Helping children with autism reach their full potential


CEO to CEO_Catalyzing the Start Up Process

Starting an ABA practice involves five areas of activity.

1. Planning. Some people have an idea and jump at it with their wallet and both feet. That’s their plan; they figure they’ll learn the rest as they go. Others want to plan everything to the last detail before beginning.

Both extremes have their pros and cons. Wisdom is about discerning the most appropriate target spot on the spectrum between planning and action—architect and building contractor.

You can effectively start building the house before every last detail of the architectural work is complete, but only if you are intricately aware of where flexibility exists or doesn’t, where risks are high or low, what the likely timeframes are for each aspect of the building process, how long it takes to acquire each of the necessary materials, how to manage the cost of capital tied up in the project, etc.

In short, the more you want to take action while still developing the plans, the more complex the effort becomes and the more mathematics and highly developed expertise are required.

2. Credentialing. There are self-pay clients and those with PPO insurance policies for whom a licensed BCBA can offer services without the lengthy credentialing process (often 2-6 months) generally applicable to Medicaid and in-network insurer relationships. But most practices depend primarily upon Medicaid/in-network contracts. And many new practices engage in magical thinking—imagining that their credentialing will happen faster than it does. Wishing does not make it so.

3. Training. Whether you are a novice or expert, a franchisee or independent practice, opening a large clinic or starting tiny, you must allocate time and resources toward training and staff/team development. Team cohesion requires dedicated time regularly invested to create strong, healthy lines of communication and mutual understanding. Expect key employees to require at least 12-24 months to come up to speed, and plan accordingly.

4. Recruiting. Yes, you can start recruiting before credentialing is complete. New techs take time to interview and select and can then easily require another 30-60 days to finish a 40-hour course and become ready for clients. But manage expectations! Watch your timelines. Give them a realistic projection for when they will likely begin work so that you don’t find yourself under pressure from staff for client assignments before you have all the other pieces in place.

5. Accepting Clients. The new practice is naturally sensitive to any potential clients which may happen along. In some geographic areas, 6-12-month waitlists are common. You may well be able to let prospects know that you anticipate readiness to offer services within, say, 30-60 days. But again—manage expectations. And remember that industry ethics rules forbid utilizing a waitlist when alternative adequate services are available from another provider.

Balance resource allocation between all five areas from the beginning, prioritizing them in the order listed.

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CEO-to-CEO: The Math of Recruiting

Hi-5 ABA Franchising ABA therapy

Dear CEO:

Alongside our roles as visionary/architect for our businesses, and the necessity of full-scope oversight, talent acquisition is a primary function for every CEO.

Building an organization is fundamentally about developing an environment conducive to the growth of personnel who provide goods and services to clients and customers.

The better the environment, which includes recruiting, training, and career-nurture, the longer the right people will want to stay with you and help you to build. An ideal, harmonious work culture is one in which employers and employees collaborate to help one another grow.

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Quality Services

Providing quality services to a growing number of people requires a dynamic perspective which incorporates ongoing development of systems and personnel.

For perspective, let’s consider a business model with which are all generally familiar—a school. We can make it a private school in a growing small town which has more would-be students than other available schools to accommodate them.

The owner (or principal) of the school is tasked with a two-variable goal—(1) provide quality education to (2) as many students as practicable. Expanding quality services in an ABA practice (or any other service business, for that matter) involves the same two variables—quality services to as many clients as is practicable. Calculating what that equation looks like is part science, and part art.



Every entrepreneur wants to grow. Growth is the natural order of things. As the saying goes—“if we aren’t growing, we’re dying.”

But growth involves suffering today for a payoff tomorrow. “Growing pains” aren’t reserved for awkward teenagers who suddenly gain six inches in six months. Every person, project, family and organization suffers discomfort, dislocation, angst, and all the emotional stress which attends growth.

And the pain is NOT evenly distributed. The mouth can enjoy the whole cherry pie, and a half gallon of ice cream on top. The stomach has another experience. The heart, liver, pancreas, and arteries do too. I can bring in $20 million in new business tomorrow—delicious to me, but my team then has to absorb and digest all that fresh catch.

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CEO to CEO: Franchisee Success

Franchisee Success

Hi-5 ABA franchisees experiencing dramatic success from early in the process draw the attention of those interested in the why and how. What are successful franchisees doing right? 

A comprehensive review of franchisee histories across the board, including thoughtful consideration of KPIs, quickly highlights six major differentiating factors for success in the field of ABA.

  1. Location. When contemplating where to plant wheat, or orange trees, or marigolds, the wise farmer carefully considers soil and climate. Are the climate and environment conducive to growth? 

Other success factors addressed below—Communication, Training, Vision, and Competencies—are more subject to adjustment/development as a business grows; the Location factor is more fixed from the get-go.  

No matter how good the seed, or the gardener’s expertise and ongoing attention and care, pineapples don’t grow well in Siberia.  Location is a fixed parameter to clarify before laying the foundation of any business.

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CEO to CEO: Game Theory Pt. 2

CEO to CEO: Game Theory Pt. 2

In Game Theory Part I, we talked about how and why every challenge in life constitutes “a game.”  Seeing the problem as a game reminds us that there are rules which apply, there are strategies and tactics to winning, skill is developed through intelligent practice, good practice lies within the context of grasping the fundamentals and their applicable functions, winning is consistently achievable through application of skill and resources within the appropriate scope and setting, and—perhaps most of all—we approach the challenge with hope and joy because games are fun!

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CEO To CEO: Time Management Policies — Expectations, Culture, and Team Interactions

CEO To CEO: Time Management Policies
Expectations, Culture, and Team Interactions

Big Picture Considerations:

1) Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. And businesses involved with engaging people in crisis are particularly vulnerable to burnout. Guarding against burnout, for everyone in your organization, is a primary concern that practically involves time management. You want a well-rounded personal life for each person in your organization–a balance including downtime and room for restorative pursuits.

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CEO to CEO: Building an ABA Practice While Evading Doubts and Fear

The saying goes “Whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you’re probably right.”  CEO to CEO: Building an ABA Practice While Evading Doubts and Fear CEO to CEO: Building an ABA Practice While Evading Doubts and Fear

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