One of the scariest things about going into private practice is feeling afraid that you will put all of your money, time and energy into building your practice, you’ll launch … and then no one will come.
The fear that you won’t get enough clients to bring in a sustainable income is enough to stop many people in their tracks.
While there are no guarantees, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success and create a sense of confidence and security, knowing that there are enough clients out there … and that they will find you!
The Universe Has Your Back
Something I have come to realize over the years (as cliché as it might sound) is that when you are truly following your passion, the Universe really does have your back. On that note, if you haven’t read the book, The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein, I recommend it!
When you step onto a path, not out of fear, but out of an inner knowing that you were meant to do something special, you start to feel aligned and purposeful. When you feel this way, other people around you start to feel that energy. If you have ever been around someone who is living purposefully and is passionate about the work they do, you know how good that feels. Chances are, that you are magnetically drawn to them — and the same will be true about your future clients.
The Know, Like, Trust Factor
I often hear the concern, “But why would clients come to me when there are so many experienced therapists out there?”. My experience has shown me that clients don’t choose their therapist based on experience alone.
Clients generally choose a therapist based on a feeling. A feeling of connection, comfort, and trust. In the marketing world, this is often referred to as the “Know, Like, Trust” factor. When someone feels like they know you, they hold you in a positive regard, and get a sense that they can trust you, then they are more likely to choose you as their therapist. These things aren’t built by experience alone. They are built by putting yourself out there in a way that potential clients have an opportunity to connect with you, by showing bits of who you are. When potential clients start to like you and feel safe with you, and when you demonstrate through your knowledge and presence that they can count on you, they are more likely to reach out.
When you know that clients choose their therapist based on the “know, like, trust” factor rather than on experience, it changes how you position yourself in the world and how you show up.
Find a Niche
You may have heard people talk about finding a niche. Although I don’t believe it is necessary to specialize so exclusively that you only focus on one client type and one particular issue, it is helpful to get clear about who you help (what types of clients), what they are suffering from, and what you have to offer to them. Doing this, allows you to focus in on a particular demographic and learn who they are, how they speak, and what they need.
When you understand your potential client and learn how to speak their language, this helps to increase the “know, like, trust” factor and makes it even more likely that they will find you and reach out to you.
Have a Safety Net
It is always advisable to have a fallback plan or a safety net. This means, that for most people, it isn’t wise to throw caution to the wind and completely quit your job, sever all other sources of income and step fully into private practice when you don’t have any clients yet (unless you have a large savings account to fall back on!). Although everyone’s situation is different and it might not be easy, if you can find a way to scale back at your current job so you can slowly build up your practice, this helps mitigate some of the risk.
Once you get going, it often doesn’t take too long (anywhere from a few months to a year) to build up a full client roster. If you have another source of income that you can slowly scale back on as you build up your private practice, that can often remove a lot of the fear associated with taking a huge leap with no safety net.
Follow Your Intuition
Lastly, following your intuition and learning to trust yourself is a crucial part of becoming an entrepreneur.
If you have a voice inside of you that is urging you along this path – even though you are scared — chances are that there is something great waiting for you on the other side! If you have fears, that is okay … and completely normal! If those fears are preventing you from moving forward I suggest finding a mentor who can help you address and overcome them. If your intuition is telling you that private practice is right for you … trust it! And then get curious about who your ideal client is, where they are, and how you can serve them.
I truly believe that everyone was born for a reason. We are all here to fulfill a purpose or mission, to be of service in some way, to learn certain lessons, and to create meaning in our lives. If the path of private practice and being of service as a therapist is what’s calling out to you … then there’s a reason for that. Don’t let fear, doubt, and uncertainty block you. Tap into your strength, inner confidence and intuition, and take the steps forward that will start propelling you towards your dream!
There are many people who have gone before you and who want to help. If you have questions or need a mentor, I’d be happy to help!
You can reach out in one of the following ways:
Build Your Private Practice Facebook Group (an online Community of Support)
Good luck on your journey!