How to create a business plan for your practice (includes free template!)

Allied health business coach, Cathy Love, shares her best 10 tips (and gives you her business planning template!) to help you build a smart, effective business plan that will serve your health practice well.

Guest author

Cathy Love, Nacre Consulting·

Laptop screen surrounded by coffee cups

I’m mission driven about helping Allied Health business owners set up for success. And in my extensive experience, one key element of that success is developing a fit for purpose business plan for your practice.

You might think you don’t have time to create a plan, or you simply don’t know where to start. Well, it doesn’t need to be difficult - simply block out some time in your diary, pull together the key information you need and get planning.

To help you stack the deck for success, I’ve collated ten tips to help you build an effective, authentic business plan that will serve you, your team and your clients well...

1Before you start planning, be crystal clear on one thing...

That is, are you a clinician, or are you a CEO?

This is something that I want you to be really honest about. To what extent are you focused on clinical work, to the detriment of the activities that will help to grow your practice?

In my experience, my mental health, my bank balance and my wider team morale improved drastically when I took a greater leadership role and released more clinical work to my talented team.

So, let me encourage you to dial it up a few notches in your transition to becoming a CEO of your allied health business and an inspired leader of your team.

2Block out time for business development

In my coaching experience, businesses like yours that see the most positive results are those where the CEO owners are investing a minimum of four hours a week in business development activity.

For maximum results, my advice would be to block out those four hours in one block, or worst-case, in two blocks of two hours. Do yourself a favour and plan that time in your diary NOW so that you’re committed to spending the time to grow your business.

3Break your business plan down into workable projects

We all have wonderful goals and dreams for our businesses, but where we tend to struggle is translating those big ideas into bite-size, workable projects.

So, pull out 5-6 core projects that can help you reach your goals. Then it’s time to identify which activities under those projects you need to focus on to make them a reality. Once you’ve identified the key activities, you can work out the natural sequence of tasks so that there is a structure for how to work towards the goals you’ve set.

Doesn’t that all sound a little familiar? That’s because it is! It’s simply business-speak for task analysis, which we all know how to do.

4Don’t leave your team behind

When you have a shiny new business plan it’s so easy for you to create a tornado through your business. “We’re doing this and we’re going to do that and it’s all going to be GREAT”.

However, you need to be very mindful about how you deliver change. Your goal is to carefully lift the existing team energy and keep everyone working with you towards your business plan.

Building a communication strategy into your overall business plan can help. Keep the dialogue open, make it a regular agenda item at team meetings and listen to your team when they have ideas or concerns.

5Put financial planning and reporting at the heart of your business

It’s so easy to bury your head in the sand when it comes to the numbers side of your business, so take this planning opportunity to go back to basics on your financials.

What software do you need? Which reports should you be pulling from that software at the end of every week, fortnight and month? How much can you trust the data?

Having accurate and reliable data for your business is going to make a world of difference. Be sure to work with your financial team to ensure that your profit and loss and balance sheet are completely reliable. You can then start planning to build a budget and financial reports. You could even get some cashflow forecasting happening, discover the breakeven of each of your services and get sales reports on your clinicians so you know the extent to which they’re earning and promoting your services.

With reliable financial data, you will be in control.

6Get your workflow out of your head

Nothing is more fatiguing than carrying around your whole business in your head.

So, making your workflow ‘visible’ is such a gift to your business. I can sit at my desk and see my Trello boards. I can easily review my Kanban system. I can check my business KPIs at a glance. So, immediately I know what I’m up to. I know what I should be doing next and it removes so much procrastination and duplication.

You won’t have a system like this overnight but plan to build a system that allows you to make your workflow more visible.

7Invest in your personal development

Planning ahead for your business is the perfect time to think about who you need to be to lead your team and run your business.

Are you that person yet? If not, then who should you be listening to? Who should you be talking to? What should you be reading? What skills do you want to work on?

There are so many ways to build your own personal capacity to be a real rock star business manager, so please don't leave yourself and your skillset behind. In fact, the stronger, more vibrant and skilled you are as a person, guess what? That is going to be reflected in your business success.

So, in your business planning journey don’t forget to build out some plans for your own personal development.

8Lean on your advisory team

As you’re taking this time to plan for your business, I want you to consider how you could benefit from building an advisory team around you.

So, think about having a meeting with your accountant, your lawyer, your practice manager, your coach and mentor, for example. Nothing beats the wisdom in the room when your whole advisory group gets around the table and provides a 360-degree view of your business. All these guys will have a very different lens through which they look at you and your business, so it can bring issues you’ve been struggling with into very sharp focus.

It might be a financial investment but having sat in on quite a few round table meetings like this, it really can be a super powerful insight into your business.

9Turn up the heat under your leadership

I know many of you are recruiting and growing your teams, so developing your leadership potential is crucial to implementing your business plan.

Turning the heat up under your leadership capability is going to be great for attracting and retaining talent, as well as keeping your business running smoothly.

This all ties into Tip 4 (bringing people along with you) and Tip 7 (personal development) - now is the time to plan to improve your leadership skill set.

10Consider investing in a coach

I’m just going to call it like it is… a coach makes SUCH a difference to your business.

When I had my practice, I had three different business mentors at different times and for different reasons. My goodness, it was such a mind-expanding opportunity. They lit up the dark corners and highlighted the skills I should be leveraging. They acted as a sounding board and provided accountability, as well as providing industry intelligence that I didn’t have access to (and, to be honest, didn’t realise I needed).

I hope I’ve shown you how some preparation upfront can help you create a plan that will serve your business well.

And the good news is that you don’t have to do this alone. Join our Business Planning Virtual Workshop and access a step by step guide to help you confidently complete your unique Allied Health business plan. This virtual handhold includes video and workbook resources so you have the blueprint you need for business planning success.

There’s no better time than now to jump in and set your practice up for success with a rock-solid business plan!

Download Cathy's business planning template free!

Author information

Guest contributor Cathy Love is the founding director of Nacre Consulting where she coaches allied health business owners to run great practices. She's also an Occupational Therapist, Speaker, Author, and Podcaster.

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