As small business owners, private practice dreamers, and bold entrepreneurs we take on a certain level of risk every day to run our own business.There is never any guarantee that we will continue to get clients, we have no company retirement plan or extended health benefits included in our contract, and many of us are just living month-to-month on the income we make from our clients. Keep reading for some ways to help your business survive and thrive through COVID-19.
When the global pandemic we are currently facing first began sweeping through our nation, many of us felt uncertain about the impact it would have on our business. Now, about 4 weeks in, we have a much better idea of what this means.
Many of us have lost 50-75% or more of our income. Some have lost 100%. Fewer still have not been affected at all. And there is the rare person amongst us whose businesses have thrived despite this healthcare and economic crisis.
So what sets apart a business owner whose business dwindles down to nothing, versus one whose business thrives?
While there is no easy answer, there are few things that you can do to not only salvage, but grow your business.
This is probably the most important difference between a private practice owner who loses all of their clients, versus one who experiences growth and increased demand.
When this first hit, many of us went into panic mode, scrambling to figure out what to do, worrying about our finances, and almost expecting this to have a negative impact on our businesses. While all of that is completely normal and expected, it’s also not overly helpful. Yes, we need to be realistic and plan for what’s to come, but we can’t continue to live and operate from that place and expect to be successful.
Whatever energy we’re operating from, whether it’s fear, scarcity, excitement, or abundance, that’s what we’re going to attract. If we’re saying and doing one thing, but feeling another, our clients and potential customers are going to feel that. Of course, this is much easier said than done. However, finding ways to tap into our inner strength and resources, adopt a positive mindset, and focus on things that truly do make us feel good is extremely important.
Fierce Commitment & Dedication
Along with mindset, instead of getting swept up into fear and panic mode (there is definitely a time and a place for that!), let yourself have your moments (or your day, or your weekend!). Then figure out how to connect to the part of you that you connected to when you first took the leap into going back to school to get your Master’s degree, or took the jump into private practice.
If you are reading this, I already know that there is a part of you that is fierce, determined, and very capable. This part of you, that refuses to settle, that knows you have a purpose to fulfil and that you were meant to do great things, is the part of you that your clients and world desperately need right now.
Figure out how to tap into that part and you are well on your way to thriving through and beyond this time.
Be of Service
Now is not the time to be sitting on the sidelines (unless that’s all you can manage or your intuition is telling you that’s the right thing to do!). For many of us, this is the time to use our talents, skills, gifts, and strengths to serve our community. When this crisis begins to lift, there will be many people in need of therapy.
(In case you missed it, you can check out the Free Webinar for Canadian Counsellors in Private Practice, designed to help you through this time)
This time of uncertainty and isolation will no doubt trigger anxiety and depression, bring relationship issues to light and trigger a whole host of mental and emotional issues in millions of people. Although they may not be flocking to your website, social media posts, or your virtual door right this very second, you can count on the fact that our industry will be heavily called upon in the coming months and years to support those who have been negatively affected (i.e. most of us!).
So who are the therapists and counsellors that people are going to go do when all of this is over? It makes the most sense that they will go to people they know, like and trust, and whom their friends know, like and trust. What better way to get people to know, like and trust you, than by meeting their needs when it matters most.
Right now, is the time when people need support. Maybe they’re not actively seeking you, and chances are, that they can’t even afford you right now … but that won’t always be the case. In our virtual world, there are many ways that we can go to them, and that we can create products, services, and opportunities (no matter how big or small) to help.
This is the time to put your creative thinking cap on, consider your community and clientele, and figure out ways to help.
Have an Online Presence
The biggest adjustment that many of us will make during this time, is the transition online. If you don’t already have a website and online presence, now is the time to start.
If you don’t have the funds to pay someone to create a website for you, I recommend checking out my friend and colleague’s super-affordable Do-It-Yourself WordPress Website Course to get started. There are also tons of free resources and tutorials online, and if you ask around, you might have a friend or family member who is skilled in these things who may offer to help.
Social Media can be a complicated tool, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It’s not just about having an account and posting and sharing randomly. There is a strategy behind it and you need to be consistent and targeted with your messaging. If you have extra time on your hands, and the motivation to do so, this could be the time to start learning how to create a successful online presence.
Become Fluent in Offering Online Sessions
If it isn’t obvious, the demand for online sessions has skyrocketed and will only continue to do so as this progresses. If you don’t already conduct virtual sessions, or you do but your feeling shaky about it, I highly recommend checking out my Master Class in Online Counselling. It will teach you everything you need to know about confidently transitioning your clients online, and offering seamless, professional virtual sessions.
If you have never been on the receiving end of virtual counselling sessions, I highly recommend you do so. Find an experienced therapist and try out a few sessions so you can see how they do it, and understand what it’s like. Practice setting up sessions with family or friends, so that when you onboard new clients or transition your current ones, you can be confident in your use of technology.
Your clients will take their cues from you. If you feel good about online sessions, are confident in the technology you are using, and can provide support and reassurance, your clients will feel more at ease and more open to experiencing something new.
Be Smart With Your Money
If you were living month-to-month before all of this started, or didn’t have a savings or retirement account, or have accumulated a lot of debt that you haven’t been too aggressive about paying back, this might be a big wake up call for you.
Let’s be honest … most of us are pretty terrible at managing money (I was definitely in that camp several years ago!). But being a successful business owner also means understanding your financial situation, knowing how to plan for the future, and taking the right steps to properly manage your money.
I highly recommend the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz as a place to get started. And if you don’t have a good financial advisor to help you plan for retirement, savings, and paying down debt, sometime in 2020 might be a good time to begin!
Understand What It Takes To Be Successful
Generally speaking, most of us understand what it takes to be a good therapist and mental health counsellor. Unfortunately, those aren’t the same skills that make us a successful business owner.
Launching and growing a successful private practice, building a sustainable, dependable business, and knowing how to adapt your business over time to the changing needs of your clients, and your own personal and professional growth, take skill and expertise.
None of us can successfully launch a new business without support. You would never assume that you could be a great therapist without appropriate training, so why would we assume we can be a successful business owner without learning how?
If you’re brand new to private practice, and just in the dreaming or launching stages, I recommend checking out my 8-week Build Your Private Practice Mastermind Course where I will teach you everything you need to know about launching a successful practice. Registration opens April 14th, and the course begins on May 4th.
If you’ve already established your private practice and need support streamlining your operations and taking things to the next level, please check out the various options for private mentorship and business coaching.
Wishing you much success and good health through this time!