Building a Business vs Building a Practice

There is a distinct different between a practice and a business.

A practice sees you treating and charging by the hour and requires you to be in it all the time.  Whereas a business (technically) is something that can grow without you being there.

Basically most therapists follow a flawed practice building model right from the start and end up on a hamster wheel that totally exhausts them.

They get qualified and then set about creating a one on one private practice but unless they have set themselves up early to build an abundant private practice – eventually the ability to grow themselves and their revenue will plateau.

The flawed model goes something like this:

  • Study your butt off
  • Graduate
  • Network your butt off
  • Convince as many people as you can to come and have a treatment with you
  • Charge what everyone else does
  • Work one on one with as many people as you can
  • Don’t limit who can see you
  • Charge by the hour for as many as hours as you can till you drop

Sound familiar?

Don’t be alarmed, its how most therapists start out and it is the exact model many of the clients have followed who show up for mentoring with me to figure out what to do when they end up with too many clients.

So on some level the model works.  But the model has limitations.

The main reason the model starts to falter a few years down the track is because there is no encouragement to speak or specialise in the early development of a practice.  Encouraging speaking to small groups very early in your existence as a therapist is the one big difference in what my Practice Building Success Systems offers and its no co-incidence that the people who move easily to bigger groups have all done Courageous Speaking, my intensive speaking weekend.

The traditional practice building model is however very safe because you don’t have to get too far out of your comfort zone.  Its why therapists love it so much in the early days because it allows you to hide.  You simply have to master networking and the customers keep flowing in.

The Abundant Private Practice model goes something like this:

  • Study your butt off
  • Graduate
  • Network your butt off
  • Convince a targeted group of people to come and have a treatment with you
  • Focus on growing a targeted database
  • Speak to small groups in your target market and build up to larger groups
  • Regularly communicate and build relationships with the people you treat and meet along the way
  • Work one on one with a select group of people
  • Charge what you are worth not what everyone else is charging
  • Develop group programs early on in your practice (even if only 1 person turns up)
  • Limit who can see you one on one by having that service priced at a premium
  • Create packages people buy that offer a mix of your solutions so they commit to their healing and contribute to your cash flow

I know this model has some scary aspects, and yes it limits the number of people who can see you just once.  But to become known as an expert, you must create boundaries and limits on how people work with you or you become like everyone else.  Having total strangers wander in and out of your practice each day will not build a sustainable nor abundant practice long term.

Yes, in the early days you need to see a lot of “turn and churn” clients, but as soon as you start to be able to pay the bills, you need to start creating a new mindset so you can work with greater numbers of people in the future.

The more you work with people …. the more you want to work with more people.

In a nutshell, every practitioner who wants to build a six figure practice starts to crave to get their message to a lot more people.

That’s when the dilemma begins, because you then have to learn to speak in public, you have to start to develop product and you have to start making sense of all the crazy messages and ideas that are bouncing around in your head.

A one on one model can’t make anymore money once your practice hits capacity.  

The bigger dilemma to be overcome with the one on one model is that once you hit capacity and just cannot treat another single person in a week due to your humanness, then you simply can’t generate any more money.

There are three very real reasons for this:

  • You are too emotionally drained to create new revenue streams
  • You are seeing so many clients you no longer have time to scratch yourself
  • You are too buggered to chase any new opportunities anyway

Worst of all you simply don’t have any more hours left in the day that you can charge for and eventually you hit a revenue plateau.

Running a full practice brings many challenges

The burn out rate is often discussed in hushed tones and the busy people are loath to discuss the issue because of those that say we “should” be able to maintain our energy levels naturally, eat well and look after ourselves so we are at optimum at all times.

With the best will in the world, this isn’t always possible for a therapist whose only lunch break is often a few stolen moments between clients to digest the tail she has been chasing all day!

To change something – something has to change

All the clients in the “too many” category have all figured out the same thing.  They have hit a revenue plateau that they can’t get over if they just keep seeing clients one one one.  They also understand they must get a coach to help them out of their bunker.

This is the part where I come in and firstly help them sort out the chaos they have created.

Many are booked 6-8 weeks solidly plus have clients constantly calling on their mobiles to try and book in NOW.  Because most therapists are chronic people pleasers, they start to cram “emergency” cases into spaces that don’t really exist – better know to most as “weekends”.  That becomes really stressful!

The reward however is that once all the pre-bookings are served and calm is restored to the diary, then we can start moving into the really cool stuff – honouring the knowledge and wisdom that has been building up in the time they have been working with clients.

Already a pattern is starting to appear in the people turning up with too many clients

They have

  • Gifts to bring to the world that they’ve known about for quite some time
  • A natural drive to heal many and they can’t stop themselves pursuing it
  • Impatience flowing out of every pore and one person at a time is too slow
  • Walked their talk at a level most can’t even conceive and implement their daily spiritual and coping practices at a depth that most can only dream of doing
  • Networked and marketed their business hard in the early days and now have a great following of people, but are a little unsure how to serve them going forwards
  • Never let anything stop them
  • Frequently given away too much of their time and are rarely ever charging appropriately
  • Under valued the dollar value of the knowledge and wisdom they have built up over the years.

So having fought all their fears, these gung ho therapists now not only have a diary full of clients, and they have a head full of awesome knowledge …….. but they have no idea what to do with it.

Converting their knowledge to products and working in groups is their next evolutionary step.  Bet you never got taught that at therapy school!  That’s where I can help.

Working with Clients Gives Back in SO Many Ways

The biggest thing I’ve realised in my journey is that building a business is the best and greatest personal development you will EVER do.

As you work with many more clients, something happens within YOU, that grows and heals you as much as your clients grow and heal. I never dreamed this would be the outcome.  But quite honestly – if you are serious about personal growth – get serious about building your business.  You will be amazed what happens particularly if you start considering other models before things get out of hand.

I love that I can pull all my skills together to help them make sense of it all.  You have already seen two stars Kerry Belviso and Grace Ambrook launch their products and there are a few more waiting in the wings to dazzle you.

Best give me a hoy if you are just starting to grow that client list and want to get it right the first time or if you already have too many clients and need to get off the one on one hamster wheel.

Creative Commons Image Attribution:  Hamster by graffiti.freiburg
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