How to stop neglecting a vital part of our success…
Somewhere along my journey as a practitioner, I felt an internal calling to heal myself and others. The idea of becoming healthy and happy fascinated me, and still does. This internal calling or gravitational pull is something many practitioners experience in the mental health and wellness industry. We answer this call by rolling up our sleeves and investing our heart, time, soul, and money into learning our wellness craft. We invest in our goal and envision ourselves as practitioners who help others.
But how many of us spend any time being excited about learning the ins and outs of being a small business owner? I understand – I don’t get an adrenaline rush thinking about policies, spreadsheets, budgets, and other aspects of small business management, either. Because of this lack of calling, so much more of our time, attention, and financial investments are spent on preparation to be a practitioner, rather than on preparation for becoming a business owner. Many practitioners tend to look over the important details of running a small business, minimizing its importance and believing it’s somehow a less meaningful part of their practice. Frankly, most practitioners would rather eat gun powder for breakfast than think about small business management!
We practitioners find ourselves frustrated and even annoyed that our business actually requires ongoing financial resources and our time to stay alive and grow. Knowing that success requires that we wear both the “business” and “practitioner” hats, why do we get stuck in these extreme polarities, and neglect a vital part of our success? Is business really a four letter word to practitioners in the wellness world?
Separating Business from Practice
I always say, if your practice is the spirit of what you do, then your business is the body that houses it. It’s a structure that supports the function of your practice. We often can’t see how detaching from our business manifests our own disease within our private practice. It may be partly because we naturally dislike the discomfort and vulnerability of learning something new in an area where we feel less confident. Like anyone else, we would rather focus our time and energy on what we do best.
When I talk about business, the images that often come to the minds of practitioners are these:
- Corporate America
- Excess consumerism
- Disregard for community
- Profit at any cost
- A snake-oil slick “all mighty dollar” mentality
Fair enough, these things unfortunately exist. But why imagine that your business could or would somehow be clumped in with the Walmarts of the world? It’s as though we are somehow more “enlightened” as a practitioner and “less enlightened” in our role of a small business owner.
Why is Business a Four Letter Word?
Where on earth did we get those judgments? Is that really who we are as leaders in the wellness world? In our view, business itself is a blank slate that is neither negative or positive. What drives the energy of any business (whether it is big or small, profit or not-for-profit) are the purpose, values and intention of those running the business. This is what makes a small business what it is, and what it isn’t. The power lies with you!
Between charity work/martyred poverty and greed there are many options that equal a healthy financial balance in a private practice. If you don’t want to be a slick snake oil business person when you are marketing – DON’T DO IT! Find an authentic voice in how you speak of the services you offer. Or the work you do, or wellness itself as a goal. If you don’t want to have a business that completely disregards community impact and your ethics, find a way to extend good will through your small business. If you are not invested in or engaged with your business, then who else will be? Instead, ask yourself if there is a way you can come to understand what you and your business stand for. Be proud of your business and share your practice through it boldly!
Is it possible to LOVE your private practice business? My answer is yes – absolutely! And if you do embrace all the parts of your private practice in balance, you will see how it loves you back.
If you are a practitioner and want to love your business as much as your practice, fasten your seat belt because we can help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the journey.