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The DPT to CEO Program: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Own Practice

Updated: Oct 5, 2023


The DPT to CEO is the program that I've worked really hard to create over the past a couple of years and I have been getting some questions as I've been promoting the self-paced version of this program. I wanted to address all of them here at once and hopefully this will be helpful to you!





What we will be covering:

*FAQ

Introductions

Me and my teammates at a CrossFit competition that we just did

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Morgan. I am a physical therapist by trade and I graduated in 2018. I've been practicing for a little while now. I started working in an outpatient clinic/big box clinic when I first left school and I lasted there for about four months before I was exhausted beyond belief. I was seeing tons and tons of patients every day, all the documentation, and not really feeling clinical fulfillment. I ended up leaving that clinic and I went into Home Health. I did that for a little while until I decided to start my own practice which I started in October of 2019. I'm still practicing now. I usually see a handful of patients every couple of weeks or so, and I also am doing business coaching and digital marketing. So full-fledged have been working for myself since the beginning of 2020.


My husband Kyle. He's also a physical therapist who works in acute care. Some of you might know him from the acute care course that we made together.

I decided to start my practice mainly because I wanted to be able to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to work with athletes, which is my favorite population to work with. There was this want to have more control over my life in general. I didn't want to have to be somewhere at a certain time, unless I decided to do that. I didn't want to give up my days to this big company that I felt like I was really only there to be bill patients and the emphasis was not on patient care too much. I wanted to take more charge of my clinical life. I wanted more charge of my everyday life, and I wanted to be able to enjoy a life.


This is my dog Goni who is named after a goniometer! 😊

I was working for myself in my practice for about six months and then I started getting a few inquiries here and there from some people that I knew from work about how to go about starting your own practice. That is when I figured out that I am a huge nerd about business stuff and I really wanted to be able to share this information with as many people as I could. That is when I first started doing business coaching and I had a program. I did that for a couple of years until the Summer 2021 when I also started doing digital marketing. Now I work with a handful of practices across the country doing their digital marketing, specifically content marketing, email, ads, etc. I wanted to put this information together to show you that I've really been through the journey from the beginning to where I am right now. I graduated PT school, went through all of that, started in the clinic, I did Home Health, I worked at another private clinic, I've worked for myself, I've helped other people start clinics, and I have also done the marketing for clinics as well. So I've kind of done the full gamut of things and it's been really cool to have that different perspective for running a cash-based private practice from all different angles.


How the DPT to CEO program started?


This kind of goes back to goes back to when I first started doing business coaching. I didn't really know what I was doing as far as becoming a business coach, but I knew that I really liked talking about my experience about building a business, the different things that I had gone through, how I found different ways to avoid mistakes and get through barriers, and the exact instructions on exactly how to start a business. I felt like I had to just dig through so much information to find something at all, so compiling all this information and creating instructions and checklists and guides on how to do this became one of my favorite things.

The evolution of the program!

I started doing something that I was really passionate about without fully having all of the knowledge and experience that maybe I thought that I needed, but I learned by doing. I learned by making mistakes. I learned through taking action, working with other people, and allowed myself the opportunity to have version one, version two, version three, up to whatever this is... version five or six of a program. It took time to figure out what was going to work the best, but this is what is working now and I'm really proud of it. It took time to build, but it is definitely a very comprehensive course.


I say all of that because I want to encourage you to feel the same way about starting your own practice or business. It's not going to be perfect at first! You're going to have version one through whatever it is of your business. The only way that you're truly going to understand what that is is by doing, and trying, and evaluating the results, and going from there. It's been a long time coming up to DPT to CEO.


Fun Fact!


The reason that I picked this name is because my whole goal and vision for this program is to not only teach you how to start a cash-based practice and work with patients privately on your own, but I also want to be able to teach you the foundations of running a business, marketing a business, doing sales. That way you have a full understanding of all of the basics to starting and growing a business.


You can then be really successful in your practice, but you also can transfer this knowledge into businesses down the road. Say none of that even worked out you though, you would become a much more marketable employee because you would have a ton of business skills that you could apply to anywhere that you work. You really become this autonomous clinician, as we all want to be, because you have the skills to not only work with patients but also run a super successful business.


Who is the DPT to CEO program for?


Clinically, a physical therapist is what the program is originally based on because that's what I am. However, I've worked with occupational therapists, chiropractors, speech therapists, and even some who have these licenses and these backgrounds who started a business doing fitness and wellness coaching. It was not necessarily the medical aspect, but they started working with people in a health-based fashion.


What do you need to embody in order to be successful in this program?

I think that these criteria apply to both this program and running a business in general. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. It's just the first few things that had come to mind that I think are really important when it comes to starting and growing your own business:


1. You have to be self-motivated:

When it comes to taking a course, much like the self-paced version of DPT to CEO program, you have to be able to take the initiative to read the things, watch the things, do the homework, and continue forward throughout the entire curriculum. If you have trouble doing that, it can be helpful to work with a coach. I do get a lot of feedback that working with either me or another business coach is helpful for the accountability, so that you have this external motivation to keep up with things. Either way, you do have to have some kind of self-motivation yourself, but particularly with a self-paced program, you're going to have to rely on yourself to get yourself through things.


2. "Never give up" attitude

I've talked to a couple of people about this. This is essential to being successful in what you're doing. You have to have the mindset that if you want to create something, build something, sell something, you cannot give up on it until you have done absolutely, positively everything.


To give you an example, when you're first getting started in your practice, and maybe even within the first year, it's likely you are going to see some waves in your caseload. You're going to have ups where you're really busy and you're going to have downs where you're not. You'll get to a point where you are grateful for the calm period because it'll let you catch up on other things and take care of yourself as well. However, you're going to have ups and downs. It's going to be an emotional roller coaster, (that's kind of what we're signing up for). In the down period when you have potentially a lower case load, what you need to keep in mind is that you are going to find your patients or your patients are going to find you. They're out there, you just have to figure out how to bridge the gap and how to communicate with them.


Let's say you have done tons of networking in your area and you haven't really seen much results in the short term. (**A hint networking is usually a long-term play as far as marketing goes.**) If you decide that you have done everything at that point, you're not going to get any more clients, they're not going to find you, or there's not enough, as soon as you let yourself sink into that scarcity mindset you're toast. You were deciding that that's it and there's no other options. So instead of that, you have to have the mindset of, "I've tried A and B... there's still C,D,E,F,G, etc." There are going to be more ways to find your clients. If you can't think of any off the top of your head that's what Google and YouTube are for. Do some research and learn about what there is. This is turning into regular old business advice and not so much about the program in particular. You are going to be most successful in the DPT to CEO program though if you have that attitude to be resourceful and relentless.


3. Not one foot in/one foot out

Somebody who is resourceful and relentless is also not going to be one foot in and one foot out. People I see falter in starting a practice are people who do things halfway or they might put in a little bit of work and then take too much of a break before getting back to working on their business. They're in and out, so their business results are also in and out. It's really important that you have both feet in and you are committed to this in order to succeed because if you're just one foot in/one foot out, you're never going to get the results that you are wanting to have.


4. Determined and dedicated

Kind of like resourceful and relentless, you have to be determined to succeed. Similar to the "never give up" attitude, you have to decide for yourself that this is something that you are going to make work. Maybe version 1, version 2, version 3 don't work out the way that you want, but you are determined to make the next version succeed the way that you want it to. You have to be dedicated to this business in the way that you want the business to show up for you. This is something else that I spoke with somebody about where it seemed their goal with running their practice and running their business had a certain level of energy. Their goal was to be full-time in their business, have a ton of freedom and flexibility, work for myself, but the energy that they have on this side before reaching that goal was not matching up. They weren't treating their business like a full-time business. They're treating it more so as a hobby. They weren't being consistent. That consistent income and caseload, if that's what you want here and you're not being consistent on the other side, it's really hard to meet that goal. They just found themselves not being super confident about talking about their practice and how they help people. If you're not willing to put that information out there, how can you expect people to find you? The energies are just not really matching. If you want this goal and this energy, you have to be dedicated to figuring out what it's going to take to match your current self-energy to your goal self-energy.


Hopefully that makes sense. Some of these things that will definitely help you succeed in business, but also things that if you are to join the DPT to CEO program, whether it's the self-paced version or coaching in the future, you have to decide that you are going to do this. Even if it is scary and you feel a little bit unsure because of the unknown, you have to commit to yourself and learning through the process in order to be successful.


Results from the program


There are a lot of different business coaching programs out there and this one is not going to be the best fit for everybody, and that's totally okay. I really encourage you to always choose to purchase a program or work with a coach who feels really aligned with you because you're going to also have the best experience by doing that. I have had some people ask, "What kind of people take this program?", "What kind of results do you see by the end?", "What can I expect?" I think that's a really good question to ask because if you are going to invest into yourself, your business, a course, you should have some kind of idea of what you're going to get out of it at the end.


I evaluated data from the program, so that's where these numbers come from. My brother helps me take a look at some of the different numbers that we have and put them into a summary so that we can understand what to expect.

Just to give you an idea here, for people who join the DPT to CEO program, at the beginning of the program a little more than half of our students either start the start completely from scratch, (haven't done anything), or they've done some paperwork but they haven't really put it out there that they are ready to start taking patients, (like set up their LLC).




Most of the students who begin the program are also working either full-time or part-time. Only about a quarter of people are actively working on only their business. Most people are probably like you who are starting this program. They have another job, but they see themselves eventually leaving that job or dropping down to part-time at least.



The whole program is built to be done over the course of about six months. Sometimes it goes on a little bit longer for varying reasons, but the median number of new patients enrolled by the students/clinicians in the program was nine, (over an average time frame of five months). So, in under the time frame of the program (average 6 months for the program), we're seeing our students have a caseload of about nine. That is really cool to be able to get something up and running and in six months or less have partial to a full caseload! Six months is not that long of a time frame in the grand scheme of things. There are tons of people just like you who were able to put in the time and the work to get there.


What is going to make you successful?

So we went over who you have to be in order to be successful in this program, but what is going to make you successful in terms of how the business is set up. From the data that we had put together these are a few kind of things that came up:


Does specialty matter?

From what I've seen specialty itself doesn't really matter. What is important is to be able to put a specific problem into easy to understand language so that potential clients know what it is that you can help them with and why you're passionate about it. Probably the hardest place to start is if you are wanting to practice General Orthopedics across the entire lifespan. That's going to be really hard to market right off the bat, but as soon as you are able to narrow that down a little bit more into big problems or a specific people group, it definitely makes it a lot easier to market. Therefore you'll become successful faster.


Can you participate in the DPT to CEO program while working full-time? Can you start and grow a business while you're working full-time?

The answer to all of these is yes, (of course it depends). However, my answer is yes you can start your business while working full-time. Depending on what your goals are you could keep working full-time and keep growing your business, but most of the people that I work with they want to eventually have this as a solid side income or do It full-time. So if your goal is to ultimately work for yourself full-time, at some point, and usually in the program it's around months three to four, where there is a breaking point. The work demand and caseload in your business start to bring you, (energy and time wise) to your ceiling with a full-time job and with running a business as well. At that point you have to decide whether you want to stick with it being a side thing or if you want to go all in. Most people are not ready to quit or drop down their hours at their full-time job at this point, only being three to four months into your business, but every single person that I have worked with who has prolonged this process and prolonged quitting their job all wish that they had done it sooner. Because you hit this point where you just don't have the energy or the bandwidth anymore to really continue to progress your business. You have to make a decision and I think that's important to put out there for anybody who is wanting to start a business.


What about online versus in-person services?

This came up a lot more when more people were doing Telehealth during the pandemic. What we have found is that in-person services, especially when you have a presence in relationships in your community, you are going to be able to grow faster. From start date you're going to be able to grow faster. However, as long as you put in the effort to put yourself out there and build relationships and become part of a community, whether it's in person physically or online, you are also going to grow. A big part about business is building relationships and as long as you're willing to do that you will be just fine. Some people who have been in locations for decades tend to build a caseload very quickly.


Do you need to already have your business set up to be successful in the program?

The answer is no. The process will be faster because you're already set up, but this program definitely caters to people who are starting from scratch. The plus side of starting from scratch and going through this program is that we make sure that you have everything set up that you need in order to be a legit business entity. We are not skipping steps.


About the self-paced version:

This means that it is a course, there is a private community with other clinicians who are going through the program, but there's no one-on-one coaching which is what I typically do. So this is all on your own. However, if you are a part of the self-paced program, I offer business coaching through my website so if you wanted to set up an appointment here and there by being a member of the DPT the CEO program I'll offer a discount on coaching sessions. If you're interested just let me know.


The Roadmap


This is a look inside the actual program. Everything in this program is based on this roadmap. There are six different phases.

  • Phase 1 "Getting Started" is about mindset.

1) "Therapy Business Basics" is part of this program and that is setting up your business entity and making sure that you can take payment, you can do documentation so that if somebody just walked up to you off the street tomorrow you could see them.

2) "Practice by Design" is helping you figure out who you're working with what you're selling and how you are offering the services, (a lot of the logistics).

  • Phase 2 is pre-launch or before we really put your business out there.

1) Introduction to sales: most of us are pretty new to the sales process and that is totally okay. Sales is something that you can learn to do really well. I really try to encourage all of us to find a sales process that feels good and that doesn't feel icky or gross.

2) Initial digital marketing setup: making sure that you can be found online.

3) Basic systems: is really important for later on when you have a humming practice and a lot of appointments. You want to make sure that you have systems in place so that things are not super chaotic.

  • Phase 3 is launching!

1) I will teach you how to announce and launch yourself on social media via email.

2) The 100 challenge is one of my favorite things. This is a challenge to help you learn the skill of not networking.

3) There's information on how to host an event, like a webinar or doing a workshop.


So we have the start phase of course, but in phase two, phase three, and further on, what you learn in these phases are skills that you will be able to apply these again in the future. They're not just only therapy specific, but they are business building skills that will be really valuable to help you further down the road.

  • Phase 4 is strategizing.

1) Marketing strategy. This is something that I take a lot of pride in with building a marketing strategy. It's not just willy-nilly. It's not throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, but we actually have diagrams and a specific structure that we fill out together so that you have a solid idea of what your marketing strategy is going to be for your practice and you understand why. It's not just handout business cards, do networking, etc, but you have a plan in place that makes sense and has a good flow to it so that you are always able to capture leads and constantly have clients coming in.

2) Content marketing: This has been super helpful for my business and it's based on what I do for other practices as well. It's very much real-time stuff that I personally am learning and doing. I will then be teaching it to you as well through the program.

  • Phase 5 is systematizing.

Going back to the basic systems by

1) Coming up with routines & data tracking.

2) Standard operating procedure (SOPs)

3) For some people you might be ready for creating funnels with paid ads

4) Automations

  • Phase 6 is learning how to branch out ("Grow").

Sometimes people at the end of this program are in a place where they're ready for the next step.

1) How to create a wellness program

2) Offer services online

3) Work with Medicare patients

4) Get better with their finances

5) Hire somebody

6) Getting into more digital marketing


Phase 6 is really about learning what else is out there and how you might want to continue to level yourself up.


Once you join the self-paced DPT the CEO program, you'll be able to come into the course platform and you'll get an email with all the instructions. You'll go through the welcome module and then start phase 1. There will be a lesson activity and some of the lessons also have questions to help you process the information. You start at the top of the roadmap and work your way all the way down and complete everything that is in the lesson activities.


How do I join?


If this is something that is of interest to you, you're thinking that maybe you want to check it out to see if it is for you, or if you are ready to join the program, you can come to my website here. This page has a lot of information about the program. If you're ready to join you can click on the "Start DPT to CEO Today!" button and it will take you down to the purchase section, and there are a few different payment options.


FAQ


Where do I get started?

So, if you have nothing, what do you do? You know that you want to run a business or start a practice that's amazing. If you are looking for resources I have a few different options on my website. On my blog there is a post called The Simple Guide to Starting a Cash-Based Physical Therapy Practice and you can see the episode on my YouTube channel ! This goes over the basics of stuff that you need. A lot of it can also be found in my ebook as well if you want an actual checklist, (definitely recommend that you download that). This blog post would be a great place to start to give you an idea of what is needed. Then, if you want further instructions on how to actually set up your business entity the Therapy Business Basics mini course would be the next step. This course will show you exactly how to set up a business entity, business licensing, insurance, documentation, payments, scheduling, all the basic stuff that you need to see a patient on your own. It also provides a checklist to make sure that you're not missing anything. That would be another good place to start.


What EMR do I use?

I also have a blog post for this for 2021/2022 . This year I'm planning to go through a few new EMR systems like Jane is something that has become really popular in the last year or so. I've used Intake Q and I know a lot of people like Simple Practice as well. I currently use Google Workspace because I only have a handful of patients, so it works out for me, as far as workflow goes and is the lowest cost option for documentation. If you want an all-in-one software then I really did like Intake Q, (which is now called Practice Q). I've heard really good things about Jane which is the one that I still have to look into a little bit more. I know for a while a lot of people were using PT Everywhere as well. Those are a few different ones that I recommend and stay tuned for the next or updated blog post about EMRs in 2023!


Should I get business cards?

I have business cards and I think I bought maybe 500 of them when I first opened. I probably still have 450 of them, several years later. I always keep a few in my wallet. I have found that occasionally when I'm out people ask for it, but it's not often and I also don't personally go and drop them off at different places. My advice to you about business cards is yes, but you should probably only purchase a few of them. I did just meet a chiropractor though who said she's gone through 500 cards, so it kind of depends. I think they're good to have, but I wouldn't stress about them too much. Just something that has your business information, your information, your contact information on it I think would be really helpful, but it doesn't have to be anything crazy.


LLC vs PLLC, etc?

I see this question a lot in the Facebook group and I actually have a video on this. It is a video about whether you should be a sole proprietorship, LLC, S Corp. I go over the pros and cons to them. That would be really great to check out and should be able to answer some of those questions.


What's the typical time frame to success?

I know we talked a little bit about this earlier where at some point if you're working full-time you're going to have to decide whether you want to continue, or drop to part-time, or quit totally and go all in on your business. The longer that you stay working at another job, the longer it's going to take for you to see the success that you want in your own business. It really comes down a lot to energy and time.


When you are spending that extra energy and time not on your business, it makes your results come slower and that also will have an impact on your confidence in the entire process. If your confidence is starting to decrease that makes it really hard to continue to be motivated, so it's definitely an individual thing to figure out. Getting a full caseload for example can take anywhere between two weeks after they launch to a year and a half. For those people where it took a much longer time, they were still working a lot of hours at another job or multiple jobs. It's so hard to say, but if you have less time to dedicate elsewhere you will be seeing patients and see a fuller caseload a lot sooner.


How much time should I spend on my business every week?

I thought that this was a really good question for people who are working full-time to give you an idea of what to expect when you're first starting. I would expect if you really want to see this thing pick up steam to be working on your business at least five hours a week, if not somewhere between five and ten. That's what I would recommend at first.


Some people might be faster. They're faster at doing things on a computer or maybe you have more set up at the beginning. It's going to be a time commitment, but it's not going to be a full 25 hours a week that you have to worry about. If you can spend at least five hours a week on your business and working on moving things forward and making progress, then you should be good to go.


When should I leave my job?

This is something that some people come to this point and they're not sure when they should leave. It's going to be totally personal of course. Whatever is best for your life. You have to take care of yourself and of course take care of your family too. A way to objectively look at it, just to give you a ballpark idea of what to look for, would be to figure out what you need in your business, appointments wise, per week in order to replace your income that you're currently getting from your other job. Then, figure out what 50 - 75% of that is, either appointments wise or money-wise.


Once you hit that point then it's time to seriously start considering leaving the job. We could work out some numbers, but I think that that gives you at least a little bit of a threshold and a tangible idea of when it might be time to take a look at those things. That way you're not staying in a full-time job and also seeing 20 patients a week and wanting to pull your hair out because you're just working so much. You have to start looking for this mile marker to give you the heads up that you need to start seriously considering changing.


If you have questions you can email me at morgan@thewellphysio.com or you can schedule a consult with me to go over any questions you may have or review the best option for you with this program!


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