Hey, welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, everyone. This is the first episode in a short series aimed at beginner practice owners. I don’t have a cute title for the series. So, let’s just roll with it and know that the next few episodes are going to be targeted primarily toward beginning folks.
Today, we are talking about the first five steps in my Beginner Practice Checklist. This is the checklist that I put together a while back as I was working with consulting clients and realized that I was really talking through the same topics with most of the folks who are getting started on their practices. So, I put together a little checklist and today I’m going to cover the first five items in that checklist.
Now, if you’re a beginner practice owner and you would like deeper support and guidance as you launch your practice, then you can check out the Beginner Practice Mastermind which is currently enrolling new members. Get more information at thetestingpsychologist.com/beginner.
Alright, let’s jump to this discussion about launching a practice.
All right. Let’s jump into some of these items that you might want to consider as you launch your testing practice. Now, some of these beginning [00:02:00] steps are not specific to testing, some are, but some aren’t, but I find that the “businessy stuff” or practical matters of launching a practice are some of the most confusing and overwhelming. So I would like to map those out just a little bit for you.
This is not meant to be a super in-depth deep dive into these steps. It’s really meant to just give you a framework as you launch your practice and try to prioritize or give some priority to the many steps that you need to engage in as you open a testing practice. For more resources, you can check out the show notes where we link to episodes that pertain to each of these topics and go deeper into each of these topics. So know that those are out there as well. But for today, let’s start with step one.
Step one is to establish your business. What does this mean? This means that you need to register your business with the secretary of state wherever you are practicing. Now, in some cases, you may not need to do this if you intend to be a sole proprietor forever, but I would not recommend being a sole proprietor forever. It might be enough to get by in the beginning, but ultimately you’re going to want to register your business as a more formal entity, like an LLC or a PLLC or down the road, maybe even a corporation like a PC in some states or just a corporation.
So that’s the first step. It’s generally pretty easy. You go to your secretary of state’s website, and it should be pretty clear. You should find a link somewhere on there that says, establish a new business or start a new business or register a new business. You can typically sign up online. You pay a fee. Here in Colorado, it’s $50. That fee does vary. It could be up to, I’ve heard as high as $350, I [00:04:00] believe. So, it could be more expensive, but it is generally relatively easy. There may be a waiting period in some states. So just know that. But this is one of the first things that you do because it’s going to drive a lot of the other steps that I’m going to talk about, primarily because you need your business name.
This gives people a lot of anxiety. It’s like, oh my gosh, I’m going to pick this name that’s going to last forever. And the truth is you just need a name that’s going to capture the business entity that you are running.
In most cases, it does not have to be your practice’s name, though, in some states, it will be. So make sure to check the laws around that. But you can register a general business name, say, Psychological Services Enterprises, and then you can register what’s called a DBA for doing business as your actual practice name.
Either way, the intent is to register your business, you get a name for your business, and then that’s going to allow you to sign up for let’s say, bank accounts, credit cards, services, every everything you do after this point is going to ask for your business name. So you need an entity to pin these other steps too.
Speaking of steps too, step number two is setting up your bank accounts. I’m a firm believer that you need separate business bank accounts from the very beginning. If you’re a solo practitioner, generally speaking, you don’t have to have a separate bank account. It just makes things easier when it comes to tax time. But as your practice grows, and especially if you start hiring folks, it gets very complicated and you will need to have separate bank accounts.
There are all sorts of ways to set up bank accounts. I [00:06:00] would absolutely find banking entities that will do it for free. There are plenty out there. You can get a free checking and savings account. I think it’s great to start with both because you will need to be moving money back and forth. Well, hopefully not back and forth, but moving money from your checking account to your savings account as you save for taxes.
Setting up a checking account and a savings account in your business name will go a long way. Some people will take issue with this, but I also believe that it’s important to just go ahead and get a business credit card from the very beginning, especially if you’re going to purchase some testing materials or furniture, or other larger overhead items that you may not have the cash for right away. So setting up a business credit card can be really important.
I really like the Chase Ink Business Preferred. I’ve done it at least one other episode on credit card hacking where if you have the Chase Ink Business Preferred for your business, and then you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred on your personal, you can pool the bonus points together and you get a 25% bonus if you use them for travel. So that’s one of those points hacking tricks that you might consider, but either way, you need a business credit card.
The main point with setting up these accounts is to keep your transactions separate from your personal account. It keeps it a lot cleaner. It makes it a lot easier to do your taxes at the end of the year, and it will give you a much clearer picture of your business finances, which I think is important to have when you’re running a business.
Okay. So the third step, now that you have a bank account, now that you have a business entity, is that you want to find some office space. I’ve done a number of episodes on office space. So again, not going to do a huge deep dive [00:08:00] here. You want to find office space relatively early in this process because, one, having an address will help because then you can register that address with Google my Business, which is a free way to get some SEO or search engine optimization juice going to your practice, but you can also put your office address on your website which we’ll talk about in a minute. And having an office space will allow you to start to plan your schedule, which is a few steps down the road. So finding some office space, knowing when you’re going to be able to open your practice doors, that’s going to drive quite a bit.
You may not want office space and that’s totally fine. If you’re going totally virtual doing a virtual assessment practice, you can skip this step. Most people, these days are not going that route. So, picking your office space is important. Thinking about how many days you might need office space.
These days, if you are doing a hybrid of remote and in-person for your evaluations, the rule of thumb is generally that you want one day of office space per week per evaluation. So, if you’re doing one evaluation a week, you could get away with one day of office space and then you do your testing in the office, and you do your feedback and interviewing remotely from a home office. Now, of course, if you want a full-time office, totally okay. So finding office space is important.
The next step, step 4 out of 5 that we’re going to talk about today, and 4 out of 10 overall is starting your website. The reason I say starting your website is because this is not something that is likely going to happen overnight. It could if you drank a lot of coffee and had a lot of your material prepared ahead of time, [00:10:00] but I wouldn’t generally advise that.
There are so many options for doing a website. I’ve talked about the different options on previous episodes, but there are generally two tracks you can go down. You can go the do-it-yourself route and pick something like Squarespace or Wix, or you can go the supported route I suppose, or concierge route and have someone else build it for you.
I’m a big fan of WordPress. I forgot to mention that you can build your own website in WordPress as well in addition to Squarespace and Wix. It could be a little more challenging, but it’s also highly customizable. I prefer WordPress. You can do it yourself or you can hire someone to do it for you. If you hire someone to do it for you, I would expect to pay anywhere between $1500 and upwards of $5000 for a full custom website. So just keep that in mind. I think it’s worth it, but that’s up to you.
So I say start your website. That means searching around, make a decision about whether you’re going to do it yourself or hire someone else to do it, and find that person if you are going to hire someone. Again, I’ve worked with a number of folks and interviewed a number of folks on the podcast as far as web developers and folks who can help you with your website. So, there will be some of those in the show notes, but you want to make that decision and you want to get the ball rolling because it can take a month, two months, or maybe three months to get your website launched.
These days, I feel like a website is a highly important part of a practice. It basically functions like the yellow pages. You want people to be able to find you. Even if you’re not trying to actually use your website to attract clients, let’s say you have tons of referrals, you still want a website because it basically serves as a directory. [00:12:00] People can look you up, they can start to get a sense of how you work, they can just confirm that you’re a real person and it gives you some credibility. So, starting your website is step four.
The last step that we’re going to talk about here today is setting your fees. Again, this is one of those steps that form a building block for the steps to come. Setting your fees is important because it’ll allow you to build a script for testing. It’ll allow you to sell your testing services to clients. It’ll allow you to prepare them and let them know what to expect. It will also drive some of your testing process, which I talk about in a later step. So setting your fees is important.
There are many ways to set fees. If you’re private pay, there are so many ways to do it. You can take a deposit, you can collect half on the day of testing, you can do a flat fee, and you can do hourly. There are many ways to set fees. Again, I’m not going to go into great detail here, but thinking through that and landing on some option is important.
I do encourage folks, unless you are doing predictable evaluations and you have a really good sense of how much time these evaluations are going to take, I recommend that people steer clear of flat fee evals because we often set our fees too low then end up overworking and being underpaid. So you might start with an hourly rate first and provide people with a range depending on the number of hours that the eval might take.
If you take insurance, that process is a lot easier. You can still set your fees at the market rate, of course, but the hours, reimbursement rate, and payment process will be largely determined by insurance. So a little less flexibility there, but you need to set your fees.
All right. So those are the first five steps in the Beginner Practice Checklist. [00:14:00] Very quick crash course here. There are some links in the show notes to other episodes that go deeper, but this is just intended to give you a little bit of a framework as you start to launch your practice and a little bit of organization to your process and your approach to starting your practice.
And again, like I said in the beginning, if you are interested in launching your practice and you want more intensive support, the Beginner Practice Mastermind is enrolling for the next cohort. The next cohort I am guessing will be starting in April/May. I would love to be able to support you in that. So group coaching, accountability, homework, guidance, all those good things. You can get more information at thetestingpsychologist.com/beginner.
Okay, y’all tune in next time for the next five steps in the Beginner Practice Checklist.
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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, [00:16:00] please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.