101 Business Building Tips for Your Private Practice
An entrepreneur is like an architect. His business starts with a dream, develops into a blueprint (i.e. mission and vision plan) and then it is put into action. Much like an architect who begins with a dream, sketches it on paper and then develops the plans by which a builder can birth the dream into reality, an entrepreneur must go through similar steps to create, build and maintain their business.
Use this list of 101 business building and marketing tips to inspire your own unique business building blueprint to help you achieve your professional hopes and dreams.
1. Awaken your entrepreneur. Michael Gerber, author of E-Myth and Awakening the Entrepreneur Within, suggests entrepreneurial dreams worth pursuing are those that are mainly impersonal to the entrepreneur. An impersonal dream is a dream that helps to meet the needs of another person rather than your own personal dreams. Personal dreams are defined as a means to an end that only benefit the dreamer and in the long run disappoint and leave a person wanting. Personal dreams tend to be focused on things: the bigger house, faster car, fewer wrinkles, and more bling. The impersonal dream tends to be focused on improving the lot of other people’s lives. Describe your impersonal entrepreneurial dream.
2. Identify your niche. A niche is a specialized market as well as the specific thing you are best suited for. Success in a private practice or any business for that matter starts with developing your niche. What is it that separates you from the many other professionals in your local or online community? A niche develops over time, but now is the time to begin identifying and shaping your niche. What skills, knowledge, certifications, techniques or ability do you have that others will benefit from that sets you apart as unique amongst your peers?
3. Identify your target audience. What are the demographics of the individuals whom you most want to reach with your services? Are they children, adolescents, young adults, middle-aged, seniors, singles, married, pre-married, retired, mentally ill, Alzheimer, physically disabled, able bodied, male, female, transgendered, heterosexual, homosexual, etc. and the list goes on. There are many different subcategories one could identify within each group, i.e. people of a certain faith, nationality, needs, occupation, hobby, etc. Once you identify your target audience you will be able to develop a plan for how to reach them.
4. Create your professional identity. When people ask “What do you do?” Is your answer, “I am a coach (psychologist, counselor, therapist etc.)”? Is this really how you see yourself? Thinking of yourself as just one of a multitude of counselors, therapists, psychologists etc. does nothing to distinguish you from every other plain vanilla mental health professional and certainly does not build confidence in your own mind that you have something to offer others that is distinct from what every other mental health or life coach professional is offering. Begin to identify the things about your professional persona that are unique. Let yourself visualize who you would like to become professionally. See yourself in your mind’s eye: what are you doing, how are you helping others, what sets you apart?
5. Know your purpose. As a coach or counselor, before you can help others find their purpose, you need to be very clear about your own purpose. Do you believe you were created by God, bear His image and therefore were created with a divine, God ordained purpose or do you believe you alone are the master of your own destiny, the captain of your ship with no accountability to a Power higher than yourself? Because what we believe has tremendous power – both on the conscious and unconscious level – Identifying what you believe about who you are and what your purpose is, is crucial to your business success.
6. Develop your by-line. Your by-line is your verbal business card. It is the answer that you give when you introduce yourself which right away begins to brand you in the minds of others. Your by-line is not your title, it is what you do, and the solution you offer people. Examples of professional bylines for mental health professionals might be:
- I offer solutions to help AD/HD children enjoy personal success
- I help seniors find a new normal and more easily adjust to life transitions
- I counsel couples on how to find and keep their best love now
- I show people how to maintain sanity and dignity in the midst of divorce
- I help people master their emotions so their emotions don’t master them
- I empower people to reach their human potential
7. Create a marketing plan. There is a multitude of ways to promote your services. Not all these marketing ideas will work for you, but not putting any of them into practice will not work for you either. Some you may try and abandon and others you will try and find a good fit for your personality, skills, niche and target audience. The point here is you need a plan. A plan starts with identifying the specific marketing ideas you will try, the small steps or objectives you must take to implement the idea, and a time set aside in your schedule to implement and consistently work your plan.
8. Prioritize. Decide what is important and schedule time in your day to do those things. Some have suggested, in preparation for the following day that every night you write down the 6 most important things you will do the following day that will help you reach your business goals. The next day, do these 6 things before you do anything else.
8. Focus on the important not the urgent. Stephen Covey developed this concept in his bestselling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In life and business it is far too easy to focus on the urgent and unimportant things. The successful person knows how to identify the important and not urgent things that are the stepping stones to accomplishment. Important and not urgent things might fall into categories such as marketing, planning, skill building, connecting, and studying.
10. Eliminate the unimportant. It is a lot easier to become engaged in busywork than in work that is going to really make a difference in building your business. Busywork is just that: it eats up time and does not move us forward towards our goals. Busywork or the unimportant work looks like aimlessly surfing the net, playing games on Facebook, watching TV, reading the news, shuffling paper, etc. The unimportant things are distractions that add no real value to our lives and businesses. That’s why you need to eliminate them!
11. Triage the urgent. Life happens and therefore we cannot always control the things that vie for our time and attention. Kids get sick, computers crash, dogs get into mischief, tires go flat, and emergencies happen. When urgent things happen we need to have the ability to use triage principles. Does the situation require:
- My immediate attention: No one else has the ability to handle the situation.
- My attention, but intervention can be delayed until later.
- Someone’s attention, but not my attention – someone else can handle it.
12. Triage your business priorities. It is not only helpful to be able to triage the urgent disruptions in our day, but what about prioritizing the important business decisions? The same kind of triage principles can be used to determine what needs to be done 1st, 2nd and 3rd in your day or week. Tasks and projects can be divided into 3 groups.
When the task or project is completed:
- It will make a difference to the bottom line.
- It may make a difference to the bottom line.
- It will make no difference to the bottom line.
13. Say “no” graciously. Mental health professionals know that teaching clients to say “no” is often one of the first and most important steps to recovery. Getting a person to the point where they understand why and are willing to say “no” is where the work really happens. Being an entrepreneur requires that you manage your time wisely. There are only 24 hours in a day, there is not enough time to say yes to everything and get accomplished the important things. Who do you feel controls most of your time – you or others? If other people is your answer, then you have a problem with being willing to say no. If you want to accomplish your goals, you will have to figure out why saying “no” is difficult for you and begin graciously saying “no.”
14. Weekly Review. Whether you are a company of 1 or a company of many, it is important to sit down weekly and review your specific mission, vision and goals for building your business. Every week, schedule time to review your goals, revisit your action steps, see if you are on track, examine how you spent your time, determine whether it was profitable and make adjustments accordingly.
15. “Use a system of organization,” says David Allen in his book Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. You might wonder what keeping organized has to do with building your business? Disorganization robs us of productivity. Using proven tools for organization, Allen says, “help people focus their energies strategically and tactically without letting anything fall through the cracks.”
16. Manage your stress. Every mental health care professional knows that stress results in a disorganized and therefore unproductive brain. One way to manage your stress is to use a system of organization as mentioned previously. However, stress management goes far beyond keeping your office space organized. Stress management is a crucial element in achieving and maintaining your optimal level of functioning. Unabated stress in your life will lead to burnout. Make a plan for how you will take care of your mental, physical, relational and spiritual health.
17. Reframing time management. Tim Ferris, in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, says regarding time management, “Forget all about it.” What does Ferris mean by this? He means, don’t try to figure out how much you can cram into every minute of every day. Time management is about doing less with more. For example, time management means learning to streamline processes that use to take hours but now can take minutes. From the simplest tasks of leveraging email lists instead of individual emails or even snail mail to outsourcing your administrative tasks to a virtual assistant in India, what might have taken hours in the past may now only take a few minutes.
18. Create systems for everything you do. Systems make the world go around. When tasks are systematized you save time, energy, resources and stress because you can implement them over and over. No need to recreate the wheel every time. You can create systems for many things such as intake procedures, therapies, networking, staying in touch with clients, making new contacts, developing mailing lists and more.
19. Create a mailing list. If systems make the world go round, creating a mailing list is the number one system any business should focus on developing. Your mailing list is the audience you want to keep in touch with on a regular basis. Begin your mailing list by capturing (with permission of course) every email that comes your way: clients, referrals, community contacts, etc.
20. Automate your mailing list. A mailing list should at the least be loaded into your mail merge program (if you plan to send snail mail), email address book (if you plan to send mass email correspondence) or an auto responder (if you plan on sending an html newsletter).
21. Organize your emailing list. Most email programs allow for creating groups. Email groups are subsets of your address book. For example, a children’s therapist might have groups like: parents, medical professionals, referrals, or colleagues.
22. Add an electronic signature to every outgoing email. Think of your electronic signature as your electronic business card. When you create your electronic signature, it will automatically be added to each email you send. Now your contacts have easy access to your contact information at the bottom of every email they receive from you.
Things to consider adding to your electronic signature include:
- Your name and credentials
- Contact number (they already have your email)
- Link to your website
- Invitation to sign up for your free newsletter
- Professional byline
23. Design your business card. As mentioned previously, although an electronic signature is akin to an electronic business card, it is still helpful for many professionals to carry the good old fashion kind. Besides the obvious, your name, credentials, contact information and website, make sure you include your byline on your business card. A business card is a brief opportunity to let others know, in a succinct way, what sets you apart from other professional therapists as well as what solutions you offer that others do not.
24. Use business cards. Although much of your marketing will be done most effectively on the Internet, you may want to consider creating a printed business card that you can still handout to people. Develop a strategy for using your business card effectively such as:
- Use as a calling card
- Leave in businesses that encourage networking such as coffee shops, hair salons, wedding planners, lawyers, churches, doctor’s offices, etc.
25. Create a business card with shelf life. How many business cards have you collected over time just to throw away minutes after you received it? First, create a business card that is attractive. My husband created my business card and I can’t tell you how many times people have picked it up and said, “That’s beautiful.” I’ve held onto business cards just because the graphics were very eye catching. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
26. More on creating a business card with shelf life. Having a nicely designed business card may help people to hang on to it longer, but what if you created a functional business card, a card that people referred to over and over. There are 2 sides to every business card and most professionals don’t make use of the other side. Come up with a short list of professional tips that you can have printed on the back of your business card that will result in people hanging on to it for a much longer period of time. We’ve been getting our business cards from 4over4.com for years.
27. Business card magnets. Another way to gain shelf life and constant visibility is to turn your business card into a magnet. Everyone needs a nice heavy duty refrigerator magnet. You can have your business card design printed directly onto your magnet or you can buy magnets with an adhesive side to them and stick your business card to the magnet. Just make sure you purchase at least 20 mil thickness for your magnet. The higher quality the magnet the more likely it is that it will be used as intended. You can find what you need at Magnets.com
28. Create a Newsletter. A newsletter can be as simple as a weekly or monthly email you send to those in your email address book or more sophisticated like an html template that comes with your auto responder and is automatically sent to those who have opted in through your website or blog. Your newsletter is a publication that can help establish you as an expert in your field, create loyal followers, and be a powerful tool for carving out your niche audience. It does not have to consume a lot of time or energy, but it does require a strategy and system which you consistently follow, such as making time in your schedule for writing your newsletter and establishing a regular publication time and day.
29. Use headlines that catch the attention of your audience. Whether you are writing a post for your social media, a headline for your newsletter or a guest column for your local newspaper, your headline can make or break your article or post. Really give a lot of thought to your headline – the goal of which is to draw people in to the article by giving them the information, empowerment, entertainment and solutions they are looking for.
30. Issue press releases for newsworthy happenings. Press releases are aimed at members of the media and can give your business a lot of free exposure. A press release is typically issued to inform the media of newsworthy happenings at your company that would be of interest to the community. For example, press releases are commonly written to congratulate professionals on receiving a new certification, degree, awards or specialized training. Press releases can also be issued to announce company changes, promotions, and other happenings. Send press releases to your local newspaper or business journals. A professionally done press release will garner the most attention. PRweb is a good resource for learning about and issuing press releases online.
31. Public service announcements (PSA). A public service announcement is a type of advertising that is featured on TV, radio or other media for the purpose of raising community awareness on a certain topic like health or safety. To discover the criteria for having your PSA published in or on your local media, contact them for details.
32. Be a guest columnist. Local newspapers and business related magazines often feature columns on a wide variety of topics such as health, religion, technology, business, finances, parenting, relationships and more. Check with your local publications and see how you might become a regular or periodic guest columnist. If this is a route you want to pursue, begin by putting together a portfolio of articles to display your writing skill and the kind of topics you are knowledgeable about.
33. Writer/Blogger for church or religious organization. If you are a faith based counselor, writing or blogging for your church or other religious organization is a great way to get exposure, brand yourself as an expert, and give back to your local community.
34. Thank you notes. A handwritten thank you note speaks volumes, especially in this day and age where most everything is done electronically. A thank you note from the heart, sent by the US postal service, is going to stand out amongst all the emails and your thoughtfulness will be remembered. Send thank you notes for any and every opportunity that you can think of. You can customize your own at VistaPrint.
35. Personalized note cards. The value of a personally written thank you note far exceeds that of an email. And a personalized note can add even more shelf life to your thank you note. Consider designing your own notes or selecting from a company that prints motivational notes. An attractive picture coupled with inspirational or resourceful information is a keeper. Have your name, credentials, website and contact information printed on the back. You can design your own inexpensively at VistaPrint.
36. Share an excellent resource. Once a year or more, send a resource to the business leaders (pastors, principals, small business owners, HR managers etc.) in your community, especially those you have had contact with or those who have sent you referrals. A book that you have found particularly helpful or that you use with your clients is a good choice. Include a brief, personal letter stating you have found the resource helpful and simply wanted to share it with them.
37. Create a snail mail list. Not only will you want to create an email list, but don’t forget good old snail mail. It still serves a very important function. The time and cost to create a mailing list is much more than doing it electronically, but it is a good way to reach people that you may not have access to otherwise. Also, using snail mail is still a good way to make a personal impression. People to consider placing on your mailing list would be teachers, principals, therapists from other disciplines, i.e., physical, occupational, speech; chiropractors, doctors, lawyers, human resources professionals, small business owners, pastors, priests, elders, deacons, department managers, civil servants such as police chiefs, fire chiefs, city and county commissioners and insurance agents, bankers, spa owners, salon managers, etc.
38. Direct mail. There are companies that sell mailing lists. The value of purchasing a mailing list is targeted demographics. There are marketing companies who make their livelihood by collecting all the demographic information in your community. That means if you are developing a workshop and your target audience is parents of teenagers, you can purchase a mailing list that will help you target those specific families. One place to start your direct mail research is DirectMail.
39. Professional roundtables. Become a leader in your community by organizing events where professionals from different disciplines can network, brainstorm and find solutions about the issues that are important to them. This can especially be helpful for those in small businesses and will begin to establish yourself as a community leader.
40. Brown bag lunch series. Start your own series of informative brown bag lunch seminars. Use your own office space or find a location like a church, business, senior citizen center, or community club house that will give or rent you space for 1 hour one time weekly or monthly to host a brown bag seminar. A brown bag seminar is one where people bring their own lunch and gather for about 45 minutes during their lunch break to learn about a topic of interest.
41. Professional networking meetings. If your local community does not already have a professional networking group, consider starting one. Meet once per month for breakfast at a convenient location. Here are some ideas for a light agenda:
- Have everyone introduce themselves and their specialty
- Ask everyone to come prepared to share a tip or technique
- Give an update on newsworthy events in your field
- Share a question or topic for discussion
- Announce upcoming seminars
42. Develop a referral list. Referral list? You may be thinking I’m the one needing referrals, I don’t need to give referrals. But, having a comprehensive referral list is a great way to establish yourself in your community as the go to person. When someone calls about your services and you cannot personally help them for whatever reason, you can help by offering them several referrals. People will remember the kindness you showed in taking the extra time to help. You will also begin to establish yourself as the go to person in the community and this over time will likely translate into more referrals to you.
43. Educational series. Establish one hour, once per week or month to offer a free community based seminar from your office location. Put together several basic solution oriented presentations that will appeal to a wide range of people but be specific enough that people who sign up know they will be getting the answers to some important questions. In your announcement state that space is limited, snacks and beverages will be served and ask for an RSVP. When people arrive, capture their contact information for your mailing lists.
44. Host a luncheon for community leaders. Organize a free luncheon for community leaders to get together and network, learn about your services, and discuss topics of importance to the community. Everybody has to eat and people do enjoy a free meal. Furthermore, people are legitimately busy, they must have a compelling reason to give you their time and attention and if you are feeding them, that is a good reason for them to give you their time.
45. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Joining the chamber of commerce normally costs several hundred dollars per year, but in return, you get the benefit of being featured on their website, in their physical location, and participating in networking events and more.
46. Paid print advertising. No, not the yellow pages, but there are many ways to use your advertising money wisely. One way is to advertise in your local health or business publications. Normally these publications are distributed for free to businesses all over your community. This type of advertising is most beneficial when done over a period of months rather than a onetime ad placement.
47. Be solution focused. Many entrepreneurs become frustrated trying to contact local business leaders to establish a referral relationship. But the key here is understanding that business leaders are busy people. If you want their time and attention they must have a compelling reason to give it to you. Additionally, nobody wants to feel like a means to an end and only too often that is what it feels like being on the receiving end of an introductory call or card. Good sales people know that in order to sell their product they must create a need and provide the solution to that need. Counselors, therapists and coaches are no different. Why do people need your services and what solutions do you offer? This in part goes back to your byline. Consider this: What problems do business leaders and people in general have for which you can provide the solution.
48. Paid online advertising is called pay per click advertising. Are people surfing the Internet looking for what you have to offer, but can’t find you because you don’t have a web presence? Or maybe you are not ranked high enough in the search engine listings for them to find you on page 1 of Google or Yahoo? Then pay per click advertising may be an option. Because you can easily spend a lot of money doing pay per click, just beware, this should be a last option or waited on until you have a larger budget. A good place to start pay per click advertising is with Google AdWords.
49. Start a support group. Every community needs a wide variety of well run support groups. People who are hurting or struggling need a community of others around them who understand and relate to what they are going through and they also need a good therapist to help them grow through the trial. Starting an open support group can be a wonderful service to your community and serve to brand you as the expert in your niche.
50. Offer free consults to business leaders. Pastors, leaders, mangers, small business owners and anyone who deals with people as a leader from time to time, may need to run a situation past a professional counselor. In all your promotional material sent to leaders in your community, tell them to feel free to contact you anytime if you can help them or they need a consult. When someone finally does call for a consult, respond by letting them know, “feel free to call me any time.”
51. You reap what you sow. Keep in mind that reaping what you sow does not always mean that the fruit will come from the seeds that were sown by you. There seems to be a universal law at work that hard work yields a profit, but the profit may not come directly from the specific seeds you planted. When you get a referral, make sure you ask, “How did you hear about me?” That way you can direct your efforts accordingly.
52. Offer a video series. There are many wonderful training videos produced by leaders in the field on a variety of topics. Rather than develop your own seminar, offer a movie night once a week or month to your clients on a topic of interest and invite them to bring a friend or family member. Offer healthy snacks and beverages. Have a brief time of discussion after the video.
53. Develop your own video series. Video is a powerful medium and what’s better is that people love to share video. Anyone with a little technical knowledge or a 12 year old at home can produce semi-professional videos. These videos can be placed online in a variety of locations, the most popular of which is YouTube. The videos can be delivered through social media, websites, blogs or newsletters.
54. Radio station advertising. Radio continues to be a powerful medium to reach many people. Advertising on your local station during the breaks of some renowned and popular radio talk shows can help you reach certain target audiences that may be very interested in your services. Radio stations can tell you the demographics that they reach during different listening periods throughout the day. Radio stations have marketing managers who can help you put together an effective advertisement to market your services.
55. Creating radio or TV spots. If you present well, have a good speaking voice and enjoy public speaking, consider putting together your own radio or TV spot series. Contact the marketing manager at your local radio or TV stations and ask about doing a series of 30 second to 3 minute spots where you give a brief but power packed presentation that empowers, educates and uplifts.
56. Start your own podcasts. Podcasts are the Internet’s version of radio. Creating a podcast can be done from the ease and comfort of your own home. You need a computer, microphone and editing software. Like any radio broadcast it should be something that you produce on a regular, consistent basis. It does not have to be lengthy, it simply needs to be attention getting. There are many podcast directory websites on the internet where you can market your show. They can even be published on iTunes.
57. Interactive podcast. Make your podcast even more appealing and dynamic by inviting other professionals in your community to participate. Do guest interviews, topics and more. People are looking for information to be delivered in an energetic, positive and creative way. I can’t help but think of the Saturday Night Live show from the 90’s that featured the 2 comediennes parodying a national public radio broadcast in a comedy routine called the Delicious Dish. Their sleepy, laid backed presentation had us in stitches because we all knew what they were about. This is the exact type of podcast or radio presentation you want to avoid.
58. Online groups and forums. If you want to establish yourself as an expert via the Internet join some online forums or groups connected with your social media. Mark time in your schedule to participate in the forum or group. Plan ahead to share instructive and informative discussion topics. Be intentional about your presence in the group so that your contributions make a positive and lasting impact.
59. Book reviews. Places like Amazon.com welcome book and product reviews. There are people that practically make a job out of doing this very thing. As a mental health professional, your feedback on related books and products can be very helpful to others and give you some positive exposure on the World Wide Web.
60. Movie theater advertising. Movies are targeted to specific demographics in our communities. Some of these movies reach the same demographics that you are trying to reach through your private practice. For example, if you want to reach parents, advertise during films that target children. If you want to reach families target family oriented films. If you want to reach young adult women, advertise on vampire films. You get the idea. Go to your local movie theater website to find information about how to make your business part of the feature presentation.
61. Develop personalized promotional products. With the Internet it is very simple to design your own promotional products. If the Internet is not your thing, check out your local office supply store. Most have promotional items in their showcase as well as catalogs you can look at. Consider items that have a long shelf life such as monthly calendars, daily inspirational calendars, pens, magnets, etc. You can also Google promotional products.
62. Develop a marketing budget. Marketing your business in the initial stages especially requires you to have a budget. Otherwise you will not know how to produce a marketing plan. Consider setting aside a portion of your income for a marketing budget. If you want to make $50,000 per year for example you will likely want to set aside $5,000 to $10,000 per year to use wisely for marketing purposes.
63. Volunteer in your community. Offer your services to a not for profit organization one time weekly or monthly that will give you more exposure and help you to create additional contacts within your community.
64. Give your clients a guarantee. How many mental health professionals or life coaches guarantee their work? Mainly we don’t because ethically we cannot guarantee any results. But that does not mean you cannot offer a guarantee that someone will be 100% satisfied with your service. Consider outlining to the client what they can expect from you and declare that if you do not deliver as promised, there will be no charge for your service.
65. Offer a sliding scale. Many people do not have insurance to cover their mental health needs and cannot afford it out of pocket. Offering a sliding scale is a great way to give back to your community and help you to get established.
66. Offer promotions. Once or twice a year tell your clients and contacts that you are offering the first 10 new referrals an Intake Evaluation for a greatly reduced fee like $20. Explain in your promotional material that the value of the Intake Evaluation is $150 (or whatever your normal Intake fee is). Also explain exactly what the referral will receive for their $20, i.e. a treatment plan, goals and recommendations.
67. Offer special prepaid discounts. Offer a 20% discount for 10 sessions paid up front.
68. Offer discount coupons through your local newspaper or online media like Facebook or Groupon.com.
69. Offer employee discounts to larger organizations. Offer large businesses and churches in your area a discount for their employees or members.
70. Be genuine. No one likes to feel like they are being used. Whenever you are networking with people in your community, give your advice freely and of course within your ethical boundaries. There is no place for quid pro quo. People need to know that you are genuinely interested in helping them whether they ever give you a referral or not. People need to know that they are free to contact you for a consult without promising you anything in return. Seek to foster mutually beneficial relationships. Then as Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals suggests, people won’t feel like they owe us, they will want to owe us.
71. Do what you say you will. The kiss of death to any professional is lack of follow through. When people do not do what they say they are going to do, it is a great disappointment and weighs heavily on how that person will be remembered. We wonder, “Is so-and-so someone I can really count on?” For example if you say you will do some research and follow up, make sure you do. Otherwise it would have been better for you and the caller if you had never promised anything.
72. Become a voracious reader. You went to school to earn a graduate degree to become a successful counselor, coach, psychologist etc., however, if you are like most mental health professionals, you took few to no classes in marketing and entrepreneurship. Not to worry, there are tons of great business building resources available in your public library, on the Internet and from your local bookstore. Through books you can in a sense be personally mentored by men and women who have done what you are wanting to do. Be diligent and intentional about your own self development in the area of business building. Make it part of your business goals to read several books a year on the subject.
73. Join SCORE. SCORE’s byline is Counselor’s to America’s small business. They have 13,000 volunteers nationwide who offer one-on-one counseling and seminars to small business owners free of charge. Check them out at Score.org.
74. Join HARO. HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. It is a website that matches up reporters with industry experts. When you sign up you will get an email 3 times daily informing you of the various topics and experts reporters are looking for to get their story out. How can this help you? When you get a personal mention in an article or interview this gives you name recognition and can drive traffic to your website.
75. Join Bill and Steve Harrison’s Reporter Connection. This site also connects the needs of reporters with industry experts. By signing up you will receive an email once per day that will alert you to the kinds of topics and industry experts that reporters are looking for. This is a great way to get free publicity for your website, books and other products you have developed.
76. Join Radio Guest List. Talk shows, podcasts, radio programs and more are looking for guest experts to book for their programs. They publish their needs in advance through sites like Radio Guest List. By signing up you will receive an email once a day with talk radio and podcast bookings that are available.
77. Start blogging. There is more than one road to establishing your niche and yourself as an industry expert. Blogging is one of those roads. It took former blogger Dan Lyons 1 year writing 5 blogs a day to get 1 million people per month to his blog. However, if you think that blogging might be up your ally do some research first on how to write a successful blog, and make sure your blogs have a clearly identifiable MWR (most wanted response).
78. Start a Facebook page. Facebook is an Internet entity to be reckoned with. With over 1.5 billion active members, if you are not taking advantage of this free social media network, it is time to get plugged in. Facebook as with all social media offer tutorials and forums to help you understand and navigate around the platform.
79. Use testimonials. People love testimonials. It is one way to powerfully convey to the public that you have something of value to offer that has helped others. After a seminar or workshop ask your attendees to complete a feedback form. Add a release to the form requesting use of their feedback in your promotional materials.
80. Confront your fears. Starting a private practice just like any business may require you to move beyond your comfort zones. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to achieving what you were put on earth to do. Pamela Slim of EscapefromCubicleNation is a business coach, author and speaker who helps frustrated employees break out of their corporate jobs and start their own businesses. Pamela says, “Entrepreneurship at its heart is aligning your purpose for being on earth with a business idea so compelling that you simply must do it, despite the fears that hold you back.”
81. Hire a business coach. As a coach, counselor or therapist, you know the value of having a professional business mentor to help you move towards your goals. Having a person available just for you to help you brainstorm, strategize, set goals and objectives and to offer accountability may be one of the best investments you can make in building your private practice.
82. Market solutions rather than sickness. What is the treatment model from which you practice mental health? Although the stigma of mental health is changing, one of the hindrances for many people in seeking the services of a counselor or therapist is the stigma that, “If I need counseling, there must be something wrong with me mentally.” Reframing for your audience the biases and stigmas attached to mental health is an amazing and empowering tool. The truth is we all have room to grow and to maximize our potential. Just as physical fitness requires regular discipline, our personal, relational and spiritual growth (aka mental health) typically improves as we identify and act upon our goals and objectives. Consider what solutions rather than sickness you have to offer your community.
83. Send letters of introduction and follow up with a phone call. Personal contact is always best when it comes to building your business network. Create a brief letter, outlining the solutions and services that you offer and a statement inviting the receiver to contact you if for any reason you can help. Follow up on your letter with a phone call in a few days. In your letters and calls make sure you thank them for the time they have given you, no matter how brief, and simply let them know you are available to help in any way possible.
84. Create a free ebook. In the age of information, people are looking for free information. You can share information freely with your audience in a variety of ways. When you create helpful ebooklets, tips, and tools, your audience will share your quality free downloads with others. Make sure each one of your downloads has your name, website, email and phone number on it.
85. Add your web address and contact information to everything you send out and make it bold, clear and legible. Nothing wastes your time and resources and frustrates your audience more than putting out promotional material, whether it be a business card, brochure, web page or blog where your contact information is not easily visible and accessible.
86. Sign up for Yahoo Local. The major search engines have something they refer to as local search. They want those searching for your services to be able to find you. Yahoo’s business directory (think of it as the business directory of the Internet) is called Yahoo Local. To list your business, go to Yahoo Local and click on the Business tab and use the link Add Your Business found under the wording Local Resources.
87. Sign up for Google Places. Google search engine also offers a free business directory for local search. What was formally known as Google local is now Google Places. Go to Google Places, find the heading, Get Your Business Found on Google and click on the Get Started button.
88. Sign up with therapy directories. Do an Internet search on therapy directories or counseling directories. Many of these have a membership fee, but may be worth your time and money. Choose the ones that offer month to month memberships so that you can cancel at any time. There are a few free directories available like this find a therapist Christian counseling directory.
89. Provide take aways. Whether you are working with clients one on one or teaching a class, offer handouts. People tend to keep their handouts and also share them with others. Add to your take aways all your contact information – make it bold, clear and legible.
90. Create self tests and inventories. People love to self-assess themselves. An inventory or self assessment which people can pick up from your class or download from your website can serve as a pre-selling tool as well. Sales people know that in order to make a sale, they have to identify the need. Self assessments can be very helpful to leading people to insight about themselves and help them to understand the value of the services you have to offer.
91. Create interaction. David Steel, MA, author of Build Your Ideal Practice in 90 Days, suggests using a call to action to engage your audience, create interaction and begin building a relationship with you. To create a call to action, Steel suggests, “what can you invite your prospective clients to do, what can you offer them, that they would be likely to act upon?”
92. Unleash an idea virus. Seth Godin marketer extraordinaire, has written extensively on the subject. Godin argues that most marketers attempt to control and manipulate the spread of information from business to customer rather than creating ideas that will more naturally spread from customer to customer. This is the concept behind word of mouth advertising and at least in the mental health private practice arena is the most powerful form of advertising you have. Godin is surmising that you use creativity to create ideas, products, tips whatever that will naturally spread from customer to customer. Read more about Godin’s marketing genius in Purple Cow and Unleashing the Ideavirus.
93. Plug in to the law of connection. “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand” says John Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. All too often when starting or building a business we reach out for help before we have sown positively into another person’s life and touched their heart. Think of ways that you can show interest, encouragement and support to those in your community before you ask them for anything in return.
94. Join a board of directors. Many not for profit organizations would love to have a professional counselor on their board. Make connections with local not for profits like women’s shelters, group homes, early intervention programs, assisted living facilities, hospices, etc.
95. Gain special certifications or training in your niche. A benefit of gaining a special certification is being included in the organizations professional directory. Add your certification to all your promotional material and make sure you issue press releases for online and conventional media like newspapers and local business journals.
96. Offer exceptional customer service. If you have ever owned a luxury car like a Mercedes, you will never forget how they make you feel when you bring the car in for service. Sure you pay the price, but the point is that the moment you walk in the door, you are treated like someone special. The service is completely personalized to make you feel well taken care of. What makes the service and office environment you offer your clients different than every other mental health care professional’s office? You may not be able to offer the red carpet service like Mercedes Benz, but in the long run it is the little things that matter. Some of the ways you can add that special touch is making sure your waiting room, bathroom and office is clean and fresh and well stocked with essentials like bottled water, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, mints, cups, toilet paper, paper towels and premium tissues. Exceptional customer service counts
97. Promote and support a green office environment. More and more people are finding that they have allergies or sensitivities to environmental toxins. By supporting a green and non-toxic office environment you can provide a safe and comfortable place for the growing demographic of people who have allergies and sensitivities to scents and fragrances. This kind of exceptional customer service can really make a difference.
98. Use a professional hair stylist. Since people draw a conclusion about you in a matter of seconds your physical appearance is very important. The professional coach or counselor must look the part and make people feel comfortable in their presence. Finding a professional hair stylist you trust who can provide you with an up to date, flattering and professional hair style is a good place to start. Women should also take advantage of moderately priced salon or spa services like brow and lip waxing. Men should find a barber who also does grooming of the ears, nose, neck, beard and mustache.
99. Practice exceptional hygiene. You know the importance of making people feel comfortable. Besides dressing in clean, professional and conservative clothing, personal hygiene is a must. It begins with clean and well groomed hair, body and teeth. Many people have bad breath and unfortunately their loved ones either don’t notice or don’t love them enough to tell them. If you do not floss and brush (including your tongue) at least 2 times daily, it is quite possible that you have offensive breath. People draw conclusions about others in the first few seconds that they meet. Make sure you do everything in your power to create a positive impression.
100. Dress for success. As a professional it is important that you look the part. If you do not have a sense of style or fashion coordination, ask a friend you respect to help you put together a few professional looking outfits with accessories. If you don’t know anyone try an image consultant or go to an upscale men’s/women’s clothing store and tell them what you need. They will be more than happy to accommodate you. How you dress can also add to your sense of professional confidence.
101. Use personal remembrances. Everyone enjoys being remembered on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. As a professional who works with people, you know the value of creating good feelings in others. Create a schedule of your client’s and business partner’s birthdays and anniversaries. Plan to send a personal card or make a brief phone call to let them know you were thinking of them on their special day.