Running your own therapy practice is a wonderfully rewarding job, for many reasons. However, it is tough, really tough to get it off the ground. At The Therapists' Business School we work with a range of therapists, and we notice the recurring business mistakes when they are starting their own business.
Mistake 1 - Investing in the wrong sort of learning
I'm going to assume that if you have your own therapy practice you have a qualification which is recognised by your industry specific professional body and the CNHC. This is vital. Assuming this, you are already very capable of treating clients. So, how do you continue your education? Time and time again we see perfectly capable therapists, who invest an excessive amount of time and money into more courses directly to do with their therapy type. This is great to increase the level of service you offer and is necessary to adhere to CPD requirements, however, if you are not seeing any clients, it is a wasted effort. Consider if that time and expense could be used to learn about business development. Bear in mind that potential clients, in general, recognise the job title and not the specific qualifications. You might be ten times as qualified as a similar therapist in the same area. However, if she has fantastic marketing, she will be the one seeing the clients. In the first few years, invest your time and money into learning about business, specifically marketing. Then, you can build a successful business and your therapy skills will naturally improve, through experience. Once you have a thriving practice you will have the freedom to further develop your skills.
Mistake 2 - Not spending any money on advertising
Word of mouth marketing is fantastic. However, you require a big enough pool of former clients to enable word of mouth marketing to generate a significant flow of new clients. While we do have to watch our expenses, some forms of paid advertising are necessary to generate that initial group of clients. The beauty of digital marketing such as Facebook and Google AdWords is that you can test various marketing strategies without committing large sums of money. You can set small budgets and test a few strategies against each other to establish the best one. We go through how to do this in more detail in our Business Success Course. Be honest with yourself about how much you have spent on training in the last year, including hotels, meals and transport. The chances are that the same amount would have been sufficient for your marketing budget for the year.
Mistake 3 - Lowering prices too much
There is a sweet spot when it comes to pricing your services. This differs dramatically between areas and therapy types, as well as between different therapists. Many therapists lower their prices (sometimes very dramatically) when they go through a quiet spell. It's a common mistake to think that lower prices will equal more customers. However, this is rarely the case. There are always quiet and busy spells, often coinciding with times such as the school holidays. Lowering your prices during these times will most likely result in getting the same number of new enquiries you would have done anyway but without the same income. Keep your prices steady through the quiet spells. Things will improve again.
Mistake 4 - Looking unprofessional
Whether we like it or not, first impressions count. Nowadays, potential clients will look at your website for a few seconds before deciding whether to leave the site or find out more. So, we have just a few seconds to make that vital first impression. Make sure that your website is user friendly and has no spelling errors. We once saw a hypnotherapy website with hypnotherapy spelled incorrectly in large letters at the top of each page! The same applies to photos. Make sure that the photo looks professional. Don't crop your partner out of a holiday snap and use that as your professional work photo! Yes, this is another website faux pas we have seen more than once at The Therapists' Business School. Perhaps ask a friend to read through your website and give their opinion. Of course, looking professional also applies to face to face meetings. Dress well for your therapy sessions. Be on time and make sure your treatment room is clean.
Mistake 5 - Lacking in Confidence
Starting a therapy practice is very daunting and it is very normal to feel a lack of confidence. Unfortunately, if this is too obvious, clients will also lack confidence in your ability to help them. Building confidence takes time, but there are strategies you can use. Make sure you have a support network of other therapists around you. Peer support groups are fantastic. Take the time to reflect on all the clients who have made a good improvement. Congratulate yourself often. Notice the language you use with your clients. Speak in a confident way about the therapy to instil confidence in them.
Building your own therapy practice is a very steep learning curve. Hopefully being aware of these common mistakes will increase the speed at which you build a thriving practice.