I have learned sooooo much this past month in private practice! Read below to find out about my top five lessons learned in my second month of private practice!
1. Listen To Podcasts
When money is tight, you cannot afford a consultant, and you don’t like to read books, the BEST thing you can do is listen to podcasts. Podcasts are a great resource for free information on how to build, market, and grow your private practice! This month, I decided to listen to a podcast each morning of my work week. Instead of lying in bed for half an hour trying to wake up (I am not a morning person, lol), I press play to a podcast and wake up to ideas and lessons related to owning your own business. Right now, I am making my way through Joe’s POP podcast, as well as Building a Story Brand.
2. Don’t Give Away Face-To-Face Time For Free
To get clients, I decided to give free 15 minute consults at my office. It seemed like a good idea at the time as it would get people’s “foot-in-the-door”. However, what it actually did was create a lot more time dealing with cancellations, no shows, and giving away free counselling. I pay per 15 minutes to rent my office space. So, each time there was a no show, I lost money. PLUS trying not to counsel in my counselling room was very difficult. Do you expect a free consult with a chiropractor, physiotherapist, naturopath, massage therapist, ect.? No. My belief is that if a person needs counselling, offering a “Meet n’ greet” will not make or break their decision.
To stay competitive though, I have decided to try phone consults, as it will be easier to keep it general and I will not have to pay a rent fee if they do not answer. Stay tuned to see how that goes!
3. Take a Vacation
Chances are, you have probably been working on your private practice for many months before you opened. For me, I was burnt out after all the effort and time it took to create my private practice. After the first month of intense networking and marketing, I needed a break. Taking a vacation away from business, turning off my phone for four days, and visiting family and friends was the BEST decision I made last month. I came back refreshed, rested, and focused.
4. Find a Specialty
When I opened, I specialized in “Anxiety, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder in Teenagers and Young Adults (ages 15-35)”. As I listened to podcasts, I realized that my focus was just too big! As I thought about my ideal client and the type of counselling I like to do, I decided to specialize in “Depression Counselling For Teenagers”. Making this decision was not rushed. I resisted and tried to reason with myself that I should offer more. I worried that my phone would stop ringing and I would not be able to fill my counselling slots. But then, I remind myself that clients are more likely to choose you if you solely focus on one issue rather than generalize. Think of it this way: do you want your family doctor to treat you for cancer OR do you want to see an oncologist?
Tip to figuring out your specialty: If you use the word “and” when you describe who you counsel… your specialty probably needs to be narrowed down.
5. Simplify Your Website
From listening to the podcast, Building Your Story Brand, and signing up for their free e-course, I learned that the simpler and clearer your website is, the more likely potential clients will book an appointment with you. That meant editing my website and reducing my menu and copy. Adding “calls to action”, smiling faces, and clarifying my message. Thankfully, I have a Brighter Vision website and thus had unlimited and quick support in making the changes.
Julia Smith, BA, MEd, CCC, is the owner of Insight Mental Health Counselling in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. She specializes in helping teenagers stop depression from affecting their lives.
Click here to learn more about her downtown Halifax counselling practice!