Lets face it – there are some things that almost no one likes to do, especially when it takes up valuable time that could be spent doing something more productive (like helping more clients) or enjoyable (like spending time with your family). Some of the most heart-breaking stories I heard from over 200 conversations I’ve had with practitioners have been centered around the mountain of admin work that piles up and has to get done late at night or on weekends instead of spending more time doing things that brings them joy.
But the more people I talked to, the more I realized that this was not something rare – most practitioners have a hard time with the business side of their practice because there wasn’t enough focus given to it at school. And once they are out of school, other colleagues tend to talk more about new techniques or methodologies that help their clients versus what helps their businesses.
Some I talked to even were afraid to grow their practice because with more clients came more paperwork and the spectre of burning out even though they still liked their client interactions. Perhaps you’ve had one of those nights, sitting on the couch or in bed returning emails for appointment confirmations or just responding to a potential client asking about what you do. It’s really not uncommon and up until fairly recently the only way to get out from under this backlog would be to hire an assistant which comes with a whole other set of challenges.
Take a step back and ask yourself where you want to be in 3 months? Then in a year. How about 3 years? If you responded by thinking that your practice would be bigger – congratulations – you’ve taken the first step to setting a goal for your business.
Now think about the amount of revenue you would like to be bringing in. Don’t think about your current business because we want to set a goal first, then bridge the gap on how to get there. Maybe you felt something in your gut thinking about that number because of all the other admin tasks that you would have to take on with an increased client list and it would be impossible to get to that size.
What if I said that it’s not impossible and even that you could run this business with less admin overhead than you have now? With software tools today, there are great ways to go about automating key elements in your practice that steal valuable time from your day and destroy growth in your business.
Try to think about your business like a factory, or process. Clients come in (through referrals, marketing etc) and you provide services which help them take care of problems. You get paid for how you make them feel relative to when they first came in. Along the way there are other sub-processes that have to happen like setting appointments, filling out forms, getting payment and other elements that are essential to your business. I say essential to your business, because like it or not, clients likely won’t pay you for filling out forms.
Imagine if you had an itemized invoice for each client that had a line for “setting appointments – $15?” Or a line for “transcribing written form – $20?” It might make you laugh but these are some estimates from other practitioners based on the cost of their time to do these things manually.
So think again of your business and make a list of the big time-suckers in your day-to-day tasks. [I have put together a list for you to download and use – no strings!] Is it setting and rescheduling appointments? Is it marketing to bring in new clients? Or is it something else? If clients will see value (that is, it will make them feel better), then think about the next draining task. Put an approximate number of minutes beside it. (Be honest!)
Then add up the numbers over a week, then a month. You may be surprised at the how much your “free” time costs your business.
Now go back and think of your 3 year goal. Are you likely to reach it doing the same things you are doing now? Better yet, flash forward 3 years and think backwards (stay with me here!). Your business reached all of your goals (and then some!) Think of all the things you did do that enabled you to reach that level. Chances are you focused on the high value work that clients love about your practice and automated the other (necessary, but time consuming) tasks.
Yes it can be a lot of work to put the foundations in place to achieve your goals for your business, but as the Chinese Proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”