The #1 Private Practice Mistake to Avoid

The #1 Private Practice Mistake to Avoid

Several few weeks ago, I shared many of the mistakes I'd made when starting a private practice. The post went viral. It was shared hundreds of times, and read thousands of time. It also sparked quite a bit of conversation in the LinkedIn Groups where it was discussed. And that left me wondering... why this post? What is it that got therapists reading and sharing this post so much more than the average post? 

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Quiz: Should I Go Paperless? (Updated)

Quiz: Should I Go Paperless? (Updated)

Here is a quiz to find out if going paperless might be the right decision for you: Are you a therapist, counselor, or psychologist trying to wade through all of the options for going paperless? Here is a quiz to find out if going paperless might be the right decision for you: 

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How to not be salesy, slimy, or talk about money in your business...

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Derek Halpern started Social Triggers and teaches all kinds of business owners how to blog. He shared this image in his most recent newsletter. Dan Pink, a bestselling author, did a survey of what people think when they think of sales- and this is what came  up. The bigger the word, the more often it was said in the survey. Are you surprised? I'm not. 

When I started my business 7 years ago, I thought the same thing. I did not start a sales business, I started a healing business. However, I quickly learned that I had to talk about money if I wanted to have a successful business. And guess what, I had to make sales if I wanted to have clients. Of course, I didn't call it sales. I called it "get clients." 

Is there a difference between selling your services and getting clients? 

No. Guess what, you don't have to be slimy or a jerk. But, if you want to know how to never talk about sales or money, you are going to have to close down your business. A business is how you make your living... in other words how you pay for food, shelter, and health care- with money. 

Work for a non-profit and feel like there are no sales? Ask the person who is doing grant applications whether there are sales involved. 

Ok... so does selling have to be slimy or salesy? No. 

What are the top 5 ways you can be slimy sales person in business? 

  1. Be dishonest

  2. Rope people in for things that you don't believe they need

  3. Rope people in for things that you don't believe can help

  4. Be unethical

  5. Be manipulative

Let's break these done and show you how you may be inadvertently doing this in your day to day business- even though you are trying to avoid being salesy and slimy!

Clinical Vignette: A client calls you reporting that they are really depressed, they know it is impacting their marriage, and they report problems at work as well. They report they need to get started right away. You go over fees and scheduling. When they report they can only come in twice a month because of their time and their finances. You get them scheduled for sessions every other week, but feel a bit bummed because you feel strongly after the phone consultation that they would really benefit from weekly sessions. However, you tell yourself that some therapy is better than nothing, and you really resonate with the financial struggle. You don't have a lot of extra money either.

You feel a bit anxious during the first session as they unfold everything that is happening- it is worse than they let on during the phone call. You go over your 50 minute session time by about 20 minutes attempting to make sure the client is stable enough to make it through the next two weeks. You offer to meet in a week, but when the client brings up finances- you don't push the subject. You would normally just offer to slide down farther in their weekly sessions- but you have realized that you can't keep lowering your normal fee and made a pact with yourself to not take more than 20% sliding scale in your practice- and you are already at 30%.

Are there any issues here? Have you inadvertently become a "slimy salesperson?"

Let's unpack the vignette. Over the phone you felt strongly that they needed weekly sessions. Did you go over the risks and benefits of weekly vs every other week sessions clearly? If not, you may have just "sold them what they didn't need."

If you believe clinically they need weekly sessions- isn't it your clinical responsiblity to share that with them clearly? Is it unethical to take them on in therapy in a mode or frequency of treatment that you don't think is recommended? Would you better off referring the client out to someone who they could afford to see weekly? 

Were you really honest with the client about the value of therapy? This person is looking at possibly losing their job or relationship. That costs much more than any therapist I have ever met. Did you have that conversation to ensure the client was really weighing the risks and benefits of investing in therapy at the level that they needed? 

Did you schedule him in for something that you didn't believe could help? Ok... so maybe you felt like "something is better than nothing..." But, is that what services with you should be like? Or should working with you be transformative? Should you ensure that each person who walks through the doors of your business is set-up for success? 

Did you manipulate that client into paying for services that aren't likely to get the client the outcome they need, in the timeframe they need it? Was that a waste of money? And what about going over session? How does it feel to your next client when you come out feeling a bit spent? 

I know you. I know you are an amazing person! Why? Because only awesome people are allowed to read this blog. If you aren't awesome, I'm not sure why you are here. You can run along now and play somewhere else! 

If some (or all) of this is feeling familiar- it is ok! It is awesome that you are noticing that and feeling it- that is what allows you to make change! 

You never have to be a pushy salesperson, but you do need to find your inner voice to be able to talk about money issues and ensure that people get what they are really looking for when they call you- deep transformation! 

Do you need to change what you are doing?

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Just in case you didn't know, I am not perfect. Yeah, big surprise huh?! But here is the cool part, I am getting better at listening to my heart and doing things that are more in line with who I am. And frankly, it is liberating. A few months ago, Miranda and I created a new webinar, "Uh Oh, I've got too many clients. What to do when your couch is full." Loved the title, but the webinar itself...meh. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't jiving for us. And the reality is we could have kept doing it. But why? I mean, why do something you don't like? 

So, we sucked up our pride and just called it what it is...and now we are revamping the whole webinar. If you don't really know us yet, we want to do more than inspire you (though I LOVE inpsiring you), we want you to walk away and say, I am going to change X in my practice or to create a new goal. Aha moments are what we love to give. 

So how about you? Are you doing something that isn't totally fitting you? When you put out a program, book, service package or whatever it is...does it reflect what you are all about? I hope so! Here is how you know if something is working or not. 2 things: 

  1. You feel passionate. You love what you are talking about and you could talk about it all day, because...you KNOW what you are talking about. It is your expertise, your interest, the thing that gets you up in the morning. Ok, well maybe not that...for me that is a toddler and she is everything to me. But it is the thing that keeps you doing your business.

  2. There is a need. You have people that could really use what you have to offer. And when you do offer it, they love it. They want more! You get more positive feedback than negative AND the feedback is from who you intended to reach. Sometimes we get feedback, but it isn't helpful because it isn't intended for that person. It's like going to an expert on biology and asking them if you have a valid philosophical argument. So, take feedback within that context of who you intend to speak to.

If you decide - nope, this isn't working for me, then be open to some change. I know. It sucks when you put a lot of time into something. BUT it sucks more to have your life whittled away by something you don't LOVE to do and to be missing out on the people that need you most. And just so you know, we consider your feedback. We don't want our stuff to not be helpful. We truly want to help change our industry, your practice and your life. 

Social Media Class Upcoming

Our fabulous friends Dr. Keely Kolmes and Clinton Power have put together what we know will be a fabulous training on all things social media. Both Kelly Higdon, MFT and myself have been using (with permission) Dr. Kolmes social media policy and have found it to be an absolute necessity in the digital age. 

I think it also models for our clients ways to set boundaries with social media (as many of them struggle with how to set those boundaries with children, spouses, and friends). 

Happily Married...Really?

As therapists, we see people in our offices, determined to make a relationship work, when sometimes to us, it is evident that it is not going to work. As technology consultants, we see the same thing! Let me explain. I built my first website, all on my own using iWeb. I had a new MacBook that I loved and thought, heck why not use the free software to build my website.
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Therapists Need Websites

We have all heard it "If you are in private practice- you need a great website!" The truth of the matter is, 70% of small business owners do NOT have websites (I think that number is higher with therapists). And, when I talk to therapists with websites, half of them LOVE it- and the other half are stuck with websites that they can't update, nobody can find, and that aren't bringing them any business! 

If you are a therapist looking to have an effective website to build or maintain your private practice, here are your basic options: 

1. Hire a designer to build a html or flash website.

These websites could cost you anywhere from $200-$10,000. These websites are often difficult to update, they don't contain a blog function, and it doesn't answer the questions you have: What pages should I have? What do I write on each page? How do I develop a clear vision for my practice? How do I convey what I do in writing to clients? 

2. Purchase a service like TherapySites.

With content pre-written for therapists and fancy little moving pictures, it may seem like a no-brainer! $60 a month isn't much to spend for a professional website that will bring you clients! The problem is the content pre-made in TherapySites could actually keep you from being on the first page of Google. It could make it HARDER for clients to find you, because it isn't unique. It also doesn't give the option of having a blog. You can have a separate blog that links like another page. But, that means you are actually learning how to use, design, and maintain TWO websites. For most therapists, taking care of one website is a chore- it doesn't make sense to have to do TWO! All of a sudden, your $60 isn't going that far! 

3. Check out the fabulous WordPress.

Some of you have seen that WordPress isn't my favorite thing. At the end of the day, WordPress is a great product- I am just not convinced it is fabulous for most therapists. However, if you are a techie/geekie therapist I think you will LOVE wordpress. It is a low-cost option and gives you lots of options and cool add-ons to wade through. You have many templates to choose from, as well as the option for custom design. 

4. Check out a Wordpress upgrade like Squarespace.

There are many Wordpress-like services out there that start with what works about Wordpress and then upgrade so you get the best of both worlds. Squarespace integrates cool add-ons, does not require any techie expertise (or desire), and editing your site- it looks just like your site. You can see a video of what it looks like to edit a Squarespace site here

If you are ready to finally build your therapy website, check out our Therapy Website in 30 days program. It is a video training developed especially for therapists who have NO or limited website experience. We love working with people who have fears or anxities about technology to break down the process of writing and putting together a website into small blocks of work that won't overwhelm you. 

You can schedule an hour a day at home, at the office, in your slacks, or in your pajamas with a cup of loose leaf tea (I found the most amazing caffeine-free tea the other day-yum!). 

This program is only $300 and it is more than just a how-to in formatting a website- it is made especially for therapists and helps you process through all the questions that you have to answer as you build your website! The ongoing cost for your new website would normally be just $13-22 depending on your needs. However, for the month of June, Squarespace has given us a fabulous coupon code that gives you 30% off of your website purchase! Woohoo! Check out the ZynnyLoves page for the link and the coupon code! 

Click here to signup for this fabulous video website building program today. We have a 14 day money back guarantee-if you don't love it, aren't inspired, and don't see it coming together- we will give you your money back! 

For Clinicians: The Path to Paperless...

Got a great comment/question from Uriah Guilford at http://helpthiskid.com "I really want to go paperless, but haven't found the right software or program. I did the Argonaut trial, but just didn't like the look and feel, not to mention the yearly cost. Are there any other products you would recommend?"
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How to Build a Website: What NOT to do!

Did you know that 70% of small business owners don't have a website? I would even sugges that of the 30% of small business owners that have a website, many of them are ineffective- meaning they don't bring in business or make life easier for the business owner. Before you build or purchase a website, you need to understand what the purpose of the website is, in order to make sure that you are building or purchasing the RIGHT website for you! A website designer, builder, or service it not always looking out for YOUR best interest!
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Top 10 Signs You May Need a Technology Coach

Thought we might have a little fun this morning with a David Letterman style Top 10 list... wait a minute- is he even on? Wow... I am a dinosaur... Guess y'all know that this gal doesn't stay up past 10 pm- or subscribe to cable!
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