Starting Out? Why a Non-Profit Practice Is NOT the Right Answer for You

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This is a question – or a statement – I hear frequently from those who wish to be independent health or patient advocates who are considering which business formation they need to set up to be independent.*

After considerations of LLCs, or S-Corps or others, they tell me they want to establish a non-profit, then ask me if we offer resources to help them.

Fay is one such advocate wannabe. She asked, “Do you have any advice for establishing a non-profit or not-for-profit agency to help patients?”

Unfortunately, her question was being asked for the wrong reasons.

Why?

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How Much Do Patient Advocates Charge?

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If someone asked me what question I am asked most frequently, I’d tell them the answer is some variation of this family of questions:

  • How much do advocates charge for their services?
  • What is the hourly rate for patient advocates?
  • How much do patient advocates make?
  • How much money do patient advocates get paid?
  • What is the average amount a patient advocate charges?

We’ll begin by answering these questions with a question (bad form, but it makes our point…)

  • How much does it cost to take a vacation?
  • What does it cost to go to college?
  • How much more can I make if I get a new job?

Think about those questions for a minute: they are actually kind of silly. In fact, there is only ONE answer; the same answer to the questions about advocates, cost, and pricing.

It depends.

So of course, now you want to know… “Depends on what?” There are two answers:

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Channeling Oliver Twist and the Two Steps of MORE

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This past week, for the first time, AdvoConnection Directory-listed APHA members were able to access their statistics (analytics) for their AdvoConnection profiles.

  • How many visitors found the advocate’s profile in the last month?
  • How many of those visitors were unique? (first visits)
  • How long did they stay, on average, to read the profile?

Of course, the idea for each listed advocate is to try to improve upon those numbers, month over month, knowing that the MORE people who contact them, the MORE clients they may end up working with…

Or, with a nod to Charles Dickens, and channeling Oliver Twist, “Please Sir! I want some more!”

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3 More Myths About Building a Successful Independent Advocacy Practice

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We began last week with this series of myths about starting, building, and growing an independent patient advocacy or care management practice.

As a reminder, these myths are based on the comments I’ve heard from advocates who just couldn’t get a practice going – who (sad to say) failed – not because they don’t know how to be good advocates (they do!) but because they tried to get started despite their misconceptions about what it would be like to do so.

This week we have three more of those myths for you to consider, in hopes these misconceptions aren’t yours. Or, if they are, helping you to get past them.

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The Most Expensive Business to Start

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It’s entirely possible to start a new business on a shoestring. We know this, because every publication worth the paper or website it’s published on tells us so:  Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, all of them.

It requires time, grit, determination, attention to detail, great word-of-mouth – oh – and money! More about this in a minute.

The truth is – the concept of starting a business on a shoestring depends on the size of your shoes and therefore, the length and strength of their laces. It certainly doesn’t hurt if they are made of solid-gold, and you can sell them for your seed money.

If you hear a sarcastic edge in this post, it’s for good reason. It’s born of frustration, the feeling that I’m shouting into an empty cave.  I’ve just heard from one more person who has closed up her advocacy practice because she can’t afford it anymore; this on the heels of a conversation last week with one of our APHA Mentors who asked me, “Why do people think they can start an advocacy practice with no investment? Why do they think they can do it for free?”

Good questions. GREAT questions. And sadly, representative of too much reality and too much failure. And, for today, it means I’m going to try to provide this reality check one more time.

Let’s look at that shoestring for a minute. 

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