I am frequently asked by the Helpers that I’m coaching and consulting about my “plan” for my first year in practice. What was my marketing strategy for my private practice? How did I network? How did I establish a strong Internet presence, SEO, etcetera? Essentially, how did I put myself out there to build my practice successfully?
There are a billion ways to try to market oneself as a clinician opening a private practice, and if you try them all, I promise you will become bogged down and not do any of them effectively. Trust me – it’s OVERWHELMING.
I was working with a business coach when I began my practice (and continue to work with a different coach now – coaching is SO VALUABLE I can’t even tell you), and she gave me some of the best advice that I’ve received in business to date: Start exactly where you are, and don’t overdo it.
Hmmmm….ok. I was living in a relatively tiny “city” in New Hampshire at the time (New Hampshire says it has cities but that’s an exaggeration, IMO). Start there? Really? But…I’m licensed in three states! Shouldn’t I be getting myself out there everywhere secure enough clients? Sending my business cards to every prescriber in every town in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania? Surely Keene, New Hampshire is not enough.
Still, I followed my coach’s plan with utter skepticism. The plan was very simple: get to know a few professionals in the community (not EVERYONE – just a few that really jibe with my own work and approach), and present a series of workshops in town on my niche area of expertise. Make a Psychology Today profile identifying myself as a professional in my town of residence. And then…wait.
Totally (un)surprisingly, my business coach turned out to know way more about the business side of things than I did.
As I tell my coaching clients, my private practice built itself. By following my coach’s steps, I became a trusted and well-known therapist within the Keene community (and eventually, in New Hampshire more widely). I also made the choice to reach out to a nutritionist in Pittsburgh, PA (I’m licensed in Pennsylvania) that I greatly respected, and began getting referrals from that area.
Build a few strong connections. Share what you really know. Be yourself. That’s the secret to starting a successful private practice. I promise.
And, I know… As, Helpers we generally tend to overdo things to make sure they’re just right. We want to make sure we know everything and are completely prepared and are not cutting any corners because, of course, we want to provide excellent service that truly helps other people. It’s pretty great that we’re built this way; it pretty much guarantees that we provide the value to our clients that we are promising. And…it’s also a challenge to be built this way, because we never feel that we are ready enough or good enough, and we have a (sometimes strong) tendency to undervalue our skills, expertise, and service.
So – don’t freak out. Think small. Less is more than you would think. Start where you are, and don’t overdo it.
You’ve got this!