Private Practice SWOT

courtesy of Bart Everson via Flickr

I recently wrote about the need to plan tasks needing to be done in your business. I approach these tasks on a weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly timetable. Doing this gives me bite-sized portions of tasks that keep me ahead of the business curve. One of the tasks I advocate for private practicians to engage in is a personal/professional SWOT.

What is a SWOT, you ask?

SWOT is a business tool that helps businesses identify the natural Strengths and Weaknesses that exist inside an organization and then to name the Opportunities and Threats that exist outside of the organization. Since we private practicians are sole proprietors, doing a SWOT is an exercise of identifying our personal attributes.

Our strengths and weaknesses will give us insight into what areas of our business we have a direct impact on. We are typically afraid of our weaknesses, and thus it is typical that our weaknesses never grow or mature. To be successful as a therapist, furthermore as a business owner, we must be willing to face our own inadequacies and grow them up. If we do not do this, we will be operating at partial capacity for our clients.

It’s important to start with our strengths and weaknesses because once we’ve identified the internal operations of a business, we can then look at the opportunities and threats that we face. Opportunity is likely one of the big reasons that therapists, and other wellness professionals, make the jump into private practice. Be it the opportunity of flexibility, money, time, or any other kind of perceived freedom, these are all big reasons a private practice is started. To only consider the opportunity might be seen as foolish as there are realistic threats that exist and not paying attention to these real threats might spell the ending for an optimistic entrepreneur.

Now that I’ve given a brief overview of this process, let me give a few suggestions and details about how to execute this process.

  • Ideally I would suggest you gather 2 or 3 trusted friends on a yearly basis, provide them a nice dinner (not pizza!) and take a few hours to walk through the SWOT process. Inviting others into the process will give you tons of additional insight that you cannot see for yourself.
  • Get in front of a whiteboard (dry erase) or get some of those big sticky note pads from an office supply store. Don’t be afraid to mess up!
  • Identify a couple areas of growth that comes from your Weaknesses and Threat category. Set some goals that are specifically targeted to address these areas.
  • Set Accountability with yourself and/or trusted friends that went through the process with you. Have them check in with you in a few weeks or months to see how it is that you’re growing from the exercise.
  • This is a process that will provide clarity and opportunity for growth. Don’t try to do it perfectly, it’s not possible. The only rules you need to follow is to complete the process. Spend some time brainstorming, then edit your list, and finally star or circle the words that are the most impactful.

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