Business Starting or Developing a Private Practice - Why Bother?

Dr. Linda Hancock Business Small Business


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Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether to work for an employer or start your own private practice. There are advantages and disadvantages for each. The decision you make will likely be made based on your personality, goals and the opportunities that are available.

For many years, I worked for the government. In 2006 I hired a Business Manager to help me decide whether I should stay in that employment or expand my part-time private practice into a full-time endeavor. There were many things to consider as the government job offered regular hours, guaranteed income with regular raises in pay, ongoing professional development and specific benefits including a pension plan as well as an illness, health and dental plan.

I didn't want to give up the pension plan and benefits but thought that I could likely match or better than income. I had been raised in a home that valued planning for future retirement and although most of my family members lived to healthy old ages, there was a feeling of security in knowing that I had casual illness coverage as well as short and long-term disability plans.

The Business Manager asked me to request a copy of my Pension Plan and speak with the company about my contributions. I requested statements that would project the income I would receive by retiring at ages 55, 60 and 65 years. I was shocked to learn that despite my years of service and the regular contributions that I made; my retirement income was what I will term "pitiful".

The hourly fee that I could charge in private practice was almost triple my hourly rate of pay in the government job. If I allowed seventeen percent for coverage of my benefits, I would still have plenty of money to purchase health and dental coverage. My plan also allowed for investments which would be available in my retirement years.

Well, I decided to leave the government job with all of its guarantees and perks. I knew that there would be risks. If I was ill there wouldn't be any income. I would need to pay for my own professional development opportunities and lose income while I was away from the office for them. As well, I knew that I would not have the "protection" that comes with having a supervisor and other people with whom I could consult. At the same time, I wanted the freedom that comes with operating a business.

One of the things that helped me make my decision was to list all the concerns I had and then gather information about how I might deal with each of them in private practice. It only took a couple of months for me to realize that I could let go of the security of my job in order to develop my business. I haven't looked back since.

Oh, there have been times when I have had to give myself a "pep talk" for spending too much or not seeing enough clients but, the rewards have far exceeded the fears that I once felt.

Deciding to go into a private practice can be difficult, especially if you are worried about giving up benefits or having a guaranteed income. Your personality as well as the situation are factors that will affect your decision-making. Ensure that you have enough information to allay your concerns before you begin and then you probably will not be facing a future with regrets.

Life is an adventure but with adventure comes a degree of risk. I know that I am certainly glad that I took the chance that I did for I have gained so much by doing so.


Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com



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