As a BCBA, you’re ready to make a difference in the lives of others through the powerful science of behavior. You have worked at multiple organizations in your career, but somehow feel something is missing. You feel that you can do a better job meeting the needs of clients, while taking charge of your own path and achieving the flexibility and work-life balance you deserve. You want to start or perhaps started your journey as an entrepreneur.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! I was there myself as a BCBA. That’s why I started my business 21 years ago. At the time, I was working as the district behavior analyst in a large public school district, but I felt that I could make a greater impact by going out on my own. It was so rewarding to see the difference I was able to make while working directly with children and families through my private practice. I eventually took the leap of faith and quit my full-time job to start my first ABA therapy company, and I opened an ABA private school a few years later. It was the scariest and best decision I ever made. Through these two businesses, I was able to impact the lives of thousands of children and their families. There are so many client success stories, such as graduating from high schools to attend colleges, graduating from college with a job, and going to Oxford to study abroad. I feel very blessed to say that “yes, I played a role in these children’s lives.” I was also able to support the growth of many employees who became BCBAs, some of whom opened their own businesses later on.
Does this seem like a career path you’d like to take? Do you feel your entrepreneurial fire is burning? That’s great. But I also know how overwhelming this journey can be. As a clinician, you went to school to learn how to be a good behavior analyst, but there were no classes to teach you how to start and grow a business. Although you know how to write treatment plans and behavior intervention plans, you probably weren’t taught how to write a business plan. Here are just a few areas you’ll need to get up to speed in:
- Assessing the competition
- Building a clientele
- Implementing marketing strategies
- Managing employees
- Developing a team
- Understanding labor regulations
- Dealing with insurance companies and getting paid for your hard work
- Advocating for your clients
- Creating systems and processes
- Managing cash flow and budgets
- Understanding what EBITDA means
- Developing growth strategies
There is a lot of learning ahead of you. Fortunately, there are people who have been there and done that. Working with a BCBA business mentor with specific knowledge in multiple areas of ABA, autism services, and special education can save you lots of time and mishaps. By starting off on the right track, growing your business with the end in mind, and following tried-and-true road maps, you can shorten your journey to success.
I will also share with you that many of the BCBA skills you have developed can serve you well as a business owner. You are analytical and data driven. You know how to develop intervention plans and make changes based on the clients’ data. You can break a complex skill into small steps. That same skillset can help you understand your business data, develop action plans, and turn your business goals into manageable steps. And don’t forget that you know the principles of human behaviors and the amazing results of positive reinforcement — an invaluable area of expertise that can help you create a positive culture and bring out the best in your team.
So, my fellow BCBA entrepreneurs, be confident and be bold. Create your own path with the comfort of knowing that there are people who can help you and guide you. Work with a mentor and chase your dream. Serve people well! To learn more about how Core Action Consulting can help, contact me for a free consultation.