There are 5 mistakes therapists make when they are new to being in the therapy business and are just starting out..
1 – Thinking you are a therapist.
Unfortunately, when you start working for yourself you soon realise that ‘therapist’ is only one of many labels you now have attached to you.
You are your receptionist, bookkeeper, record keeper, admin assistant, and the biggest label - that of marketing and sales. And that’s the one that most therapists dislike doing and would avoid doing at all.
Most of the time, you will be working in sales and marketing, not delivering therapy. The good news is that you don’t need to feel salesy, pushy or false, you can learn to like it or at least tolerate it until you can delegate it to someone else.
That brings me onto mistake number 2.
2 – Scattergun approach to promoting themselves
Trying to be everywhere and wasting time and money. You don’t need to be on every social media platform out there. Just choose a couple to start with and have a plan.
Find out where your ideal client hangs out online and use that platform. Whether that’s Clubhouse, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or whatever. Remember you can link Instagram to your Facebook profile or business page so one post to instagram will show on FB.
You can post on your google business listing too. If you think LinkedIn is where you want to be then focus on getting really good at that and use your personal profile. A social media expert I know says that Twitter is good for increasing your SEO as you can post tweets with links to your blog, or webpages. These are seen as backlinks to your site which can help with where you show up on searches.
You can use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social to schedule posts to different platforms. As you grow you may choose to outsource this aspect of your marketing.
3 – Charging too little - so they are starving!
This happens for two reasons.
The first: therapists don’t like to charge a higher level of fee as they are in a caring, helping profession. You would do this job for free if you could.
That’s all well and good. However, if you can’t afford to pay your bills, are feeling stressed and worried about lack of clients or worse still starting to resent the time you spend with your clients then your prospective clients and those who could help you find those clients are going to sense that desperation and scarcity mindset.
No one wants to work with a starving therapist!
The second: You don’t really know how much you need to earn in order to meet not only your business costs but your cost of living too. It’s surprising how many people don’t work this out. Your therapy business not only has to cover the costs of office space, marketing and sales, tech, etc. it also has to provide you with a salary that allows you to live the life you want to have.
4 – Not planning their day to day/weekly/monthly activity and becoming overwhelmed.
You may think “I don’t need to plan, I have clients 5 days a week and everything else fits around that”.
Yes, you do have days where you have regular appointments. How often, though, do you put in time in those 5 days for your admin, bookkeeping, marketing or CPD?
Do you put in time for you and your family and friends? When we are passionate about something and our work doesn’t feel like work because we enjoy it. We can forget about the ‘rest’ of our life.
Put in your diary personal time, ‘date’ nights, friend time. If you don’t you will book something else in or find yourself heading towards burnout.
5 – Underestimating how long it could take to become established as a therapist.
Many established therapists I speak to say they underestimated how long it would take to be generating enough income to meet their needs. I know I did.
This is due to many factors. I’ve discussed earlier marketing and finances. Realistically it can take a year or two to be in a position to feel confident that you have a regular flow of clients and income to allow you to feel relaxed in your business.
Many therapists start to see clients whilst still working full-time in paid employment and then decreasing to part-time paid employment to finally taking that big step into being fully self-employed.