Let us guess? You can put together a winning autism program for your clients, but when it comes to running the business side of your ABA agency you have more than a few questions. We recently spoke to Gerald Lavarias, Clinical Director (and Entrepreneur) at Multilevel Applications and Positive Support Services (MAPSS). He suggested five (5) key business classes for ABA agency owners and/or managers.
When you run multiple departments or need to get projects off the ground, planning and estimations on those plans are key; however, money and resources are much more involved with project management because you have to take into consideration locations, demographics, area of services, prediction analysis, etc. Courses about Project Management are key for those who are involved with making business decisions centered around new products or untapped resources.
A general finance class provides surface level information to help ABA management review, understand and interpret financial reports. Finance helps you understand the 'health' of the organization, and also serves as a great tool to make better decisions on future projects. Finance is heavily data driven which reinforces the Behaviorist in us and, most importantly, helps us make the most appropriate recommendations or plans.
Human resource knowledge is vital to an ABA agency's success and longevity. It teaches us the current laws and regulations and reminds us how to manage people (e.g., dealing with difficult employees to boosting employee participation and commitment to company).
For BCBAs that are in leadership positions that directly manage employees I suggest reading books or joining webinars by other leaders (although non-ABA) such as John Maxwell, Dale Carnagie, Stephen Covey, Zig Ziglar, etc. Another good ABA author in this realm is Aubrey Daniels.
Understanding the Law
Even more important than the soft skills, business courses teaches us about the always-changing state and federal HR law. We have an HR professional in-house as well as an outside consulting firm who helps us align our HR policies with California and federal HR laws, but, I still don’t feel that it is enough to understand this changing landscape.
For instance, it was a shock to understand quarterly payroll taxes during the first year at MAPSS (a very basic part of business when you have employees on a payroll) or distinguishing contractor duties from employee duties. Without fully understanding this, ABA management with these responsibilities may make the wrong decisions because they base their knowledge as employees, not necessarily as administrators or business owners.
I stay up to date on general employment and payroll rules by taking Department Management Courses (Career Track and Skill Path are great low cost places for additional training in this area). I am a subscriber to Career Track and receive free workshops and online webinars.