As some of you know, I am finally getting ready to launch my private practice after many, many, many years of education. The official launch is set for February 15th, 2020 and I have never done this as a nutrition intern before so it’s all from scratch with lots of help from my mentor, Rebecca Snow (Rebecca Snow Nutrition– which is a must for unlicensed nutrition interns in the State of Maryland!). This is all geared towards the goal of being a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Licensed Nutritionist in the State of Maryland while incorporating my Health and Wellness Coaching aspects of the business too. So things may need to be modified for different businesses based on your state etc.
This is my journey and process I have taken..
Please note, I am not an expert in this, so please don’t read take this as must do’s for you! I am also still working some things because it is an ongoing journey, so we will see where it leads me….
Business Paperwork Set-UpOkay, this part gave me a headache with the following aspects and it took a lot of google research and frustration to do the following steps. I am so not looking forward to doing the tax aspect which I will have to figure that out at some point. Hopefully I have set things up in a way that anything else comes up it will be smooth sailing.
Nutrition Mentor: For my private practice I mentioned a mentor above and who I will be working with. I started with this step first because without a mentor and a confirmed start date with mentor there are no further steps that can be taken. Mentor Options- Rebecca Snow Nutrition ($400 deposit and $200 month– provides lifetime access to google share/Facebook community etc—this is the one I went with); Clinician’s Incubator and many more. You have to find the one that fits you. I needed something that was online and fit my schedule along with gave me a community setting. Also be careful of the terms you use in your state– in Maryland you can’t use Nutritionist until licensed so I am using Integrative Nutrition Intern and in other states I am a nutrition coach etc. Great site to determine the states and laws- https://theana.org/advocate
Registered Agent: I learned that while I was deciding to work in a home office or office space that I would have to use my home address for everything until something else was set up. Then I read on google that having a registered agent will eliminate having my home address on everything and everywhere. This is not a must so you don’t have to do this but as a start up private practice, I thought this would be safer. Once this was decided then it was figuring out what company to use– Maryland Registered Inc ($49 per year) or NorthWest ($39 per year plus further state fees). I went with Maryland Registered Inc with the option to add further services as I grow if needed. Please shop around because there could be something out there that would work better for you.
LLC or Corp: This took some time to research and to understand. I eventually went with LLC (limited liability company) in the hopes to protect my personal assets and due to the fact that I am a sole proprietor. Now this is a decision you will have to research and chose what is best for you. In Maryland, you can file online for $100 application fee plus $70 (expedite fees) and a few other fees which will allow you to get your certification and tax information in 7 days. There is also mailing or walk in services that will lessen the fees but the wait is 4- 6 weeks unless you pay for the expedite fee for same day but that’s only for in person walk in services. This is where that Registered Agent is need for setting up. I completed my online form fairly quickly.
EIN: Okay, this is where I made an error which I am sure there have been quite a few since starting this journey. I should have researched more about the steps before rushing in on what I thought I knew. Basically, the error was that I applied for my EIN prior to completing LLC steps mentioned above. Good thing the name of my business wasn’t taken for the State of Maryland or I would have had to re-applied for another EIN or worse case renamed everything. There is no cost for an EIN and it doesn’t take long to file but no one want’s two EIN for the same business or any of the other issues. To apply for a free EIN here.
Operating Agreement: Another tricky step. Most would say get an attorney to draft this but being on limited start up income doesn’t quite allow for the fees that come from obtaining an attorney. So after some research as the sole member of the LLC , it wasn’t to complicated to find a template on Google. There are a lot of options out there but be careful because “free” doesn’t always mean free and you need to make sure it works with your state. Another aspect of this is to have it notarized, when I was completing the Google research, it mentioned to do this so it’s an officially legal document. I get free notarization services in my area from where I bank. You will have to check your area and there may be a small fee associated with the notarization depending on where you go.
Business Bank Account: This was another interesting aspect of setting up the business because of all the options and fees that can be charged. I ended up going with a local credit union along with Paypal. I figured the fees weren’t going to break me with the credit union and Paypal is free to set up so that clients can have the option along with so can I with seeing clients, groups, workshops etc. For the account with the credit union I had to have the EIN, operating agreement (which they notarized), state issued photo ID and the LLC paperwork from the state. Please check with whatever bank you decide to go with because they all have their own requirements.
Paypal didn’t need anything other than company name and personal social security number then if you wish you can link the bank account and any credit card to it if you so desire. There are other options than Paypal just like banks– shop around for what is best for you.
Accounting Software: Currently using a personal excel template that I modified for my business that I created from my personal expense spreadsheet that’s already in use. It’s not a must to rush out and get a program for your fresh and new business. If you can afford to great– there’s GoDaddy, Wave, Freshbooks and QuickBooks. Each have different aspects that will integrate with your business in different ways. The choice is up to you on whether you want to integrate your bank account or has invoice capabilities along with complicated or non- complicated. I know eventually I will have to go with one because I will have to start filing quarterly taxes at some point and at the same time this is something I will set up at a later date once the business starts receiving income. There are some things you don’t have to rush out to do, they are more along the nice to have aspect.
Office Set Up Options: If I decide to continue working from a home office I will have to file for a home occupancy permit and register. Still on the fence with this because I can see the pros and cons with having a home office. Still researching forms and fees for my area.
Also looking into office sharing or local partnerships– research has shown that this will be the best for out of the house space while starting up because usually they charge a small monthly fee that takes care of the physical buildings over head (rent, electric etc) and some have extras such as business mailing address, WIFI, copying, faxing etc. You will have to look in your area to find what’s out there. It’s an option.
Another aspect of this is a business mailing address no matter if a home office, shared office space or both– PO Boxes– Post office and UPS (gives an actual address to use). Great way to separate personal mail from business mail even if there is another option.
Okay for me this isn’t such a headache except for keeping things simple. I think this aspect was fun and allowed for my creativity to flow. Furthermore, I don’t have a lot of start up monies so I have to make sure I am consecutive with how I spend things on this along with make sure it represents the business in a professional manner. I debated over the “free” options- Facebook, WordPress etc. However, I ended up jumping in a little deeper than that. Lastly, remember copyright laws.
Buy domain name, hosting and GSuite email: Decided on Weebly because I could get a domain name, host and Gsuite set ups all with Weebly. Furthermore, their free templates are user friendly. Domains can be purchased for 2 years ($34) or 5 years ($75), hosting purchased for 2 years ($79) and Gsuites after 14 day trial the cost is once a year ($70) which totals $124.50/mo.
I still have things set up with Facebook pages, WordPress, Instagram etc so that information from my business is posted in more than one place and these sites help with getting the word out to more platforms and are free. Lastly, for my logo(s) I used the paint software which is free for now.
Newsletter: This is an aspect that I am using from my Weebly hosting on my website to start obtaining emails. At some point I will set up a newsletter once I get more subscribers.
Practice Paperwork Set upFor this there was a lot. First, make sure you have a filing cabinet that locks along with folders, hanging folders and some idea of how to organize it. Secondly, and thankfully for my mentor which provided templates for client forms which will have to be modified once licensed but at least there was guidance. Please note for my business I can take clients by phone, telehealth (video calls) and in person which I am hoping to do both. However each state is different and you have to follow the guidelines of the state the client is in during the time of the appointment. So I have to know and keep up with all the various guidelines. Having the basics in paper form will take time but is doable. However there are software that can help with running the practice side.
Practice Platform: I am currently using Healthie–There is a trial period. After the trial period I decided to continue with the platform because there’s scheduling, secure video conferencing, billing, food logs, client journal, appears to be integrative means to convert client information in ADIME format and the interaction dashboard that provides my clients and me etc. The price I decided on was the $29/mo option for now. At some point I will increase to the $89/mo. Again there are other platforms and you have to find the one that fits you and your business.
Liability Insurance: I am currently using HPSO as a student ($40/yr) which will change once I graduate. I have done this yet so the process is still a mystery but I have heard it should be seamless when transitioning.
Business Cards/Miscellanous: VistaPrint great prices and easy to use. Got 500 cards for $23..they have other aspects for business needs like brochures etc.
Still researching and working on: Email Encryption app (HIPPA compliant)–looking at Sendinc or Emailpros
File Encryption– looking at Ncrypted Cloud.
Future aspects: Once I have achieved my CNS and license in the State of Maryland– NPI # will need to be obtained so I can provide invoices to clients, Supplement account (FullScripts) which is linked with Healthie) and Lab accounts. Client forms will have to be updated and I am sure the list will increase as time moves forward.
Depending on you and what you have to start up the business will determine how much will have to go into your private practice. It will vary base on your state laws and fees. For me, the upfront cost will be around $1500 which does not include some of the on going monthly costs I will have nor any costs to host workshops etc. Plus I am sure I forgot something somewhere, so for those already up and running if you have any further advice, suggestions etc., please comment or email because I am open to any help.
As I have been on this journey I am thankful I already have a desk, needed electronics, printer etc., which isn’t discussed or mentioned above because those can also be start up costs for a new business. Lastly, this does not outline costs such as -the education, marketing, licensing, continuing education and possibly in the future at some point the cost for a lawyer and/or accountant.
I know it’s been quiet for a bit…been working on finishing my 2nd masters degree in Nutrition… I am almost done….and now I have been granted early admission to an internship and have an internship supervisor….
So I can officially start setting up my practice…start scheduling appointments (initial apts and follow up apts) beyond school appointments along with the free follow ups for those that helped with school requirements and schedule educational trainings etc …for 2/15/20 and after…
My official date is February 15th and beyond…hence starting now to setting everything up…
So here I go… Time to buckle down…
I still MUST Graduate- struggling a bit and a bit stressed right now…but it will happen..so be patient with me…
-Build hours for license
-Pass CNS exam
-Apply for Maryland State license
-Build practice to a sustainable, growing business…with community and partnerships..
Lots of blood, sweat and tears are in my future…but im so determined…
I’m also determined to get back on here more too once I completely graduate…
So be on the lookout…its coming up.
Thanks for your patience.