So you’ve passed the IBLCE exam and are a newly minted lactation consultant. Private practice has always been your dream. So now what?
Setting the Foundations
With any business, you’re going to have to have a structure. You spend all of this time studying to pass the exam and become an IBCLC, but now what? Taking the time to actually learn the backend part of things, of how to actually run your new business, is just as important.
There could be two different approaches to getting your business established. You could wait until after you have successfully passed your exams then switch gears and take a good amount of time learning how to be this business owner and take on clients. Or you could simultaneously study for the exam while also getting everything on the backend set up for your business so the day you get your results you can see your first client.
You really want to have it all set up the way you want to have it set up for the entire time you’re going to be working in this business. It’s so important to take the time to make sure you plan it out well, make sure you have the legal, the financial, all of those things laid out really, really well right from the get-go.
Learning From a Mentor
If you’re working with a mentor under Pathway 3 to get your hours to qualify for the exam, these are things you’re going to want to talk with your mentor about. If your mentor is not someone who’s in private practice, I would recommend finding someone who is.
If you pass the exam and you’re thinking, “I actually never talked to anybody who was in private practice,” then you’ve come to the right place! There are a bunch of ways you can make connections and learn from your colleagues
Jump into my Facebook group (Paperless Private Practice and Lactation Business Coaching)
Look for the Lactation Business Coaching Podcast wherever you find your podcasts
Pop in on a Lactation Business Coaching Deeper Dive into Private Practice
Enroll in the self-paced Lactation Private Practice Essential Course and earn 50 CERPs from 25+ expert lactation consultants
Seeking professional advice
There are certain things that I would consider absolutely essential. One is legal counsel. It might be that you do your incorporation through a reputable online service. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no shame in that because they are lawyers, the good ones. They are actual lawyers, but nothing really can substitute for having a relationship with an actual attorney who can advise you on the specifics of your situation, because just like in breastfeeding, it might be right for 50 people and really not be right at all for you. Nobody can tell you that except for someone who is licensed to practice law.
The same thing goes for these financial structures that you’re looking into. Do I incorporate? Do I not incorporate? The answer is nobody can tell you that, but a CPA can give you advice on that. Talk to a bookkeeper because you have to know the specifics of your tax situation, the taxes for your country, for your state, for your province, wherever you are. It’s going to be different for every single one of us. You are never going to regret the money that you spent talking to a legal or a financial professional.
It’s a relief to have that feeling that you can just set that thought process aside and be like, “Okay, that part’s taken care of. I have peace of mind. Next thing. Let’s go.”
Purchasing Equipment for Your Business
You’re going to start looking at all of the things that maybe you would want to buy for your business, the devices and equipment and researching what other people have in their consult bags. This article has a good round up of physical essentials for a lactation business.
Be mindful in the beginning about overdoing it and buying a ton of stuff for your private practice. You really need very little compared to what you think you actually need or will use. And if there is sometime in particular a client might need for themselves, they can always purchase those things. If you do realize that you need something you’ll use regularly, it is not hard to order something quickly.
When you’re just starting out, don’t feel like you need to make a financial investment in things that you might end up giving away. Invest in some good quality gloves and you’re set.
Establishing Business Days for Yourself
When you’re making that investment of time we were talking about in establishing your business, something that I recommend is to have business days. Sit down with yourself or an assistant, if you have one, and talk about what’s coming up. What things might we want to look into? Let’s reflect on something that we’re seeing a pattern of. You can do it monthly: look back and then look ahead to what things have not gone well and what things we think we could brainstorm ideas for to shift them to have them work better for us.
This gets you in the mindset of “I’m running a business” seriously even if you’re on your own. I’m going to sit down with myself and I’m going to do this past-, then present-, then future-focused thinking through brainstorming. I think it’s a really great investment of your time in your business. This time is also critical for setting up and maintaining your infrastructure.
Spending Money Before You Make Money
The unfortunate truth about all of this is that you’re going to have to spend some money before your business is actually making money and that is a bitter pill to swallow. I think it’s so hard to think about, “what if I don’t even make money and I’m going to dump in $1,000 or $500 and I’m not even sure if this is going to take off or be successful.” It’s a hard investment, but every company starts with investors. Rarely are you going to get a company off the ground with zero money going into it.
A great way to look at it is to call yourself an investor in your own business rather than thinking of it as money that you have to spend. But to say, I am making a financial investment in my business by spending money on these essential things that I need to make sure it’s running correctly. That’s going to make you take it seriously.
You want your business to live, and you want it to thrive, and you want it to be something that brings you joy and it’s not going to bring you joy unless you find a way for it to be financially viable. I really believe that’s possible. It’s going to look different for everybody, but I think that it’s absolutely a realistic goal to have.