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Recession-Proof Your Practice - Page 7


She then updated her website, using simple optimizing techniques to draw more traffic. I showed her how to "enroll" clients (persuade audience members to become paying clients) when she taught parenting classes—not by promoting herself, but by demonstrating her skills with parents from the front of the room. She'd been playing the role of teacher, but now I encouraged her to act in her true professional role, that of therapist.

Reinvest: Empowering the Business Owner

Even during a recession, a business needs an infusion of money and energy. Administrative, phone, billing, and computer-tracking systems all need continual upgrades. For Dina, the most important area of investment concerned her health and well-being. Like many therapists in private practice, she worked and worried long hours; she suffered from compassion fatigue—a lack of physical and psychological self-care that's common among caregivers. She was isolated as a solo entrepreneur and had little collegial business support.

I asked her to select each week an item from a self-care checklist (see sidebar) to accomplish as a way of maintaining her emotional and physical resilience. I also asked her to let go of nonessential activities—resign from volunteer positions, for example—while we worked together. Building a practice is hard and time-consuming work, and I wanted her to have some breathing space.

After four months of coaching, much was accomplished, with still more to do. During this period, Dina lost three clients through attrition, but gained eight new clients, all of whom were, in her words, "good clients—couples ready to work and invested in their therapy." She'd had her first meeting with the law firm about training lawyers to understand and cope with the dynamics of couples in custody battles, and she'd reconnected with three dozen old referral sources. She felt excited and empowered that she was taking clear actions. Because her practice remained less profitable than it needed to be, I encouraged her to begin saving money for a cash reserve to help reduce her financial risk.

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