What it Really Takes to Build a Successful Homeopathic Practice
I am going to tell you what pretty much no one else will. I am going to tell you exactly what it really takes to build a successful homeopathic practice.
Why is it that I have the “nerve” to say these things to you when no one else does?
Because I am you.
I am a homeopath. I “get” you. I understand what you do, what you desire to accomplish, and I also know the way it hurts – actually hurts! – when you can’t seem to fulfill that dream you have of healing the world.
My friend, there is no rubric for that pain. Nor is there magic white pill that can miraculously catapult you to the top of the Health Care Food Chain. No. It’s just not that simple…but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
It took me several years of floundering in frustration to finally reach the point where I was going to burst if I had to work one more day at my “day job” (I am a sonographer in my former life…yes, like you, health care is my passion.) Years of desperately trying to find clients, clinging to the hope that this year I was going to actually make more money than I spent, was taking its toll on my psyche, and, it will be of no surprise to you, my physical body wasn’t too thrilled with it all, either.
It was a “do or die” moment. I was either going to be a homeopath NOW or it was never, ever going to happen.
So let me share with you what I did. And because I am you, you will see that you, too, can do these things, and you, too, can build a profitable homeopathic practice.
1. I changed my mindset about my job as a sonographer. Instead of seeing it as a death-trap, I began to view it as my life-support. It provided for me, on my part-time salary, a way to pay my bills and meet my basic needs. That allowed me to feel secure. And that, in turn, allowed me to feel safe in taking some bigger risks. Many of you are working part-time jobs as you build your practices. Reframe it for yourself. It’s not a dead-end. It’s a way to achieve your future.
2. I rented a new office space in a professional medical office building for one reason and one reason only: it made me feel like a professional to walk into the building. It made me feel like a professional to surround myself with other health care professionals who owned their worth, their value, and their expertise. Sure, it also scared the pants off me. But the benefits outweighed the risks! Many of you are afraid to step into your professionalism as homeopaths. You are worried about what “others” might think or somehow feel like what you do isn’t of value. And you’re afraid to step out and claim your brilliance. Time to change that!
3. I hired an assistant. I remember every second of the conversation we had leading up to me saying, “Yes, I will pay you a salary,” and I remember practically hyperventilating as I signed the contract. But I did it anyways. I had no idea how I would pay her the $100.00 I agreed to pay each month. Yet I did it anyways. I knew, again, that the benefits outweighed the risks, and that I needed administrative support if I was ever going to get this practice really rolling. So I took the leap and became an employer. Again, many of you can relate to this, I know. You need to be able to look at things like hiring a staff member as an opportunity, not a cost. You need to shift your mindset to include possibility of growth, not potential for failure. Flash forward in my career a mere 8 years and now I invest over $120,000.00 each year in growing my business. See where that initial investment of $100.00 per month (just $1200.00 per year) took me? Yup. Right to the top of that Health Care Food Chain.
4. I hired a business coach. It was time to admit I didn’t know a single useful thing about growing or maintaining a business. And it was time to admit that, if I could have done it on my own, I would have by now. And since I hadn’t done it on my own yet, it just wasn’t going to happen if I continued on my own. My coach taught me how to look at my money and understand what critical investments needed to be made and when they needed to be made. She helped me to create a marketing message and a marketing plan that would actually work. We created a fee schedule that allowed me to actually get paid what I was worth. And most importantly, she helped me to see that I was building a business here, that this wasn’t a hobby, and that I needed to step up and treat it as a business or it was never going to get off the ground. So many of you are trying to figure it out on your own, or, worse yet, you’re asking your spouse or cousin for business advice. That just has to stop! Find a mentor who can encourage and support you, who knows what actually needs to be done (and when) so that you can grow your business, and work with them closely to achieve your goals. You can’t do it alone. If you could, you would have already.
5. I stuck to my plan. Even when it was super-hard! When clients would call and they weren’t my ideal client, I said no to them and referred them on to someone who could serve them better than I could (even when I was feeling like I was so broke and needed every dollar!) When other clients called and wanted that evening appointment, I said no, because working evenings was not in my plan. When clients asked if they could pay me less than what my rates were, I said no, because part of my plan was to be paid what I was worth. I stuck to my plan and I worked it! They say that once you truly begin working on your business, the first year is about building that plan. The second year is about working the plan. And in the third year? That’s when the magic begins to happen and you begin to reap the rewards but ONLY if you’ve actually stuck to your plan.
6. I made sure to take care of my needs first. Yes, I know, you tell your clients this all the time. But do you walk your talk? Do you see a homeopath yourself? How can you expect others to invest money and time in their health if you don’t invest in your own? This, my friends, is perhaps the most critical thing of all: you cannot ask others to do what you yourself have not done, so make sure you are putting your own health at the top of the priority list.
7. I made friends with money. I believe that there are two types of currency in this world: time and money. We pay for everything with one or the other, or a combination of the two. And both are simply forms of energy. Nothing more, nothing less. But what is it about those of us in the world of natural health care that we seem to think that money is a four-letter word? It isn’t, I assure you (I know many solid four-letter words and money isn’t one of them! Ha ha) Somehow we have bought into the belief that what we do isn’t “worth” being paid for, and that is most unfortunate. Being in health care does not mean you need to be broke for the rest of your life! Get some support and heal up your money issues – we all have them! Learn about money – how to invest, how to save, how to make it work for you – and stay committed to building a positive relationship with money that will allow you to charge what you are worth, and earn what you deserve.
8. I got comfortable with change. As you build your practice, there is one thing that is guaranteed: change. Yes, I did tell you that you needed a plan, and that you needed to stick to it. And now I am telling you that you also need to be prepared for things to change. As your business grows, that assistant you hired for $100 a month is going to need to be brought on to do more work, and you’re going to have to pay her more. Your schedule will need to shift as you get busier. In the beginning, 80% of your time will be dedicated to building the business, and only 20% of the time will you actually be with clients (because you won’t have many to begin with!) As things grow, that ratio will shift, and you’ll need to ensure that you always keep tabs on that ratio! You will always need time to work on your business – marketing, networking, etc. – and so while the amount of that time can be reduced as you get busier, it really should never fall below 40% or you will quickly find that you won’t have any new clients in the future! Things will change and will require you to adapt in order to support the future of your business. It’s imperative for long-term success.
9. I realized I was building a business for the long-haul. Too many practitioners have it in their heads that this is just some “short-term gig.” I have never actually understood that. It comes out almost every time I speak to a practitioner about investing money in their business. “Oh, no, I don’t have any money to invest…” Ummmm…well, I can’t think of a single company that ever went anywhere without an investment of capital! You must invest money in your business if you intend to grow it – time and money, those two currencies we spoke of earlier – and both are required investments if you intend for your business to actually be around longer than three years. Trust me. I have seen so many of you close your doors after hanging on by a thread for those first few years. It doesn’t have to be that way! Get some money – invest it wisely – and continually re-invest in your business along the way to ensure that it is sustainable over the long-term.
10. I began to enjoy myself. This may sound somewhat “simplistic” but the truth is, when things weren’t going well in my practice, I wasn’t having much fun. But after I began my work with my coach, I built my practice to over-flowing, opened my own homeopathic health care centre, and created a team of associate homeopaths to whom I refer work on a constant basis. It took time, yes, and it took money, and energy…but most of all, it took commitment, courage, and conviction. And I began to have fun with it. I began to feel like I could play with the business, that it was a part of my life that was enjoyable, not some weight around my neck. And I know for certain that that was critical to my success.
So there you have it: the ten key steps that I took to build my practice. I won’t lie to you. It hasn’t all been peaches and cream, this journey of mine. But I can tell you that it has been worth every single drop of sweat, every dollar spent, every moment of fear that I faced because I have a room full of files, each one of which represents a client’s life that I have help to change. When I close my eyes at night and reflect, it’s the smiles of the kids I have treated that I see, it’s the laughs that I have shared with my patients across all these 13 years that I hear. And that has made it all – all of it! – worthwhile.
If you’re interested in learning even more about how to make your practice profitable, visit me online at: makingyourpracticeprofitable.com and download the free audio you will find on the site: The Seven Steps to Making Your Practice Profitable. In that audio, I share more details about how I marketed my practice and how I began to charge differently for my services, among other great insights! I know you’ll love it!
About the author:
Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients include CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit rebeccaliston.com to find out how!