If you don't want to make money, talk about money, look at money, or deal with money, - then don't start a private practice. Money is what keeps your business doors open, and yet many of us are money averse.
Money begins to carry all sorts of meanings - some good and some bad - that can end up sabotaging our businesses. That is why I don't want you to do what I did when I started my practice. I didn't deal with money; I didn't even want to think about it.
All I wanted to think about was, "What do I need to make so I can quit this full time job I am stuck in?" The first issue with that thinking, is that you are only looking at just getting by. When you step into your business with the attitude of just getting by, that is exactly what you will get.
Money comes from what you charge, right? When I started my practice, picking a fee was a bit arbitrary. Ever feel that way? Like you are picking a number out of the sky (or some other not so nice place) and hoping that it works out ok? I got online, asked friends what they charged and just mulled some numbers around in my head. But as each possible number came up, so did a barrage of thoughts.
"I am new at this. I need to just get some clients and then deal with what I really want."
"I need more experience before I charge a higher rate."
"No one will pay me THAT."
I am sure you can't relate at all. And thus I ended up with a low fee. Look, low fees are great for your sliding scale or if you work in non-profit; but as an overall strategy for growing your practice, it is crappy. Let me explain.
So I started off with a low fee. Notice I didn't mention even considering my life long goals, retirement, vacations, savings, and other fun stuff. Nope. I picked a fee to just get by. Fortunately, my practice grew. I was marketing and things were moving along, and then it came time to leave my full time job because I was having a baby.
Hello reality! I needed more income in order to quit. So that meant having to raise my fees. And what did I do? I raised only new clients. Why? I was avoiding the pain of talking to my current clients about my fees. So what did that create for me? More headaches in tracking who paid what and what that meant for my monthly income. So out of avoiding perceived pain, I created actual pain.
Ok, so I quit the county job and over time I got the guts to raise everyone up to my proper fee. It went fine; I didn't lose a single client. In fact, it showed me their commitment to their work and transformation. It was actually inspiring. Essentially, I put off this inspiration for 2 years! I am not even looking at what that cost me financially (which is thousands of dollars, by the way), just emotionally the angst created over hemming and hawing with my fees. I could have been a lot more viable, profitable and happy sooner if I had I cut the crap and dealt with my money issues.
The cost of not dealing with your money goes beyond the profit lost. It creates blocks in your creativity, it generates an energy of fear and lack, it can emotionally drain you and create learned helplessness. You are not a victim. You are capable.
That brings us to today: I have a financial coach, I look at my profit and loss sheets, and I talk to my clients about my fees. I handle questions about the fee being so high or why I don't handle insurance with ease. It took a few years to get comfortable, but owning a business isn't about being comfortable. It's about the experience and the growth. Hands down, I am better with the money stuff.
Don't do what I did. Don't set a foundation of undervaluing yourself. The clean-up is a lot harder than laying a foundation from the beginning of knowing your worth, holding on to your dreams and believing in how you help people.
Want to learn more about setting your fees? Check out our upcoming webinar with Jo Muirhead. She is going to share the how-to's of fee setting so you can build a business confidently! CLICK HERE for more information.