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Closing Shop 101 (Week 4): Keep the Business, Hire a Manager

by Kimberly on June 15, 2010 · 0 comments

Yikes! Is it week 4 already? Crazy…

So far in our Closing Shop 101 series, we’ve talked about selling your private practice (which I thought about for Neurosong, but ultimately decided not to do) and liquidating (technically an option, but not a common one for therapy practices).

Today’s topic covers another one I thought seriously about: hiring a manager.

The Basics

When you sell your business, you let go of both the ownership and the management of that business. The business lives on–but it’s no longer in your control.

There’s another way for your business to “live on” while you continue to be in involved and have some control over the quality and direction of growth. Hire a manager. Hire another therapist to (at least) maintain the caseload while you “run the business” from afar. This is a very viable option given how easy it is to communicate via email, Skype, cell phones, etc.

This will take some thought and planning on your part, should you go this route:

  • Human Resources. Unless you’ve already hired a music therapist, it’ll take time and planning to develop your “HR” department. You’ve got to figure out benefits, payroll, I-9s and W-4s, and other paperwork and documentation that goes into hiring an employee.
  • Split Responsibilities. There are many aspects to running a business: invoicing, paying bills, documentation, session facilitation, marketing, development, networking, etc. Who’s going to be in charge of what? Is the manager only going to see clients? Or will he/she also be involved in managing and developing the business?
  • Communication. How will you two communicate with each other? Will it all be on the internet? Or will you travel to your old hometown and meet in person? If you travel, how often?
  • Business Relationships. The primary purpose of a business is to create and keep customers. With a service-oriented business, the relationship between you and your customer is often the glue that keeps it together. But this will change once a “new person” is on board. How will you handle making this a smooth a transition as possible, so the business relationship you have with your clients is maintained.
  • Marketing. Who’s going to be the “face” of your business? Will you continue being the face and the primary go-to person for your business, even though you live out of town? Or will the manager be that person?

In a nutshell, there are more logistics to figure out–though admittedly not much more than when your business grows and you start hiring other therapists.

But if you truly love your business and love running it, this is a great way to stay involved. You can even have two offices: one in your old hometown run by the manager you hired and a new office in your current hometown, run by you!

Pros and Cons

Although I’ve already outlined some of the pros and cons, here is a summary in bullet-point fashion:

Pros

  • You’ll get to maintain some element of a monthly cash flow.
  • The business you worked so hard to build will live on.
  • Your clients will continue to receive services.
  • You continue to have a hand in growing and developing a business you love.

Cons

  • There are many more logistics to figure out: invoicing, documentation, payroll, HR, marketing, development, etc.
  • You’ll have to trust the manager you hired will represent you and the company appropriately and professionally.
  • You’ll have to make sure to spend time each week on your business–which may be hard given you’re in a different town and not “living in it” day-to-day!

Why I Didn’t Do It

This is another option I thought long and hard about. I had spent so many years building Neurosong and I already had hired music therapists, so had many of the HR  materials and communication processes in place. It would have been fairly easy to hire and train a music therapist, then maintain the business from my new home in MO.

Ultimately, though, I decided against it, for a couple reasons:

  1. I was ready to let go and focus on new challenges: a PhD program, developing my online business, working for CBMT, and devoting more of my time towards my kids and family.
  2. I didn’t have enough clients to support another music therapists truly full-time.
  3. I would be able to pay myself enough for the amount of work I’d need to put in to continue running the business.
  4. When I went on maternity leave with my youngest daughter, I hired a music therapist to cover my caseload. It was a delicate-enough transition for my clients then to get used to working therapeutically with someone new while maintaining a working business relationship with me. I could only imagine how much trickier that would have been for my clients if I would be in a totally different town.

So hiring a manager wasn’t an option either. Next week, I’ll share with you what was.

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