How to write a business plan
Whether you’re setting up a private practice with its own office and employees, or you’re planning to treat private clients in your own home, part time or otherwise...
You need to write a business plan
A business plan is an invaluable tool when starting a new business. Even if you’re already running, if you haven’t written a business plan yet - do it now. It could be the best thing you’ll ever do.
It will help you make key decisions about business structure, services, pricing, marketing and more. It could make the difference between muddle and clarity - between success and failure. It’s not just something to give to the bank if you’re asking for finance.
Think of your private practice as a client, who needs a treatment plan. Your business plan is your treatment plan for your private practice. It will help you to know whether you are pretty much on course or veering off course.
Writing a business plan will prompt you to...
- make key decisions about your business such as its structure, location and purpose
- carry out market research to define your services, target market and pricing
- identify and analyse your competition
- set your financial goals
- set targets and objectives
- create a marketing plan
- help you to recognise when an action may need revising
Writing a business plan for your private practice - our guide
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a private practitioner who has just started seeing clients, or you’re currently employed and thinking about setting up your own private practice. This guide is for you.
If you need to use your business plan to obtain finance, we recommend that you read this guide first and then carry out some further research.
Nobody is watching you. Writing a business plan is not an exam. Use this as an opportunity let your ideas run wild - feel free to scribble things out, change your mind, or start all over again.
Let’s get started...
1. Cover sheet
Your cover sheet should set out the basic facts about your private practice: its name, your contact information, and one or two sentences about the services you will provide.
2. Executive summary
This comes at the beginning of your business plan - but you should write it last. The executive summary should sum up the key points of your entire business plan. Think of it as a mission statement.
3. Description of your business
Imagine you were talking to a stranger about your private practice, and had thirty seconds to give them the key facts. This is the description of your business. It should cover the structure of your business, its key personnel, and its key products or services.
Tip: Find out more about business structures here.
4. Your target market
In this section you should answer the following questions: who are your potential customers or referrals? Where are they? What problems do they have that you can solve? What do they want? How much will they be willing to pay? Will they travel to you, or you to them?
5. Your competition
Think about your direct competitors. As a private practice, you will face direct competition from other practices in your area. Visit their websites. What services are they offering? How much do they charge? Try to identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? What are your particular strengths?
6. Operations plan
This section should describe the day-to-day operations of your practice. Will you need premises, such as an office or consulting rooms, or will you be working from home? Will you have employees or advisors such as an accountant or bookkeeper? Exactly what products or services will you be offering? How many hours will you set aside for treating clients? What about non-clinical work such as administration, finance, and marketing? What sort of software will you need to ensure the smooth operation of your private practice? What professional issues will you need to take into account?
Tip: The Private Practice Hub is packed with articles that should help you with your operations plan...
- Find out what you should be selling
- What premises will you use - an office, consulting rooms, or your own home?
- What equipment do you need?
- Read more about human resources
- Read more about office administration
- Find out about the professional issues that face every private practitioner
7. The management team
This section should highlight the skills and experience of yourself and any other members of the team, including your advisors. It will help to focus your mind and will influence the rest of your business plan.
8. Marketing strategy
How will your clients know you exist? How will you get referrals? This section should cover your stationery, website, promotional material and marketing activities. It should be broken down into sections according to your target market, the different products or services that you will offer and your goals.
Tip: Have a look at our articles on marketing for some advice.
This section should cover the following:
- Expenses. Think about your start-up expenses - what will you need to buy to get your private practice up and running? How much will you have to spend on marketing? How much will your employees or advisors cost? What about ongoing costs of renting consulting rooms, administration, equipment, software, travel, insurance, CPD and marketing?
- Income. What will you be charging for your services? How much money will you make each month? Be realistic. Think about how many patients you will treat per week - how confident are you that you can meet this prediction? What about cancellations? If you’re a sole trader, you’ll also need to account for time off - you’ll deserve it! Remember; it is better to slightly underestimate your income than overestimate it.
- Cash flow, profit and loss and sales forecasts. These can be daunting - but don’t worry, you can find more information about financial reports here.
10. Risk analysis
It’s a good idea to think about the risks you might face, so that you are better prepared for them. For example, what if a new private practice is set up next door? What if there is a flood, or you or a member of staff are off sick? Other risks can include commercial issues such as pricing constraints or computer failures. You should also think about professional risk - find out more here.
How did you get on?
If you made it to the end of this article, you’ll hopefully be motivated to make a start on your business plan. Remember, it doesnt have to be perfect, especially if you’re not seeking funding, but it will help you turn your vision for your private practice into reality.