Private Practice Success: 10 Essentials for Starting a Practice
As a counselor, therapist or healing professional (massage therapist,
physiotherapist, alternative health practitioner, etc.) it is quite likely that you did not chose your profession because you wanted to be a business person. As a result, it can be challenging to go into business for yourself and be successful. Taking time to prepare and plan as you build your private practice will help you avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes. Below are ten areas to address to help ensure your success.
1. Get Your Life in Excellent Shape
Counselors, therapists and healing professionals know that our personal lives affect
our professional lives, yet many who are struggling to market a private practice fail
to take this into account. Look at all aspects of your life and determine what seems
to be working for you and what needs to change. Determine any activities you need
to reduce or eliminate in order to have the time and energy to market your practice.
Examine your lifestyle and personal work habits and see where improvement needs
to be made. The more your life is on order, the more time and energy you will have
for marketing and building a practice.
2. Develop a Financial Plan
Before you start your private practice, assess your financial situation and make a
financial plan. Make sure you have funds from other sources until your practice
becomes established. Do not put your self in a position where you are desperate to
secure clients in order to pay your bills. Potential clients may sense your
desperation and may not be eager to hire you. Feeling secure financially will allow
you to market and build your practice with greater confidence and ease.
3. Know that You Are a Business Owner
It is essential that you start seeing yourself as a business owner if you haven't made
this mind-shift already. You must pay careful attention to all aspects of your
business--your revenue and expenses, how you spend your time, methods of
attracting clients, and developing operating systems that allow your business to run
4. Develop a Vision for Your Practice
It's difficult to get somewhere if you don't know where you are going. Develop a
detailed vision of what you want your priavte practice to look like in 6 months, 1
year and 5 years and write it down. How many clients do you want to have? What
days and hours do you want to work? How much income do you need/want? The
more clarity and specificity you have, the more likely you will turn your vision into
5. Develop at Least One Specialization
Helping and healing professionals new to private practice often fear that if they are
too narrow in the type of services they offer, they will rule out many other potential
clients. The opposite is actually more often true as people tend to want to hire
specialists. The more targeted you are in marketing your practice, the more you will
stand out from others and become known for your expertise. In addition, it's easier
to market your practice to a particular group if you know where to find them.
6. Determine Any Negative Attitudes and Fears You Have About Marketing
Many counselors, therapists, and healing professionals are uncomfortable with the
marketing aspect of being in private practice. They see their role as to be there for
others and not to promote themselves. Our repeated exposure to negative and
manipulative types of marketing further contributes to the belief that marketing
ourselves is somehow inappropriate. Any negative attitudes and fears you have
about marketing a practice need to be eliminated. You can and should find ways to
market with integrity and authenticity. Be proud of your services and have
confidence that you have something to offer people that they need and want.
7. Develop a Marketing Plan
In order to market your private practice successfully you must have an integrated
marketing plan. One of the most common mistakes helping and healing
professionals make is trying a few methods of marketing your practice haphazardly,
and when the results are not immediate, they erroneously assume the techniques
don't work. Flourishing private practices are frequently built upon a number of
marketing strategies that work together over time. To market effectively you must
make yourself repeatedly visible to potential clients and referral sources so that they
get to know and trust you.
8. Choose Marketing Methods That Excite You
Take some time to explore and develop marketing methods that suit your unique
talents and interests. There are numerous ways to promote your practice. To get
ideas, read books, take courses, ask other professionals how they built their
practices, or hire a marketing consultant or coach. Marketing can be an enjoyable
and creative process that provides a balance to the work you do with your clients.
Find a way to take pleasure in this aspect of your business and you will be more
motivated to do it.
9. Make a Commitment To Build Your Practice
Typically it can take anywhere from 1-3+ years to build a full practice. Exactly how
long will depend on several factors including the size of your current network, how
effectively you market, the demand for your area of expertise, and how much time
you spend developing your practice. Make a commitment to take action steps on a
regular basis. It's best if you set aside a specific amount of time on a weekly basis
for marketing your practice, and try to stick to this schedule even when you become
discouraged or become tempted to allow other things to take priority.
10. Get Support
Because you will be primarily working alone, you may feel isolated and discouraged
at times. It's important to have people and resources you can access for support.
Most successful people have consistently had other people helping them. Whether
you get expert guidance from a professional business coach or consultant, or get
help from your colleagues and friends, getting support, guidance and feedback on
your ideas and goals is essential. The more support you get, the greater your
chances of success with your private practice.
Many professionals who are having difficulty building their private practices tell me
the reason they can't get clients is either because there is too much competition or
because of tight economic times. While it may be true that competition for clients
has increased and that financial resources are limited for many people, there will
always be those professionals in your particular field who do have a full practice.
Competition is not going to go away and you have you don't have control over the
economy. You need to find a way to develop and sustain a private practice in spite
of these apparent obstacles. If you act on the above ten guidelines on a consistent
basis, you should have a thriving practice within a few years. Be persistent, believe
in yourself, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, get out there and
market your practice.
Š Juliet Austin
Bio of Author
Juliet assists helping and healing professionals (coaches, therapists, counselors,
massage therapists, chiropractors, etc.) who are struggling to build their practices.
She helps her clients overcome resistances to marketing, learn no or low-cost
marketing strategies, create compelling promotional materials, and write effective
A graduate of both Coach U, The Institute for Life Coach Training and member of
The School of Coaching, Juliet has been a practicing coach for almost 7 years. Juliet
is also the Director of the Canadian Office of The Institute for Life Coach Training, a
training program for therapists wanting to become coaches. She is former member
of the founding board of the Vancouver Chapter of the International Coaching
Federation (ICF) and a current member of the ICF and Coachville.
Juliet can be reached through her website at: www.julietaustin.com">http://www.julietaustin.com or
through her marketing blog at www.marketingaprivatepractice.com">http://www.marketingaprivatepractice.com
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