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I bet you went into your therapy business because you want to help people doing something you love – is that right? I don’t know about you but it certainly came as a bit of a surprise all the things we are ‘supposed’ to do to run our practice as a business. Not to mention the conflicting advice! Here are some of the myths that we are constantly fed about running a successful therapy business, and how they might be killing your practice.

Myth #1: Specialising will lose me potential clients

- so I have to help everyone with everything

You have got these amazing tools. You are qualified and just want to get out there and help people. So, of course, we want to tell everyone about all the amazing things we can help with. For hypnotherapists, for example, it is so tempting just to list everything you can help with – after all it is pretty amazing, isn’t it.

So that’s what we do. Start to list everything. I help with Stopping smoking, weight loss, IBS, phobias, depression, confidence, stage fright, etc etc… And of course we know that we can help with all of that, don’t we?

Have a think for a moment about what message that is putting out? Is it telling people that you really know what you are doing? If you had a life-limiting phobia, would you want to go to a generalist, or a specialist? If you had fertility challenges, would you want to go to someone who also works with public speaking and a hundred other things? No, you want to know that you are going to the best.

What other message might that put out? You have unique talents and experience. By showing up as a complete generalist, then your potential clients cannot see your genius. They can’t see your uniqueness and that you are possibly the absolute best person to help them in their time of need.

Time to stand out and shine!

So often I hear “but if I specialise, doesn’t that mean I’m limiting my reach?”. Well, the great news is, the answer is a resounding NO.

Let me give you an example. I work with City professionals whose recreational drug use is beginning to get in the way of their home and work. Does this restrict me or the number of clients? Absolutely not! (Ok, I was pretty surprised at first, too!). I have a clear message which is heard by exactly the people I love to help, and my work is really varied. There is often a lot else going on, other than the actual drug use, as you imagine, and I even get clients with completely different issues, who feel drawn to me in some way. I would really encourage you to have a think about what audience would you most love to serve right now!

Myth #2: You have to have a niche and stick to it no matter what

Hang on a minute…. Haven’t I just said that wanting to help everyone with everything might not be the optimal strategy? Aren’t you saying that I have to decide on a niche and stick to it?

This is something else that we hear so often, isn’t it?

Yes, having your uniqueness shine and having a very clear message about who you serve is very important, but here’s the good news – you only have to decide who it is that you want to serve RIGHT NOW.

When we start out, we haven’t necessarily got the breadth of experience to really know who we love working with more than others, but you still have your uniqueness, so just start by deciding which audience it is that you most want to serve next, and go out there and serve them! You can always shift your focus later, as you learn more and experience more.

Myth #3: There is a magic strategy that works for everyone

Hmmm, I wonder just how long it took me to really ‘get’ this one! Deep down I really believed there was ‘THE’ answer to how to bring in more clients. That, if I only knew the ‘how’ then everything would fall into place and I could concentrate on the bit I love – in other words, just get on with the therapy. I get so many emails promising that someone is going to share their secrets of how they achieved their amazing success, and yes, I got sucked into many of these. Talk about shiny objects! Trying this strategy, and then hopping over to the next magic solution. I felt pulled in all directions, overwhelmed, and exhausted, with no tangible results! Ouch. But hey – as therapists we know only too well that one size does not fit all, when it comes to our clients. They are individual and unique, and we tailor our therapy for each client to help them achieve the best outcome for them. So why should we be any different? Why should someone else’s solution be right for us? That was a big Aha moment for me. When I finally invested in myself to have business mentoring, my business mentor started to teach us about where WE are in flow, where our own talents lie when it comes to getting our message out there. It was such a massive relief to know that we can choose one or two strategies that suit both us and our clients, without having to do everything. There is no magic solution for every therapist, but there are perfect solutions for each one of us!
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Myth #4: You have to compromise your values in order to sell your services

This is a really big one. So many therapists, who are amazing at what they do and help people achieve real differences for their clients are killing their practice because they somehow feel they are compromising their values if they have to ‘Sell’ their services. We each carry our own story, don’t we? Maybe “How can I charge for helping people?”, or “How can I charge for doing something I love?”, or “Sales is just icky or smarmy or in some way dishonest”. or maybe, even, “I’m not good enough yet to charge”. Do any of these resonate with you? This one thing has killed the business of so many therapists I know and prevented them from making their therapy any more than just a hobby. It doesn’t have to be that way! When you go to the dentist, do you somehow feel that they have been underhand in any way? Do you avoid the supermarket because you are being ‘sold’ food? Your clients are out there waiting for the help that you can give them! Start to see through the stories that go along with the word “sell”, and begin to realise that this is an essential part of your service. And if you keep strong to your values, and do not compromise your integrity, then it becomes so much easier for you and your clients to make the decision to work together, for the benefit of both of you – and that’s really OK.

Myth #5: Sales and Marketing are everything you need to focus on

Oh boy, this is another one that I hear so often, and, to be honest, I thought this too for a long time. “If only I knew how to do the marketing and sales, then…..” If this was the case, then we could all learn this really easily, from buying the right books, signing up to the right courses or just Googling it! But this again can lead to a focus on one (albeit important) area of your practice, and to neglecting the other really important aspects of the journey that your client takes from finding out about you, as they get to know you more and trust you more, until you choose to work together. So, I would urge you to see the sales and marketing as just one element of the whole journey. If you have a very clear message about the audience you are looking to serve, know your strategy for helping them hear about you, and have a clear journey to allow them to get to know you well enough that you decide to work together, then by having this bigger picture, means you can become really clear about your overall strategy that will allow you to help more people who need you!
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