There was no fanfare. No high fives. No confetti drifting down from the ceiling.
If anything, there was uncertainty in her voice, as if she wasn’t quite sure how to feel, or what to say. She’d made her choice, and she’d mailed the letter. Should she be proud? Excited? Worried? Maybe terrified?
She was all of the above.
As the owner of a thriving counseling practice, Holly had experienced her share of success. When she opened her doors a few years earlier, she couldn’t imagine that anyone would actually pay her for what she did.
“Do you really think I can do this?” she asked.
You know me. You know what I said to that.
So she made the decision, signed a lease, set up her space, and opened her doors. And because she had a strong network — and was really really good at what she did — it didn’t take long for her days to fill.
Word got out. Her phone rang off the hook. And before long, there were too many people wanting too much of her for too many hours a day.
If you’re just starting out, that sounds great! Too many clients? Really? Ohhh to have such a problem!
And yet – it wasn’t just her clients. It was her family. Her friends.
Her own soul.
All of them wanted her attention, her energy – and she had less and less of that to give.
So self doubt crept in.
She felt vaguely guilty, as if she wasn’t grateful enough. As if she didn’t properly appreciate all that she had: a thriving business, family and friends who loved her, a full life.
And she wondered if she was doing something wrong.
So I explained to her that this was a natural part of her growth as a business owner. Learning how to manage success is just as important as everything else she’d had to tackle.
So she took a deep breath and then a closer look at the problem.
What could she do to simplify her life and regain her energy? How could she make a living without working 24/7?
How could she serve her clients without hurting herself?
Turns out, there were many ways.
She could hire a VA to help her implement systems and simplify paperwork. After all, a business with strong internal systems meant better customer service for her clients.
She could shift her hours so that there were fewer evenings at work and more time at home. She knew that a rested, healthier therapist was a better, more effective therapist.
And she could restructure payment options, from those based on third-party reimbursements, to a practice based on private pay.
What if her clients got mad? What if they couldn’t afford to see her any more? What if her colleagues thought she was greedy? What if her business died and her children starved?
The What-If’s, Uh-Oh’s and Oh-No’s roared in her head.
Yet part of her knew her ideal clients would stay with her; they valued themselves enough to invest in their growth. And a part of her knew that seeing fewer people, with the freedom and privacy that a restructured system would bring, was a smart move for her business, and better for her clients too.
So she made the decision to hire help, trim her hours, and drop just one of her insurance contracts.
The letter cancelling that contract was what she’d just put in the mail.
By placing that letter in a federal mailbox that she couldn’t open and therefore couldn’t get back – she was committed to following through on this oh-so-critical first step.
And yet without that commitment, nothing would have changed.
And she would have stayed on the fast track to burnout.
That was over two years ago.
Today, her business is stronger than ever. She was able to help the one or two clients who couldn’t stay find other resources. And those who did recommitted to their own growth in a way that surprised her.
Today, she’s dealing with less paperwork, working better hours, making more money, and enjoying her work.
But none of that could have happened without her taking that next step in her business.
Are you facing a decision in your business? If so, what’s holding you back? And what steps could you take that would commit you to following through?
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Photo Credit: Portobay Hotels on Flickr