What’s Holding You Back?

By Peter Economy

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own private practice? Perhaps you’ve worked for someone else for a number of years, and you’re ready to stretch your own wings to see if you can fly on your own. Or maybe you would like to start your own practice on the side, to supplement your current income. Whatever your reason, if you’ve ever dreamed of starting your own business and being your own boss, you’re not alone. According to government statistics, about 7 million American adults each year decide to start their own businesses.

For some, starting their own business (or in this case, a private practice) means becoming the boss and not having to answer to anyone else. For others, starting a private practice means gaining control over all of the financial benefits of the work they do, and not watching most of the fruits of their labor go to someone else. And for yet others, starting a private practice means having the opportunity to work from home—setting their own schedules and gaining the opportunity to spend more time with friends and loved ones.

But, if you’ve been dreaming of starting your own private practice, but haven’t yet done it, why not? What’s holding you back?

There are many different obstacles in the way of starting a private practice. These may include:

    •Not knowing the first step to take. Every great journey starts with the first step but if you’ve never before had your own private practice, you may not have even the foggiest idea where to start. The good news is that there are plenty of books and other resources (including the Small Business Administration, local Chambers of Commerce, and more) on the topic of starting a business.

    •Not being able to get motivated to start. Starting your own private practice requires that you take action, and it requires that you break out of the comfortable routines of your steady paycheck and regular career. Faced with those necessities, it’s easy to put off until tomorrow what could be done today.

    •Not having enough money. When it comes to starting a private practice, many people are concerned that they don’t have sufficient capital to fund their own businesses. Fact is, most businesses—particularly home-based businesses—require little or no money to start up. And, if you start your private practice while you maintain your career position, you’ll have the benefit of receiving a steady paycheck while you build new streams of income.

    •Not knowing anything about business. While most of us have worked for someone else for the vast majority of our careers, a much smaller number of us have worked for ourselves. So, while we may know what it’s like to work for a business, we may not actually know anything about what it takes to run a business, grow it, and turn it into a long-term success. Again, there are plenty of resources available to help you learn all you would ever need to know about business—and perhaps even a bit more.

    •Having hang-ups. We’re all comfortable with the status quo and with what’s familiar to us. Just the thought of going out on our own can be enough to test anyone’s self-confidence and true desire to work for him- or herself. It is all the more important to start with small steps in starting and building your own private practice, gradually working up to larger and larger steps—building skills and confidence along the way.

    •Having other problems. Some of us have problems deeper and more permanent than just a lack of self-confidence or a fear of leaving behind the steady paycheck. Some of us are disabled, lack support from friends and family, are “too old” or “too young,” or have other very significant problems that present major obstacles on our path to independence. The good news is that many, many people have overcome some of the most severe problems imaginable and have started their own private practices—achieving their dreams of independence in the process.

    •Having a hard time following through. It’s easy to dream about making a major change in your life, and to talk about it to friends and loved ones, but it’s another thing all together to put your dreams into action. Following through requires first making a commitment to making a real change in your life, and then next taking steps—often small, and then progressively larger—to achieving your goals. Commit to doing something that brings you closer to your goals each and every day, and you will eventually achieve them.

Ask anyone who has started a private practice and he or she is sure to tell you that it’s one of the best decisions they ever made. While starting your own private practice may seem daunting, once you make the firm decision to go forward, you have actually gotten past the greatest obstacle of all. You can learn how to start and run your own business, you can learn how get your private practice off the ground with a bare minimum of cash, you can learn how to overcome self-doubt, hang-ups, procrastination, and the other obstacles that stand between us and our dreams of independence.

Refuse to let anything or anyone stand in the way of your dreams, and one day your dreams will become reality.

Peter Economy is associate editor of Leader to Leader magazine and co-author with Paul and Sarah Edwards of the book Why Aren’t You Your Own Boss? (Prima, 2003). Contact Peter through his website:

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