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How to Develop a Money Mindset - Page 8

We asked how much money they'd be willing to spend to get one new referral a month. We were, of course, thinking about Abraham's Lifetime Value of a Referral concept, according to which one new referral a month would be worth about $12,000 in additional income every year for them. Yet a poll of 70 therapists showed that the average amount of money they were willing to spend to generate those 12 extra referrals was just $83! It wasn't just that they were cheap: many of these people told us they spent thousands of dollars a year going to clinical trainings. It was more a lack of understanding of basic business principles, principles that none of us learn in our graduate training.

So we followed up on the phone and asked: why would you spend so little to learn how to get what you say you want? We heard a variety of reasons: they didn't have confidence that what they learned would work for them, they didn't think business principles were relevant to the way they practiced (because their profession was unique), they thought what they'd be taught was too "left-brain," too linear, too vague or expensive. Another group said they were afraid of getting ripped off, and they didn't trust the motives of business trainers, who, they supposed, were out to make money at any cost. Others confided to us privately that they felt they were smart enough to figure it out on their own.

The pain expressed by these therapists was palpable and disturbing. How could so many dedicated, talented people, highly skilled at helping others deal with the most challenging aspects of human existence, get so stuck? And how could our graduate training—so rich with fascinating theories and transformative practices—leave us utterly unprepared to deal with the dog-eat-dog world of small business, in which, according to a 2004 study in Inc. magazine, 90 percent of the players are gone within five years?

Learning to Fish for Referrals on the Internet

Following these calls, Mel and I started working with the therapists who seemed motivated to grow their practices. We e-mailed them articles about practice building, following up with phone consultations and group conference calls. They, in turn, referred therapists to us who were having business troubles. In July 2005, I got an e-mail from Sam, who sounded worried. He and his wife, Sue, lived in Kansas City and had made a decision to move back home to Columbus, Ohio, despite the depressed economy in that area. They'd just had their first child and wanted to be near their families. Sam gave up his benefit-laden $59,000-a-year salaried hospital job, doing assessments, training, and therapy in a Kansas City Inpatient Psychiatric unit, to start a private practice in Columbus. I told him he might want to try a more gradual approach—take a part-time job and then build up the practice. But he was determined to go full-time into private practice, working with children and families, starting with few professional contacts, no referral sources, and no clients. Yikes!

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