We've known Maelisa a long time. You might know her too from QAprep.com But what you may not know is she started QAprep first and now is building her private practice. What's even more interesting are the services she offers in her private practice...again...like last week, it's out of the box. Check it out!
Kelly: Hey guys welcome to today's podcast video blog. I’m joined with Dr. Maelisa Hall from QA Prep. Welcome.
Maelisa: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Kelly: But you're not just from QA Prep anymore. You now have a practice and I was so excited that you agreed to do this talk or this interview because your journey is very non-traditional, and when I first met you, you wanted to do QA Prep and you were like, “Kelly, I'm not doing private practice. There’s just no way.”
Kelly: And now look at you. You’ve got a private practice.
Kelly: So let’s talk about -- let's just start there. How do you go from passive income, I guess you can say QA Prep is – it’s not passive. Let’s just be real. It’s not passive.
Maelisa: Never is.
Kelly: Right. What happened? How did you end up changing your mind and what do you think about that usually do the – build the practice first and then add the other streams of income and you went the other way.
Maelisa: Yeah. I know you guys have training on how to do that actually and I kind of used that training first. So I started QA Prep which is a business where I help therapists with their documentations. I teach people how to make it easier and more efficient and actually how you can possibly enjoy it even and that is all online and it’s kind of evolved over the last two-and-a-half years. I’ve really enjoyed that and when I started it I really enjoyed also on-line stuff and getting into doing webinars and I’ve always really liked training so I knew that I wanted that to be a big piece of that and you know, record trainings that I saw. I also had a full-time job. So that made it very easy. It was a really easy transition to be able to do the full-time job and then have you know, trainings that were just online, write blogs on my time that kind of thing. It worked out really well for my schedule because I actually made very, very good money in my full-time job so it was difficult to leave that job.
Maelisa: I was going to have to build quite a business before I could leave that job. I took a while building up QA Prep and actually through that I went to speak at the Anxiety and Depression Conference which was in Philadelphia in 2016. I totally recommend that conference. If anyone’s looking for a good conference to go to it’s very interdisciplinary, psychiatrists, social workers, MFTs, psychologists so I actually did a workshop there through QA Prep, you know, talking about notes or something and being at that conference actually just kind of lit that fire under me again where I was like, “Wow, all this you know, the clinical stuff is so much fun and I really do love talking about this. I love learning about it and I came back from that conference really inspired and in my day job I was working as a supervisor so I wasn’t doing clinical work every day. I would sometimes but not consistently. After that I started kind of like thinking about it again and I was like, “Maybe I could build up a practice and my husband has always been very supportive and also has always been like, “You should go back in a private practice. I think you’d be so good at it. You love the marketing stuff which will make it easier” and I’d always be like, “No, no, no. I’m not with that.” But then after that, after I came back in April that was like, “Maybe I could do that.” Then he and I started talking and I was kind of bouncing ideas off with him and he was like so excited. He was like, “I think you’d do such a great job having a practice.
He really encouraged me to jump into it and it’s a little different you know, starting a practice than starting an online business because you have to have a place for people to go. So like with QA Prep you know, I just, yeah. I hope right now I could just do everything from home. All of that was getting more difficult actually so with his support I then was like okay. I’m going to invest the money. I’m going to get an office. My business is already going so I can justify that. So I went ahead and got an office and had a lot of fun like decorating it, putting everything together and we could even talk about how I chose how to do that in a fairly inexpensive way and a brilliant way. So yeah, that started my practice where I focus on coaching. I don’t actually do therapy in my practice right now. I do coaching. I will be offering ADHD evaluations in the next month.
Maelisa: So that will be more. It’s like a lot more focus I guess.
Kelly: And then you were saying it was getting more difficult to work from home. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Maelisa: Yeah, yeah. So working from home worked really well when I wasn’t like doing something like this, right? Like working like trying to do a webinar from home and then my husband would be like in the kitchen which is directly – and I’m like, “Dude, people can hear you opening the fridge” or I’m wondering if people can hear him. So it’d be kind of distracting and we live in the LA area where it’s pretty expensive so we have a one-bedroom apartment. You know, we don’t really want to have a two-bedroom so that and then he started – he’s a nurse and he started working nights and if I do anything during the day it’s fine usually but I want to be quiet so that I’m not – wake him up. And when I did a summit, I did something called the Road to Success Summit a few months ago and I was doing all these interviews for that and I interviewed you in the summit.
Maelisa: And he mentioned and he was like, “You’re loud when you’re” … Well, I don’t know. I just get excited like I’m talking to people.
Maelisa: So I would just for the two of us to logistically like if I was single it really would have been a big deal.
Maelisa: But with us it just made it easier. It was like, “Okay, well we can either get a two-bedroom apartment or I can have like my own office bedroom or I can get an office and it coincided with the time when I was thinking like, “Maybe I really do want to start a practice” so it was like okay well the sensible thing would be to just go ahead and get an office then.
Kelly: So you have QA Prep, you had your full-time job and then you decide, “I’m going to need this other practice”, how does that work with your scheduling?
Maelisa: Yeah. It was really sucky for a while and it definitely made growing the practice a lot longer, a lot harder so like QA Prep was already established so I’ve already, you know, those things were already set and already monthly webinars. We already have people in certain programs or you know, whatever so that I couldn’t necessarily downsize the amount of time I was spending on it. It takes up less of my time now than it did say a year ago because I have a lot of things I’ve already put in place which is a great blog for if you do want to think about local income streams and passive income. I mean, it’s the most amazing thing in the world to wake up and see that you made you know $300 overnight or you’d be sitting doing something else or be at dinner and then, “Oh, I made $59. Awesome.” So that, it’s less of my time now, but starting a practice is a lot of work as far as doing things like trying to connect it with people. So I wanted to do a lot of networking with people in the area so it’s psychiatrists nearby. Healthy kids I wanted to meet up with child therapists in the area so we can collaborate. Number one is doing the research to find those people and see who I want to invest my time with and then also you know like physically the time like having to show up for coffee somewhere. Basically, my full-time job at that time I telecommuting. So I had a really fortunate position where I did have a lot of flexibility so if I wanted to work 5 hours during the day and then work 4 hours or 3 hours whatever in the evening, I could do that. If I wanted to work 6 hours on Friday and then work an extra 2 hours on Saturday, I could do that. So I’ve used that flexibility you know, something I talked to my boss about and I was like, “Okay. Since I have this flexible schedule, here’s what I’m thinking and how it would also benefit the company.” Like for example since everyone in the program worked at all hours a day then that meant if I could volunteer to do evening hours you know, a lot of people were happy about it. I did a lot of rearranging my work schedule so that I could then plan to do certain things during the day for my practice.
Kelly: Let’s just, I want to highlight that because from the time I’ve known you one of the things that I think has contributed to your success is your willingness to ask. So sometimes people are in jobs and I think like this is how it is. This is the schedule, but it’s that way because no one’s ever challenged it or asked for anything different. I remember you saying like you like negotiated in other jobs like how many days you commuted in when you could work from home you know, like you asked. I think if anyone’s listening, that’s in a full-time job you may get a total no, but you’ve got to ask because you never know like and also proposing something to the benefit of who you’re working for saying like, “This is how it can also help you you know, like let’s make it a win-win” I think is something that’s of really value that is to be learned here from your story.
Maelisa: Totally and I was told no at my previous job so that the job I had when I first started QA Prep and we were going through some transition at the company at that time and I asked the boss who through default happened to be the CEO at that time just and some crazy stuff happened and he didn’t say no. He said, “Not now.”
Maelisa: So even when I got the no, he wasn’t like totally opposed to it and he definitely wasn’t upset that I asked about it at all. He was just like, “No, right now I don’t think it’s really going to work but you know, let’s talk about it in a couple of months” and actually, right when I left that job. So one of the things I did after he said that was I started looking around for other jobs. Yeah. That would give me more flexibility and I found a telecommuting job. Now, funny enough when I was leaving that one, for my telecommuting job, I got a new boss and that was one of the things she brought up. I wasn’t even expecting that and she even brought that up right away and she said, “Does this schedule work for you?” and I said, “Well, I make it work but I would like it to be different.” She was like, “Well, you know, we can talk about options for you to work at home one day a week or come in on different hours that you’re not dealing with traffic” that kind of thing. So even two months after I had made that request, it actually could have happened at my other job, too.
Kelly: Awesome. My other question for you, you had mentioned about like setting up the office and how you did it. I’m just curious because I’m sure someone’s like, “I wanted to hear how she turned and decorated” and all that stuff. Let’s go back to that when you were getting your office ready and yes, I think it’s funny, your mentality. We all have this. I already have a business so I can justify the office, but actually you need an office regardless.
Maelisa: I know, I know.
Kelly: So how’d you do it?
Maelisa: I actually got this advice from one of my friends who started her private practice years and years ago and she said, and I asked her, “What made you decide to have your office there?” and she said, “Well, I looked at where my clients were and so that’s where I decided to have an office.”
Maelisa: I was like, “Well, that makes sense.” So I knew that I wanted to work with professionals, people in management positions, things like that and I lived in Long Beach, the city of Irvine is really close by and has a ton of corporations.
Kelly: A ton.
Maelisa: Yeah. So I was like, “Okay. Well, I guess I should look for an office in Irvine.” I looked around and there were typical therapy offices, there were you know, and just a bunch of different options and then there were a lot of executive suites. They were way cheaper than getting another office and when I went, I was like, “This is awesome” because they had built-in receptionists so 8-5 every day and there’s a receptionist there who whenever I have someone come in, they say, “Oh, would you like some tea or coffee?” and they’ll go get my guests coffee or tea and there’s coffee and tea sitting there waiting for me that I can go get anytime I want and there’s lots of waiting area and I did fill out some places so some places like the vibe was just very, very corporate and while I want to work with professional people I didn’t want to be in that super corporate vibe.
Maelisa: So the particular building that I’m in is much more casual. It’s still professional so it’s a really great setting and the office is small but I don’t need a giant office right now so it worked really well. So I did that and then I just started to crowdsource a lot of furniture options on Facebook and like post the pictures and it’s like, “What do they really think of this couch?” and I did not go with the majority opinion. I went with the quality opinion. This is the other funny thing. So people will give you all kinds of you know, everybody, right?
Maelisa: So that was funny because the one that everyone voted for was not the one that I ended up choosing, but when I was looking at the people who chose the other couch I was like, “These are people who know their stuff and they’re good.” I didn’t like to squirm with that. I did spend money to get like a nice couch and a nice chair and a nice desk chair and a nice painting and things like that. I decided this is the time to invest and spend money on this type of thing even though it was a little scary and definitely goes against what I’ve been doing with online stuff where everything is super cute to run an online business.
Kelly: Yeah. Totally. I actually looked at some of those executive suites in Irvine. Yeah, when I was looking for mine too so there’s lots of different ways to do it and I will have to say like everyone’s got an opinion. It’s true. Even I have opinions, but I think at the end of the day it comes down to what you love and know what really makes you happy and sometimes it’s getting out of your comfort zone like you’re discovering like when you do online stuff your expenses are a different kind of expense and so moving from that kind of intangible like it’s software, it’s a cloud. I can’t see it or touch it, into more physical things and can kind of forget like there is an importance to that. There is an importance to the couch, there is an importance to the couch; to the chair; that was my biggest expense was my chair. Yeah, because I went all out on that thing and I still have it even though I’m in virtual practice like I would sit in that chair when I do therapy in my house, but it’s important because it saved my back, you know.
Maelisa: Yeah, and when you really think about and you were another, you know, if you’re a medical professional or a ton of other businesses, all the things that they have to buy is so much cheaper.
Kelly: It is, it really is. Don’t open a restaurant.
Maelisa: Yeah. Yeah, it’s so much easier. The barrier of entry is so much lower so I invested about $3000 total and getting everything set up and I did it over a couple of months so I didn’t like decorate everything and get it all set up the very first week and sort of piecemealed a little bit but that’s about how it went.
Kelly: So I know people are going to be wondering how do you define coaching and how do is that different than therapy so I’m going to put it on you because I get asked that question all the time, but I would love to hear from someone who’s also doing it.
Maelisa: Yeah. It’s funny because I interviewed you about this very thing.
Kelly: I know you get to flip the tables.
Maelisa: I know. What I think is that really it’s funny. It’s set out to me from an interview with you is that there is some crossover. It’s not just like this is always coaching and this is always therapy. So for me when I was deciding what I wanted to do I thought about the type of work that I like to do with people. It’s very action-oriented. I like to give people homework. I want to make sure that people are enacting things that we’re doing in the session in their week. I also don’t want to limit contact outside of sessions which is a lot more non-traditional. So for me if I’m working with a professional who is you know, struggling as they learn how to become a manager, I want them to be able to call me if they’re freaking out before a meeting and I’m not going to say, “No, we have to wait until our session on Wednesday at 4:00” like I want to be able to have a quick 10-minute conversation with them just to get them up to speed and kind of hype them up a little bit or remind them of what we’ve talked about and then you know, they can go on to their meeting and that to me is just how I like to work. I want to be able to email people like an article I see that reminds me about them and those things all just sort of fall into coaching more than they do therapy because it is a lot more focused on action. It’s a little bit more focused on me actually giving people, not advice, but sort of like different ideas or almost like brainstorming.
Kelly: It is. That’s a coaching stance, right?
Maelisa: So while I am still using those skills of helping people come to their own conclusions and obviously finding out what they value and how we can use that when we work together, I’m also saying, “Hey, check out this person” or “Hey, here’s the strategy” or “Have you thought about this?”
Maelisa: I like doing that so I decided I felt like it was a lot easier to do that in a coaching capacity than to do a lot of those things in a therapy capacity.
Kelly: I think too like coming from our education system maybe that’s all we knew. You know, in the beginning was, if you want to help people in this way you become a psychologist, you become a therapist, a counselor. Now, even though when you and I went to school coaching was around. It was not this prevalent especially if you’re coming down an education kind of background or academia and that’s really valued. For me and my household, that was really valued so it’s like, “Okay, the next logical step is where in academia can I get this knowledge to help people?” So some people and many of you who’re listening you go through school, you do enjoy the relationship with the client. You’re discovering the way you work, who you want to work with. It isn’t really there if you’re just coaching. I think by giving yourself permission to do that is a big hurdle for some people but it’s well worth it because it’s more honoring, you know. I mean, you just didn’t know when you started that that was an option to go to as well, coaching training that you went through the whole – getting that student loan.
Maelisa: I know and I don’t know if you’ve seen that video on YouTube about – it’s one of those like robotic or it’s cartoon people and the robot voices type of thing and it’s a person who’s like an undergrad going to their advisor and talking about, “Oh, I want to become a psychologist” and the advisor is a psychologist and saying, “Why do you want to become psychologist?” and they go through all these reasons and at the end of it, basically, the advisor says, “Why don’t you just become – you could just become a life coach?” and the student’s like, “I’m now a life coach.” Like that’s it. It is kind of funny and there was a period of time like a brief mode of time where I was thinking, “Man, yeah. Like why did I do all that stuff?” but still the experience I have is really valuable.
Maelisa: It’s the people who want to work with me.
Maelisa: So I don’t have to worry about doing – I didn’t have to do anything like coaching certification or anything. I was like I know how to do this stuff and obviously I kind of thought through myself and then researched as well the difference between coaching and therapy so I don’t cross those lines too much but I was like yeah. Okay, I have a lot of really good experience. I have a lot of really good training. It makes me a very good coach or a good therapist.
Kelly: Yeah. It’s not all for naught. It’s just that’s how you circumvented around to it not knowing that there are other ways to do it and you and I both are on the same page, where just by calling yourself a coach doesn’t make you a coach and for me I did a little extra training just understanding the difference so if you’re not clear, that’s something that I really recommend you do. If you’re not clear on those delineations you get some help whether that’s through separate training or some consultation so that you’re being ethical because even in the coaching industry especially in some of the very respected schools it is important that there’s ethics and they don’t want you to do therapy. They don’t want you to just call yourself something. Yeah, I think that’s encouraging for other people to hear that part of your story of like that permission of “Oh, this is how I like to work.” Then you were telling me before we got on the call that you’ve been doing some contract work as well, which I wanted to which I wanted to highlight if that's okay with you.
Kelly: Because you know, sometimes people are like, “I’m going to be a contractor” and what they forget is that as a contractor you still own a business. You’re just, your business is being hired to contract for a service and so that’s another thing that you’ve been doing, right?
Maelisa: Yes, so I knew when I left my job that I wanted to have something to sort of help float me so QA Prep was fairly consistent at that point. I could count on a certain amount of income from that and my husband and I decided together kind of what was the minimum income that I need to bring in and then I had to look at my business and say, “Okay, how much can I actually bring in as income for my business and paying myself?” That’s one thing. I haven’t really paid myself at all the last two-and-a-half years.
Maelisa: If you talk with a lot of actually business people they’ll say that kind of thing that you’ve spend a lot of time investing back in the business. Obviously, my growth was slower because I working full-time that whole time, but that’s something to consider, too, so I was investing a lot back into the business or saving up in the business so that I could do things like I was paying taxes but then you know, plan ahead for what I wanted to do something big. I’m glad that I had that surplus when I wanted to decorate my office and everything so I’ve always been in the black. I’ve never --
Kelly: You were a saver though, and you do put something to your money. I know you enough to say like you are conscientious and aware of your funds and you have like all these plans and you save and it makes it easier for you to make decisions because of that.
Maelisa: It does. It makes it a lot easier to say no to things because sometimes it’s just like, “Well, I can’t afford that so I can’t do it.” I don’t have a business credit card right now. I do think I’m going to get one this year but that means literally everything I’ve bought the money has been in the bank to buy it.
Maelisa: So that was really, really beneficial. Let’s see. Getting back to the original question, so contracting.
Maelisa: So I had already decided so I already knew how much I needed to have the surplus basically to pay income to myself to contribute my portion to our monthly bills and so I decided what I’d like to do is have a contract position, work one or two days a week and if I did that, with the contract position I could really make that money to contribute to our monthly bills just with that position. That way I could continue building up the practice. It is to pay myself but I wanted to make sure I had something that little like a little something on the side that could help because again I did make very good money at my job and so if you’re somebody who’s making pretty good money it makes it harder to leave so that helped not like drastically reduce the amount of income we’re getting each month.
Kelly: In the county, we call that the golden handcuffs. That was always the joke. “Well, are you going to open up your own business?” No. I have the golden handcuffs, which meant like I’ve invested in a pension. I have like all these benefits. It’s very hard to leave that, and it’s not for everybody either. This is something that I also want to highlight about your story that there are ways, other ways to have your business feel more secure because some people don’t love a lot of risks or that feeling of like jumping off the cliff and saying, “I have faith” and not that you don’t have faith but there’s also a part of you that’s very much like, “I want to plan and I’d like to see that just to know that this is here until I can do the next step.” I want to say that takes a lot of patience. I think that that’s something that we can all – I admire that about you is that you are patient and you were like, “This is the bigger picture and it’s not going to happen overnight, and these are the steps I’m taking and little by little I’m getting there” and that patience really does pay off.
Maelisa: Yeah, and I will say that was not by choice. Yes, I’m married and at this point my husband’s working, but up until about six months ago he was in school. So most of the time I have been the breadwinner and it was not an option for me to quit my job. So like it wasn’t even an option for me to do this last year. So that’s something to know too. I think at this point you know, again, I’m getting to the place where like, “Okay. I could have transitioned to like a contracting position” and so I think it is about thinking through all the different options you have, knowing that yes, you do. You probably want to be patient. It might take longer than you need. Or not longer than you need but longer than you expect. I know with your bootcamp you know, it’s bootcamp. It’s like two weeks, super intensive stuff and you get all the set up for your business but like you mentioned, some people do get like five new clients during that time or whatever but most people don’t. It’s long term and you see the investment from that like six months later. If you’re someone like me who’s working a full-time job and for a while I was working a full-time and commuting a good distance too so it was like 50 hours a week of my time. Then I don’t have as much time. I didn’t have as much time to invest and that means that progress is going to be slower. So you just have to expect that and I think for a while I was really unhappy because I wasn’t expecting it. Then it just sort of kept being really slow and that I was kind of like, “Okay. Well, this is going to be really slow.” I did take a lot of those steps of like getting the job that was telecommuting and now having a contract position and then eventually I won’t be contracting with anybody at all, and I’ll solely be for myself --
Maelisa: -- for the last steps along the way.
Kelly: I think people don’t – this is the reason why we say comparisons will kill you because no one knows all these little backstories as to how you got to where you’re going and what’s really happening behind the scenes. So I think I really appreciate you sharing your story and letting people have a peek into another way of doing practice and another way of going about it that fit into what was going on in your family life and all of that stuff like it all came together over a long period of time and someone could look at you. Just like some people with Kelly and Miranda. Things like Oh, just no. It didn’t happen overnight. There were some weeks that I worked a lot of hours and there’s a lot that goes into building up your business. So thank you for sharing all of your story.
Before we go, I want to ask one more thing. For someone that’s thinking about doing their own practice, what is one piece of encouragement you have for them?
Maelisa: Yeah. I think just like what we were talking about, to be patient and know that you won’t see the fruits of your labor right away, which could be really frustrating. Even now in my practice, I don’t have that many clients in my private practice because my growth was slower when I first started out. Now, I can be a lot more in it, but I know that things like networking, those are the things that pay off 6 months, 12 months from now. It’s a long-term battle. It’s not something you’re going to do really quickly. Some people do and that’s awesome. So it’s great, but I don’t think you can expect it. I don’t think it’s realistic. You have to instead plan for the long-term. Okay, how much can I do? How many hours can I invest every week for the next year versus how I just power through this month and get a bunch of clients? No. Think about how you can sustain it for a year or more.
Kelly: That’s great. Well, thank you so much for coming on here and sharing everything and there’s lots of nuggets of wisdom in here. So if people want to get in touch with you or give you a shoutout, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Maelisa: Yeah. You can visit one of my websites. So QA Prep which most people listening to this might be more interested in which is where I help people with their documentation so just www.qaprep.com. If you do want to check out my coaching practice, it’s my last name, so hallcoachinggroup.com. It’s very easy to remember. I know I always look like checking other people’s websites and stuff and seeing what they’re doing. Either one of those and you can contact me and send me an email either way, if you have questions about anything
Kelly: Great. All right, guys. Have a great rest of your day. Thanks for giving us your time and listening in on our conversation. We hope that you take something away from it, in this convo and implement it in your own life and if you would love to share what that is, please comment below if you’re on a blog or post on our Facebook wall if you are listening on the podcast, and we will see you again soon.
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