Will your practice still be around in two years?
For 80% of people who start today, that answer is no. That’s the overall failure rate for small businesses according to the SBA and people in the helping professions are not immune.
After working with scores of therapists and clinic owners, I have come to see that a large part of the problem is that they are not taught how to plan for the long game.
In grad school you learned how to be brilliant with patients, but how much training did you receive about running a business? Most of the therapists I meet are sent out into the world with few skills to build a practice, so they have to learn on the fly.
Building your business and marketing muscles is as important as your clinical skills. Without a healthy practice, you won’t even get the chance to share your gifts with the world.
Keep reading to learn about the mindsets that can crush your private practice.
Private practice business systems
Imagine what would happen if you only looked at your bank account once a year, never cleaned your offices, or never talked to your receptionist.
You take care of these things because you inherently understand the importance of keeping up with the finances, operations, and people in your business.
Unfortunately, the same care is often NOT given to marketing. It’s the one business system that people routinely put off or ignore. It’s seen as optional or a luxury that can be implemented once the business owner has more resources to invest in it.
All businesses require systems to maintain the functions that occur on a regular basis. Even if you have no system …that’s a system!
At the very least you will need the following business systems in place:
- Financial System: how your money moves in, through and out of your organization
- Operations System: how you take appointments, handle the paperwork and manage your facilities
- People System: how you hire, train and manage staff
- Marketing System: how to get and retain customers
So, if marketing is our system for getting and retaining clients, then it’s hardly optional. In fact, the success of your entire business venture rests on that system doing the job.
5 Mindsets that will kill your private practice
I have identified five reasons why private practice owners might neglect marketing. Once you identify with a category, then take some action to move yourself forward.
1) My private practice is more of a hobby than a career
We all have different things we want out of life and that is 100%. It’s critical that we are honest with ourselves to avoid the guilt and extra stress that comes with playing someone else’s game.
If you are in private practice as more of a side hustle to make a little extra cash, then you will (and should) treat your marketing differently.
But if you have bigger goals and realize you want more than a hobby, then keep reading!
2) I don’t think marketing is very important
Maybe you only think of marketing as brochures and business cards. Let me share why your private practice needs and online presence.
It’s where your people are…Your ideal client is online and looking for answers to their problems. A content marketing strategy would ensure they would find your content. Google is usually the first thing people do when they encounter a problem or have a need. 75% of people who find local, helpful information in search results are more likely to visit the physical stores.
Helps people find you…People use the internet like they used to use the phone book. 97% of consumers looked online for a local business last year and if you aren’t on there, you might as well not exist. So what happens when people search for couples/family/autism (insert your specialty) therapy in your zip code?
Establishes your legitimacy…When I meet a professional I want to see her online presence. In fact, I am highly suspicious when business owners have no presence or a neglected presence. I immediately question whether she is a serious professional.
Increases your authority… It increases your authority as an expert and positions you as an industry leader in your community.
3) I don’t have the time or money for marketing
This one is hard because the truth is, going into business is expensive.
The Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8% of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising if you’re doing less than $5 million a year. That number increases to 12-20% if you are in start-up or growth mode.
So, if you know you want to make $100,000 next year as a solo practitioner, then you need to invest $10-20k to get there and then another $7,000 a year to maintain that level.
If you start thinking this way, it will radically uplevel your business acumen.
$100,000 (solo) $10-20k for growth / $7k+ to maintain
$200,000 (2 employees) $20-40k for growth / $14k+ to maintain
$500,000 (5 employees) $50-100k for growth / $35k+ to maintain
$100,000,000 (10 employees) $100-200k for growth / $70k+ to maintain
Now, you might not have an extra $10,000 just laying around at the beginning, which is fair. But to at least have your eyes opened to this solid principle will enable you to tackle the problem like a professional and not a hobby-ist.
Get outside funding...you might talk to a business professional to find creative options for funding.
Do it yourself...for awhile. In the early days, we do what we can ourselves. If you go this route, make the clear decision to get out of DIY-ing as quickly as you can. Be sure to track the work you do like a business expense using your hourly rate as a guide. You will quickly find that you can hire someone much cheaper than yourself to do the same early tasks.
“ If you think of marketing spending as eating into your profits, you’re thinking the wrong way. Marketing isn’t an expense—it’s an investment, one that drives your sales. Without marketing, you won’t reach new potential customers, and that could mean lower sales.” more from SBA
Marketing will cost you something. Period. So figure out how to come up with the resources you need.
4) I don’t need any more clients
Wow, that’s great…for today. However, business is fickle and you won’t always be so lucky.
I have one therapist friend who is always in either feast or famine mode. She rides high for a few months when her calendar is full and then wrings her hands during slow times because she doesn’t know how she will get more people in the door.
If we’re only thinking about marketing when we need clients, then it’s too late. It can take weeks or months for people to be ready to make contact and so it’s important to have marketing in place that is running consistently in the background. This keeps us top of mind and provides a steady stream of prospects coming our way.
The last thing you want to do is to have to suddenly stop everything and try to hustle. That feeling of, “I need 5 new clients NOW!” is terrifying and stressful.
5) I’m too overwhelmed so I will do nothing!
Well, this may be the best reason of all to put off marketing.
The marketing landscape has become almost impossible to navigate. Last spring, one tech company identified over 7,000 marketing solutions that are available for small business owners.
Even if you had the time to do-it-yourself, how the HECK do you make sense of all the options? It will require you to:
- Take a really deep breath
- Outline a plan
- Tackle it with baby steps
If you don’t have a clear framework, you will get overwhelmed. As tempting as it is to think otherwise, business growth doesn’t happen overnight and there is no magic bullet. BUT…a solid marketing plan and consistent motion will produce powerful results.
I think you do some of the most important work on the planet so I created a company just to help therapy practices and other mission-driven brands succeed. In fact, we have a proven process to help you not only survive, but become the go-to authority in your local market. If you want to learn more about how we can help, schedule a free strategy call below.