How to supplement your behavioral therapy salary with active and passive income
The implanted idea by the education institutions that money is not the most important thing for mental health providers is a big impediment to the success of your business. Especially since close to 50% of graduating providers will end up working in a private practice which the majority will own.
It's true, helping people is a calling. A calling that not everyone is ready to answer, but you are. And it might feel ethically wrong to mix your profession with money. People come to you at their most vulnerable state so shouldn't your calling be the most important element of building a successful private practice?
In short, no.
Building a sustainable practice is more important than anything else. Creating a practice in which you can thrive as a professional and a business owner will help you keep answering your calling.
Otherwise, you will burn out or worse, become disillusioned with your field altogether.
When you're looking at your practice from a business perspective, you need to look at the numbers. What number of clients do you need to see a week? How much should you charge? What are your expenses? What will be your salary?
Understanding the strengths and the weaknesses of the financial side of your business can really help you see all the threats and opportunities for your practice. In business, you call this exercise a SWOT analysis. It's for setting the right strategy for your business and is usually done to look at all aspects of an organization.
But for our purposes, let's stick to finances right now.
So how does it help you?
For starters, your services are dependant on your working hours. You trade time for money and you have a limited supply of time.
So even if you filled all your waking hours with clients at the highest rate possible, you would still be limited in the income you can produce at the end of the month. You will also be completely exhausted and miserable (But this blog post is not about that).
So that means that you need to look for supplemental income. The good news is that there's no lack of ideas out there about supplemental income for therapists. The bad news is that you need to choose which direction to take.
But before we dive into the ideas themselves, I want you to prepare and understand what you can or cannot do.
I want you to consider this process.
Identify your resources
Throughout my career, I've had at least a dozen of good business ideas. Ideas that other people ended up bringing to life, but not me. It wasn't because I was lazy or lacked focus. It was mostly because I didn't have the appropriate resources at the time that I had those ideas.
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It always amazes me when I read lists of suggestions for supplemental income. It's like a big brainstorming session out of context.
For example, the idea of writing a book might be a good one, but is it practical for you right now? Do you have the time and the energy to dedicate to book writing? And do you have the means to promote your book, even if it's just an e-book?
There's no shortage of good ideas to create additional streams of revenue for a practice, but nobody is talking about the strategy and preparation it takes to make those streams of income work. So you can start by assessing your current resources:
Your time and availability. How much time do you have to dedicate to developing another stream of income?
The money you can invest in this idea. Some income sources will require a monetary investment. Make sure you know the numbers so you can decide if it's worth pursuing.
Your energy level and creativity. Any new venture requires a certain level of energy and excitement. If you're feeling low and exhausted, you'll probably need more help than you initially thought.
Your assets, such as your office space. Some people find multiple uses for their offices. Others figure out how to utilize technology that they have at their disposal. You might realize that all you need is a phone to shoot videos for an online course.
Personnel and help in general. The help of other people can optimize your time and help you find the time to dedicate to this new idea.
Technology. How knowledgeable are you about technical tools and the online world?
Your particular skills and expertise.
Your professional network. Our networks are the best business resources we have. And I'm not only talking about other therapists but also different healthcare providers and professionals in different fields. Creating strategic relationships can open possibilities for an additional income stream as well.
This is where I would start first to understand the real situation of your business. Armed with this reality and facts, you'll start seeing the opportunities and the potential for your private practice before you actually start listing ideas.
Separate your ideas into Passive and Active income streams
Now that you can clearly see the advantages and the limitations of the resources available to you, you can start thinking about the ideas.
But first, make two lists. One for active income ideas, which means that you will have to actively work to produce them. And one for passive income ideas, which are the revenue streams that require an initial setup and preparation, but doesn't require you to actively work on them all the time.
Let me give you a few examples.
Active Income Ideas:
Becoming a group therapist
In-person course or training
Passive Income Ideas:
Subletting your office space
Creating an online course
Youtube ad revenue
Selling an e-book
Monthly subscription to training and tools
It's ok to list as many ideas as possible but you will start noting that some feel better than others to you and you will have an easier time judging how realistic they are for your particular situation.
Determine the direction you'll be focusing on in the next few months
This is really the final stage of determining which additional revenue streams you want to pursue. You might end up selecting more than one idea, but realistically, with your everyday workload, you'll only be able to focus on one at a time.
Choose the idea that suits your strengths, resources, and life situation best. Make sure that focusing on it not only makes financial sense but is also fun to work on. If it engages you and excites you, the chances of success will be higher.
We've entered new territory in the mental health field. "Thanks" to the Covid-19 pandemic, people are in need of mental health help now more than ever and are motivated to find good therapists. Having a busy schedule is wonderful and yet it can also be dangerous for the well-being of your business.
Sustainability is the number one priority for any business, but for a business that is reliant on one person, it's particularly important. An additional income stream can help your financial sustainability, but it can also help you avoid burnout.
If you like this article, please leave a comment. Let me know what other additional revenue streams you're thinking about.