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Getting Started in Your Private Practice

A beginners guide for dietitians in the early days wondering where to start.

Are you ready for a career in business with your own private practice? Are you ready for a career in business with your own private practice? There can often be a mixture of emotions running through someone who is about to embark on their journey into entrepreneurship as a dietitian. The to-do list is endless but I’ve summed up a few key things that anyone getting started in business needs to consider.

First of all, these are some of the characteristics I’ve picked up along the way of people who I believe are successful.

  • Good organisational and time-management skills
  • Self-discipline and the willingness to work long hours
  • Being prepared to take risks and live with a degree of uncertainty
  • An ability to make decisions and seize opportunities
  • Good communication skills, confident
  • Personal integrity, professionalism and reliability
  • Creativity, drive and energy, highly motivated and committed to the long haul
  • Understanding business objectives and goals

Looking at that list, do you think you’ve got what it takes?

Let’s look now at 10 steps you need to take to turn your idea into a REAL business.

1. Register your business name with ASIC. A business name is the name your business operates under. You need to register a business name if you conduct business under a name other than your own. For more information on registering a business name, visit the ASIC website https://asic.gov.au/for-business/registering-a-business-name/

2. Apply for an ABN An ABN is an 11 digit number that identifies you to the Australian government and community. You can use your ABN to identify yourself when dealing with other businesses, claim GST, get an Australian domain name. Not every business needs and ABN so check the ABR website to see if you do.
www.abr.gov.au

3. Register for GST if applicable. GST isn’t charged on health care however you will be charged GST for items you purchase as well as any rent you pay for premises. If this is a large enough sum within your financial records, it may be best to register for GST to counteract the expense incurred however if your annual turnover is greater than $75,000. For more information visit: https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/GST/Registering-for-GST/

4. Obtain insurance. Aon and Guild are two companies within Australia that provide public liability and personal indemnity insurance. Guild allow monthly payments set up by direct debit, Aon didn’t last time I checked. The value of your insurance will depend on what you need to be covered for so read the fine print

5. Register with Medicare. If you plan on accepting Medicare or Private Health Insurance rebates, it is essential for you to register with Medicare for a provider number for each location you are working from, including home if you are doing virtual work. You can do this through the portal via Proda and once registered, it will be instant any time you need a new provider number

6. Open bank account in business name. I can’t stress how important this is. It’s really going to simplify your life when it comes to your business finances and tax time if you keep all your business transactions in one account, and ideally integrate with an accounting program such as Xero

7. Get printed stationary for promoting your business locally ie •Letter head, business cards. First impressions count so when you are visiting businesses who you would like to start building a reciprocal relationship with when it comes to referrals, you want to put your best foot forward. Having printed business cards and a letterhead for written communication is going to help your external brand voice and personality along with your visual branding elements because what we know is that people will often make assumptions about your service based on the visual look of your brand

8. Organise signage: If you have a physical location you are practising from, you will need to have brand awareness and create brand recognition. Let people know who you are and where you are. This might range from signage on a door, front of shop, an A frame out the front or a teardrop banner inside a gym. There are plenty of options if you have an in person presence

9. Set up client records program/software: There are so many programs out there and some are more popular that others depending on what country you live in. If you are new to this space and in Australia, I suggest starting off with Halaxy which is very low cost and web based so can be accessed anywhere. They have recently integrated a video conferencing function into it as well which, let’s be honest, is just necessary in this current day and age. Over in USA, the most common one I hear people using is Practice Better or Simple Practice or Healthie although the latter is less popular with the people I work with. Simple Practice is apparently more suited to dietitians who are planning to take insurance so keep this in mind when considering platforms

10. Secure social media handles and domain name. The reason I want you to do this early on is so that you have consistency across your entire brand with your handles reflecting who you are in business and you are easy to find as your business becomes more well known

Whilst this is just the tip of the iceberg, I hope for those of you who are on the fence about starting a business that this is the nudge you need to start taking action and heading in the direction you know you want to be going in – welcome to the world of entrepreneurship.

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