I’ve been in business for 4 years and when I look back there is SO much stuff I wish I’d know at the start. It would have saved me time, money and a lot of stress and heartache. So here is my list of stuff I wish I’d know from the start, so you lovely therapist, can start (or continue) your therapy biz journey with all the knowledge I was lacking.
Stuff I wish I’d known from the start…..
1. It’s not all pixies and unicorns
Just because you help people for living doesn’t mean you skip through the day surrounded by flowers and rainbows and all things cute. Business is hard. Clients can be tough. You have to do your accounts and all the other boring bits. You can feel exhausted. It’s not all pixies and unicorns, but there are things you can do to look after yourself and make your business easier so that the majority of time is good and you can let the pixies and unicorns in (if that’s your thing!).
2. You can build it and they still won’t come
Do you remember the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams? In it he hears a voice telling him to build it and they will come – so he builds a baseball field in his cornfield and some dead baseball players turn up to play. Not the best film but a good analogy of how many therapists (including me) start their therapy career. If we start a business surely clients will hear about us and be beating our door down to work with us.
I can promise you that ‘building it’ won’t be enough to create a successful business. Right from the start you need to feed and nurture it. You need to market it. You need to show that it does what it says it will. Building your business is an on-going, daily thing that you need to get right.
3. You need to invest in yourself
One of the most important things I have learnt over the years is that you need to invest in yourself, even when the thought of it makes you want to cry.
I couldn’t have created my successful business without my business coach. Which, honestly, is the biggest investment I have ever made but it created more success than I could have imagined. The online programmes I have invested in have allowed me to develop my knowledge and help me transform the way I run my business. My virtual assistant is a god send and does all the stuff I am rubbish at. Yes, it costs me money, but it saves me time and allows me to use that time on stuff I’m good at.
You can’t grow your successful business unless you invest in YOU. Even though at the start of your biz it might terrify you, it will be totally worth it.
4. You can’t tell everyone you can help with everything
I know, I know – you can probably help most people with most things BUT that’s not a good way to market your business (trust me, I tried). All that happens is your marketing message gets lost. People get confused about what you do and you end up with an empty diary.
Get specific. Find the thing you love to help with. Find the common themes that run through the clients you’ve worked with. And market to them. Talk about how pants they feel now and then show them how wonderful they will feel once they have worked with you. Sell the benefits of your therapy biz rather than shouting about all the tools in your therapy tool box.
Trust me, it will make such a difference to your diary.
5. You really, really don’t need a pull up banner
Or business cards or leaflets or an ad in the local paper. Again, this is you trying to market to everyone.
Get a Facebook page, get on Twitter, fall in love with Instagram. Be clear about who you are helping and talk to them about it. That’s how you market your business. You can market your biz well without having to spend a fortune on marketing materials.
6. Networking is fun, but it doesn’t bring many clients
I hate to think how much time I spent networking in my first 2 years of business. I honestly thought I would go and tell them what I did and I would end up with loads of new clients (see number 2 above!). What really happened is I met some lovely people, ate some yummy food and connected with other local businesses – which is all lovely. But actually it only ever turned in 2 paying clients.
7. Clients can smell panic
You know those times – you have no clients booked in, no food in the fridge, you need to pay for that school trip and the washer machine is making a horrible noise. You need money and you need it quick. You offer discounts, you offer buy one get one free deals, you offer £15 taster sessions, you offer anything to get some clients booked in.
But, they can smell your panic and what happens – you don’t get any clients booked in.
Your therapy skills are life transforming. Show them your results through testimonials. Keep sharing your expertise through social media and your website. The right clients will book in when you stop panicking and show them that you are the person for them.
8. You are so much more than just a therapist
Yes, you are a therapist and a flipping talented one, but more importantly you are a business owner.
I can’t tell you how long it took me to realise that!
At the start of my business I just saw myself as a therapist. All that mattered was getting that next client. I never thought about the bigger picture.
I didn’t have targets, I wasn’t keeping an eye on how my business was growing, I didn’t have a clue about where I wanted to be next month let alone next year. But that was holding me back. I was simply going from client to client.
Realising I am a business owner was a big turning point in my biz.
9. You have to be good at loads of sh*t you didn’t sign up for
You have your therapy qualification and you’re ready to go, but why did no one mention that you need to also be the web designer, graphic designer, marketing exec, copy writer, creative genius, image sourcer, proof reader, accountant and make the tea!!!
Phew. It can all feel overwhelming and you soon find out where your strengths lie and where you need to outsource and get help (see point 3).
10. There are only so many hours in the day
And only so many clients you can see, so your earning potential is limited. However, there is another way – getting online therapy products. You can offer clients from all over the world the opportunity to work with you buy buying your online services. These can be anything you offer your one to one clients, but instead of seeing you in your office, they go online – watch videos, listen to audios and work through workbooks. They get the same great results but you don’t physically have to work with them and you can bring money into your business….even when you’re not working.
11. Looking after you is your most important job
Being self-employed is tough – long hours, late night working, answering emails on the weekend. We can become exhausted and burn out. Looking after you, setting boundaries so you have time off to relax and keeping your energy levels up are the most important things you can do for your biz because without you there is no business.
12. Mindset is everything
Having the mindset of a successful therapist with a busy therapy biz will make creating that business easier. Mindset is everything and you need to keep yours positive and believing that you can do this because you really can.
So there it is – the things I wish I knew when I started. But over the last 4 years there is one big lesson I have learnt – yes, it’s hard work, yes, there is lots to learn and be good at, yes, it’s an ongoing journey that you need to be committed to BUT when it works, it works wonderfully.
And if you need help creating the business of your dreams then you know where I am <3