I remember going in to the clinic, week after week, seeing clients but still not being able to pay the bills. It was soul destroying.
Every day felt like a ‘work-day’ even if I had just one client, so it felt like I was always working, yet there was never any money to pay the last bills of the month. I was constantly thinking about what I needed to do to get clients, but in those days I didn’t know what worked, so I usually wasted my time and didn’t fully implement anything useful most weeks.
Of course, I wasn’t seeing enough clients so I wasn’t making the difference I could either. This wasn’t what I’d signed up for when I started my journey as a therapist.
Rather than get a job just for money doing something I didn’t care about, I had decided I wanted to make a life working to help others. That can’t be 100% giving, it must have balance. I need to be able to support my family as I do this or else that ‘value-less’ job that delivers money starts to become necessary.
That’s not what I want. Sure, we have to earn a living, but we get to do so while making the world a better place. That’s the real win of being a therapist or coach.
To do so we must earn a real income, or we’ll all face the point where the necessities of life drag us down.
Until I faced that truth, I was somewhat half-hearted in building my practice.
Here’s the important truth: It’s less effort, time and hassle to build a full practice than to suffer on with such worry!
Here are a few key thoughts to help you with this.
It’s easy to avoid thinking of the long term when we’re scrambling to find clients day to day. We’ll have defences against looking at it – “real healing comes from the heart: I shouldn’t worry about the money”, “I just have to stick at it until it takes off”, “If it’s right it won’t fail”, “If my intentions are pure the universe will provide”, “I need to align myself with my core beliefs for success”, and so on.
That’s all nice. It may even be true. It certainly helps. But we need to take the right action with it and build the feelings of motivation and capability in order to make it all come together for success.
So, a few simple questions to help quantify where we are today:
Does my current level of work provide enough to allow me to keep doing this? Consider necessities like pensions as well as the odd holiday and perhaps things like Health Insurance if it’s needed where you live. Don’t be afraid of looking at the whole picture.
Am I able to help more people each week without putting too much strain on myself? If we have the energy to be sustainable while helping more people, that’s a win for everyone. If so, how many more clients would I like per week?
Is the stress of not being busy, more stress than seeing more clients? Usually we are far more energised helping people and working hard at that than sitting stuck in limbo trying to find clients but not knowing what to do.
Frequently the stress of working, but not seeing enough clients holds us back from action. Rather than set aside some time to truly work on building our business we sit in bad feeling and avoid.
If that’s where things are at – this is the time to act. The gradual strangulation of motivation, love of the work, desire to help others, and self esteem is what occurs when we ignore this issue.
Ask yourself a few questions (Pen and paper make this more real… go on you know it’s worth doing)
If you do or if you don’t know what to do to build your client base the 1st step is the same.
BLOCK OUT TIME
If you are overwhelmed or if you are just spending too much time thinking about it, the way to win is to set up short periods of more focused worktime.
Ring fence some time, no more than 90 minutes at a time and use it to act on the problem.
If you are worrying, over-thinking, stressing about clients outside of this designated time, add what you’re thinking about to a list and set it aside. Look at it again during the times you have set aside to work on marketing.
Ideally don’t do more than 90 minutes a day on this!
If we try to always work at a high level on this by putting in long hours at it, our productivity drops in general. When we have a manageable period of time to work in, it’s far easier to be motivated and to usefully use the time.
It also gives us time off from the constant worry and stress.
An hour and a half a day is a lot of time. It shouldn’t need this much time to build a practice. However, compared to always being on alert about the issue, it will feel far better as well as allow us to achieve more.
Achievement is more important than spending lots of time working at it.
If we feel we have to spend lots and lots of time on it, we’re probably in a stress cycle and achieving little. This pushes us further into the frantic feeling of ‘I have to do more work, this is a crisis’ rather than ‘what is the useful thing to do now?’
I mean it, block out time and stick to it!
Identify the goals (How many clients / what do I need to learn / what do I need to do?)
Use the set time to work on these.
Stop thinking about / working on / worrying about these issues outside these blocks of time.
If it helps, write down whatever feels urgent outside of these times and leave them for the next block.
I expect you’re going to see better results.
You’re building a career. It should earn you tens of thousands a year if it’s to take the place of a regular job.
It should make you happier to be helping people. It should provide for you and your family. It should make the world a better place.
When you retire will you be able to say you made a difference in people’s lives?
That’s the real goal.
Are you ready to work on making it a reality?
I hope so.
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John Prendergast is an award-winning Success Coach and and Psycho-Trauma Anxiety Therapist.
He is also the Founder of Therapy and Coaching Success that specialises in helping Therapists, Coaches and other Wellness Practitioners, connect with those in need, build their diaries and earn the income they need.
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