“I should have known that I couldn’t do this.”
“This is much harder than I thought.”
“Why can’t I make this work?”
“Everyone else makes it look so easy.”
It is likely that you have said some version of the words above to yourself or someone else during your beginning journey into private practice. And I’m not talking about during the first few weeks! It’s quite possible that I am talking more in terms of months or years.
I’m well into my journey and may have uttered one of these statements just a few days ago. I’m not saying this to scare you; I’m saying it to inspire you. I want you to truly know the reality of owning a private practice – and still want to have a private practice after you come to this understanding.
There are three words that I say to everyone on this journey. They are three words that have really helped me to put things in perspective and have served as an important reminder about what it takes to have a successful practice.
I give you the 3 P’s: Passion, Patience, and Persistence.
Passion because… why would you take such a big risk in starting your own business if you were not passionate about it? And it’s this passion that will keep you going when you feel like giving up. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it can be easy to give up when the going gets tough.
During the inevitable ups and downs in your private practice journey, remind yourself of the impactful change that you have inspired in your client’s lives. Change that they might not have experienced had it not been for you and the passion behind your desire to make a difference.
In addition to being connected to our clients, our passion can also be related to creating the life we have imagined for ourselves. By owning our own business we can have an expansive sense of control over our own lives. We can build a business around that which we value most: our families, our friends, and our interests and hobbies.
Patience because… it takes some time to get going in your business – so give yourself this time. Sure, there are a few overnight success stories, but don’t compare yourself to these outliers or you will end up being disappointed. Give yourself time to get established and to become well-known and respected in your community.
It’s so easy to look to those that inspire us and to have a desire to be where they are. It’s a fine balance between looking up to someone for inspiration and participating in an unhealthy comparison.
I so often find myself looking to someone in the field who has been at this private practice thing for 10+ years and wondering why I am not there yet. When you participate in unbalanced comparisons like this, you will end up disappointed in yourself every time. I have to bring myself back down to reality, and switch my view from comparison to inspiration.
Patience also comes into play with the growth of your practice. It can feel disheartening in the beginning when you are working your ass off and failing to see any results.
Becoming an established therapist in your community takes time. You may go to networking events, meet with several community members, and even do a few presentations. You may do this for months and not see any immediate return on all your hard work.
All that hard work can be likened to planting seeds in a garden. If you have grown a garden, you know how hard the work is. There’s a lot of planning and preparation that goes into it, before the seeds even reach the ground.
Building a successful practice is very similar. You will more than likely get a referral from that presentation that you did – but no one tells you that it may be 6 months later. You will also get a referral from that therapist you met with for coffee last year – but it’s took them that long to identify a good fit client for you.
I know that you want a full practice NOW, but it’s not realistic. It would be like buying tomato seeds and expecting a beautiful, plump tomato when you open the package. Plan for your garden, till the ground, fertilize the soil, water your seeds, and eventually you will have grown the best damn tomato that anyone has ever seen!
Persistence because… opening a business is not for the faint of heart. You need to keep going, even when it gets tough. Don’t give up on yourself the moment before you succeed.
This word is best represented by the name of my business, Mountain Practice Journeys, and its reference to climbing a mountain. It takes hard work, persistence, and determination to climb any mountain.
When you reach the summit it’s always worth it and the views are amazing! I also want to point out that it’s not just about the destination, but the journey as well (which relates back to Patience).
There have been so many times during this journey that I have wanted to give up, but I’m still here. I invite you to be here with me – in both the uncertainty and the triumph. Have faith in yourself. Surround yourself with a strong community that will hold that faith for you when you don’t have it.
Your journey will get easier, but it will always be a journey.
I Want You To Be Successful In Private Practice!
Starting a private practice is a big deal. It's super-exciting and super-scary all at the same time. I created Mountain Practice Journeys to support you through the difficult and muddy terrain, and to celebrate with you when you have reached each summit of the many mountains you will conquer on your journey.
Happy Climbing, Cindy