We recognize the field of Behavior Analysis has a need for a book aimed to guide practitioners of ABA in building quality firms, ethically. This is chiefly in response to the new market strategy of Private Equity Firms and Venture Capitalists acquiring and managing Applied Behavior Analysis agencies. We, like each of you reading this book, love the science of ABA, and we are concerned that the business interests of firms run by those who must report to investors are antithetical to a consumer-centered therapy as intensive as ABA. This trend, while distressing, is not irreversible.
Holding these convictions and seeing this development, left us with one solution… do what we can to level the playing field. We all recognize BCBAs are clinicians first, and financial expertise and business acumen, rightly so, are not taught in our programs. This book represents our knowledge and experience gleaned by starting, structuring, growing and marketing (even regionalizing) an ABA firm, from start to finish. Our intention was to structure the book in such a way that even students could begin to plan towards their own future and dream of starting a firm. Behaviorists, not bankers, are the optimum choice to own and manage ABA agencies.
Further, we realized that the average clinician would need access to forms and documents that are crucial to starting and managing an ABA firm. We’ve opened the treasure trove of documents from our successful agency, which is administered by multiple BCBA-Ds. We have created a website that includes documents for Hiring and HR, Clients, Contracts, P+P Manuals, Billing Templates, Clinical Templates for BASPs and much more. Big wins, like our state legislature funded grant, are even included to serve as models for other entrepreneurial agency owners. See a full list of documents online at Behavelikeaboss.com and start the journey towards independent agency ownership. Instead of watching business/investor firms continue to inundate our field, why not start your own firm?
With this book and website, you can begin to make your dream of owning your own agency a reality. The time is now and the future of our profession is in your hands!
We are witnessing the emergence of a new industry worldwide. Only 15 years ago, few recognized Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as a field of study or the gold standard of treatment for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. Behavior Analysis is now the hot new field under the Psychology banner and has exploded rapidly in scope. Many industries lend themselves to private ownership; however, there is a significant capital investment required to develop a business – a sustainable business that is. Many of you are likely familiar with the carmaker Tesla, created by Elon Musk after he sold PayPal for $200 million. After winning that big, Elon choose to invest $110 million of the profit in a company termed “Space X”, intended to send expedition(s) to Mars, and $70 million of the sum was spent developing Tesla. Many would agree that these investments were audacious. Examples such as these should serve to remind us an essential ingredient to developing a successful and sustainable company is to have undeniable certainty that an idea is credible and worth pursuing.
The creation of a new market creates new opportunities, and the field of ABA agency ownership is now in a unique market position. This market is still wide open and we predict it to remain so for at least the next decade. Through visual analysis of data, trained analysts are able to predict future occurrences of behavior based on changes in trend, level, and variability observed. Similarly, we can analyze several variables to predict future developments in the field of behavior analysis. As of now, there is no business that has cornered our market. The primary reason for this is the difficulty for small businesses to expand outside of one state (think nationwide). The focus of this book is to prepare and give guidance to those in our relatively young field on the intricacies of developing, owning and administering a successful ABA firm.
Big players have begun to enter the ABA field, including a new private equity owned ABA group with hundreds of millions of dollars in startup capital. Their goal is to be the first and largest nationwide ABA firm. Their plan is to accomplish this goal by acquiring existing ABA agencies. As BCBAs, we value our field and we want to help you accelerate your timeline for success. By providing you with what you need to start your own ABA firm, we can all work together to keep our field owned and controlled by BCBAs, not big businesses. The time is now. You can do this; realize your dream and control your own destiny!
Business, like baseball, always carries the same risks. You can strike out; go bankrupt. In the 2015 annual letter to Amazon shareholders, Jeff Bezos explained this metaphor to underscore the fallacy of playing it safe: “Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you're still going to be wrong nine times out of ten. We all know that if you swing for the fences, you're going to strike out a lot, but you're also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it's important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.” As Bezos stresses, the more chances you have at the plate, the more likely you are to succeed exponentially. You can’t always tell which idea will be your bread-and-butter on the front end. You need to be willing to expend capital and invest time even though you may strike out.
This book is designed to be a field manual to the ABA entrepreneur on how to start and grow a seven-figure behavior therapy business. While this task can be accomplished, it is going to take exponentially more work than anything else you’ve done in your life. You will be competing against the sharpest behavior analytic minds in the world. We’ve seen OBM eclipse I-O psychology, so be aware that your opponents are well versed in setting contingencies that will drive production effectively. How will you overcome this? By earning your knowledge and seeking after it like hidden jewels. Had you a treasure map, even were the path arduous, you wouldn’t await a convenient time to begin the quest.
Business is addition and subtraction, not calculus. Get ready; the process starts, now.