I’ll never forget the moment that my Psychology Today profile went live and I publicly announced my practice to friends and family. The fact that it was only two months ago helps as well. I was terrified to say the least. Would anyone even want to see me? Who am I to start my own business? When starting your own practice, there is no one else to hide behind. You are the face of the business, literally. I had a lot of fear in the few months before I launched, and used that as my fuel to grind, grind, and grind some more. Instead of letting that fear stop me from moving I used it as my fire to ignite!
Determined to Succeed
I had heard stories where people didn’t get their first client until six months after they launched. I knew people who had a private practice and were struggling to find clients and make ends meet. Now, I had all my cards on the table. I had rent to pay for my office, I had made this public to colleagues, friends, and family, and I was determined to not fail. I needed to make sure this worked. I needed to make sure I didn’t become one of those people. The ones that fail and give up after a year with their head hung as they apply for another agency position. I became obsessed with getting my name out there and growing quickly. And, it worked.
Finding Your Niche
I had a waitlist within six weeks of being open. I never imagined all my slots would be full in SIX WEEKS!? It’s been an exciting time for my business that is still in the baby stages. So, how did I do it? Was it luck? Hard work? Location? Timing? A question I ask myself often is, ‘What am I doing, and how can I replicate this to keep the momentum going?’ It’s only been two months so far, but my waitlist maintains and I average two new clients a week with very little money going to marketing (I’m a stickler with my budget!).
The number one thing I’d recommend to anyone is to niche down. It’s a way to stand out and not burn out. I battled with myself HARD CORE on this. I enjoy working with panic disorder, substance use, I have training in insomnia, a certificate in nutritional psychology, and like working with emotional eating. But, what’s my niche? What’s my one thing? My poor husband heard me have endless conversations about what I should “specialize” in. I bounced ideas off of other clinicians, family members, etc. until I finally chose my niche: insomnia treatment.
But, I never felt confident about it and learned quickly that that would not work for me. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I loved working with nutrition more and felt my calling to something else. I took some additional CEU training on eating disorders and emotional eating and I started to slowly pivot. I now focus all my marketing on eating issues and disorders and really enjoy the work that comes with it. It’s extremely specialized and requires a lot of ongoing training that I continue to immerse myself in. But, I love it. I saw a need in my area for treatment for eating disorders. So, I buckled down, spent additional money on trainings and books and declared it my niche. That’s when my practice took off and the calls increased. I had my niche I was passionate about and the sparks flew!
Respond to the Market
One take away from this: learn to pivot and do it fast. Listen and respond to what the market tells you. At first, I was going to networking events and I would talk about my insomnia experience and mention my nutritional psychology background. But, I ALWAYS got more questions and comments on my background in nutrition than I did insomnia. I could have stayed with insomnia for the first year and had little to no success. But, I knew in my gut I wanted to go with something different. You’re able to change your niche if needed. It’s not written in stone! I recommend declaring a niche, see how it sits with you and then pivot as needed.
I’ll be doing a mini series over these next few weeks on other things I did that I believe contributed to my practice growing to a waitlist quickly. So, stay tuned and keep grinding!
Danielle Swimm is a wellness enthusiast who has a passion for mind and body health. She’s a newlywed that enjoys spending time with her husband and dogs in the great outdoors. She has a love for learning about business and hearing other entrepreneur’s stories. She provides psychotherapy in Annapolis for clients suffering from disordered eating.