As our clients succeed and their practices take off, we often hear the question: “Now what?”
For many successful solo practice owners, the most obvious next step is to bring in additional practitioners and start building a group practice.
Now, this isn’t the right step for everyone.
The simplicity of having a solo practice that’s full and successful is quite wonderful. Doing well financially while helping a full slate of clients improve their lives can be unbelievably fulfilling for many practitioners.
However, there are some who crave additional growth, more income, more impact. And for them, a group practice is a logical next step.
Before you rush out to start adding practitioners (and all the attendant expenses that come with more staff), make sure you’re ready by confirming that you have completed the following three steps.
Step One: Your Waitlist is Ballooning Out of Control
The last thing a new group practice owner wants to experience is having a bunch of staff staring at them waiting for clients.
Bills are piling up, calendars are totally empty. That’s decidedly not the group practice dream.
But, if you pull the trigger on opening your group too early, that’s exactly what you may find yourself experiencing.
How do you know if you’re truly ready and able to fill up the calendars of the additional practitioners you bring into your practice?
Well, this is of course one of those things in life that you can never truly be ready for. But having a proven record of being totally full in your own solo practice as well as carrying a waiting list is key.
If you know you have a number of different referral sources that work together to generate a steady stream of new client inquiries, then opening up your group can give you the chance to make sure that everyone who reaches out to you is well cared for.
A waiting list tells you that your services are in demand, that people are willing to hold tight for a bit in order to work specifically with you, and that you clearly are doing a bunch of things right for your practice to be so full that you can carry a waiting list.
So, that’s step one.
Step Two: You’ve Built Systems that Easily Handle Your Practice’s Complexities
One of the most important qualities of a group practice owner is the ability to see a breakdown, devise an effective solution, and build out a system to make sure that breakdown doesn’t happen again.
Success generates complexity. More clients in a practice translates into more calls, more billing, more scheduling, more follow-up, and on and on.
If you haven’t managed to solve those various little breakdowns that naturally occur inside a solo practice, what makes you think you’ll be able to handle the additional complexity of a group?
Noticing a breakdown, creating a solution, and then systematizing that solution is one of the highest value activities any group practice owner can engage in.
As a business grows, systems help translate complexity back into simplicity so the business can grow even more.
So make sure that you’ve honed your systems-building capabilities before you decide to bring in new practitioners and amplify the complexity in your practice. Because complexity will find you as you grow your practice into a group.
The important question is: do you know how to handle complexity and translate it back into simplicity?
Step Three: You’re Ready to Carry a Whole New Level of Responsibility
The “Grow, Grow, Grow” mentality that permeates U.S. business culture sounds great and all…but growth has a heavy dark side.
As a business grows, the entrepreneur who started out wearing all the hats in that business simultaneously ends up being a manager more than anything else.
People are complicated. More people means more complication. And, unless you plan on hiring an HR department, the responsibility of dealing with all those people falls on you.
If you aren’t prepared for this major transition from being a practitioner to being a manager, you may grow to hate the group practice you build. If you know you aren’t a good manager, then you’ll want to proceed with extreme caution and put good people in place to serve as managers as your group grows.
And even then, you’ll still be managing far more than you ever had to when it was just you alone in your solo practice.
No matter how much I emphasize this point, the reality of how much you’ll need to manage the people in your practice (on both the employee and client side) is going to be far more than you expect.
Go into your group practice with both eyes open knowing that management is what’s in store for you and you’ll be much better prepared for riding the waves that come with building, growing, and running a group practice.
A Launchpad for New Groups and Support for Existing Groups
We’ve helped practice owners at every step of the practice growth process – from someone just starting out with zero clients to practitioners who aren’t sure how to create a full solo practice all the way out to helping group practice owners streamline and optimize their fully scaled group practices.
If you are looking for best-in-class support no matter what phase your practice is in, we’d love to learn more about what you’re doing and share how we can help.