Quick Guide to Starting your CLC Practice

My face when I realized I had to build a business before I could start helping breastfeeding parents and babies.

I passed my exam and I’m Officially a CLC! Now what?

About this guide:

I’m Chelsea Rothschild, CLC and doula. I put this guide together because when I started my practice, I struggled to find all the right information in one place. Thanks to many Google searches, generous colleagues, and a little luck, I ended up getting everything I needed. (I think!)

Below you will find a list of key steps to take in order to set your practice up and start seeing clients! As a disclaimer, I’m not a professional business coach, lawyer, or anything else that gives me legal liability for your business. Also, these steps apply to those starting a practice structured an an LLC in the United States. Steps may not apply if that’s not you. This isn’t by any means EVERYTHING you need to do to start your practice, but it’s a great start!

I hope this helps you start helping parents and babies! I have provided this information for free, because I want passionate lactation workers to succeed. If you would like to donate a few dollars for my time and the maintenance of this page, I would be very grateful!

Donation for Business Checklist


1. Choose a name for your business.

Here you are, on the brink of starting your practice! You’ve got to choose a name, and it should be a good one. I wish this step could wait, but it really can’t; you need a business name in order to proceed to the next steps. So take your time, choose carefully, and be sure to search the internet to make sure someone isn’t already using the name of your dreams.

2. File Articles of Organization for an LLC

LLC stands for Limited Liability Company, and it’s the business structure of choice for many folks who own their own business and are the only employee. You can read all about LLCs here. To form your own LLC, you’ll need to “file articles of organization” or, “fill out some forms” with your state. If you live in Colorado, I’ve got the link for you right here. For everyone else, search the internet for “file articles of organization for LLC in _____.” You should use a .gov website, not a 3rd party service! The cost to file ranges from $50-$500+, depending on your state, and then there are annual fees to maintain your LLC.

3. Request an Employer Identification Number from the IRS

Your Employer Identification Number, or EIN, identifies your practice to the government for tax purposes. You need it in order to file taxes and open business bank accounts. Applying for and receiving an EIN is FREE, if you file through the IRS website and don’t use a 3rd party vendor. DO NOT PAY FOR THIS.

4. Request a National Provider Identifier

Your National Provider Identifier, or NPI, identifies your practice to insurance companies. If you want your clients to be able to apply for insurance reimbursement, or to be an in-network provider for any insurance company, you need an NPI. You can apply for your NPI here, and there is no cost.

5. Buy professional liability insurance

Having an LLC gives you some protection from legal trouble, but you should have liability insurance to be more fully protected. CM&F is a popular insurer of choice for LLCs and doulas, but you can use any company you’re comfortable with. The cost varies based on your practice and your provider, but may be as little as $50/yr.

6. Establish your web presence

You will need a website where clients can find you and understand what you do. SquareSpace and WordPress are popular choices for website do-it-yourselfers.

You also need social media accounts, if you want to take full advantage of the internet as a means of finding clients. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are good places to start. TikTok and YouTube can be useful too, but they take a lot more time and energy to keep up, and it might not be worth it when you’re first starting your practice.

7. Begin networking in your community

Your fellow health care workers are one of your best resources for finding clients, so make sure they know who you are and how you practice! Reach out to birth workers, pediatric resources, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, etc. and introduce yourself. A nice way to go about it is to say something like “I’d love to learn more about your services so that I can refer clients who need them. Can we have a virtual coffee to discuss it?” Then, on the Zoom call (or whatever), be ready to explain your OWN services and make a great impression.

7. Choose a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform

I don’t know that much about this but I use doxy.me because there’s a free version, it works well, and it’s what the IBCLCs at The Healthy Children’s Project use.

8. Create your essential forms: Intake, Assessment, Visit Notes, Superbill

Whether you’re going to see clients virtually or in person, you should keep careful records including an intake form with the client’s contact information and relevant history, an assessment form such as the LAT tool, visit notes summarizing what you discussed, and a superbill template for your clients to submit to insurance.

If you have something to contribute to this page, or feedback about its content, please contact me directly.

Chelsea Rothschild