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How to Build a More Profitable Practice by Doing Less

5 things you're doing that are holding back growth in your therapy practice

Does it ever feel like you’re sprinting as hard as you can but not getting anywhere?

By Roger Elliott

Many of our readers are aware that I look after Uncommon Knowledge’s marketing efforts, and so it’s not unusual for practitioners to ask me for advice in that area.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened at a recent hypnotherapy conference I attended.

When Tom asked me for marketing advice, I asked him what he was already doing. As he proudly reeled off an intimidating list of social media activity, all I could think was “Strewth! We’ve got a whole team of people working in marketing and we don’t even do all that stuff!”

Resisting the temptation to feel that he probably knew more than I did about the matter, I asked, “So how’s that working for you?”

“Terribly!” he said, looking suddenly deflated. “I don’t even know if it’s actually getting me clients. I just feel that I should be doing all that – I mean, everyone else is.”

And I realized (not for the first time) that it’s often not what you are doing, but what you’re not doing that makes the difference in business marketing.

What do practitioners want?

I recently asked you, our Uncommon Practitioners, what your business goals were. When most of you came back with the answer that you want more clients, it was no great surprise.

But once you’ve established a baseline of clients for your therapy business, aiming for ‘more clients’ is not good enough. You need to start setting specific goals, looking at questions like:

  • How can I establish a revenue stream that keeps earning when I’m not working?
  • How can I stop feeling so busy, rushed, and overwhelmed all the time?
  • How can I save so I can afford to take holidays and (someday!) retire?

Luckily, all these questions have the same answer:

Stop doing so much.

It’s now well known that 20% of your effort brings 80% of your results. It’s even got a name: Pareto’s Law. And for a solo practitioner, the 20% bringing 80% of results is most likely “seeing clients”.

The fantastic news is, this means you can cut out almost everything else you’re doing, and still get 80% of your current results!

The question is: What to stop doing?

Well, here’s my list, based upon my own experience of moving from solo practitioner to business owner.

Things to stop doing as a practitioner

STOPWhy?Time savingResources
Working on your own website.You are not a techie! You are an ideas person. Let the experts turn your ideas into a website. Don’t do them out of a job and frazzle your own brain in the process.10+ hours a month – plus infinite savings on your sanity!Try a low-cost website-updating service like Zen WP.
Doing your own bookkeeping.Back when we started Uncommon Knowledge we employed a bookkeeper almost as soon as we were able to pay ourselves enough to survive on.5 hours a month.
Checking stats, using Facebook and Pinterest, and otherwise wasting time.Stat checking assuages the fear of not doing anything constructive, but ironically has zero real outcome. Stats can be handy if the data is for something specific, like a test you’re running. But knowing you have 200 visitors a day to your site isn’t going to bring any more visitors.As much as 30 hours a month. (If it’s more, you may need professional help!)Use RescueTime to check what you’re doing online. Or if you’re truly a lost cause, try Cold Turkey to block websites or apps you know drive you to distraction.
Chasing clients for payment.Well, because it’s a horrible thing to have to do. Of course, you need to get paid! But there are some simple strategies that can avoid the dreaded outstanding invoice.1 very unpleasant hour a month.Use Mark’s tips to avoid having to chase clients up.
Using marketing techniques that don’t work.Unless you know what’s working, you’ll continue wasting time and money. A little time spent recording your results will pay dividends in the long run.Depends how much marketing you do!Use a simple, free Google spreadsheet to track where your clients come from, then target those areas.
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But how do you decide when to take the plunge?

The endless challenge of the small business owner (which is what you are, by the way – no more denial!) is deciding when it’s okay to hire someone to do something you’re currently doing.

It’s not an easy decision – you work hard to make money, and the first thing people like me tell you to do is spend some of that money getting other people to do things for you! Plus, what happens if you start employing people to help you but you don’t start earning more money to pay them?

Every successful business owner has encountered this dilemma. Personally, I’ve taken the plunge close to a hundred times – and nearly every time the work has expanded to fill the new capacity, and the business has grown accordingly. In the few cases where it hasn’t, I’ve often realized in retrospect that it was a poor hire, made in haste.

So that’s one argument.

Do you love what you’re doing?

More to the point, why are you running this small business in the first place?

Is it because you love doing accounts? Because you love struggling with technology? Because you love trying to make yourself sound professional and reliable, yet fun and approachable on social media when actually that day you feel like burning down the whole Internet?

If the answer to any of these is yes, you may as well quit now! If you want your business to succeed in the long term, you need to succeed in the long term. And the best way to do that is to make sure you focus on what you’re good at, and what you love doing – helping people.

Money is a reality that none of us can afford to ignore, of course, but you’ve survived on less before, and you can do it again. Except this time you’re doing it deliberately, for a good reason. And that reason is to free you up to do the things that really add to your business.

So let’s look back at your goals again:

  • Establish a revenue stream that keeps earning when you’re not working.
  • Stop feeling so busy, rushed, and overwhelmed all the time.
  • Save so you can afford to take holidays, and someday retire.

Now, there are many ways to achieve those goals (if you’d like me to go into more detail in future articles, let me know in the Comments section). But one thing we know for certain is you won’t achieve these goals by spending 5 hours trying to get the ‘Book Now’ button to align with the line of text below it!

Your time is most valuable – both financially and emotionally – when it is spent doing what you’re good at, and what you love. I hope I’ve made the case for you to spend money on freeing up your time. When you see the amazing results it can ultimately achieve for your business (and your sanity!), you’ll be glad you did.


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Mark Tyrrell

About Mark Tyrrell

Psychology is my passion. I've been a psychotherapist trainer since 1998, specializing in brief, solution focused approaches. I now teach practitioners all over the world via our online courses.

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