My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


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5 Tips for Gaining Clients in Private Practice (Part One)

Whether you are new to entrepreneurship or even seasoned, you may wonder to yourself, “How can I gain clients?”

As a Dietitian in private practice, I often struggled with the best way to grow my clientele since my undergrad and graduate courses had little to no focus on marketing. You can do a simple Google search and find millions of results for the topic of marketing; however, I wanted to give a “tried and true” perspective. This is a combination of what not only worked well for me, but also, other dietitians in similar positions. While I am by no means an expert, I know that someone out there might benefit from my information. This blog is going to be broken down into a two-part series, so look out for the second round of tips next week!

#1 – Have an Internet/Social Media Presence
People want to know a bit about you before committing to your services. Some of my clients found me from a Google search and others have been passive followers of my Facebook page and suddenly had a need for my services. You can really run the full gambit with an Internet presence. I currently have a website, 2 blogs, Instagram, two Facebook pages, and Twitter profile. I also created a FREE listing with “Google My Business,” which helps me to stand out a bit in search results. You don’t necessarily need to use every social media platform nor do you need to do everything at once. The key is finding which is the best for you (and your clients) now. This means identifying where your clients frequent the most. I started blogging back in my undergrad, then created a website, and then added my FB pages. Take it one step at a time and build as you see fit.

#2 – Look for the Secondary Benefit
I feel that my blogs add to my credibility and provide some extra tips/resources to my current clients. My Instagram shows clients how healthy food can look (and taste) good. There have been times where I am out somewhere and a fellow RD or even an entrepreneur in an unrelated business will say that they read my latest blog and it was really helpful. I have also had food companies reach out to partner with me after seeing pictures I posted or blogs I have written. So, while you may not see single clients reaching out to you for counseling services, down the line, a new business opportunity may arise due to them reading your blog and seeing your work. So, do keep it professional, credible, and useful to your audience.

#3 – Build an Easy-to-Access Website
Ultimately, your website is one of the first things I would get up and running, especially if you are in practice already. Clients want to learn about you, the services you offer, and how to contact you when they are ready. When you create your website (or have a designer do so), make sure it is easy to navigate. I have had a few clients say they chose my practice because my website gave them the information they needed quickly (i.e. contact info, services, about me). You can certainly hire someone to build a website for you; however, I did it myself and I like that I can just pop in to update things whenever I want. I also chose not to include a pop-up ad on my website landing page because I find it annoying when I am looking for information and all these boxes keep showing up to get me to subscribe via email. This was just a personal preference for me; however, I would challenge you to think from your client’s perspective when designing your website layout.

#4 – Be Consistent in Social Media Postings 
Whatever social media platform you use, try to be consistent in when/how you post. For my Facebook pages, I have a schedule of which days I post to which site (I have one for nutrition and one for RDs). I also typically post 3-4 times a month (Sundays) with my RD blog and 2 times per month (Thursdays) with my PorrazzaNutrition blog. I also have monthly themes (i.e. greens for March, holiday tips for Nov/Dec) and even daily themes (Motivation Monday), which can really help with content creation. When you recommend your blog or page to any client or fellow RD, you want to have content for them to see now and future content to keep them interested. Otherwise, why should they follow you if they won’t get anything out of it? I also limit the number of “selling myself” posts to 1-2 per month. People don’t want to follow you and hear a pitch every other day. Mix in your own work, general tips, blog/page shares, and your services to give a nice blend to your reader/audience.

#5 – Become an Insurance Provider
While you certainly don’t need to be an insurance provider to have a private practice, I will say, it helps a lot with gaining clients. About 95% of my current clients use their insurance. It is a huge selling point for potential clients when I tell them I take insurance and the cost for them is little to nothing. When creating partnerships, a lot of the contacts (doctors, trainers, etc) I spoke with had verified that I accepted insurance before agreeing to send clients my way. I am also listed on each insurance companies’ website, so when a new client searches for a Dietitian in my zip code, I show up. Now, there may be a few RDs listed in my zip code; however, as I mentioned earlier, having a good website with information about myself, links to my blogs with tasty recipes, and tips for the client could lean them towards choosing me from the list. It does take time to go through the insurance process and depending on your business model, you may not even want to go this route. If you are undecided on whether you should take insurance, I would suggest looking at what other RDs in your area are doing. If they all accept insurance and you do not, it can be tough to compete (I am only speaking in regards to one-on-one counseling, not other services). Also, if insurance is good in your area and no other RDs accept it then that could set you apart. I have seen practices thrive with and without taking insurance, so do some research and decide what you think will work the best for you.

What marketing tip has helped you the most? Share how this blog has helped you or share another tip you have for marketing yourself and gaining clients!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog Part Two of Gaining Clients in Private Practice with 5 more tips!

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7 Tips for Motivating Yourself in Business

Welcome back to My RD Journey! If you have been here before, you will already know that I have been working on writing my first book. I am happy to say I finally finished my rough draft! Now, I just need to edit, figure out how to format, and publish (leaning towards self-publishing). I welcome any and all guidance!

The past month, I have been needing some business motivation. I started to feel a sense of self-doubt, which can happen when you are entrepreneur; however, this was different than self-doubt about my skills or financial success. It took a bit for me to identify what was killing my motivation since from an outside perspective you would say I was successful and doing well. I realized my lack of motivation was related to feeling stagnant in my professional growth. I reached a point in my business where I was doing the same things over and over again and I needed to change something in order to move forward and advance.

One of the biggest things I have realized is that money really isn’t much of a motivator (for me anyways). Sure, I wanted financial stability; however, it was more of the professional/personal accomplishment that drives me. So, for today’s post, I wanted to share with you my tips for motivating yourself in business. I challenge anyone reading this to take the time to brainstorm each of the questions in a notebook and refer back to it when you need a little boost.

#1 – Identify What Matters 
What really matters to you? What is going to drive your every day activity? Is it money? Is it a desire to help others? Is it being stable enough in business to support a family?

#2 – Create Your Vision
Thinking about what matters to you, what do you see your business looking like in 1-month, 6-months, and 1-year from now? Think about what your workday looks like. Think how you will conduct business. Think about your ideal client. Brainstorm all the ideas you have for your future business.

#3 – Set Long and Short-Term Goals
Brainstorm how you can make your vision a reality by identifying long (6-months to 1 year) and short-term goals. Post your goals around your office space or make them a background on your phone. Keep them visible and as a constant reminder to yourself.

#4 – Make a Daily Action Plan
Break down those short-term goals into daily action steps. What can you do today (or tomorrow) that will bring you closer to your long-term goals and ultimately your vision? Even if it is just 15-minutes of writing or 15-minutes of website updating, do something DAILY.

#5 – Be Accountable 
Being an entrepreneur means that you are accountable to yourself and not to a boss or company anymore. Expand that line of thinking to identify whom else you are accountable to – clients, readers, etc. What do you need to do daily/monthly to meet your client needs?

#6 – Surround Yourself With Positive People
Rid yourself of negative thinking (and negative Nancy’s for that matter). Join mastermind groups. Be apart of networking opportunities with professionals. Surround yourself with positive and driven people who can be an extra source of motivation for you. These individuals do not need to be in your field to motivate you. One of the many reasons I love going to conferences is speaking to other entrepreneurs and leaving feeling reinvigorated. I also think to myself, “If they can do ____, why can’t I?” I said that phrase a lot when writing my book.

#7 – Practice Self-Care
You are no use to anyone burnt out. Take time weekly, or daily, to do something for YOU and not your business. I work out of my home, so it is tempting to work on business tasks late at night or on the weekends. I would often feel guilty doing something fun, when I “should” be working on my business. Sometimes, you need to just step away. I love taking a Friday or Saturday to spend a few hours in my garden with some music on. Think about how you can practice self-care and schedule it in your calendar if you need to.

One thing I am realizing in business is that it is constantly changing (and so am I). With that said, always be open to reassessing your vision and goals.

What motivates you to pursue or continue growing your business? Leave a comment and let me know!

Check out my last blog featuring lessons learned for June and tips for “saying no.” 

Check out the blog for more tips and resources. 


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Business Lessons – Learning to Say “No”

Hey there and welcome back to “My RD Journey!” If you have been reading my blogs lately, I have decided to do an end-of-month recap that goes though some of my lessons learned and business goals. In last month’s post, I talked a lot about taking action, but also, going along with the flow. This month, I learned more about myself and my business, which is basically an extension of me (ha). So, read on to hear all about it!

Lessons Learned
Shoot for 15-minutes 
At the conference I attended last week (see below for more), I learned about 15-minutes being the key to productivity by the speaker, Neen James. While for nutrition counseling, 15-minutes is not an ideal appointment time, this translates well to almost everything else in my business. Spending 15-minutes on social media. Only spending 15-minutes checking and responding to email. Taking 15-minutes in the morning to determine key actions you need to build your business. Even spending 15-minutes meal planning or meal prepping. It is really amazing what you can accomplish in just 15-minutes, yet it is a short enough time to not feel overwhelming. I have been writing a book all June and while I am still working on my first draft, I challenged myself to write for at least 15-minutes daily. Some days I don’t feel like writing (until I get into the groove) and that 15-minutes is just that. Other days, I start writing with the goal of at least 15-minutes and end up writing for an hour since ideas keep flowing. The idea of just aiming for 15-minutes is so simple and I challenge anyone reading this to apply it to different aspects of their personal and business life. What can you accomplish in 15-minutes?!

Learn to Say “No”
I always talk to my clients about learning to say “no” with pushy family members trying to feed them more at parties/dinners. In taking my own advice, I began to do the same this month. I had to turn down two clients trying to meet a work deadline for nutrition counseling, which was really tough for me. It wasn’t that I was afraid to turn down the money, but afraid of letting people down since I truly love what I do. If I had taken both of these clients and squeezed them in before July, I would have some days where I didn’t get to write and others where I would be working 12-hours. In the moment, I had to ask myself, “Is this client just reaching out to me since I am the only one available?” I also asked, “Is this my ideal client and if not, would they still have good quality session?” In answering those questions, my final response was, “No” to both. (Side note here, I did offer to see these clients in July/August and neither wanted to do so. This only supported my decision of “no.”)

To be honest, it felt kind of good to stand my ground. Ask me a year ago and I would have bent over backwards to try and accommodate these clients who probably would have forgotten about me after the fact. I knew, from doing this in the past, I would have been super burnt out those days and in turn, less productive. In learning to say “no,” I am becoming more confident and evolving into more of that business owner mentality. Sometimes you need to put yourself and your business first. Sometimes you need to stick to your guns. Sometimes you need that day off to regroup and recharge your batteries. Sometimes you do bend over backwards for clients (your choice). In being a business owner, you need to make the hard decisions and ultimately think about the long-term outcomes of any road you choose to follow.

Key Defining Moments
Women Building Businesses Conference
Just last week, I attended a conference hosted by SCORE Philadelphia and Bucks County. It was a really awesome event with great speakers and tons of time to network. Whenever I attend conferences, I always get this renewed sense of invigoration with my practice. It makes me want to just run home and put all of my ideas into action. With this conference, I had this “ah-ha” moment with my business branding and marketing strategy. A lot of people kept asking what I did; however, one woman in particular asked me this, “What makes you different than other Dietitians in private practice?” To my surprise, I actually had an answer fairly quickly (haha). One of the things I mentioned was that I focus on action and motivation versus straight education when counseling a client. I also do in-home counseling, so that is also something that sets me apart.

This really got me thinking about how I am different in the eyes of the public. I feel like my philosophy may be similar to other RDs; however, my way of counseling and interacting with clients is different (since everyone has their own style). My current clients may know this; however, I thought about how I wanted my potential clients to also know it. After the conference, I brainstormed and wrote all about what sets me apart in my practice, the brand I want people to know and love, and the key marketing terms I wanted to use. I changed up my website and drafted a few logos too. This was a huge moment for me since I felt like I finally pin-pointed how I wanted to convey what good I was doing (and could do) with others. Sometimes, a conference is more than just networking and gaining information about running a business, but more of a way to get to know yourself.

Business Goal #1 – Finish Rough Draft of Book
I will admit, I am still trucking away at my first full draft of my book since I got a bit side-tracked with an influx of clients. I have all of the chapters outlined; however, I am still only about 60% of the way through the first full draft. My July goal is to write at least 3 times per week (in-depth) and write at least 15-minutes the remaining days (even if just brainstorming). I will have that first draft finished! I have been going to coffee shops to write, versus being at home, since I get so distracted! Plus, there is something motivating about writing/working around others doing the same.

Business Goal #2 – Continue Building My Brand + Online Presence 
This month, I want to focus on making some short videos on my own. I also want to continue working towards a more effective online presence. I want to flesh out some of the ideas I have for a logo too!

What lessons have you learned this month? Did you have any defining moments or obstacles you overcame?

Click Here to read my last post on my favorite business tools
Click Here to read April’s recap post


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Top 10 Tips for a Successful Dietetic Intern

I am going to switch gears for a bit from my usual Dietitian-related tips to a focus on dietetic internships. I have been a preceptor for the last 2.5 years and it has been awesome. I would highly suggest any professional to take on an intern at some point in their career. It is such an eye-opening experience when you are teaching and basically helping to mold someone into their profession.

Over the last month, I have had a lot of interns reach out to me to be their preceptor for 2017-2018 dietetic internships. Only a small handful I ended up meeting with and agreeing to become their preceptor. In the process, I had a few asking what the qualities are of a “good” intern. While I hate using the word “good,” I do like thinking in terms of success. The top 10 list I complied below is a blend of tips from my own experience as being a preceptor plus what I observed during my internship (way back when).

Tip #1 – Show up on Time
This is an absolute must. There is nothing more off-putting than a late intern. Get up earlier and never assume traffic will be great (especially if you have a long drive). My practice is super busy and I am usually on a time crunch, especially if running a class that day, so tardiness just won’t cut it for me. If you do happen to be running late for some reason, always contact your preceptor. Let them know why you are running behind and your estimated time of arrival.

Tip #2 – Always Dress to Impress
I am sure you have heard this one a lot, but take it seriously. I have had interns show up for meetings with me in jeans (and not nice looking ones)! It is way better to be overdressed for a meeting. For your actual rotations, always contact your preceptor and find out the dress code. For my practice, there are days where we need to get dressy for classes or seeing clients. Other days, I am just working out of my home so there is no sense in getting all dolled up to just sit around and work.

Tip #3 – Come Prepared 
One of my biggest pet peeves is when an intern shows up with absolutely no work to do, no outlines or class assignments printed (or available on their computer), or nothing to do for downtime. Whether you are heading in for an initial interview with a potential preceptor or your first day on-site be PREPARED! Have an idea of what your rotation entails. What assignments do you need to accomplish? What tasks need to be done? Don’t assume your preceptor will have that information. Set aside time to speak with them to review everything. Also, make sure you have something to do when there is downtime. This could be reading journals, working on assignments, or studying for your RD exam. Again, this is a good time to ask your preceptor what the expectation is. Do they want you to be working on something for them? Do they want you to work on assignments? Lastly, don’t sit on your phone while you wait. Honestly, that makes me think you don’t take nutrition or the rotation seriously enough.

Tip #4 – Engage and Ask Questions
I always have interns tell me they don’t want to bother me with questions. I love questions and to me, this means you are excited and passionate about nutrition. One thing about questions is to time them correctly. If your preceptor is in the middle of a call or email, that might not be the best time to ask a question. Again, find out what they prefer for this too. I had preceptors who would tell me to interrupt them with anything. I had others that told me if they are busy to let them be. Asking questions about something is not a sign of weakness at all, instead it shows me that you are willing to learn, grow, and challenge yourself. If anyone ever gives you heat for asking questions, apologize maybe for your timing, but never, ever, apologize for your curiosity and desire to learn.

Tip #5 – Be Organized
For anyone that knows me personally, they know I am highly organized. My expectation for organizational skills is probably much higher than most professionals; however, it is for good reasons. My practice involves just me. I do all the scheduling, client-seeing, billing, follow-ups, emails, etc. I need to be organized to make sure everything gets done in a timely (and good quality) manner. While I don’t expect my interns to be like me, having some sense of organization will really suit you well.

Tip #6 – Give Good Quality Work
If your preceptor gives you an assignment or task to work on, take it seriously and take your time to produce good quality work. Don’t just slap something together to get it done. Do the research, invest the time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Tip #7 – Respond to Emails (Professionally)
As I mentioned earlier in the post, I have had a lot of interns reach out to me as a preceptor in the last month, yet I only interviewed a few for my practice. A lot of this was due to that first impression I received via email. Frantic and desperate emails were red flags for me. I questioned if they prepared at all for the internship (i.e. finding preceptors). Again, are you taking this seriously? This makes me think about lack of organizational skills. Also, if students reached out for a clinical rotation with me or with incorrect information about my practice, another red flag went up. Obviously, you did not do your research very thoroughly, so this makes me think that attentiveness to detail is not a strong suit. I have also had potential interns reach out to me, interview with me, not get matched and never let me know (though they said they would). While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, I spent the time setting up an interview with you, filling out paperwork and blocking your rotations in my calendar. At least have the decency to let me know if you will actually be coming. I had these same students reach back out again later when they did get an internship and needless to say, I was hesitant to work with them. While some of my perceptions could be totally off from the actual reality of the situation, that first impression is everything for me in choosing an intern that will work well in my practice. After all, this is my business and I rely on it for my income.

Tip #8 – Be Aware of Preceptor’s Time (Assignments)
Your preceptors are taking the time to work with you during your internship, so as much as you can make that process easier for them, the better. This means being on-top of your assignments and tasks, which goes along with being organized. Plan out when you will do your assignments and don’t wait until the last minute and then expect your preceptor to work it all out for you.

Tip #9 – Be Open to Learning
You might not love every rotation and you might already have an idea of which area of dietetics you want to go into. This doesn’t mean you should just do the bare minimum for your other rotations. Even if you know clinical is not for you, engage and ask questions. You never know when you might find a new passion or learning something exciting.

Tip #10 – Be Open to Feedback 
One of the most important pieces of any profession is getting and giving feedback. Feedback is crucial since it can help to shape you into a better professional. Always be open to getting feedback from your preceptor, even if it is negative. After such, do something about it! If your organization is slacking, how can you improve? Get used to giving feedback as well. Don’t just say everything is great when it isn’t. You can always attempt to improve a situation (or work environment) by giving constructive feedback. Are you frustrated with the lack of time your preceptor is giving you for questions? Are you not learning enough from them? See if you can compromise or come up with a solution that will work for the both of you. I always say that the worst that can happen is someone says, “no” but at least you know that you tried.

I hope this list helps any current or potential interns out there to enhance their experience in the dietetic internship. Good luck to everyone beginning their internships and leave a comment to let me know how yours is going!

For more tips on Preparing for Your Internship, check out the BLOG 

For more information on joining the AND Preceptor Database, click the LINK.


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Balancing Work & Personal Life

Happy Saturday! This is going to be a bit shorter of a post since I have a ton of cooking to do for Easter tomorrow. I am making about 70% of the menu this year, which I am so happy about, since it was a slow process getting my whole family interested in healthier meals/sides.

The past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to reflect on how one-sided my life felt in terms of balance. I felt like I was always working and just squeezed in time for myself or my family. I still wasn’t working on the things that I had set goals for (like writing an e-book or creating Podcasts) and I really needed to make that change. I had a few family issues this week (all resolved) that made me appreciate the fact that I have a private practice and do have flexibility. I did realize that my time still needed to be adjusted for a more optimal day-to-day routine. So, with that being said, this post brings to you my top 3 tips/lessons for having a more balanced work and personal life.

1. Set (and Keep) Boundaries for Yourself
I am the worst at keeping my boundaries. I will say to myself that Tuesday I am not booking clients so I can work on x-y-z. Then, a client comes along needing an appointment and I say, “Hey, what’s an hour?” The reality is that the 1-hour appointment also includes travel time + prep + post work (billing, report writing, etc) and can really break the concentration I had going for the day. I now schedule in my calendar the days where I don’t see clients and I stick to it. Setting boundaries also means not checking emails or your phone constantly. I no longer answer emails after 8pm, unless it has been a late day for me. I always think to myself that, “It can wait, or they would call.” If not, I end up checking the email, spending the time to respond or react in some way and ultimately it feels like my work day is just dragging on and well into my personal time.

2. Schedule It
Going along with keeping boundaries, use your calendar to schedule when you are doing personal things. I planned out the days I would go to the gym and when I would be gardening. I also set days for office-work for my business and times when I would work on content creation. This could mean seeing clients on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays and also teaching classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It could mean Tuesdays are when I garden and spend time doing personal things. It could mean Fridays are office-work days where I follow-up on billing issues, work on social media, etc. At first I had the thought that my life was so planned it leaves no wiggle room; however, I discovered that by setting aside the time initially, I had more freedom and flexibility.

3. Don’t Overbook Yourself
When I first started my practice full-time, I just wanted to get as many clients scheduled as I possibly could. After realizing that I wasn’t spending time on furthering my practice, I began to cut back on my workload and space it out a bit more. If I overbook, I end up stressed out and really just not at my prime. Not overbooking yourself ties right into keeping the boundaries you set. If I lose a client because I can’t see them in 2 weeks, then so be it. It rarely has happened that someone doesn’t want to wait for an appointment; however, I know for my sanity and stress level that cramming in an appointment isn’t good for me. Usually, those cram-in appointments take the place of the time I wanted to go to the gym or time I wanted to create something. In the long-term, it isn’t worth it. In my last blog post, you can read all about how I have been striving to reform my practice to allow for more flexibility while maintaining income in the long-term.

In the end, the reason I am so busy is due to my own fault in over scheduling and plain overbooking myself. I no longer want to be so busy that I can’t enjoy the things I love like gardening or spending time with my family or cooking. So, my personal commitment is to streamline my business and tasks that go along with it to be able to have the optimal work-life balance for me.

Leave a comment and let me know what your tips/strategies are for keeping your work and personal life in balance.


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Setting Income Goals – Billable vs. Non-Billable Hours

Hey there! A few weeks ago, I posted about setting fees in your private practice. As a follow-up to that, I wanted to break down how I determined my monthly and yearly income/expense benchmarks. This is just my way of setting income goals and it is by no means perfect. I am not an accountant or even have a business background, just a dietitian running a private practice and learning things as I go! You don’t necessarily need to do every step listed in every order, again, I am just posting this as a guide for my fellow private practice RDs and RDs-to-be.

Step 1a: Figure Out Your Personal Expenses
I separated my expenses into business and personal, but since I am self-employed, both get factored in to my equation. I found it easiest to figure out what my expenses were per month and then times that by 12 to get the yearly expenses. Any expense that was paid yearly (car insurance, etc), I divided out to see what a monthly average cost would be. My estimated monthly personal expenses ended up totaling $1470, which brought my yearly personal expense total to $17,640.

Examples of personal expenses: food, living (rent, utilities), medical (bills and medications), car-related (gas, inspection, etc), gym membership, phone bill, etc. I also added in here an extra $100 for miscellaneous expenses (i.e. gifts, clothes, etc).

Step 1b: Figure Out Your Business Expenses
Many of you who have been following me the last year or so may know that I do primarily in-home counseling and some work-site counseling. I don’t have any overhead for office space rentals, etc. I just wanted to throw that out there since my monthly business expenses may seem a bit low. My estimated monthly business expenses ended up totaling $400 initially; however, I did have to add in health care costs since I pay for my own insurance now. That brought me up to about $700/month for business expenses.

Examples of business expenses: office supplies (ink, paper, etc), travel/parking for classes/counseling, cooking class materials, referral fees, memberships, business banking fees, health care, liability insurance, faxing services/machine, etc.

Step 2: Figure Out Yearly Income 
Right off the bat, I know that I need to make at least $26,040 to cover my personal and business expenses (monthly expenses x 12). I also wanted to be able to save some of my income and not just live paycheck to paycheck. When I first figured out my desired income, I settled on $40,000 for the year. This level of income would cover my expenses + estimated taxes. For estimated taxes, I averaged about 15.3% being paid towards federal (SS + Medicare) and about 4% for PA tax. I rounded this up to about 25% just to cover myself. With taking out about $10,000/year for taxes and $26,040 for expenses, that left me with about $3,960. This number could vary in real life since I overestimated for expenses and taxes. Also, when doing taxes for the year (or quarterly), you do get some tax breaks for being a business owner and a lot of my expenses were write-offs. Regardless, I still wanted to have a rough estimate to figure out my income goals. If you wanted to have $40,000 be what you would see after taxes, just do the following -> ($40,000 x 25%) + $40,000 = $50,000. You could also think to yourself that you just want to make ends meet. In that case, you could do the following -> (Yearly expenses x 25%) + Yearly expenses = Desired yearly income.

Step 3: Figure Out Monthly Income Goals
One easy way to figure out monthly income goals would be just to divide out your desired yearly income by 12. Still using the $40,000, that would be $3,333/month. With $50,000/year that would be about $4,167/month. From this point, there are a lot of ways you can figure out client goals; however, below I list just two of them. Before I get into that, I just want to point out that you will need to think about what is considered billable versus non-billable hours. You may work a 40-hour week and end up only being able to bill for 20 hours of that. Billable time is what you are getting paid for (i.e. counseling appointment time, class time, etc). Any office work, emails sent, time prepping for an appointment, etc may not be time that you can necessarily bill for. So, when thinking about client goals just know that this is the billable time or amount of time in which you receive payment for services.

Step 4: Figure Out Client Goals (Option 1)
Let’s say you have an income goal of $3,333 per month, this breaks down into a weekly goal of about $833. If you only have 8 hours available for billable hours (i.e. 8 hours to see clients) then this means you will need to charge at least $104 per client and see at least 8/week ($32/month) to be able to reach your desired income goal. If you don’t take insurance and you already know that you charge $120/hour, this cuts the number of clients you see per month to 28 versus 32. You can think about what your time is worth and determine a rate for counseling or general services that is even higher and ends up cutting down on how many hours you need to spend doing things that count as “billable.” If you accept insurance, you are bound to the fee schedule that they set for you. So, if you get reimbursed $120/hour for initial appointments and $108 for follow-up appointments, you may need 10 initials and 20 follow-ups to hit your monthly goal.

Step 5: Figure Out Client Goals (Option 2)
If you do more than just provide counseling services, you can use this option to determine client goals. Working with the $3,333 as a monthly income goal, let’s say you run cooking classes or a nutrition class every month. Let’s say you make $800 per month to run this class 3 times. This leaves you with $2,533 ($3,333 – $800 class) to still make for the month. This could mean about 24 follow-up appointments at an average of $108/hour or it could mean 5 initial appointments at $120/hour and 18 follow-ups at $108/hour. Although this seems like a lot of numbers and scenarios, it helped me to figure out how many clients I wanted to be able to see per month. Once I figured out a client goal number, I worked on a marketing plan. I mentioned in my last blog post that I wanted to work on more programs and content versus services. I love what I do as a dietitian; however, I find myself working a lot and only being able to bill (I accept insurance) for a portion of that time. I want to free-up my time and still hit my income goals, which would mean decreasing the “service” portion and increasing the “product/program” portion.

Step 6: Overview 
In summary –> Desired Yearly Income (Factoring in Business + Personal Expenses + 25% for Taxes) divided by 12 months = Monthly Income Goal. Another option = Desired Yearly Income divided by 52 weeks (or 50 if you take out a week for vacation and another week for sick/personal time*) = Weekly Income Goal. From your monthly income goal, you can determine how many billable hours (and ultimately clients or classes) you will need to reach this. It really helps knowing your hourly rate.
*Normally, with being employed, you may get paid for personal, vacation and sick days. If you are self-employed and offer a service, if you don’t provide the service you don’t get paid.

As a way to check my progress monthly, I created two sort of “snapshot” documents for my finances. The first is the yearly look at my total income, total expenses, and net profit. I made this so I can see where my peak months are for income. The second document I created was for my monthly overview. I tracked the number of appointments (scheduled, cancelled, re-scheduled), classes ran, business and personal expenses, and total income received from both classes and counseling. I also include how many miles I drove that month for business. I was using apps to track my expenses/income before; however, I really like having the paper copy to just have it all laid out in front of me. I just recently got Quickbooks and I really love it, but again just like having my own sheet that makes sense to me.

I hope this blog helped you at least a bit in figuring out your own income/expense goals. As someone who doesn’t have a background in finance/accounting, I wanted to just be able to share my process for setting income/client goals. Leave a comment and let me know what other resources have helped you with figuring out finances. I hope to post my snapshot documents on my website; however, if you wanted a copy to get you started, shoot me an email 🙂


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4-Month Practice Recap – Self-Employed Vs. Employee

This blog post was originally going to be all about setting income goals and figuring out billable hours; however, as I approach my 4-month self-employed, private practice milestone, I had something different I wanted to share first. This revolves around mainly how I left a “9-5” employee job for a 9-7 if not 8-7 self-employed private practice. Was it worth it? Of course and I would do it again; however, I did come to realize a few things this past month that are going to redefine how I do business in the future.

When I first thought about private practice, I didn’t think it would end up being something full-time. Sure, I would have absolutely loved to just be doing my practice; however, I just didn’t see that as being realistic. I was certain I needed the traditional path of jobs to be successful. After a few years, I began to see that full-time private practice was definitely realistic and coming faster than I had imagined. Now, let’s flash-forward to when I was deciding to leave my full-time employee job. I debated with myself A LOT in the months leading up to my quitting. Would I make enough money? Would I actually like what I was doing? Would I get overwhelmed? I was someone who was ingrained with the idea of making money and saving for a future. Not that this was at all a bad thing, but I was fearful that I wouldn’t be saving and would instead drain the savings I had been building for years.

With those thoughts in the back of my mind, I still quit my job and was quite successful being a private practice business owner. My income surpassed what I was making being an employee, I was flexible enough to be able to spend time with my family whenever needed, and I loved being able to choose what I was doing. So, this doesn’t seem so bad at all, right? To be honest, my success was largely due to stretching myself beyond capacity, taking paying gigs whenever possible (even if they were at lower rates than I wanted) and seeing clients even on the days when I wanted to just focus on office work. I wasn’t spending time on creating products for my lesson plan store. I wasn’t spending time on making YouTube videos. I wasn’t spending time on writing a book. I was just working to make money (and of course because I truly like what I do). It was at this point that I realized that I couldn’t add more to my schedule because the time just simply wasn’t there. I also wasn’t adding in the pieces of my business that would be a source of passive income, thus lightening up my day-to-day workload. I was still bound to certain time constraints for classes or counseling for income and low and behold, that cut my flexibility in half.

After a long chat with my beyond supportive boyfriend, I set goals for myself to cut the fat out of my business. My time was more valuable than what I was being paid for some classes and that needed to change. I also needed to actually set and stick to a schedule where I would only see clients and have classes on certain days. I stopped trying to join various committees and groups to network or invest my time in (for free). I stuck with the organizations I was already in and set boundaries for myself as to how involved I would be. I needed to block off time for content/product/program creation. I refused to be a slave to my own business anymore.

So, why I am I sharing all this with you? Well, for me, the easier route in private practice was to just go out and make that quick money. It was the instant gratification and certainly short-term. What was harder was investing (or starting to invest) my time into what would turn into a long-term income source. This long-term income source would free up more of my time so I could actually enjoy being self-employed. I could get back to more of my hobbies without feeling guilty that I wasn’t working on the business. I could spend more time with my family without bringing work along. I could invest more time in personal development and enhancing my skills as a Dietitian. The positive side of this was simply endless.

If you ever get to this point in your practice, think to yourself what you truly want in being self-employed. Do you want to work like crazy for the goal of not having a boss or company telling you what to do or do you want to have more flexibility in what you do on the day-to-day, while still making money through passive income sources? Once you think about what your long-term goal is, break it down to determine short-term goals and plan your schedule around that. It is so easy to get sucked into the work and make money thought process; however, this process can be simplified, streamlined, and more so minimized to create more time for yourself. In the end, isn’t that what we all want…more time?

To sum up this lengthy blog post, I want to say that when I think about my future, I want that future to include more time for myself, my family, and eventually my kids (I don’t have any now). I don’t want to be forced into 8 or 10 hour workdays to make enough money, even if it is on my own terms. This post is by no means me saying that if you want the traditional private practice that it is in some way less ideal or wrong for you. The beautiful thing about private practice is that YOU can create the type of business structure that will suite YOUR needs above anybody else.

So, leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on this topic. What does your ideal private practice look like? What does your ideal workweek entail?

Stay tuned next week where I will be sharing my thoughts on how to set income goals and defining billable hours!