:00] website as long as you have a good landing page and your conversion method is in place. If you need to know more about conversion or landing pages or Google or SEO or anything like that, I linked two episodes in the show notes where I have done more of a deep dive into those topics. So you can go back and listen to those.

But Google ads paired with a solid landing page and a good means of conversion is a fairly low labor way to get referrals. The trade-off is, it’s going to cost more money than just buying people coffee and going to networking dates and things like that. But if you’re in part-time private practice, you just need a couple of referrals here and there to get going. And if you don’t want to go out and build relationships and do coffee and networking and so forth, it can be a good option.

[00:26:00] The flip side of that, of course, is doing coffee and networking. So until you start building word of mouth in your private practice, which you might if you’re coming from a full-time job, for example, some of my coaching clients are transitioning from a school or a hospital or another agency setting. They can easily tell their colleagues that they’re going into private practice and immediately have some word-of-mouth referrals. That’s great.

If you don’t have that, then networking is going to be super helpful. So a lower cost in terms of finances, but probably higher costs in terms of time because you’re going to have to commute there. You’re going to have to find the time. You’re going to have to spend the time. And that can be a little more expensive. But those are basically your options for referrals when you are getting started in the private practice.

I know that folks certainly get out there in the community. They [00:27:00] might do talks. They might do workshops. Those to me are less bang for the buck in terms of time spent. I think solid relationships, trump superficial broad relationships, but your mileage may vary.

So, that’s a simple rundown of why you might want to jump into part-time private practice, how to do it particularly with office space and time, and the things that you absolutely have to have to get started in private practice. I will give another shout-out to intention and the role of intention in doing something that you care about. So, even if you’re going part-time, make sure that you put your heart and soul into it. And that will, I think, pay off greatly over time. And that was the case for me as well. Like [00:28:00] I mentioned, I went from part-time all the way to full-time and about 6 to 8 months and have not looked back since.

With that in mind, I will talk a little bit about what happens on the flip side. I knew that I was full and ready to rent an office full-time and really invest in the practice when I was consistently billing about 20 hours a week. By that point, I was seeing people three days a week, at least. And I was consistently over 2 to 3 months. I was having a consistent caseload of like I said, 20+ hours a week. So, once you get to that point, I think that is probably a safe time to think about going a little more full-time

All right. I hope you enjoyed this second episode in our beginner series, which will [00:29:00] stretch through most of Q4 of 2020. I will continue on related topics with beginner practice issues over the next few weeks here on the business episodes.

Some things that are going to come up are: How to find a supervisor or someone to consult with for clinical matters as you jump into practice. I’m going to talk through the checklist that you need to start your practice- a more in-depth, deep-dive around what to do and what you have to do to launch your practice. I’m going to have an episode on devising a report template and writing efficient reports. And then we’ll also be talking about healthy boundaries and setting a schedule that works for you rather than the other way around.

Anyway, lots of [00:30:00] things coming up around this realm. And it’s not just applicable to beginner practice. I think even some of the advanced practice folks will get something out of these episodes.

In the meantime, if you have not subscribed or rated the podcast, I would love for you to do that. Always honored to get a solid rating and another subscription. Our membership or rather listenership just continues to grow, which is amazing. And the reach of the podcast just goes further and further, which helps everyone in the long run.

Okay, y’all. Have a great week. I will be back with you on Monday with another interview. Take care.

[00:31:00] The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website are intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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