By Zo Rana, M.A., BCBA

Starting your own ABA practice is a thrilling yet daunting venture. From my personal journey, I’ve learned that there are five critical considerations every aspiring BCBA should ponder upon before taking this leap. In the hope of guiding you on this path, I offer these key insights, each accompanied by practical advice drawn from my own experiences:

1. Professional Experience and Leadership: Amassing a broad range of professional experience is fundamental. I launched my practice after six years in the field, with the final two years as a director of a national ABA company. My varied experiences, including administrative and leadership roles, provided me with critical insights and skills essential for setting up my own company. Therefore, my advice to fellow BCBAs is to pursue a diverse array of experiences across various settings and roles to broaden your knowledge base and gain a comprehensive understanding of ABA practices.

2. The Reality of Entrepreneurship: Running a practice can be a lonely affair, and you’ll often find that no one will care about your practice as much as you do. This became acutely evident when my initial biller failed to follow up on denials, putting a substantial strain on our cash flow. At that moment, I realized that it all comes down to me. Resilience, proactive problem-solving, and readiness to face challenges head-on are therefore essential traits for an entrepreneur. My advice: prepare for the unexpected and stay flexible. From staff turnover to administrative hitches, various hurdles can crop up. Having contingency plans can help ensure your practice’s stability.

3. Master Financial Management: A thriving practice is not only about delivering high-quality ABA services; it’s also a business. Therefore, understanding costs, managing budgets, and displaying business acumen is crucial. An important lesson from my journey was recognizing the value of a skilled accountant who understands the unique financial landscape of ABA practices. Hence, it’s paramount for BCBAs to enhance their financial literacy – mastering concepts such as cash flow, profit and loss, and budgeting can significantly aid in running a prosperous practice.

4. Develop Dual Competencies: Balancing the roles of a BCBA and a business owner requires diverse skill sets. This realization prompted me to enroll in several business classes and courses while running my practices. Online platforms such as Coursera and EdX offer great courses for free. Hence, it’s advantageous to seek additional training or mentorship in business management or strategic planning to complement your clinical skills, enabling your practice to grow sustainably.

5. Employ a Robust Practice Management System: After trying several different software solutions, I found none of them fully met my needs as an ABA business owner. This led me to develop Theralytics, a user-friendly and robust platform specifically tailored to the needs of an ABA practice. Our startup package enables new ABA companies to access an all-inclusive system without worrying about costs during the setup phase. A reliable and efficient practice management system can save you precious time and prevent administrative headaches, allowing you to focus more on providing excellent ABA services. Interested in exploring more? Click here to request a free demo.

Embarking on the journey to start an ABA practice is a significant step. With a robust professional experience, a realistic grasp of entrepreneurship, adept financial management skills, the capacity to handle dual competencies, and a powerful practice management system, you’re well-equipped to establish a flourishing practice that delivers impactful services to your clients. Here’s to your success!