When you’re learning a job or starting (or growing) a business, it’s hard to do things well. You have to first figure out what you’re doing THEN you can think about how you want to do it.
Many people in our field get stuck doing things in really strange ways because we’re running full tilt to get our work done and don’t take the time to assess and plan.
Here are some things to think about when you are trying to make your life easier:
What is the actual point?
“SHOULD” needs to be taken right out of your vocabulary. When we’re learning, we are often impacted by everyone else who seems to know what they’re doing. I SHOULD have social media accounts, I SHOULD work 12-8, or I SHOULD follow this blueprint to 10X my income in 2 days.
Figure out why you’re doing the things that you’re doing. Then decide if you like that reason. Free training and sales often give us “tried and true” solutions that is not tailored to who you are and what you’re good at. It doesn’t consider your personal morals and values or even your level of introversion/extraversion. When you know what you want to accomplish, you can identify what options you have so you can meet that goal.
Is it working?
If you know why you’re doing a task, you’re only halfway there. You need to figure out the ROI. NO – not release of information, but return on investment. Is it working the way it is supposed to and is it worth the time and effort you are putting in? So many people spend tons of time on social media without getting a single client. Some people network with everyone that has a pulse and don’t get solid referral sources. And others are really successful with those strategies. You need to figure out if what you’re doing is working before you decide to lock it in permanently. Some things take time to start working – that’s a given. But if you’re doing something that is supposed to be helping your practice and it isn’t, stop doing it.
Is there an easier, more streamlined way to do this?
So many people recreate the wheel every time they do something. This wastes time and makes stuff so much more complicated. Create procedures, checklists, and templates for everything you do frequently. While you’re writing these up, identify if you are doing things that are inefficient or double work. If you find yourself going back and forth between two different offices all week or recording the same thing in 4 different places – you get the picture – take a step back and identify the smoothest, most efficient way to get it done. This alone can make things so much simpler and free up a lot of time for you this year.
Do I actually need to do this?
Once you’ve done what you can to create consistent, repeatable systems, it is time to figure out if YOU need to be the one doing it. For example, when you’re first starting out, you need to be the one providing the therapy. However, as your practice grows, you might even delegate therapy to associate therapists in your group practice. Figure out what YOU absolutely have to do in your practice (think direct services, big picture thinking, your best skill sets) and determine if there are things you can delegate to others. Often, the first things to go are billing, bookkeeping, web or graphic design, and clerical work. As therapists, we do NOT need to be doing these things, unless we love them, are good at them, and will consistently do them to the benefit of our business. More skilled delegators are able to give away everything that isn’t in their zone of genius (for example, answering phones, performing initial screenings with patients, social media marketing, sorting emails, recruiting staff). It is good to know how to do all of the activities in your practice, but if you find something you can delegate – and do so effectively – you can accomplish exponentially more with less of your effort.
Does a human being need to do this?
Delegating can seem hard and costly (which we’ll go into in a minute), so another good question is whether you can automate it or go with some sort of electronic solution. Really good things to automate or go electronic are scheduling, payment (fewer runs to the bank, anyone?), appointment reminders, etc. A strong Electronic Health Record/Practice Management system can cover many of these for you.
Full disclosure – Curt and Katie are both SimplePractice customers and highly recommend their Practice Management system for automating so many aspects of the therapy business. SimplePractice was also our Platinum sponsor for Therapy Reimagined 2018.
What can I invest in?
So you have your wish list of what you can give away to a person or an app. What do you invest in? Each person’s financial situation is different, so the awesome, therapist-y answer is “it depends.” We know that it can feel super scary to pay someone else for work you can do. It can also feel overwhelming to transfer your processes into electronic solutions. However, these are often needed steps to get you over the overwhelm and to simplify your business. A couple things to consider when deciding what to invest in:
- How much is my time worth?
- How much time am I spending on this activity?
- What will I gain back when this activity is completely out of my hands?
- How much will this solution cost?
Oftentimes $49/month or $20/hour can feel expensive and daunting when you’re looking to invest. The big consideration is whether you can make up the money in increased services (or find it worth it by improving your quality of life). So, for example: if you charge $100/hour, you make up the cost of a $49/month system with less than a single client. An assistant who makes $20/hour can do 5 hours for the cost of one of yours. If by giving away these tasks you could open up even just 1 hour of your time to market and fill one weekly spot, you will make money from this choice, not lose it.
It can be hard to invest up front, but consider the benefits you could gain over the long run.
Taking time to streamline your practice can make you much happier and more productive. No guarantees you’ll 10x your income, but you will likely feel a whole lot more successful and in control of you practice.