This is how it starts.
We decide somewhere along the way to open a business.
Perhaps it’s because we want the freedom of calling our own shots.
Perhaps it’s because we realize we have a gift and we really want to explore how we can use it to help others.
Perhaps, like me at first, it’s only because we can’t find a job that fits what we need at the moment. :)
But whatever it is, we dive in. Hang out a shingle. Turn on the lights. And begin.
Most entrepreneurs, especially when first getting started, tend to stumble rather blindly through the initial phases of building a business. Goodness knows I did. There’s often little in the way of real strategy, or any kind of game plan, at first.
A lot of us are quick starts, right? We figure it out as we go.
Over time, though, we learn. We get clearer about who we serve, what we actually do, and what kind of difference we make.
And success breeds success.
Just this week, a young psychotherapist I mentor told me that she’s gotten her first referrals that came from word of mouth. With a small practice that’s just getting started, her clients are already beginning to recommend her to their friends. That’s the highest compliment ever.
It’s the beginning of momentum – and a sign of good things to come.
But it is also when we begin to experience success that we can just as quickly get ourselves into trouble.
Most of us are creative, competent and caring – so we can do a lot of different things, in a lot of different ways, for a lot of different people.
And when someone asks, “Hey, can you do this for me, too?” we’re likely to say yes.
Even when a “No, sorry, I can’t…” might be better.
One of the places I see this most often is with healers who have their own private practice. With no one but themselves to set the boundaries, things can get a little slippery sometimes.
I know I still owe you for those two missed sessions, but I don’t get paid for another week. Can we still meet? I’ll pay you next week for sure.
I’m out of town all week on business. Any chance you could see me on a Saturday?
Hey, I know we’re working together and I love what we’re doing. Would you mind seeing my 27 year old daughter too? I think you can help her the way you’re helping me.
In your business, you have certain rules you follow.
Some of those rules are based in ethics or the best practices of your profession; some are there because they help your business run better.
They may be rules about what you think works better for your clients.
(Do you see multiple members of the same family?)
They may be rules about what works better for you.
(What is your policy about overdue payments? Do you see people on weekends?)
So when you find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed or overworked, it’s time to step back and take a fresh look at how you’ve got things set up.
Are you running your business in a way that makes you happy? Or are you twisting yourself into a pretzel to be everything to everyone else?
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
Am I working the hours I really want to work?
Am I seeing the people I really want to see?
Am I doing the kind of work I really want to do?
Am I charging what I want to charge?
Am I getting paid what I’m worth?
Am I actually collecting what I’ve already earned?
If not, what needs to change?
It’s true that when you’re the CEO of your own show, you are never really off duty. But it’s also true that you determine the boundaries of your business.
You’re not JUST doing this to serve the world, you’re also doing this so that it supports a lifestyle that works for you. Yes, you want happy clients. But yes, you want a happy business owner too.
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