Is Private Practice Right for Me?

Three Signs You Were Meant to be an Entrepreneur

Perhaps you’re a newly-minted registered dietitian nutritionist—congratulations on your recent accomplishment! Or maybe you’re an RDN with years of experience under your belt. No matter where you are in your career, you may have tinkered with the idea of launching your own private practice one day. 

How do you know whether starting and running a private practice is right for you? Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Here are three telltale signs that you’re ready to set up shop and take your dream to the next level!

  • “I can’t stop thinking about owning my own business!” Do you find yourself dreaming about your future practice and telling everyone you meet about all the details? Fabulous! That’s a good sign. Make sure the idea of starting your own practice excites you and makes you feel alive. You can’t wait to get started, because you are not interested in working for anyone other than yourself. You’re also passionate about what you do as a dietitian and wish you could counsel your first client…yesterday!
  • “I'm a disciplined self-starter.” Yes, many of us as RDNs are type A. Or type AAA, if there is such a thing! I may be stating the obvious, but if you’re someone who has trouble being punctual, staying on top of paperwork, or being proactive – you may want to rethink the whole private practice ownership plan. Or, you may want to hire an amazing assistant or outsource various tasks that you’re not keen on. Ultimately, running your own private practice is a huge undertaking—you have the RDN smarts but you’ll also need to be business-savvy. If you find yourself lacking in business basics, be sure to seek education, resources, a business mentor, etc. before jumping in head-first.  
  • “I'm comfortable assuming a certain amount of risk.” Setting up your own practice is a financial gamble—make sure that you are comfortable with taking this risk. You may need to create a budget for yourself or buckle down on spending while you’re growing your practice. Or, consider keeping your current job part-time while you grow your practice on the side until you’re able to support yourself solely on your private practice income. You’ll also want to be comfortable with bumps along your path to success – there may be client appointment ebbs and flows – and you’ll need to roll with uncertainty.  

Of course, there are 5,372 more signs that I could add to this list.

Entrepreneurs embody a wealth of varying skill sets. If you want to read more on entrepreneurship, Entrepreneur Magazine is a great resource for budding and established entrepreneurs. This post, “The 17 Skills Required to Succeed as an Entrepreneur,” gives you a few more “requirements” to ponder. 

In addition, you might recall an excellent blog post from Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE on what to know before starting a nutrition private practice. Rachael’s tips include don’t be afraid to sell, learn to say no and do things that scare the s*** out of you!

What other entrepreneurial qualities would you suggest an RDN have before launching his or her private practice? Please comment below! 

Author Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN, of KUcumber Nutrition Communications, is an advisor to Healthy Bytes.