Clients Come Through People
Where does the income in your practice come from? Well, obviously from the fees you receive from clients or organisations who pay on the clients’ behalf. But that’s only part of the story.
We none of us exist in isolation. There is a constant process from birth to death of interacting with our environment. Basic physical functions that meet our bodies’ needs such as breathing, eating, and sleeping all involve interacting with our environment.
In the same way we receive and pay out money in a constantly moving cycle. We may dislike money, but that is the medium that our society has chosen to make the exchange of goods and services easier. Money is a convenient way for us to give what we have in order to receive what we want. We are paid for giving our services, and we use that money to buy goods and services from others.
Imagine if we lived in a world where we had to barter for everything? In order to get what we needed we’d have to find a perfect match for us, someone who was giving what we wanted, and was looking for what we had to give. A therapy client who had groceries or petrol to sell, for example!
So instead, some bright spark invented money and that’s how it’s done. In order to meet our needs, to buy the goods and services that support our existence, we have to receive money, and money comes from other people. When we put the money into our bank account, or pass it on to pay our bills, it doesn’t matter where it came from. Tesco’s doesn’t care whether you have received your money from a salary, a gift, social welfare, or a loan from the credit union.
Every transaction has two sides, a giving and a receiving. For every giver there must be a receiver and for every receiver, a giver. The action has two parts that are inseparable. Even if you bury the money in the ground this is still true, the ground is a receiver.
There is a reality here which is difficult to escape from. We cannot meet our own needs without engaging with other people. Money comes through people, through relationships.
What does this mean to a therapist starting or developing their own practice? It means we need to interact with other people who either need our services themselves, and are able and willing to pay, or who know of such people and are willing to refer them to us.
When I talk to therapists about growing and developing their practices, I often hear a reluctance to network. We all have the places where we feel comfortable, and talking to potential referrers or clients is often seen as being uncomfortable. And I’m using the word “talking” here in its broadest sense. It might be in a conversation, or through our marketing materials, or our online presence.
Does it have to be uncomfortable? Maybe, maybe not. Speaking to a therapist friend recently, she gave me a beautiful example of how having a conversation turned into money. She was at a social event, and happened to meet another therapist. They struck up a casual conversation about the event. There was no mention of business, no selling and no asking for referrals. A week later, my friend received a referral from the same therapist.
It really can be that easy. But we have to be open to having the conversation.
Sometimes, like my friend’s example, the door is already open, and we just need to be there to receive it. Sometimes we might need to be more specific, about what we do or how our services could complement those of others, for example, if we are talking to other therapists, to doctors or other health professionals. A client or referrer may first “meet” us in a phone call, on our website or business card, or hear of us through someone else’s experience. So anyone we speak to, or anyone who hears our name, may become a client or may refer a client to us. But, if we’re not available to be met, we will never be aware of the opportunity, because clients, like money, come through people.
If you find it hard to make yourself available to be met, perhaps I can help you? Contact me here to make an appointment or to avail of a free 20 minute consultation.