Private Practice from an Entrepreneurial Perspective
by Jim Nolan, President of Southwestern College, Santa Fe
Let’s get this first thing out of the way. Of course we are in this business to help others. If you have what it takes to be a successful therapist, you are smart enough to have gone to Law School, or to be a Financial Management person, or to be in some other profession that pays way more. We chose this field LARGELY because we want to help people. That kind of goes without saying, but I am saying it, because what I will say next is NOT said so often, in our field…
Being in private practice is also an entrepreneurial venture—a business endeavor. We create a product, or offer a product (our own services), and we market it, sell it, create a “value proposition” to those looking for a therapist (your profile on Psychology Today, or GoodTherapy.org.) We network, we cultivate a specialty, a niche area (Men, EMDR, Trauma-Informed something or other, etc)……We either figure out how to work with the insurance companies, or decide to NOT work with them, and figure out how to do THAT…Both options require substantial skill sets….
Yeah, it’s a business…
Winning. Beating “The System.” Figuring out how to make money, while doing the thing we were called to do…
I have a competitive streak in me, one that I have not always been particularly wild about. It has shown up in baseball, wrestling, golf, whiffle ball, home run derby, fantasy baseball, chess, and now, in the business world. I want to win, to be successful, to master the game…
But you know what? In this private practice entrepreneurial world, the great thing is that my victory, and my success, do not require somebody else’s loss, or somebody else’s failure. We can all win, we can all succeed.
How cool is that?
There is a shortage of therapists. Scarcity Model thinking is just wildly out of line in this era, in this marketplace. If you get three new clients, it is NOT at my expense; I will get the next three, because there are 47 clients looking for quality services, the likes of which Southwestern College people offer.
Are Business and Marketing Really “Bad”?
Many of us in the arts, or in the Social Sciences, have had this notion that “business”, or “marketing” is bad—like Big Corporate America jamming some product down our throats. And yeah, they DO! Sometimes. But I am also a businessman, and a marketer—and what I am trying to convey is: “I have thirty some years experience in the therapy business. I have been around the block—actually a LOT of blocks, for sixty some years. I know some stuff. You might find me useful in helping you move your life along toward the next phase, toward more joy and meaning…I am good at that stuff…”
That is “Business.” You are heading there….Might want to get comfortable with it. That would be really helpful…It’s like bringing a project full circle, start to finish, then starting over, and improving everything about it each time through the cycle. It is very, very satisfying, I have to say…
And you know what? You ARE really good at what you do, and you are the perfect therapist for a lot of somebodies out there, and they will never know it until you let them know who you are, what you do, what your passion is, what you enjoy working with, what you do well.
Psst…..That is marketing. That is bidness.