There was a time when I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to succeed in my private practice.
I studied diligently in school to learn how to help people transform their lives and was so eager and excited to have my own practice. But I had no clue how to start a business. No one in graduate school ever mentioned that a private practice was an actual business and they surely never told me how to build one.
I was scared of failing, but even worse, I was afraid I was never going to try.
I’m sure you can relate. So many years of studying therapy. Countless hours in internships learning the art of a deeply mission-driven calling. Spending years working toward licensure. Wanting so badly to have a robust practice and live out your vision, but afraid of not fully succeeding as a result of lacking basic information, skills and conﬁdence.
If someone would have just told me a few essential steps to thriving in the modern small business world, I would have avoided years of anxiety, literal failures, living paycheck to paycheck, being stuck in dissatisfying jobs, and not serving the clients that needed my help the most.
Slow and Lonely Road
Unfortunately, no one told me the essentials that I had to learn on my own. It’s not that I regret my journey. It built character, persistence and discipline. But I also took the slow and lonely road, which you don’t need to take; there’s really no reason for anyone to do it alone anymore.
In our profession, we get many messages that therapists aren’t supposed to make a lot of money and achieve high levels of success quickly.
In fact, you see many therapists in practice for decades not earning enough from their business, working two part-time jobs on the side just to make a living. Many of these therapists will tell you it takes ﬁve years to build a full private practice. While this may have been true previously, in the modern digital age, this information is outdated.
Do you really want to wait ﬁve years to build your practice? Sure, it takes persistence and time to build a business and it’s not going to be simple, but if you don’t start now, most likely a year from now you will still be longing and wishing for the private practice of your dreams and won’t be any closer than you are today.
The New Truth
Here’s the new truth: If you have support and mentorship about how modern small business entrepreneurship really works, you can build a practice in a year! Of course there are no guarantees, but I’m seeing therapists accomplish this often.
I want to tell you about the three things that grew my practice to full-time in a year once I put them in place and why there’s no reason to wait half a decade to turn your vision into a reality.
1. The Modern Website
The ﬁrst priority should be creating a modern website with invaluable content. Why?Almost all of your prospective clients will visit your website before ever calling you. The appearance, the story it tells, how you write your content, the layout, and what you choose to display will either leave a tremendous impact or will push clients away.
We’ve all grown accustomed to beautiful, user-friendly design when it comes to websites. And with the right understanding of how to write effectively, more clients will feel your presence and want to call you. So it’s very important to make that ﬁrst impression as genuine and impactful as possible.
2. Honest Modern Marketing
It’s sometimes difficult as a therapist to recognize that you need to market yourself in order to reach the clients you are meant to serve. Without marketing yourself, very few people will know your doors are open. But you may fall into the category of feeling hurt by marketing in some way or simply that marketing is intimidating.
This is where it’s absolutely vital you re-deﬁne your relationship to marketing. I call this honest marketing.
It’s about learning how to always portray the most authentic version of yourself, while using the most effective methods of reaching the people you want to serve. The more clear and committed you are in relationship to your marketing efforts, the more results you will get. And the more you leverage modern methods of marketing, the more referral streams you will have. So learning how to use social media as a marketing resource will greatly increase your exposure.
3. Pre-established Relationships
As I’ve said, in the digital age it’s very important to understand how to utilize the online arena to market yourself. However, as therapists there’s still no replacement for local networking.
The quickest way to getting new clients in the door is through colleagues and friends that already know you, like you, trust you and have a access to a large pool of prospective clients.
You’ve already developed trust with your pre-established relationships. These people want to be your advocates. Nurture these relationships early on and you will ﬁnd that your new referrals will increase immediately and consistently.