Having an active, ongoing, thriving spiritual life with my God helps me stay connected to the bigger picture and goals in my life. Additionally, spending time with my family and friends that call out the best pieces of me helps me feel grounded.
Expanding a business takes time, patience and energy. There are many aspects of my private practice that have little to do with therapy and a lot to do with business. Figuring out how to manage my private practice is near the top of learning how to run a successful business.
After all, at the end of the day, my private practice is a business before it is anything else. It is my primary source of revenue that, combined with my husband’s income, allow us to provide for our family. Therefore, making sure that my private practice is managed effectively is crucial to my livelihood. Following a year of intense self-study in the realm of business development, trial and error, and hard work, I moved into my own, bigger office and had a full practice with an 8-week wait list. Moreover, if someone called in May for an initial appointment, I had to book them 2 months later, in August! This was great, but also a problem because I wasn’t able to accommodate everyone who needed my services. Nevertheless, it was a very good problem to have, and ever since I have taken steps to minimize the wait.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what my year involved:
1. I developed a practice specialty
working with urban, disenfranchised families and children that have been exposed to traumatic experiences. The specialty allowed me to network and market very strategically.
2. I made some wonderful connections with referral sources such as school social workers, principals, the Department of Health and Human Services, and probation officers. Specifically, I networked with my contacts on a regular basis mostly via letters and email. Their consistent referrals were a big reason for my enormous expansion.
3. I Invested in a website and blog which has been the BEST business decision I have made. It has allowed people to find me on their time, read about my services and easily find my contact information. The blog and website provide a forum to showcase my expertise and share valuable information with the public at large. If you want to see it live, here is the URL: http://www.emerginghopechristiancounseling.com/blog/
4. I started a monthly Networking Group for therapists, clergy, mental health professionals, and students in mental health disciplines. We will use a combination of the following approaches to facilitate dialogue:
• Discussion of various theoretical frameworks and their views on spirituality
• Readings that inform the integration of our spiritual and mental health practice
• Reflection on how our own spiritual paths affect our clients
5. Awesome, consistent customer service! I make it a business priority to follow up with every phone call into my office within 24 hours (during weekdays). My waiting room and office are attractive and comfortable with up to date resource materials. I take EVERY appointment on time. I offer a 15-minute complimentary consult to every new client inquiry, which has allowed me to convert about 90% of those callers into regular clients.
6. Systems, systems, systems. I have administrative systems for my scheduling, billing, and marketing. These are not complex, but keep me on track and my business running smoothly.
Expanding a practice is deeply therapeutic and each time I face a “mistake,” I grow more resilient, wise, and compassionate towards my own humanity and the humanity of others. I wake up now excited to go to work. For the first time in my career, I am reading for fun and have an actual lunch break. I am genuinely excited to show up, be present, and do the work with the amazing clients I get to work with each day. My practice has freed up time to pursue passion projects and professional interests I never thought I would “get to”. I get to be creative, set my own hours, and be my own boss. I grateful, thankful, and blessed.