When I decided to open a counselling business in 2009, I knew it was a risk and an adventure that I was ready to take on.
Here are 5 things that I learned on my journey. I hope that this information helps and encourages other counsellors and psychologists who are thinking of opening a practice.
5 things I learned opening a counselling practice
1. It’s ok to know nothing about business when you start out
My experience in business was very limited when I started out and I was painfully aware of this. This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. To be mindful that you know nothing is better than ignorance which would have led to failure.
The fact that I was mindful that I knew very little, helped me to source the skills that I needed to get things happening. It meant that I started to acquire new business skills and as a result, I discovered new interests that I absolutely loved to do, like strategy and mentoring.
It helped me to learn to delegate, outsource and collaborate. The learning has never stopped, and what a blessing that has turned out to be.
2. It is the people that are the most important part of the practice
When I first started out, I was flying solo in my practice, but it wasn’t long before I took on my first team member.
It has been a privilege and joy to work with so many clients, employees, contractors, volunteers, and associates over the years. People who I would never have had the chance to meet if not for the practice.
It is the vast array of people that make the practice special, unique and shape its culture and values, and I am so grateful to have met all these special people.
3. Always trust your gut
Some of the biggest mistakes I have made in business is because I chose to ignore that tiny niggling sensation telling me something was not quite right.
It has been an interesting journey learning to turn the volume up on that little voice and really listen and action it.
I believe that goes for many things in life, not just business. But I can certainly say that if I had learnt to listen to my gut earlier, I would have had a few extra hours of sleep over the years that I have owned my practice.
4. Engage experts
Engaging external experts over the years has been one of the best decisions I made.
I have had a number of mentors and consultants help me. I have been quite choosey when it comes to selecting the experts that I work with, and that has been a good thing.
The majority of these experts have been worth their weight in gold because they have equipped me with new skills and have shared their knowledge and opinions.
Ultimately the return on investment from engaging such skilled people has been one of the biggest factors to help me expand my practice and enabled me to reach out to more clients in need of help.
5. Giving back is the best part
By far, the single most rewarding part of opening a counselling practice has been the opportunity to give back.
To give time to people, to invest energy in people with potential, to give students a leg up, to run free community programs for people in need of counselling.
It is when the practice gives and lives by its own Vision that it ultimately showcases all the hard work that you have done.
I would highly recommend to anyone thinking of opening a counselling practice, to just go for it.
The journey from therapist to business owner has been an experience of growth.
If you are a counsellor or psychologist who is thinking about opening a practice, I would encourage you to do your research and if it feels right and it is what you want to do, start something new.