Taking Ourselves Seriously
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll have heard me referring to the Six Pillars of a Successful Therapy Practice.
The first pillar of a successful therapy practice, “Owning Our Practice”, is all about seeing ourselves as a business owner as well as someone who helps other people. It means embracing the idea that we are not just there to help our clients, but that our practices are also providing us with a living (hopefully :))
A colleague of mine recently called this, “taking myself seriously.” The phrase fits well, we need to take seriously that we are self-employed in a small business for which we are responsible. I feel sure you take your role as therapist seriously, concerned for the well-being of your clients, but do you also take the role as business owner seriously?
Just as a house owner takes responsibility for their house, decorating, furnishing and maintaining it in the manner that suits them, so that their home provides them with what they need from a home, so too is a business owner responsible for choosing how they would like their business to be and taking the action to bring that about. It’s something we do because we have a practice.
If we were really taking ourselves seriously as small business owners, what would that look like? Think of some aspect of your life that you take seriously. What tells you that you are taking it seriously? How would someone know? For me, taking something seriously means I commit my time, energy and money to it. I think about it, I talk about it, it has a significant place in my life. We make an investment of time, energy, money and affection in our families, our clients, our homes, and our hobbies. Why not in our practices?
What aspects of your practice do you invest your time, energy and money in? Do you invest energy in developing your practice? Do you spend time thinking about the practice you’d like to have and how you might make that happen? Do you invest money in your practice, in your profile or your premises?
There’s an old expression about the cobbler’s children being left unshod, and it speaks to a truth about how all of us can be slow to recognise and meet our own needs, putting them behind the needs of others. And in healers of all persuasions there can be a tendency to look after our clients’ needs, and put our own on the back-burner.
I’ve talked before about looking at the relationship we have with our practices. How do you relate to yours? If your practice were a car, would it be well maintained and serviced? Or would you be leaving the fuel tank to run dry before you filled up, and the engine to break down before you had it serviced? If your practice were a bank account, would you be making any deposits, or just expecting there to be money there when you needed it? If your practice were a garden, would you be sowing the seeds of what you want to grow next season, and pulling up the weeds as they appear?
Imagine yourself for a moment putting on the suit or the skin of a business owner, or stepping into their shoes. How DO you feel about being a business owner? Are you eager or hesitant? Does it feel good to you to think of yourself in that way? Do you cringe when I use the term business owner? Does it feel like it belongs to you, and you to it? Do the suit and shoes of a business owner fit for you? Do you see yourself as an adult who has chosen this means of self-support? Or a reluctant teen, rebelling against the chores they don’t want to do?
Do you give time to learning about the business aspects of running a practice? Or to thinking about and planning your future steps? Or do you resist those tasks? Do you feel time spent working ON your practice is taking you away from the REAL work of seeing your clients?
Notice how my questions land with you, and the response in your body as you read them. If you find yourself pushing back, perhaps I can help you. This first pillar of a successful therapy practice is an important one, because unless and until we take ourselves seriously as business owners as well as therapists, we will always be at best, ambivalent, and at worst, downright rebellious about engaging with the business side of being a self-employed practitioner. And for our practices to flourish in the way we’d like them to, we need to engage with them enthusiastically and with some energy. We’ll find it hard to do that if we resent having to be a business owner in the first place.
If you’d like to learn how you taking yourself seriously as a business owner can help you in the development of your practice, please contact me here to make an appointment or browse my services here.