Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Social Work Practice

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If you plan to or are currently studying for a masters of social work online, you might be considering setting up your own Social Work practice once you graduate. This can be an exciting venture, but there’s a lot you need to know and many decisions you’ll need to make. These are the main ones.
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Legal Necessities

The first thing you need to do is make sure you are qualified and then, once you’ve obtained premises, register your company. The NSAW have standards that you must meet in all areas of your practice. Check the guidelines of your state, or the state in which you wish to practice. In most cases, you’ll need to gain not only a degree but a professional license before you can legally practice.

Insurance

Any new business needs insurance. As a social worker, you will need to obtain liability insurance to protect you from any possible lawsuits. This might be higher than usual, as private practice is often considered “high risk”, but please don’t overlook it.

Tax

As a private practice, you’ll need to register as self-employed and obtain a tax number. Your practice will be a business, and so subject to business taxation laws and practices. You’ll also need a business plan and a long term financial forecast.

Branding and Design

Once all the legalities and business decisions are made, you can start having a bit more fun. Your practice will need some design work. At the very least you’ll need a logo, some signage and a letterhead. Play around with some ideas; you want to stand out from the rest, but remain caring and professional. These designs will be used to make your company instantly recognizable and memorable, so take your time making the decision. Ask for help and advice, consider using a professional designer.

Support

You are going to need a lot of support! Setting up on your own is hard work. It’s going to take a lot of your time and effort. Make sure you’ve got a great support network, both on a personal level from family and friends, but also professional support. People you can ask for help and advice, someone to answer your silly questions. Do some networking if you need to, to meet other social work professionals and grow relationships.

Marketing

There’s no point in doing all that work if no one knows about it. Use digital marketing and word of mouth as your main sources of promotion to begin with. Make sure your logo and branding is on any professional online profiles you set up.

Fees

How much are you going to charge? As a new practice, you might want to stay relatively low until you’ve built a great reputation before slowly increasing your fees. Look at the rest of the market. What do your competitors charge? Make sure you stay competitive.

With careful planning and research, starting your own practice doesn’t need to be difficult, and can be incredibly rewarding. If you’re currently studying for an undergraduate social work degree, and the idea of starting a practice of your own appeals to you, the first thing you need to do is look at MSW programs online.


About

Boris Dzhingarov is a freelance branding & marketing consultant, advising companies and businesses on all aspects of internet marketing, SEO, web design, graphic design, and PPC (pay Per Click). He is the founder of Dzhingarov.com , www.traveltipsor.com , www.blogforweb.com , www.healthannotation.com and www.monetarylibrary.com

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