A Business Mind Set

In his classic series of E-Myth books, Michael Gerber speaks of the entrepreneur mind set, and in particular the distinction that he sees between those who succeed in business and those who don’t.

The E-Myth of the title, is the entrepreneur myth, that anyone who starts a business is an entrepreneur. He then goes on to debunk this myth. Everyone who is in business spends time working in the business. In the case of therapists, we spend time working with clients. However, that time is not spent attending to the needs of the therapist, or of the therapist’s business. And there lies the distinction that Gerber draws between those who succeed in business and those that don’t.

Those who succeed spend time, not just IN the business, ie attending to the needs and affairs of the clients, but also spending time working ON and thinking ABOUT the business, ie attending to the needs of the therapy business.

So what does working ON the business of therapy look like?

I have written before about what I see as the six pillars of a successful therapy practice. Working on the business means actively engaging with each of these six pillars. These five you can probably relate to:

  • Knowing your practice
  • Managing your practice
  • Growing your practice
  • Minding your practice, and
  • Valuing your practice

KNOWING YOUR PRACTICE includes: Having and holding a vision of what your practice looks like and stands for, a sense of why it exists, its purpose, the clients it serves, the services it provides, the market you’re operating in, the sources of income, and what’s happening in the wider environment.

Spending time working ON this pillar includes reflecting on whether your vision for your practice is still appropriate, or whether there are changes on the horizon (a current example would be forthcoming statutory regulation) which need to be adapted to. It might also include reflecting on what’s happening in the wider market (for example the huge increase in online services or alternative therapies available) and whether those need to be incorporated into what you offer.

MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE includes: Taking care of the practicalities of having a space in which to work, keeping appropriate records, preparing (or organising to have prepared for you) regular financial income, ensuring the therapy room is clean and warm, and making appropriate tax returns.

Spending time working ON this pillar includes making sure the housekeeping tasks get done on a timely basis.

pillarGROWING YOUR PRACTICE includes: Promoting or marketing your services in whatever way seems appropriate for you, and that works for you, creating or developing a professional identity for your practice, devising or developing a niche or specialisation.

Spending time working ON this pillar includes: Keeping in touch with potential referrers of work, networking, and keeping your website current and fresh. It might also include keeping an eye on how others are promoting their practices to see if you can learn from them.

MINDING YOUR PRACTICE includes: Having appropriate insurance and professional accreditation in place, having a safe place of work, self-care and appropriate boundaries.

Spending time working ON this pillar includes: Making time for self-care and your own needs. Putting a system in place to cover you in the case of having to pull out of your practice suddenly, keeping up to date with requirements of your professional body and with Health and Safety legislation.

VALUING YOUR PRACTICE includes: Fee levels and contracting with clients, cash flow, managing seasonality, and work life balance.

Spending time working ON this pillar includes: Calculating fees needed for your own needs, reviewing fee charges with clients, reviewing budgets and annual financial statements, creating clear contracts and holding firm boundaries with clients around payment and cancellations.

Owning Your Practice: However, the first pillar of a successful therapy practice involves owning your practice. In other words, adopting a business mind-set, a willingness to see your practice as a business, and to prioritise the needs of the practice (and yourself) as well as the needs of your client. It involves integrating to apparently contradictory ideas:

  • My job as a therapist is to serve my clients
  • My job as a self employed person is to earn a living

These two ideas need to come together into a single idea:

  • My job as a self-employed therapist is to create a financially viable therapy practice so as to serve my clients and my own needs too.

As you can see, having a business mind-set means that working ON your therapy business is quite different from working IN your therapy business. Both are important. If you struggle to give time to working ON your practice, consider setting aside a particular time of the week, say, a Monday morning that is devoted to the business of your practice.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of running your practice, please email me here to avail of your free 20 minute consultation or to make an appointment.


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