Soon I learned that I needed a marketing plan to get those clients into my office. I built an online and community marketing plan that worked and my phone started ringing.
That was the good news. The bad news was that I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and burned out as a business owner.
You see, I thought that being a clinician (and at times marketing my practice) were my only jobs. I was annoyed when I had to play telephone tag with prospective clients.
Can you relate?
It took me almost 20 years to realize that as a private practice business owner, I have more roles besides being a clinician and a marketer. These roles included operations, finance, and visionary. Since I had been largely ignoring these roles, I did not leave time for them in my day. In fact I saw them as an intrusion to my clinical work. Not only was this leading me to burn out, it was also leading me to accidentally leave money on the table.
Not paying attention to all these roles is why 80% of small businesses fail. The business owner continues to do the technical work in the business (in our case, therapy) and ignores the operations and finances of the business.
It is time for private practitioners to find more ease, more time off, and more profit in our businesses. Let’s look at your five roles as a therapy business CEO and determine which ones might be sleeping. Then you can take the appropriate action steps to improve that role for a more satisfying and rewarding business.
Operations: You do several repetitive tasks every day including answering the phone, scheduling and rescheduling clients, and preparing intake paperwork. Do you have these procedures standardized and documented? Do you make these a priority? In presentations, I share how therapists can earn up to $70,000 a year in additional income by streamlining implementing and improving their operational procedures.
Finance: How many sessions do you need to do each month? And if you have a number in mind – how did you arrive at that number? Many of us picked it based on how many sessions we felt “comfortable” doing. But let’s look at this another way. You have a business in order to make money to pay for your personal lifestyle. In order to really know how many sessions you need to do, you need to know how much it costs to live the personal life you’ve been living and how much it cost to run your business. We add those two numbers together with some additional numbers for savings, profit, and taxes and that becomes your annual income goal.
Visionary: What is your plan for the future of your practice? Do you want to just break even? Do you want to have a profitable business filled with ideal clients? Do you want a boutique practice with just a few clients or a large practice? Do you want to eventually add associate clinicians? Your vision will change over time but it is important to know what your vision currently is. That way your daily tasks – in all your roles – can be in service to the vision.
Marketing: Do you currently have an effective online and community marketing plan? Do you regularly work this plan with weekly tasks and follow-ups? Do you track where your referrals are coming from? If you feel like you want more calls from prospective clients, and perhaps waking up your marketing role might be a good idea.
Clinician: I have no doubt that you are an amazing clinician. I know you love what you do. If you find that your clients aren’t staying as long as you’d like – or they aren’t reaching their goals before leaving treatment, it might make sense to look at whether or not you are taking a leadership role in the consulting room. Remember, if your clients stay twice as long (ethically of course), your income doubles. Research shows that 50% of clients leave before their treatment goals have been met. If you can take a leadership role and help your clients remain in therapy when they need it, everyone wins.
Take a moment and look at your five roles. Is there one or two that you might want to focus on? Remember this does not have to be done overnight. Step-by-step, we look at the roles that could benefit our practice and take small action steps. Many therapists have done this and are finding they have more ease, more time off and more profit in the business. How cool is that?
Quick note: Want to hang out with me in Northern Ca? I will be presenting at the East Bay CAMFT on Saturday, Feb 4 from 9-4. We will be diving deep into these roles (including how to add associates to your practice if your practice is full) with action steps that you can implement immediately. To register – visit: http://www.eastbaytherapist.org/event-2335801