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[00:00:00] 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.

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All right. Welcome back, everybody. Today is a business episode and I am talking about developing a practice vision.

Part of being a business owner is developing a vision for your organization. Many of us go into private practice with nothing more than a vague idea of what we want, myself included. [00:01:00] I just knew I didn’t want to work for an agency or a university. While that’s fine to start and will get you off the ground, you’ll quickly find that you can make more progress and spend your time much more wisely when you have a clear vision. So listen in. I’ll go through some of the major components of building a vision for your private practice. 

All right everyone. Let’s dive right into it.

You may have heard the quote, ‘Vision Without Execution Is Hallucination’ from Thomas Edison. I totally agree with this, but I even go back and think how many of us are even at the hallucination stage? How many of you have consciously sat down [00:02:00] to think about where you want your practice to go or what you want out of your practice?

It is surprisingly common for me to be in a consulting session or group and have the individual admit that they’ve never thought about short or long-term goals for their practice beyond a vague idea of more flexibility or making more money or something like that.

And I include myself in this group. There have definitely been periods in my practice, sometimes years-long where I did not have clear goals for the practice. A lot of that has changed over the past 2, 3, 4, probably 5 years. There have definitely been times when I’ve just been floating, meandering along without a clear goal. And I can say from experience that having a clear goal or vision is super helpful in moving your practice [00:03:00] forward.

I love setting goals. Research supports setting goals as a means of reaching them. Goals give us a North Star to aim for. They’re the guiding light in our practice.

I think of it like truly in a navigation sense of, if you don’t know what you’re going toward, then you’re just driving around aimlessly. It’s like if somebody gave you a car in New York City and said, drive to California, but there are no roads and no maps to help you do that. And so you’re just left to your own devices to figure out what works and what the right direction is. And often there’s a lot of room to make mistakes and waste time and energy in that process.

Many of us have a hard time setting goals. I’m going to talk through a hopefully simple formula to get you started, and that [00:04:00] formula is to think about where you want to be in three years, one year, and at the end of the next quarter so the next three months. That’s just a very simple structure to get you started with visioning and goal-setting in your practice. Know that these may change. Anything you land on, anything you identify can easily change. Goals can be moving targets. In fact, we’ve changed the vision in our practice several times over the years. But you have to start somewhere.

As you think about these goals, we’ll go into more detail about each phase, but as you think about the goals, I would recommend looking through one of three lenses. You can use all of these if you would like, but I’m trying to keep it simple. I think there are three main [00:05:00] options that you could use as springboards for goal setting.

One is financial. This is an easy one. It’s easily quantified. You can go with an income goal, a revenue goal, a profit goal, or both. If you have financial goals, this can also lead to goals around say how many staff you want to hire if you’re a group practice owner.¬†Financial goals are easily quantified and they can trickle down to things like how many staff you might need, things like that.

You could also look at it from a lifestyle or scheduling standpoint. This is also pretty quantifiable and it gets more into the territory of how much are you working, how much time are you taking off? That kind of thing. For some folks, this resonates a lot more than a financial goal. It’s more, being in private practice to[00:06:00] have the lifestyle that you want.

A third goal that I often work with people on is a training or expertise goal. So this is less about practice management and more about your own development. This would be something like, I want to take that continuing Ed course that I’ve always wanted to do or I want to get certified in X modality, or I want to add autism evals, or I want to become proficient at forensic work, something like that.

These are just three frameworks that you can look through or use in determining what kind of goals you want to set or what kind of vision you might want to have.

So I recommend that you start with a 3-year goal. Some folks try to do five or even 10-year goals. I have a really hard time projecting that far out. I don’t know if it’s just because my kids are [00:07:00] still relatively young and changing so quickly that I have no idea what my priorities will be in three years. It’s just hard to wrap my mind around 5 or 10 years out because that will be a completely different stage of life for myself and my family. Three years feels manageable to me.

But with this goal, this should be your big audacious goal. It should be your biggest, most shocking goal. I encourage people to aim high because just setting goals in and of itself is a great exercise to increase the likelihood that you can reach them. So you can aim high. Even if you don’t get there, it’s better to aim high than low. And so this again, could be a financial goal, right?

[00:08:00] Could be a scheduling goal. I only want to be working 15 hours a week in three years or I would like to increase to 35 hours a week in three years. But either way, the idea is to start relatively far out. So if you’re doing this around this time, it would be, let’s just call it the end of 2026 and get into it. This is the visioning part. What does your practice look like at that point? What’s going to be going on in your life? What will have changed in your life at that point? I like to start relatively far out, and then we’re going to walk backward from there.

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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Now, hopefully, you make this goal somewhat realistic. I mean, it should be big and a little bit hard to reach, but not completely ridiculous. For example, I don’t know that it is sustainable and possible to scale from a solo practitioner just getting started to a $3 million practice in three years. That would be insane. So try to make it realistic. But once you have your three-year goal, then we can work backward to find your one-year goal.

This premise of working backward is [00:10:00] going to be pretty important. So you start with your three-year goal, that’s as far out as you want to go, and then you work backward.

So, if you’re making say, $100,000 now but want to make $500,000 by the end of three years, that basically means you need to grow your revenue by about $400,000 over the next three years, or roughly $130,000 per year, give or take. So that means that you should be at $230,000 at the end of year one. You see what I mean? When you have that three-year goal, then it makes it easy to backtrack and say, Okay, what needs to happen in the first year and the second year to get on the right path for that three-year goal? And this works well, again, with quantifiable metrics. I think it lends itself well to things like finances or scheduling or the number of evals or a number of [00:11:00] employees and things like that.

If you have your one-year goal, that’s great. One year is not very far away, so then we are going to work backward to find a quarterly goal. What needs to happen like this quarter, so within the next three months, to grow your revenue using this example, to grow your revenue by $130,000 this year. Okay? So that’s basically if we want to take it by quarters, $130,000 divided by 4 is roughly $32,500 right?

So how do you make an extra $32,000 per quarter? It’s about $10,000 a month. Do you raise your rates? Do you need to hire another clinician? Do you need to add more hours? Do you need to do a different type of evaluation that’s more lucrative? There are lots of ways to do this, but you see where I’m going with this. This work [00:12:00] backward principle I think can be really valuable.

And I just want to say that this working backward approach is straight out of books. The One Thing is, I think, famous for this principle. The 12-Week Year is another one where you’re essentially breaking your year into quarters and then tackling the most important goals for that quarter.¬†So it’s essentially just identifying your long-term goal and then figuring out the large and small steps to get there along the way.

So just a word that some of you may not resonate with these black-and-white goals like financial or scheduling options, and that’s totally fine. You might gravitate more toward the feel of your practice i.e., I will have a boutique high-touch practice with a [00:13:00] tastefully decorated office and be the most sought-after evaluator in my area. That’s an awesome vision. And it’s totally fine. I love that kind of energy and the dreaming part of it, and I would still encourage you to find some way to quantify that vision.

Other examples that I hear a lot from consulting clients are, I will feel more relaxed, I’ll be more content, I’ll be more confident, I’ll spend more time with my family, or I’ll feel less anxious, things like that. Again, totally fine. These are all valid things to shoot for. My question though is, how do you measure these things and when will you know if you’ve reached those kinds of goals or visions?

I’m a strong believer that if you can’t quantify it, [00:14:00] you’ll never know if you reached it. So, totally fine if you want to move toward some of these softer goals or non-quantifiable goals, but I think it’s still important to find a way to do the quantification.

So the key here is not to get the vision perfect. That’s impossible. Like I said, our practice vision has changed a few times, even over the last 18 months, for example. It’s more that you give yourself time to think deliberately about it and find some way to write it down somewhere that you’ll actually look at. Okay?

So give yourself some grace in this process, especially if it’s your first time. But this is an easy homework assignment and can be really, really fun. You could do this with a partner or a friend or another business owner- anyone who [00:15:00] would be excited to talk with you about this.

Just sit down and give yourself an hour. It really does not take that long, but give yourself an hour and just think about, where do I want to be in three years? Where do I want my practice to be in three years? And then spend a little time walking that backward. What do I have to do by a year from now to get to that three-year goal? And then what do I need to do over the next three months?

I’m curious what that experience feels like once you engage in it. So if you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can reach out to any of the individuals I mentioned. I love hearing stories of goal setting and visioning. So you’re welcome to reach out and let me know or share in The Testing Psychologist Community on Facebook.

So, hope this was helpful. Visioning has been very, very helpful in my practice. And [00:16:00] my hope for you is that you can also take advantage of this exercise to move your own practice forward.

All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out. If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcast.

And if you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist mastermind groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development: Beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting.

If that [00:17:00] sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call, we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

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 [00:18:00] 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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