Why are so many therapists bad at building a business? A key to building a successful private practice is developing discipline.
When I first dreamed of being a therapist, my vision was about helping people, making a difference and feeling good about contributing to the well-being of others.
After 10 years as a therapist, I’ve become acutely aware of the reality of running a business by myself. While I still enjoy the reward of doing all those good things I mentioned, I’m also realistic about what it takes to run a private practice. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that to be a successful therapist in private practice today, you need to be a solopreneur.
What is a soloprenuer therapist?
So what’s a soloprenuer therapist? Effectively it means you’re an entrepreneurial therapist that works solo. Being a solopreneur therapist means you can hold a big vision of what you want for your business and you’re always on the lookout for new opportunities.
You might have all your qualifications, a lovely office space in the right area where your ideal client is located, the furnishings to accompany it and perhaps an attractive website. But that’s no guarantee that you will attract clients to your practice.
In my mind, to be a successful therapist and soloprenuer, you need to have some of the following skills:
- Marketing skills to effectively communicate about your services
- Accounting skills to track your income and manage your finances
- Discipline to show up and complete your marketing activities
- The ability to create a vision for your business and implement the smaller steps needed
- Interpersonal skills to network with other therapists and allied professionals
- Willingness to learn about online marketing, social media and good website design
- Basic SEO knowledge to help your website and articles show up in the search engines
- Writing skills and basic copywriting skills so you can convert your readers into paying clients
Are you getting the idea?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s not my intention. I hope you have a sense of how versatile you need to be to be able to run a therapy business that brings you clients on an ongoing basis.
I’m not talking about a hobby therapy business where you see a handful of clients a week. I’m talking about what’s needed to create a thriving practice where you are the ‘go to’ person in your niche and you can make a very comfortable living from being a therapist.
The importance of discipline for the solopreneur therapist
In my coaching and consulting work with many healthcare professionals, I talk to a lot of therapists that are wanting to build their businesses, but are not sure what they’re doing wrong.
If there’s one theme that seems to capture what many therapists struggle with, I would say it’s discipline for the solopreneur.
Maybe it’s from my many years as a classical musician, where I had to be disciplined in my musical practice to maintain my performance standard, but I see discipline as an essential part of my business, but also the mindset needed for success. And I see discipline as a major stumbling block for many therapists.
It’s so essential for the soloprenuer therapist to have discipline, because if you don’t do the work, no one will do it for you.
Tips for developing discipline
Here’s a number of ways you can work on your discipline in your private practice:
- Create a publishing schedule for your blog and stick to it
- Give yourself learning goals to increase your knowledge of how to use social media effectively
- Study the basic principles of copywriting so you can write powerful copy for your services and events
- Learn how to manage money effectively using accounting software that makes your job easier
- Create a networking schedule to build relationships with other healthcare professionals and make yourself accountable
- Create a marketing plan that breaks down into weekly tasks that you follow through on
- Create 1, 3, and 5 year goals for your business, write them down and review your progress every 3-6 months
- Join a mastermind group or find an accountability partner and schedule regular meetings so you can support, encourage and challenge each other
This is just a start, but I hope I’m giving you some ideas here.
I believe if you choose just one of those ideas from the list above and commit to the application, it can only benefit your therapy business.
The practice of discipline is one that many people struggle with, however, I do believe it’s like a muscle that you can build and strengthen with practice over time.
I invite you to experiment with shifting your mindset from thinking of yourself as a business owner to a soloprenuer, and notice what happens in your business. Take this as a challenge to help take your business to the next level.
Clinton Power is a Sydney-based Gestalt therapist and the owner of Clinton Power & Associates- a private practice dedicated to helping singles and couples move out of relationship pain. He is also the founder of Australia Counselling Directory, a free directory for find counsellors and psychologists in Australia. Clinton is also a passionate coach and consultant for healthcare professionals. Find him on Twitter @sydneytherapist.
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Hanks, J. (2012). What You Need To Succeed As A Solopreneur Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2015, from http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/2012/07/what-you-need-to-succeed-as-a-solopreneur-therapist/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jul 2012