These days I’m getting an awful lot of emails from you lovely IBCLCs (or future IBCLCs) looking for advice on how to grow your lactation consultant business.
Being a private practice IBCLC certainly has it’s perks (make your own schedule, meet families in their homes or in your own office, snuggle all the babies) but it’s also a ton of work and windmilling your arms around in the air yelling “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT!!”
(If you can’t imagine someone doing this, please take a peek at my to-do list and prioritize it for me because this is not my strong suit. Ahem.)
I’ve decided to start a series of blog posts that answer these emails I keep getting- and today I’m starting squarely in the middle of the business building process because that’s how I roll (see above) by sharing with you all of the tools I use in my private practice.
Some of the links below will be affiliate links, which means I get a small portion of the sale if you purchase from these companies- but rest assured that I am a paying, active customer for everything I’ll recommend.
grow your lactation consultant business with the forms, tools and services I use every day, listed below in no particular order!
charting forms and superbills for IBCLCs
I do all of my charting on paper so I can maintain eye contact with my clients; while this may change some time down the line, I am head-over-heels in love with the clinical charting forms, superbills, and doctor report template I purchased from Diana West’s LC Forms store.
Diana’s forms are available in a variety of configurations, from non-personalized paper charting to personalized e-fillable PDFs that allow you and your clients to do all charting on the computer.
Honestly, I truly love the look and feel of Diana’s forms. They are beautifully formatted and I love just bopping down the row, checking things off and notating as needed. The doctors report I send to my clients’ pediatrician after every visit is normally only one page and takes me less than 15 minutes to complete.
online tools- faxing, scheduling, web hosting...
FAXES! After every single client visit I fax the pediatrician (or sometimes their chiropractor or the pediatric dentist they’re seeing for frenotomy) a one-page summary of my assessment and our care plan. I use SRFax.com to send the report straight from my computer- no actual fax machine or landline needed!
The plan I use is $6.95/month and provides me with my own fax # and a fax-to-email service. On the rare occasion that someone faxes me, it’s delivered as a PDF directly to my inbox.
ONLINE SCHEDULING! I use Acuity Scheduling on my website so that families can view my availability and self-schedule visits with me. The Powerhouse Player plan allows you to fully integrate Acuity into your website (here’s my current set-up) and is HIPAA compliant.
I’ve integrated my intake form so my clients can fill out their health history before they meet with me. Acuity also allows you to sell service packages (like a prenatal & home visit combination package) and gift certificates, as well as subscription services like ongoing phone support.
WEB HOSTING! To be honest, information about my website will probably become an entire blog post. For now I’ll just say that after much trial and error with various web builders like Weebly and SquareSpace I’ve now landed on a self-built WordPress site hosted through SiteGround. I pay $5.95/month for a GrowBig account and have moved all of the sites I run off of their various platforms and onto SiteGround.
They seriously have the best customer service- they’ve saved my butt so many times when I’ve accidentally broken bits & pieces of my site, and they’re never rude about answering my stupid questions that really aren’t *technically* tech support related.
money matters- payment processing, accounting and mileage
PAYMENT PROCESSING & CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS! 95% of my in-home lactation clients choose to pay me with a credit card. I use Square to process all of my credit and debit card transactions because they’re HIPAA Compliant and they allow me to accept all major debit and credit cards, as well as HSA/FSA debit cards.
I use their wireless chip card reader, and Square provides my clients with a nicely formatted receipt via email or text, and the money is deposited into my checking account the next day. I pay a percentage of any money I take to Square- no monthly fee. Couldn’t be easier all around. If you sign up using my link, we’ll both get free credit card processing on up to $1,000 worth of sales in the next 180 days!
ACCOUNTING! I used to use free accounting software called Wave, and it did what I needed… until I realized I had set something up wrong and all of my calculations were off. which affected my income tax filings. The only way I could fix it was to delete my entire account and start it over from scratch with an entire year worth of transactions. That SUCKED.
So now I use Quickbooks! There are lots of different subscription levels but I use Simple Start, which integrates with both Square and Acuity and makes it much easier to keep track of payments from clients. I also truly love the app that lets me look at reports at any time to see how well I’m doing in a given time frame.
Good financial hygiene is HUGELY important when you’re running a small business. Even if you’re only making $50 a month… eventually you’ll be making more money. Get your accounting systems in place now, people, and avoid the growing pains!
MILEAGE! This business involves a lot of driving. I used to track mileage on paper but I’d miss a lot of little trips to Staples, the bank, Target… a few months ago I downloaded MileIQ and I’ll never go back!
MileIQ runs in the background on your phone and simply asks you if each trip is personal or business- then loads all that data into a report for you come tax time. I pay $5.99/month for MileIQ and have already logged $471 worth of business miles in less than three months- I would have missed hundreds of these miles using a paper log. Sign up using my link and get a 25% discount on an annual subscription!
marketing basics- stock photos and graphic editing
STOCK PHOTOS! If you’re using photos or graphics on your website or printed materials, you can’t just use google image search. I use DepositPhotos to legally (and cheaply) purchase all my stock photos. They have a large selection of breastfeeding photos (though sadly, they’re mostly of white women…) and I’ve always been able to find something that fits my needs there.
GRAPHIC EDITING! I am not by any means a graphic design pro. Luckily Canva exists- and I use it to design all my web graphics, my memes, my flyers & mailers- everything I put on the internet or have printed. It’s fairly intuitive to use, you can save your brand color scheme, and even the free plan is enough to meet my needs (though there are a whole lot more features available if you upgrade to Canva for Work at $12.99/month).
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