Okay, so…it wasn’t a total mess.
It’s true that when I started my practice years ago, I didn’t know a thing about running a business.
All I cared about was helping people.
And I didn’t know that a successful business was one way I could do exactly that.
But I must have done something right.
Because today, years later, that practice is known as a place where people can get quality help for all kinds of problems.
And our practitioners have the freedom and support they need to thrive as well – which matters just as much to me.
So I may not have had a plan, but I did have a little more than a wish and a prayer.
And although I didn’t know it then, truth is, I did a lot of things right. Call it divine intervention, hard work, or blind luck. Whatever it was – it worked.
And today, I can see the things that made the most difference over time, so I want to share some of that with you.
Maybe this will help you hit success even faster.
1. I had a vision for what I wanted to create.
From the start, I knew I wanted to build a business that did two things: (1) provided a wide variety of top-notch, high-quality services that could help people in all kinds of ways, and (2) supported women who wanted to be in business for themselves.
That vision has guided every decision I/we have made from the beginning.
2. Somehow, I knew we needed a name.
It was just a name on the door at first – but it gave the public a way to find us. It was a hook, a label, an identity. Back then, it was how people found us in the phone book. Today, it’s how they find us on line.
It was a name that could grow as the business grew. And although I didn’t realize it, that name was really the beginning of a brand.
3. I studied.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but I knew I had to learn.
Even though the word ‘business’ used to put me to sleep – suddenly, it mattered. I knew even then that daily decisions would affect how much money I made.
So I started reading books about running a private practice. I attended classes and workshops. With the advent of the internet, I started following blogs, listening to podcasts, and joining Facebook groups.
Today, I share a lot of that myself through my own Facebook group, the Ideal Practice Community. (Go here to ask to join.)
I learned about the business side of a practice and developed a strong business mindset.
4. I got out and met people – in person.
I used every possible opportunity to network. If there was a program or event related to mental health or counseling, I was there. Trainings, workshops, Chamber of Commerce mixers, trade shows? I was there.
Even volunteer work became a form of marketing – though I didn’t realize it at the time.
Eventually, I created a footprint in the community; I got to know people, and they got to know me.
When they needed help, they called!
5. I focused on service, and asked for the business.
When spending time at those events, I always made it a point to ask for referrals.
With other professionals, I’d say: “If you need a therapist over my way, keep me in mind!”
With folks in the community, it was more like, “if you know someone who needs help, give me a call. Even if I can’t see them myself, I’d be glad to help you come up with ideas….”
6. I gave a lot of talks.
Some were paid. Most were free.
Parent support groups, church groups, civic clubs, community groups, schools, Chambers, women’s groups, non-profits.
The topics were simple and practical. They came straight from my work, and helped people understand what I did.
And once people see you, they are less afraid to call you!
7. I brought on partners.
In the beginning, I had business partners who were totally in alignment with the vision I had for the practice. Working together gave us all the mutual support, companionship and confidence we needed to grow. It helped to relieve stress, and gave us a way to share overhead costs.
Sometimes, we offered workshops and groups together, enabling us to expand the services we offered. That helped to build the practice in the early days.
I don’t have partners today, by choice. I have enough confidence now to handle this on my own. And as my client base and interests have changed over the years, my practice has too. So will yours!
That’s a good thing. :)
8. I looked for – and found – mentors.
Long before the term “coaching” was popular, I sought out mentors. I’ve always known that learning from people I admire helps add to my own success. So I would reach out to senior-level clinicians for lunch or a phone consult. I’d ask them about business practices and clinical questions too.
To this day, I’m part of a consultation group that has been meeting twice a month for 19 years.
Running a practice can get a little lonely sometimes. Ask for help.
9. I kept going.
As with any business, there have always been highs and lows, times when I made plenty of money and times when I could barely pay the rent. That’s part of the process.
But when those times hit, I never even thought of quitting. I sought help, brainstormed solutions, figured things out. Learned.
And grew as a business owner.
Which of these resonates the most with you?