Understanding Your Money in Private Practice: An Interview with Jennie Schottmiller
Curt and Katie interview Jennie Schottmiller, LMFT, CPA, about understanding your numbers when starting a private practice. We explore the simple math that can help you create consistent income and decrease your anxiety about running a business.
Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.
Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.
An Interview with Jennie Schottmiller, LMFT, CPA
Jennie Schottmiller is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Pennsylvania. In 2007, Jennie left accounting to focus on health and family. She became a marriage and family therapist in 2010, switching careers and leaving accounting behind. Soon after opening her private practice, Jennie realized that many of her peers struggled with accounting, bookkeeping, tax, budgeting, cash management and related financial topics. In addition to her clinical practice, she now runs Simple Profit providing education and support to small business owners across the U.S.
In this podcast episode, we talk about how therapists can handle their private practice finances
We reached out to our friend, Jennie Schottmiller, to talk about the basics of bookkeeping in private practice.
What are the business decisions therapists need to make when starting a private practice?
“Outside of a rule that you must follow, there’s choices: choose the accounting system you like the best, that’s the best one for you. There’s lots of different types and reasons why a certain form of business would be right for one person and wrong for another person. So just don’t think that there’s one size fits all and know the difference between something that you get to choose what fits you best. And what’s actually a real rule or law that you need to follow.” – Jennie Schottmiller, LMFT, CPA
- Bookkeeping platforms
- Types of business
- How to stabilize their income
- What to pay themselves
How do therapists create consistent income?
- Understanding the ebb and flow of the business
- Identifying how to pay a consistent income every month
What are the fears that many private practice owners have? (And how can they deal with them?)
- What do I need to plan for (i.e., rational fears)
- What do I need to talk myself of the ledge about (i.e., irrational fears)
- The fear of math can keep folks from figuring out how to make the money work
- The benefits of starting slow and managing your expenses from the beginning
- Creating financial cushions to avoid freaking out
What are best practices for addressing your books in private practice?
“I think that everyone can benefit from learning some basics around bookkeeping, so that you know what you’re looking at. Also, so you know, what your bookkeeper is doing.” – Jennie Schottmiller, LMFT, CPA
- How often should you look at your books?
- What numbers are you looking at?
- When should you hire a bookkeeper?
- What should you know about your books before you hire a bookkeeper?
- How to design your books to best monitor your unique business
- Managing expenses and understanding what you’re paying for
- Looking at year over year changes and trends to plan
How can a therapist navigate their neurodivergence and starting a business?
- Understanding your capacities and what your challenges are
- Creating a plan to get stuff done
- Putting systems in place to address your challenges that works for how your brain works
Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:
We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!
Free Facebook group: Simple Profit for Mental Health Clinicians
Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:
Don’t Take Tax Advice from Therapists
Financial Therapy: An interview with Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, LMSW
Investing in Yourself as an Entrepreneur: An interview with Howard Spector
Marketing and Branding Episodes of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide
Who we are:
Curt Widhalm, LMFT
Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com
Katie Vernoy, LMFT
Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com
A Quick Note:
Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.
Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.
Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:
Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:
Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:
Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group
Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:
Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/
Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano https://groomsymusic.com/
Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):
Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm, and Katie Vernoy.
Curt Widhalm 0:16
Welcome back modern therapists, this is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about the things that happen in our practices and things that we do with our clients. And sometimes we come back to business related topics, and today we are joined by Jennie Schottmiller from Simple Profit. She has the wonderful combination of being both a therapist and a CPA, and is the life of I’m assuming every party. But thank you very much for joining us today and sharing some wisdom with our audience.
Jennie Schottmiller 0:53
Thank you for having me.
Katie Vernoy 0:55
Oh, goodness, Jennie, it’s so good to see you. It’s so good to have you here. We love having friends to the show on the show. So our first question that we asked everyone is who are you? And what are you putting out into the world?
Jennie Schottmiller 1:07
Well, I am a LMFT and a CPA. And I mostly put out education and support into the world into the therapist world, especially. I have to focus on what I like. And what I like is helping people. And so obviously, being a therapist is helping people. But I found that helping therapists is one of the most rewarding things that a person can do. Because therapists appreciate you so much when you help them.
Katie Vernoy 1:30
Yeah, they do.
Curt Widhalm 1:32
We start a lot of our episodes talking about common mistakes that people make. So that way if people are moving into their practices that they can learn from other people’s wisdom and not have to make the same mistakes their own. So what do you usually see that therapists struggle or get wrong with when it comes to finances?
Jennie Schottmiller 1:54
The two things that I see the most is avoiding finances, because they think it’s going to be harder than it actually is. I often tell people, if you can help someone figure out how to handle a dysfunctional family Thanksgiving, then you can understand and accounting system, they’re both systems. But there’s a lot fewer things that can go wrong in an accounting system than can happen in a family. So we’re helping people all the time with family systems and internal systems. And this is just another version of system with fewer problems, and a lot easier to understand. And so getting a little education around this thing we called an accounting system is going to help you not avoid it. Avoiding is one of the biggest mistakes. A lot of times people say Oh, I wish I would have figured this out sooner. I wish I would have asked the question sooner. The other thing is thinking there’s one size that fits all. So if you ask for help, or support around any kind of money or business topic, well, you have to use QuickBooks Online, you need to be an S corp, you have to have use this bank, you know, go down the list. You know what those are their preference. That’s what they think is best. It might be what’s best for them, but it might not be what’s best for you. So one of the things that I often am educating people around is: know your choices, okay? This is a rule. Follow this. IRS says do this, do that. But outside of a rule that you must follow, there’s choices. Choose the accounting system you like the best, that’s the best one for you. There’s lots of different types and reasons why a certain form of business would be right for one person and wrong for another person. So just don’t think that there’s one size fits all. And know the difference between something that you get to choose what fits you best. And what’s actually a real rule or law that you need to follow.
Katie Vernoy 3:32
I love that. I think I probably have been one of those people that are like you must get a bookkeeper. Because it works for me. And I think there are definitely folks who really like to have their hand in knowing exactly where the money is coming in, and what’s going out. And I follow it. But I like to not have to worry about receipts and reconciling my books. But for some people, that’s how they operate. And that’s how they understand their business well. But taking a step even earlier than that, because one of the reasons I reached out to you, Jennie was because we got an email from a listener, and I did not pull it up. So I apologize. I can’t state who the listener is. But the issue was how do therapists in private practice ever really get consistent income? Like how do we actually plan around it? And I think that’s the thing that scares a lot of folks. Especially folks who are group practices or who were in some sort of agency work from starting a private practice, because they’re basically like, I’m going to a place where I’m not going to have any income. And this I think is especially hard for folks who either haven’t been paid well, or folks who have been in group practices where they get like two clients and they’re making like $20 a week. And they’re like, oh, there’s no way I can make this workout. And so even seasoned clinicians who’ve had private practices for a long time sometimes struggle with how do I make a consistent income or how do I account for ebbs and flows, drops in cases during the summer, anything all of that anxiety around income. How do you help folks that are just starting out to kind of set themselves up for success?
Jennie Schottmiller 5:05
So one of the first things is understanding that when you worked a job in the past, and you made a consistent income, what was happening in the background? There was an ebb and flow of the business that was paying you. And what they did was they just manage their cash flow so that they could pay you. Maybe you got a job where you had paid time off, and they took the money you helped bring into the company, and they paid you a consistent amount, and they saved a little extra. But while they’re also doing that, more than likely, they also had a profit, that they profited off of your work. And so what you’re now going to do is you’re now going to be the person who brings the money in and the person who gets to profit. But what you need to know is how to manage your cash flow. It’s not so easy to do that right out of the gate. Sure, it’s a lot easier for people who can find a way to swing it, where they kind of keep their day job. And then they start a little practice on the side and build it up until the point where like, Okay, I think I can quit my day job. You got a little security there. Not everyone has those options, because of lots of different reasons but you want to be thinking about, you have the ability to profit, to bring in more money to yourself than you did, working somewhere else. Be like you can be more profitable in private practice. And then when you ever you have a good month, you’re gonna save a little every month, and then when you have a good month, you’re going to save the excess, you’re going to put that aside, and that’s going to be called owner PTO. And you’re going to use that money, when you have to take a week off for training, when you’re sick, or kids are sick. And you’re going to pay yourself a consistent amount from your little slush fund that you created. Because every time you had oh my gosh, I made an extra $1,000 that I didn’t plan on, $800 of it went over into my savings. And then when I have a low month, I’m going to use that cash, I pay myself and this isn’t wasn’t true the first year, but after about the first year, 18 months, I pay myself the exact same amount every single month doesn’t matter what my business made. And then if overtime, I start to grow my profit, I you know, start paying myself a little more, I’ll increase it.
Curt Widhalm 6:59
So part of that is, you know, taking off the CPA and the great bookkeeper hat that you just described that people put in is now the emotional hats of anxiety of like, well, what if and there’s 8 million different fill in the blank sorts of things that can come right after that? So what do you suggest, as people are trying this out? Many people who are, you know, stepping into a business owner role kind of for the first time as far as managing some of those anxieties that come up when it’s like, but every month is going to be, you know, a difficult month where all of my clients go out on vacation, and nobody loves me, and they’re never going to come back because they’re gonna go find other therapists. How do you suggest that people manage that kind of anxiety?
Jennie Schottmiller 7:42
Well, what I usually recommend is let’s break down what that anxiety is about. So we have irrational fears. And we have rational fears. It’s a rational fear to say, You know what I might have a month where everyone went on vacation, or a couple of clients quit at the same time, right when I’m trying to build my practice, and I’m probably going to get really discouraged. And that might be really hard. Like, that’s a very realistic fear. But it’s not super realistic that if you’ve been a therapist for awhile, and you’ve been bringing money into someone else’s practice working for someone else, that you’re not going to be able to sustain a caseload. And so we want to manage our anxiety, we say, Okay, well, if it’s a realistic fear, you know what I need for that, as I need a plan, I need to figure out what am I going to do when that realistic fear happens? How am I gonna approach it? I also need to know I’m not alone. How many therapists especially since the pandemic have started a private practice? Talk to those people. How was it for them? But then when I have this really irrational fear, like the sky is literally going to fall? Everything is going to get terrible, and then it’s going to be a disaster, and I’m gonna lose my house.
Katie Vernoy 8:46
Jennie Schottmiller 8:47
Okay, you know what I need to tell myself, I need to reassure myself, I need to tell myself, that’s not likely to happen. I know 50 People that went into private practice in the last two years, or I can at least find them on Facebook. And that didn’t happen to a single one of them. So it’s probably not going to happen to me. So I break it down into those two fears. What do I need to plan for? And what do I need to just talk myself off the ledge about?
Katie Vernoy 9:09
Let’s dig a little bit into kind of that planning for some of these rational fears? I think this isn’t a marketing episode, although I think a lot of people will equate this with marketing. But how do you make sure that you are making enough money? You know, like that, you get to that point that you can get that baseline that you need? Like, what is the figuring that we need to do to make sure that we’ve set up a practice that actually pays us what we need to be paid?
Jennie Schottmiller 9:33
Some people who are therapists are allergic to math.
Katie Vernoy 9:36
Jennie Schottmiller 9:37
And this is math. And I’ll admit that it’s math, but it’s kind of the math, like I had five apples, and then I gave an apple to my friend. And how many apples do I have left? It’s that kind of math. So it’s doable math here. We need to know how many sessions we’re going to have. We need to know what I can charge. We can look around and see what other people are charging, or what insurances are paying. We can figure out what we’re going to bring in. We know how much we can work if we’ve been a therapist for a while, we know well, you know what, people are going to cancel. How much?
Katie Vernoy 10:03
Jennie Schottmiller 10:03
And then we need to know what things are going to cost us. And and there’s really to me two kind of camps of starting your private practice. If you’re starting a telehealth private practice, your costs are going to be a lot lower and a lot manageable. And a lot more, that if you spend a lot, it’s going to be on training because you wanted to and you had the money.
Katie Vernoy 10:20
Jennie Schottmiller 10:20
If you start a in person practice, then you have the rent, probably going to be your biggest expense and training is going to be next. And the rent isn’t flexible. So you know, but then you’re like, Okay, wait, I’m still it’s gonna make me really nervous as to sign a lease, and have stuck with $1,200 a month rent. Well, then you know, what would be a really good plan? Let’s sublet, let’s sublet a couple of days a week. And let’s build slower. Building slow is one of the easiest ways to prove to yourself that you can do it and sustain it. When you try to jump in and say I’m going to buy all new brand new furniture, I’m going to lease in a really hot office, it’s going to be awesome. And I’m going to you know, start from ground, I don’t even have anybody to bring into my practice. Well, you know what, that’s going to be more the person that has a cushion and a financial safety net, and they maybe don’t even need the money.
Katie Vernoy 11:09
Jennie Schottmiller 11:09
But if you’re not that person, you’re not going to go that path. You are going to use, what I did was I bought a I had a safety net, but I bought a couch. And then everything else, like I got an IKEA and I got a $5 end tables, and I took some furniture from my basement, and I didn’t have a very expensive office, you can do that. And you can build slower, and prove to yourself that you can do it and prove to yourself okay, well, this is what my expenses were last month, guess what that’s going to be about what my expenses are next month, oh, I’m taking two more clients and my expenses didn’t go up. And if you were able to look at your numbers, and see that. It’s incredibly empowering, to see the actual numbers and how it starts to play out. And then you really start to believe in yourself, and you can do it.
Katie Vernoy 11:56
And I think practically starting slow can look like you know kind of furniture you already have, even if it’s taking your actual furniture from home to be able to use and sitting on, you know the floor at home for a while. But I think there’s that element, for me, what I ended up doing was I gave myself a particular financial goal before I bought myself a new chair, or before I bought myself a desk or before I bought myself a bookshelf or whatever it is. And so I had bare bones therapy practice office to start with, but I didn’t spend more than I had or more than I was bringing in.
Jennie Schottmiller 12:31
Yep. And I look at people’s numbers all the time. I can tell you there are people who start their therapy practice with $200. And there are people who start their therapy, practice spending $20,000 before they even see a client.
Katie Vernoy 12:42
Jennie Schottmiller 12:42
And that’s a big range. If you know what your limits are, and you know what you need to make, and you know what you’re going to be able to do in terms of a caseload and what you’re going to bring in the door, then pick that expense number, you can actually afford, you go a little lower if you can.
Katie Vernoy 12:58
Jennie Schottmiller 12:58
So you give yourself a cushion. I’m really big on cushions, financial cushions, build it, create it, if you don’t have it to start out, so that you again don’t have to freak out.
Curt Widhalm 13:10
So, have a budget for couch cushions have a cushion in your budget for other things.
Jennie Schottmiller 13:17
Get really nice soft cushions for your couch, but get them on sale. Yeah.
Curt Widhalm 13:21
I mean, my first couch that I think that I bought from my office was from Walmart. And it lasted about nine months. And then I had enough of a cushion to buy a better couch at that point. But you talk about you know, kind of the answer is like, look at your numbers. How frequently do you suggest that people look at those numbers.
Jennie Schottmiller 13:42
If I had to pick what I think would be an ideal time, it would be weekly. And the reason is that if you have a bookkeeper and someone else is doing your books, it’s going to be monthly. And for a lot of people it’s going to be monthly and monthly is fine. But if you’re doing your own, or at least you have the access to be able to see or maybe you’re using a spreadsheet to just keep track of things. I would look at it weekly. And here’s the reason is because it’s a routine. It’s harder to create a monthly routine, in my opinion, in my experience than a weekly routine. But if I say every Friday, I just kind of look and see how the week turned out. Well, now I’m reinforcing for myself, the things I needed to look at. If I go a month, I’m going to at least at first have trouble remembering what it was I was supposed to do, to look at it. But if I do it every week, I’m reinforcing it. Also, once I get comfortable with where I get the numbers, and where I put the numbers or what I need to look at, even if it’s monthly. Even if you’re using a bookkeeper. As soon as I get really comfortable that, when you look at your numbers, it’s actually a sense of satisfaction. Starting a therapy practice is one of the best businesses you could start. We’re so blessed when we’re in terms of self employment, because there are so many different types of industries where to start something you have to have a large retail space and employees. And we don’t have to have a huge amount of costs if we don’t want to. And that means that we can be profitable fairly quickly if we get clients. It’s satisfying to look at those numbers. So when you look at them weekly, you get a super good feeling when you Oh, oh, that was better than I thought. The other thing that happens when you look at them weekly is that you’re alerted really early if there is a problem. Wait, why are my numbers down this week? Oh my gosh, I didn’t even think about like five people cancelled. Let me look ahead at next week and see, oh, wait, I got a new client coming in. Okay, I think I’m gonna be okay. When you have the information, you’re better able to sort of plan versus finding out quarterly that there is a problem. Oh, wait, I didn’t realize I spent that much in February on training. Oof, that that’s that’s all that’s my profits, not going to be where I needed to be for this year. It feels late. So weekly, I think is best. Monthly is totally, totally fine. I don’t think quarterly is enough. And if you’re ever in the position where it’s February, and you’re sitting there with a pile of receipts, and some bank statements, and you’re feeling very overwhelmed, it’s going to take you eight hours, and it’s going to feel really bad. Just make this be the last year you do that. Because it’s not fun. And you don’t get that sense of satisfaction, you lose out on all the benefits of looking at it regularly.
Katie Vernoy 16:10
So what are those numbers that you’re looking at?
Jennie Schottmiller 16:13
Main thing you’re looking at is what money came in the door? And what money went out the door? You’re also going to look at what do you need to set aside for taxes? And what’s left for you? And then what’s left for you. If we want to break that down further? How much is going into retirement if I have any extra? How much is going right into my checking because I needed to live? And can I put any over in my personal savings as well. But that’s pretty much it. If I have money that came in the door from clients and I spent money on business bills like training like EHR, then that’s my profit. And that profit: some’s go into tax some’s going to me, maybe some will go to the future me.
Katie Vernoy 16:49
Curt Widhalm 16:50
So when it comes to things like a bookkeeper, you know, Katie mentioned earlier, you’ve mentioned like, some people have the ability to do these kinds of things. How do you help people make kind of that decision of this is a worthwhile investment.
Jennie Schottmiller 17:03
I think that everyone can benefit from learning some basics around bookkeeping, so that you know what you’re looking at. Also, so you know, what your bookkeeper is doing. If you learn how to do your own books, and you hate it, and you’re like, this is definitely not for me, this feels like such a chore and not a chore I would ever, ever, ever like, then you’re going to hire a bookkeeper, of course. But you’re going to know about how long it takes to do your particular books, which will be different than maybe some other company or some other practice. You’re going to know a little bit what’s involved. And because you know a few things about it, if something looks really awry, you’re going to be able to spot it. So I think everyone can benefit from a little bit of education around it. And then trying it out. And seeing some people are kind of surprised that it’s, you know, it’s like taking some numbers, and you put them in little buckets and like, oh, it looks so nice together, look how cute and and they really, really enjoy it. And also some people, it’s like five minutes a week. Wait, I don’t need to spend X dollars to save myself five minutes a week, I was going to look at these numbers anyway. So once you know a little bit about it, then you’re going to know whether it’s something you can do and something you want to do. And you’re now in a great position to supervise if you do outsource that, because you’re going to spy. One of the worst feelings is finding out like eight months after a problem started that your bookkeeper was making major, major errors or actually not doing it. And now they disappeared on you. You can’t reach them, they have your money. And you have to pay someone to clean it up. That can be avoided by just knowing some basics.
Katie Vernoy 18:36
And looking at it regularly. I mean, I think if your bookkeeper doesn’t have a process, being able to make sure that you’re going into whatever accounting system, I use QuickBooks, I’m one of your folks that like it must be QuickBooks, but you know, being able to go in and look and say, Hey, let’s see, are they done? When’s the last time the bookkeeper checked in? You know, do these buckets make sense? You know, and I’ve even had conversations where I actively said, I want this to go in this bucket, I want to be able to track these types of clients that are coming in or whatever. And this is was more on my consulting business. But it was something where knowing enough I think empowers you to be able to have more detailed reports that makes sense to you versus getting something that’s just a basic P&L Profit and Loss report that you’re like, I don’t understand.
Jennie Schottmiller 19:22
Yeah, like a lot of times people will have all of their income going into one category. Well, it’s hard to make sense of that if some of that is client copay, some of that was insurance, and some of that was maybe consulting revenue or supervision revenue. And now it’s all in one thing. So one of the first things I recommend is, hey, I can really see what’s coming in your QuickBooks, we could really easily make several income categories and they’ll say no one ever suggested I didn’t even know that was possible. The layout of how your things are tracked. And you know, if you do, let’s say you do clinical testing, you know, a lot of times those testing supplies are really expensive. I’ll recommend let’s put testing supplies in their very own category and not lump them in. And when I do that, I’m always thinking about well what’s going to be good for this person to look at. I’m not thinking about it what I like, and think about what’s going to be useful to them. Just like when I’m a therapist, and I say to my clients, when like a new client, I’ll say, Look, I don’t know everything. I know some stuff about some people and how things kind of go with human beings. And maybe I know stuff about like, you know, ADHD, or your, you know, divorce, but you’re the expert on your life, and you know, yourself better than I ever can. So we’re going to just put our heads together and try to make your life better. It’s the same with bookkeeping, I say, Look, you know, your business, you saw those clients, you’re choosing to sign up for those services and pay those bills. The bookkeeper’s role is to know the accounting software and the system and a few things about business to help you out. But you put your heads together. And it shouldn’t be just a one sided relationship.
Katie Vernoy 20:50
Well, even if you’re setting up your own books, I think it is important, and I hadn’t thought about the different categories, you said. That’s really great. I think there’s the income categories, but you’re also talking about expense categories. And I think folks can get caught up in the latest thing. I have to have this email software, and I have to have this, you know, scheduling software, and I need to have this EHR, and I need to have this thing, and I need to do this training. And I need to go to this networking. And if you’re not paying attention to how those expenses play out, you can end up paying for years for something that you forgot you were paying for. And you’re like, wait a second, I don’t send emails to anyone. My marketing is all in person, why do I have this expensive email marketing software, for example.
Jennie Schottmiller 21:31
And I’ve paid for it for 24 months that I don’t need.
Katie Vernoy 21:33
Jennie Schottmiller 21:33
And it’s such a good point. When I’m working with someone’s books, and I’m helping them get set it up or figure it out or learn it. And I see they spend a lot of money on software, I’ll say, Look underneath software, let’s have separate accounts, we’ve got your EHR, we’ve got zoom, we’ve got your mail service, all these different ones that you sign up for. So that then if you did terminate, you can see it actually stops being a number on your profit and loss and monitor it and watch it.
Curt Widhalm 21:58
And there’s also, you know, once you’ve been in business for a while, there’s the year over year comparisons that are very helpful to be able to, I’ll come back to that kind of anxiety question of like, you know, being able to see how well you did compared to last year, or even, you know, as my bookkeeper helps me get into, like, Well, why is this happening, that helps me to even be able to look at, okay, here’s where I need to focus my business a little bit better. Or, you know, this is the season where clients stopped coming in, because everybody’s on vacation. And that’s why I’ve saved the money in that other jar on top of my fridge to pay me this month. Or, you know, digital jar in my, you know, bank account or that kind of stuff. But part of that benefit of coming back to these conversations so frequently is, it’s not like, alright, It’s tax time, let’s, you know, try to make everything ready for our accountant. It’s okay, we can start to make adjustments throughout the year or start making plans on this stuff. So it fits within our budgets.
Jennie Schottmiller 23:00
Exactly. If I look at my past years, and I say July is always my lowest month and the first week in August is always slow. And you know what, why don’t I plan my family vacation during those times? I’m not losing as much.
Katie Vernoy 23:12
Yeah, exactly. That was what I was thinking too. So one of the things you kind of just whipped by and something that you’ve talked about pretty frequently is your own ADHD. And I know we have a lot of folks within our profession that are neuro divergent in some way or ADHD. And so I want to have a little side trip into how neuro divergence can play into this because a lot of people I’ve talked to are kind of like I can’t do this because of X,Y and Z. And one of them is my ADHD, I just can’t do it. And it’s like, Wait a second. We’ve got Jennie. Jennie proves you can do it and can help you to do it.
Jennie Schottmiller 23:50
So many of therapists who are in private practice, who have ADHD, who are an autistic, who have some other neuro divergence, like there are lots and lots of great examples of how you can be nerve divergent and run a successful business. And I think that a lot of times people who are neuro divergent make better business owners than they make employees. The term I’ve heard sometimes it’s unbossible. Like, I will never go back unless I if somehow circumstances created a scenario where I had to. I always want to be in charge of myself. However, ADHD, like a lot of other types of neuro divergent can be a blessing and hindrance. And so you have to be real clear on where the blessings and where are the hindrances. So I can be super motivated to do things I really like to do. That’s going to be great for my business. However, I sometimes don’t get stuff done. And I really have some kind of allergy to opening mail. So how I mean the allergy is ADHD, but anyway, I could go down a whole rabbit hole with that, but…
Katie Vernoy 24:53
I don’t like opening mail either. So now I’m going okay, what exactly is my neuro divergence here?
Jennie Schottmiller 24:58
My husband sometimes will walk by a pile of paper and he’ll just very nicely say that piles making me nervous. I’ll be like, Okay, it’s time to move it to the other room. Doesn’t mean I’m going to open it. So you have to know how to have a plan to get stuff done. There are certain things that do have to get done. And so you need to have some kind of plan around getting stuff done. And I just think of ADHD for myself as like, I’m putting stuff in front of me that I like to do, because then I get motivated, and then I do it and just all works really well. But I have to have some way to make sure that don’t let really important stuff go, at least not too long. I think it’s also really important that, you know, one of the reasons I’m open about my ADHD is to represent like our clients are neuro divergent, therapists are neuro divergent. It’s great for clients to know that therapists are also neuro divergent. It’s great for other therapists to know that neuro divergent therapists can run an excellent growing practice.
Katie Vernoy 25:55
Jennie Schottmiller 25:55
So to me, that’s one of the biggest things is, is being out there being real and knowing so people know they’re not alone.
Katie Vernoy 26:01
Yeah. So what are some of those systems that you have in place? Or that you help therapists that have ADHD and want to have a successful business? What’s the what are some of the ideas that you share with some of the folks that you support?
Jennie Schottmiller 26:13
So one of them is the one we just talked about, which is just having a routine around stuff. If I don’t like to do it, or it’s a chore, and there’s no routine or structure around it, it’s less likely to get done.
Katie Vernoy 26:24
Jennie Schottmiller 26:24
So, if it’s not my favorite thing, or I’m just not going to naturally want to do it, I need to structure routine around it. I joke, it’s taken me until I’m 52 to figure out how to manage email and have a to do list. Up until I would say, I feel like I figured out a lot in the last year. But up until maybe a few months ago, maybe six months ago, I would create a to do list. And then I would lose it. Like just the fact I wrote it down was somehow beneficial. But I was like, cross one thing off, and then it’s gone. Like I don’t, I keep it, it’s in a pile somewhere. So I’ve tried to do apps, I buy cute notebooks that say to do at the top, those never worked. Finally, I figured out in my notes app on my computer that also then shows up on my phone, I actually can have because I figured out there’s little bubbles. In the Notes app on a Mac, there’s little bubbles. Oh my gosh, the bubbles changed my world. I saw I’m like, oh, there’s little bubbles, I can click the bubble and it says it’s done. And it moves it to the bottom of the list. It was it blew my mind. That’s what works for me. So every neurodivergent person has to figure out the things that work for them.
Katie Vernoy 27:27
Jennie Schottmiller 27:27
The other is email. So I have a membership. And in the membership, I do a webinar every month for members. And they just offhandedly said, hey, oh my gosh, I’m 51 years old. And I finally figured out how to manage email. And they’re like, Can you do a webinar on that? Like, I’m the worst person to do a webinar on that because it took me until I was 51 years old to figure out how to manage my email. I regularly since starting my business, Simple Profit business, had over 100 emails a day. And then when it would get to 130, I would knock it down. And then I get to 130. It’ll always be around 100. I now regularly go to sleep with zero unread emails and a very clean to do list. So I did a webinar on it. And everyone loved it. Because I was like, well, I’ll just tell you what worked for me. And then if you can pick it up if it worked for you. But that’s the trick, I think is really working with someone, talking to people and finding the little systems that you like, and that will work for you.
Katie Vernoy 28:19
I think you need to take that webinar, Curt.
Curt Widhalm 28:22
Just because I’m at 169,827 unread emails does not mean that my system is not working.
Jennie Schottmiller 28:30
It’s probably working wonderfully for you, Curt.
Curt Widhalm 28:33
It, we’ll maybe have an offline discussion on wonderful.
Jennie Schottmiller 28:41
I yeah, I feel like there might be several conversations that are going to come out of that last little comment. But I mean, if you had talked to me when I was, you know, two years ago, I would have been like, Yeah, forget about it. I’m just never going to learn how to manage it. So I don’t know, something happened.
Curt Widhalm 28:55
I am taking out of it. It’s just kind of like, find what works for you and what’s not working for you and then embrace things that helped to make up for deficits.
Jennie Schottmiller 29:05
Absolutely. Like my approach for mail is that if it’s really important, they’re going to keep sending me mail and eventually they’re going to call me. And you know what? I would say probably most of the time, that’s true. And so, you know…
Curt Widhalm 29:19
A note for all of our listeners, the IRS does not call you, they they just keep sending mail and then they send somebody to you.
Jennie Schottmiller 29:26
Well, those envelopes kind of stand out. You know, when you see that you’ve got something from them. Yeah. Okay, then you want to open that one. But how much mail do we get that is completely useless.
Katie Vernoy 29:39
Jennie Schottmiller 29:41
Katie Vernoy 29:41
I think for me, the thing that I am starting to do is I’m not keeping that mail that does not seem worthy of opening. I’m finally either shredding it or recycling it because having big piles of mail that are useless. It’s not something I’m trying to do anymore.
Jennie Schottmiller 29:56
Yeah, might be a few decades before I actually get there. One time I had my kid One of my kid I have like, this is how you’re going to sort, go through all this mail, open it, sort it, and then shred it. Well, he has ADHD, and then I just end up with a bunch of piles he didn’t finish.
Katie Vernoy 30:12
What I’m taking from this is that we don’t have to be perfect. It’s more about let’s be consistent. There’s all kinds of episodes we have on how to get clients. And so we’ll link to some of those in the show notes. But assuming that you grow, as practices typically grow, where you start, where you’re not, you don’t have a whole lot of clients and you grow to having more clients than you want, figure out what the income is that you can consistently pay across months. When you have higher months, save that so that you can then pay yourself in the lower months, and make sure you’re paying attention to what’s coming in. And for what services even like, if you’re getting more money for testing, maybe you do more testing, or if you’re feeling out of balance, then maybe you see oh, I’ve done too much testing. So let me do this other thing, whatever. But pay attention to what’s coming in, and what types of things are coming in, what’s going out, but also where it’s going out to so that you can then make educated decisions in your business and create the business that you want.
Jennie Schottmiller 31:11
And have lower anxiety because you have the information and you made a timely decision that was helpful to you.
Katie Vernoy 31:18
Yes, I love it.
Curt Widhalm 31:19
Where can people find out more about you and your work in case they’re interested in working with you?
Jennie Schottmiller 31:26
So mostly people find me on Facebook, I have a Facebook group called Simple Profit for Mental Health Clinicians. If you’re on Facebook, you probably have seen people refer to my Facebook group, it’s a good resource, I have a lot of free posts and frequently asked questions. There’s also my website, I have a blog, I have a page linked at the top that says Starting Your Business. It’s the 10 things that you should do when you’re starting your business. And I also have a membership, all that is on my website. So my membership just includes additional kinds of education support that aren’t free, but they’re low cost. So it’s accessible to everyone. So Facebook, Simple Profit for Mental Health Clinicians and website simpleprofit.com.
Katie Vernoy 32:04
And I just want to do a shout out to your group, Jennie, because you and the folks that co-moderate with you have done such a service for therapists, because you carefully curate what gets through which I think is more valuable than most people know, you have very specific rules about what actually can be talked about in the group, because it’s a very focus group. And you provide a lot of free advice. And I just, it’s just such a service. So I want to I want to publicly say you are amazing. Thank you for doing this. And it’s so helpful for folks, because I think it takes the fear out of the money elements in a way that’s so practical and so accessible. And so thank you so much for putting that out there. I mean, the group is gigantic, and it still feels like a really positive, supportive group, which is sometimes unusual. So thank you.
Jennie Schottmiller 32:51
You’re very welcome. I love that it’s helpful. I love the feedback that I get from people that they feel helped by it. And I, you know, I watch when someone new joins my Facebook group, and they say I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to turn and I don’t know what to do. And I’ll say, look, go read this post. Don’t worry about that yet. Do this thing. And then, you know, six months, eight months later, like, Well, I was so overwhelmed when I joined this group, but now really starting to understand it. And then, you know, six months later, they’re telling other people what to do because they’re like, I know it now. So that evolution of watching people just grow into feeling comfortable being business owners is just wonderful to watch.
Curt Widhalm 33:28
And we will include links to Jennie’s stuff in our show notes over at mtsgpodcast.com. Make sure that you join our Facebook group as well, the Modern Therapists Group. Follow us on our social media. And if you aren’t already, please consider becoming a patron where we give some extras to our patrons every so often. Or support us on Buy Me a Coffee. And until next time. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy and Jennie Schottmiller.
Thank you for listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. Learn more about who we are and what we do at mtsgpodcast.com. You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any of our episodes.
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