How Therapists can Create Two Passive Streams of Income

Jeff Guenther on Jun 13, 2017

I love to create new projects and businesses. Maybe a little too much. TherapyDen is biz number six for me. In case you’re wondering, I also run a private therapy practice, rent part time office space to counselors, run a mental health directory, co-run an alternative health directory and teach therapists how to digitally market their practices. I’m a busy guy. But I’m busy because I choose to be and I love creating new stuff. 

Side note: my two TherapyDen partners are not willing to get on board with my next idea to create an iPhone game about the 90’s. I have no idea what a 90’s iPhone game would be like but I am sure it’ll be a big hit. So if you’re interested, message me ;)

Today, I want to give you some tips and inspiration on a couple of my favorite passive streams of income. 

1. Renting part-time office space to counselors

I know, not very glamourous. Also, this business idea could be the least creative of all my businesses. However, it might be one of the most fulfilling ones. I say that because you get to potentially mentor and launch hundreds of fellow practitioners into the field and be a part of their journey. You’ll also become one of the good guys in town if you provide a nice place at an affordable rate. 

How to get started

First, you need to find an office space. This is the hardest part and could take the longest. It’s definitely the scariest part because in the end you’re signing a long-term lease and there is no guarantee that it’ll pay off. But you need to take risks in order to grow and make more money. 

Things to keep in mind:

  • Look for offices spaces that are centrally located.
  • Try to find a spot that used to be occupied by a medical, dental or healthcare business. That way you don’t have to build out little offices.
  • Check the sound proofing and include sound proofing requirements in the lease.
  • Sign a longer-term lease, like five years, so that you have more negotiating power.
  • Find out what your total monthly payment will be upfront. 
  • If you have a bad feeling about the owner, don’t be afraid to walk away.
  • If it is the first time you're signing a long-term commercial lease, find a commercial realtor to work with.
  • Before you sign the lease, consult with an attorney that you trust.

Once you have found your office suite and determined how much it will cost you per month (including estimates for things like utilities and wifi), before you officially sign the lease, RUN THE NUMBERS! Determine how much profit you’d like to make per month when you are at capacity. Then work backwards from there. 

Some folks, like my mom who rents office space to counselors down in Los Angeles, rent by the hour. Therapists let her know what hours they’d like for the week and she charges $10 per hour. She has a lot of offices and makes a nice profit. I like to charge people by chunks of hours. I allow therapists to rent 5, 10, 15 or 20 hours per week. Their monthly rent is based on which chunk of hours they choose. You can learn more about how much I charge here.

I have four office spaces across the city. Each space has 5 to 8 offices. When all four spaces are at capacity, I can make a profit of between $1500 to $2500 per space per month. 

Next Steps

Once I have run the numbers and secured the space, I get to spend thousands of dollars at IKEA. Which is actually pretty fun. But not so fun for the poor saps that get stuck in line behind me when I’m checking out. The best part of the shopping experience is that when you buy a whole bunch of furniture all you have to do is write down which pieces you want and hand it over to an employee. Then they’ll pick everything out for you, load it up and have it delivered right to your office for just $100. It’s an amazing deal and I suggest you take advantage of it. Check out the couple photos below to see how my most recent space turned out. 

Once you have the offices set up it’s time to throw an open house/networking event. Reach out to all your therapist buddies and post announcements on therapy list serves and local Facebook groups. Get a speaker or two to show up to talk about how to boost your therapy practice. Reach out to local colleges with counseling programs and let students know that they should check out the new space if they are interested in starting a practice after they graduate. 

Word of mouth will travel fast if you create a welcoming and professional space that is affordable for new or part time therapists. My office spaces work as a launch pad. Practitioners typically start out with 5 hours per week and work their way up to 20. I then gently encourage them to find their own full time office so that I can allow new people to trickle in. I’ve been doing this since 2008 and it is the best business decision I have ever made. It has fully funded all my other business adventures and the occasional vacation. 

If you’d like to view and download exactly how much revenue I bring in each month and steal the lease I created for therapists to sign, then click here and I’ll email you a copy

2. Create an online course

In 2016 I dove into the online course world when I created the How to Build Your Digital Healthcare Brand course. And I got totally obsessed. I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I’d like on it in 2017, but I do plan on going back to it in the near future. I also plan on making a course aimed at clients instead of practitioners. 

I could probably write a book on everything I did to create the course but I’ll leave that for another time. I will say that it was really fun to do because it got my creative juices flowing and I was able to learn a lot about new technology, which is one of my favorite things to do. 

How to get started

First things first, come up with an idea! Are you a couples counselor that wants to help couples communicate better? Are you an expert on how to cope with social anxiety? Are you a supervisor who trains other supervisors through workshops? Whatever your specialty is, you can create a course around it and sell it to folks who want to learn about it from the comfort of their own homes. 

Next, listen to Amy Porterfield podcasts about how to build an online course. She is crazy inspirational and really good at laying everything out, step-by-step. If I could do it all over again, I would probably purchase her online course about how to build an online course. Instead, I used Kajabi to build my online course. Which I would recommend if you’re a do-it-yourselfer like me. A far easier road to take would be to create a course through Teachable. I have heard really great things about them. 

Next Steps

There is a lot of upfront work that needs to go into creating a course. You need to create the material, film some videos (you can do that with your iPhone) and develop workbooks or other materials that students can download while they follow your course and learn the information. It can take a lot of time. However, you don’t have to rush it and once it’s done you can sell it forever and just make updates as needed. 

An important step to building a course is blogging regularly. You need to do this so that you can establish yourself as an expert on your topic and, in the process, build a list of email subscribers. The goal is to create blog content that people would like to get emailed to them on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Every time you post a blog you’ll also email your list to let them know about it. This should be going on while you create your course. That way, when you’re ready to sell your course, you already have a list of people that would be interested in purchasing it. 

I have used many online tools to build my website, create my blog, manage my email list and sell my course. If you’d like to view all the tools I have used click here and I’ll email you the list

In Conclusion 

I’m sure it is now pretty apparent that creating additional streams of income can take up a lot of time, energy and money at the start. But once you have put them in place they can be incredibly lucrative. Good luck if you decide to dive in. If you have any follow up questions, or you want to make a 90's iPhone game, you can write me at [email protected].

Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.

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