TTE 18: From Generalist to Specialist: The Journey to a Unique Selling Proposition with Stephanie Adams
Business 101 for therapists. There’s no other way to describe this episode. After building and closing down one private practice, Stephanie Adams understood she needed to transition from being a generalist to a specialist. She defined her Unique Selling Proposition, understood her lifetime value, and began marketing to generate a positive return on investment for her private practice.
In This Episode, You’ll Learn:
– What is a Unique Selling Proposition and how to write one (I even help Stephanie revise hers on the fly!)
– What is your customer’s lifetime value and why that’s a crucial metric to know
– How Stephanie re-opened her practice and moved from a generalist to a specialist
Best Marketing Move for Business
- Looking at (and understanding) the numbers of her business
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- MYOB Counselor
- Beginning Counselor Facebook Group
- Beginning Counselor – Building Your Ideal Internship
- Practice of the Practice
- The Influential Therapist
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
- Stephanie’s Website
Thanks to Stephanie for joining me this week. Until next time!
TranscriptClick here to read the Transcript
Stephanie: I am. I choose to accept this mission.
Perry: Alright. Fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us Stephanie. Let me give everyone an introduction about you. Stephanie Adams has a private practice in Fort Worth, Texas, called Adams’s Stress and Anxiety Solutions. She specializes in working with adolescents and young adults in transition who want to develop practical skills that they can use to overcome their anxiety and stress. So that they can move forward into whom they are meant to be. In addition to her private practice, Stephanie has developed resources and trainings that help private practice counselors develop predictable profitability through accountability and smart systems building. She has spoken on the relationship between counselors and money for the American Counseling Association National Conference and the American Mental Health Counselor Association. In 2011 Stephanie wrote a book called ‘The Beginning Counselor Survival Guide’ to help repair counseling students and interns for a successful internship experience. Recently she’s joined with Ann Stoneson to create a free Facebook group ‘Beginning Counselor’. Building your ideal internship to help fill in the missing pieces between graduate school and having a successful counseling career. Stephanie, you have such amazing background here with so much diversity and I gave our audience a little overview of you there but I know you have so much more to share. So why don’t you take a minute, fill in the gaps from that introduction and tell us a little bit more about you personally and about your practice?
Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me here. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to talk. As you can tell from my bio, I have a lot of interest and intent to kind of dip into all of them and explore them a bit. I like to find things I’m passionate about and I don’t feel are addressed and try to address them in a way that’s accessible. As you can see, some of that is in trying to treat adolescents with anxiety which is something I feel is important in addressing before they get to the college years when they’re off on their own and they’re developing these skills in a pressure cohort. When instead they can potentially address it before that point and prevent some of the stress and dropping out of college. In what I believe is an epidemic of college anxiety.
Perry: How did you discover that passion to help adolescents right before college to deal with that anxiety?
Stephanie: Well, I actually started my first private practice in a college town. Home of the Texas A&M Aggies and so I got to see college students. And I realized how many students were in their freshman year struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, going, “Oh my gosh, I have to make all these decisions. I have to run my own life when my mom and dad were running it for me before. And it all feels really important. I’m in a new social group.” And I just saw them freaking out. And I wanted to help them but I also just had this, in the back of my mind, what if I can get to them before then? What if we could send them to college with some better skills and training so that they have it when these stressors come and hit them. So that’s really how I developed. So after I moved out of that town I restarted my practice. Due to a couple of wife situations I restarted my practice a few different times in a few different locations. So after I did that I decided, hey, I work with all these folks on the first part of college and the high school and preteen group as well.
Perry: Fantastic. So how long have you been in this form of private practice, working really exclusively with adolescents and preteens?
Stephanie: Well, it’s definitely developed more and especially more I work with it, but I believe I started– One site was about three years ago. Now I started to focus more on that. I was practicing at Dallas at that time and I just really realized this is what I wanted to focus on. I didn’t see anyone else doing anything like that and it seemed treatment that people respond well to. They want that. And the parents want somebody from their kids that understands this issue.
Perry: Chat a little more about this? When you opened your private practice you focused exclusively on this right away or did you start off in more of a general state?
Stephanie: Well, my origin story of private practice was a lot of errors and judgments. So no, I did not focus on the specialty the first time. So that was about five years ago. I guess I started I my first ever private practice incarnation. But about three years ago I realized, “Hey, you know what? It’s pretty smart to focus on the specialty.” I learned a few things by that point and that’s when I decided I need to focus on some things of a specialty. And I have a few other sub-specialties but that’s what I’m pretty passionate about and I don’t feel anyone else in serving so I try to focus on that.
Perry: So when you were working as more of a generalist in your first private practice, tell us about some struggles you encountered? Was it challenging to get that practice going and build those referral sources?
Stephanie: Yeah, because I had no idea what I was doing and I was pretty much– Okay, so– But if you build a minute and customers approach it– If you build it, they will come. That doesn’t work.
Perry: Oh no, it does not.
Stephanie: I’m just sitting here like, “Look, I’m here. Why did you come see me for an appointment?” And the whole general population in the world just got together and said, “Ah, maybe not.” It’s just people don’t know you’re there unless you market yourself. I don’t even understand how to market myself. I just thought that I was like, “Hey, I’m a licensed counselor now.” It was the first time I was out on my own after working in a practice with my supervisor. And I was like, “Yep, I can do it. I can show up and they’re going to be here.” And you know what? That just didn’t happen at all.
Perry: And so then three years ago when you started your new private practice and you went into it straight with the specialty, correct? You marketed yourself as working with adolescents and preteens, correct?
Stephanie: That was one of my main focuses. I mean, I did make some general connections but most of my energy, at least 80% of my energy was focusing on specialties and developing relationships around that.
Perry: And how did that initial growth compare to when you started your generalist practice five years ago?
Stephanie: I would say, well, I could actually support myself with my practice which is something kind of cool.
Perry: That’s important. Haha.
Stephanie: Yeah. Especially when you’re married to a student and you’re like, “Hey, if I don’t support myself, who’s going to support us?” That was definitely a sign that it was working. I found that the magic number for whatever reason– Every time I restarted my practice intelligently, meaning with the specialty and doing the tricks I’ve learned since then, it’s taken about eight or nine months to get back to where I want to be. About eight or nine months into my first new practice, I should say, my specialty practice I was seeing a load I wanted to see and on my way to having some success finally.
Perry: You know, it’s pretty funny you said that, eight to nine months. That’s generally what we see here as well with whether it’s our clients who are just starting their own practice or the other therapists who have been on the Therapist Experience. It’s very rare to see this meteoric rise but around that eight to ten month mark I can think about at least three other interviews where we’ve done interviews where people have said eight months or nine months or ten months is really where they start hitting their stride and start seeing enough clients to pay their bills and take a little extra home every month.
Stephanie: That’s fascinating. Because I wasn’t sure if that was just me or if that was a normal thing. I found that to be true for me more than once. I really love this study and finding out more about how that works, because my theory so far is just that it’s something about the time it takes to get your SEO updated and your name on the internet, and make the personal friendships and referral relationships in the area. That’s what I’m guessing but what do you think?
Perry: I would agree. With SEO, if you’re starting a brand new website, Google has something called the sandbox period where basically they take your website along with 1000 of other websites that are out there and throw you all into a sandbox. “You guys play over here. I’m not going to let our users really see you.” Because there are hundreds or thousands of websites created every day and Google needs to be able to differentiate whether or not a website is a legitimate website or if it’s one of those spammy websites that we have all seen for the last decade. So they put you in like a sandbox period and don’t really let you get enough visibility for a period of time. And then I definitely agree that when you’re marketing yourself you have to take time to build those referral sources and those networks. And eventually everything just sort of snowballs. And if you’re doing things well it should snowball. So you mentioned that you had some other tips that you used when starting your practice over again. Can you share some of those with us?
Stephanie: Well, I keep trying to find a way to make it sound really cool and fun when I talk about this part of building your practice and I haven’t found it yet, but there’s this thing that sounds really boring but it’s actually very rewarding called research and planning. I know, it’s really boring but if you do a lot of good market research and you really laser focus on your message. So in addition to your specialty, having a message of kind of what you probably heard of as your unique selling proposition, it really pays off and I try to– Usually when I first explain this to people they feel a little confused and wonder about how that doesn’t like it should work, but it does.
Perry: So tell us your unique selling proposition?
Stephanie: Well, you can call it unique selling proposition but one of the things that we’ve already discussed a little bit today is that I specialize in teenagers and preteens with anxiety, and even in a big metroplex like mine– I mean, I’m big in Dallas and I’m in Fort Worth and I have a huge amount of people I’m connected with theoretically. But there’s not that many people that I’ve heard of in my area that treat young adults and teens with anxiety. And they have a different set of needs based on generations of helicopter parenting and feelings of self-efficacy that adults with anxiety don’t have even though they’re very similar in many other ways. They need to be taught how to shepherd in developing their confidence while still relying on their parents to some degree. As you can see I keep coming up with different explanations about things I’m passionate with about that because that is my unique selling proposition, that’s what I get to talk about with people. So I have that one idea, teenagers and preteens with anxiety are unique and they have special problems that we can help with if you focus on that. And that gives me a lot of things to talk about, it gives me an opening, a conversation-starter. And if you have that, and I know you do, anyone who’s listening, even if you may not feel like you do, you have endless topics of conversation.
Perry: So Stephanie, I actually think that was a great explanation on what unique selling proposition is and I loved your USP or unique selling proposition. I actually think you did a better job with your unique selling proposition earlier in the show.
Perry: I think that personally my opinion is that when you said– If I were you, this would be my unique selling proposition for you. “Are you concerned about your teenager heading to college and not having the skills to deal with all the stress and anxieties of potentially living on their own? I work with teenagers and adolescents to help them develop skills to cope with the transition into college so that way they are better equipped to succeed immediately as opposed to joining one of the x percentage of college dropouts.” That would be my unique selling proposition for you. Haha. Based off of how–
Stephanie: I like the way you put that together.
Perry: Thank you. Based off of how you pitched yourself earlier. I thought, I love everything that you’re doing here. You have served niches within niches and it’s a challenging thing to sort of navigate but you do it really, really well. Anyways, that was just my 60 second elevator pitch for you off the cough.
Stephanie: Hold on a second, let me get some notes.
Perry: Hahahaha. Well Stephanie, you’ve learned so much about building a private practice over these last five years and you are so well equipped to build your own and to help others build their own, but let’s go back to your point in a career as a therapist where you were as low as you could possibly be and you could have called it quits. And you were just ready to throw in your entrepreneurial towel. Tell us about that moment, and then more importantly, share with us how you overcame that struggle?
Stephanie: Well, one thing I tried to do but it’s probably pretty hard for most people and then sometimes it’s hard for me even though I tend to be transparent. Just be very open about how emotionally low and incapable I felt at that point in my private practice career. I was about a couple of months off of training for my license when I started my first practice. It was probably at least six months or so after that when I really realized how much trumble I was in. And I just felt terrible. I started developing anxiety and depression in relationship to that because like I said, my husband was a student and I felt like I was letting him down. Because we’ve been married about two years at that point and he supported me through my internship. Took all kinds of jobs he didn’t like to do to make ends meet, and then let me finish my internship. And this was supposed to be my turn and I was like, “Why am I not doing what I need to do? I have the desire, why can’t I get there?” So even though that’s kind of hard to relive that point in my life and be very open about that. I try to share that as much as possible so that if other people are feeling like that they know that this doesn’t mean that they are going to be a failure just because they feel that way. Because however many years later, what? Three to four years later I’m supporting myself, my practice is growing upwards despite many, many setbacks along the way. And so that’s kind of a long version of telling you the background. But you ask the question of how did I get past that. So what I like to tell everyone is that you can learn skills you need to get past that by teaching yourself business and marketing. And yes, that’s a very broad topic but sometimes that’s where you have to start is that you need to understand how business works. A business isn’t emotional even though you have an emotional connection to it. It doesn’t care if you’re a good therapist, it just cares if you put out the right marketing and you manage the finances, and you make sure the bills are paid. Things like that. It’s a separate entity and you have to take care of it, and if you do that it will pay you back in letting you do this job that we all love to do. So does that answer your question even though it’s a very broad answer?
Perry: You did a phenomenal job answering that question. And thank you so much for sharing with our audience about that time. Because I know how hard that is. Always questioning, “Am I going to make ends meet? Am I going to be able to support my family?” And everyone listening here and myself included speaking here, we understand that point. We’ve all been there as an entrepreneur. You’ve given us some great lines here. I always take notes about some ideas of what episode topic or title could be, and one thing I love that you just mentioned was, your business doesn’t care if you’re a good therapist. And it’s so true.
Stephanie: It’s true.
Perry: But I mean, you are a good therapist but how do you feed your business? Your business is a living, breathing creature. You have to train it, you have to feed it. You also mentioned earlier that you didn’t understand how to market yourself. How did you learn how to market yourself?
Stephanie: I read absolutely every business book I could get my hands on. I got coaching. And some of you who are listening know that my now friend but then coach was Dr. Deb Leggie. She helped me very, very much getting started just treating it like a business. And you’re separating the emotion from the actual practice of business. So lots of reading, lots of setting, lots of training, lots of coaching. Outside of coaching for private practice because actually when I started out a few years ago that really wasn’t a thing. Very few people did coaching for private practice with Dr. Leggie being one of them. But there was all sorts of great resources out there about building small businesses. You can transfer some of that information over if you’re determined about them. I was pretty determined to make this work.
Perry: I think you can transfer a lot of that information over there. The fact remains that business is business. There are differences between a B2B or a business to business. Brighter Vision is a business to business business. We sell to other businesses. Therapists are B2C or business to consumers. So if you’re educating yourself you’re going to want to read books generally speaking on B2C, business to consumer. How do you reach your target consumers. And reading business books, getting coaching, all that is so key to learning how to market yourself properly. And hearing your story from five years ago being a generalist and shutting that practice down and opening up a new one to that’s very niche focused, and then seeing your practice explode, you clearly got some good training and educated yourself really well. And now you know how to market yourself.
Stephanie: Well, it took a lot of research and distillation and trying what works and what doesn’t work. I can remember money I’ve spent on advertising that produced absolutely zero results.
Perry: What were one of those times? What’s something that you’ve spent money on that got zero results for you?
Stephanie: Okay, I can’t remember the name of it right now but it was a kind of– I guess it was like a localized cellphone marketing where they would bring up like a little notice and one of those little ads. And this was few years ago so it’s probably lot less sophisticated than they have it now. It was just very general focused. It wasn’t like you were on Facebook and you can talk to your ideal clients and know that you’re reaching your demographic with just like, “Hey, let me put this money out.” I don’t think it was a ton of money but I just thought in my head, “Oh, I’m getting in front of all these people. They’re going to turn into clients.” And I think that was before I was specializing. I think it was right around the time I decided, “Hey, this is dumb, maybe I should specialize.”
Perry: It certainly makes it easier to market yourself that way.
Stephanie: Exactly. Because I want to be– I see a lot of newer therapist entrepreneurs doing things like that where they’re just thinking about getting volume, getting in front of a lot of people and I don’t think in our business that works as well as having a unique selling proposition and getting in front of the people that your people trust or are your people, if that makes sense. So maybe the parents or friends, or siblings of your people. Maybe they’re spiritual leaders but you don’t want to just get in front of Joe Friday because he’s doing something else. Completely different thought on his mind on therapy.
Perry: So then let’s take the flip side of that. What do you feel was the single best marketing move that you’ve made for your practice and why do you feel like it’s worked so well for you?
Stephanie: Well, I was trying to think of a specific example I can show you when I was thinking about talking today, but the bottom line I kept coming up with when I was thinking about what’s the best thing I’ve ever done to my practice was really just getting in to the numbers. Looking at, okay, what I need to make to break even, what I need to make to get a return on my investment. For each marketing dollar I spend what do I need to get back to either break even or to ideally make lots and lots of return on that, so that I can just focus on doing my clinical work instead of focusing on more of that. That’s kind of how I developed some of the resources on my website like the Private Practice Income Blueprint which is a free gift I have on my website because it’s just about if you know the numbers then you know exactly how much you need to charge for a client, exactly how much you can spend and still get a return in your lifetime client value or pet store value as some people call it, which is generally the amount of money that any given client will bring in for you. So if I say six sessions of 100 dollars, that’s 600 dollars, whatever the case may be. But if you know your numbers then you can get marketing results with any method that makes sense. Does that explanation make sense?
Perry: That explanation makes perfect sense to me. You’re certainly speaking my language and I think it probably would make a lot of sense to people listening. But let’s dive deeper into this, to give what you said full justice because there’s a lot of great information there. So lifetime value or LTV. What is every new client worth to you, to your business. Some clients will only come and see you once. Some will see you three times. Some might stick around for one, two, three, four years. Depends on your, depends on your practice, depends on your specialty. One thing that I’ve actually struggled with Brighter Vision is we’ve been doing this– We really hit our stride at ACA in 2015. Even though we’ve been doing this for almost two years now we really hit our stride in about a year and change ago. So one thing we always struggled with is, well, what is our lifetime value? You have to estimate that. So for a therapist listening now who is just getting started, or even someone who’s listening now but hasn’t really been tracking this data, how would you recommend that they go about estimating what a lifetime value is for a new client?
Stephanie: Well, keeping it as most simple as possible because of course there’s a lot of variables, I would look at what kind of your average hourly return is. And when I say that, that’s not just what you charge but what you charge minus any credit card processing fees, any rental costs. You can divide that by your number of clients you see with your monthly rent, however you want to do it. But you have to take into account any of those costs and eventually any kind of marketing cost that got them there may be valuable as well. That sounds really intimidating but it doesn’t have to be too bad because you might just look at it and say, “Okay, let me take off 10 or 15 dollars from my charge rate to what I’m going to estimate is my value that I’m taking home.” So you come up with this number for one hour. That’s the first step. And then you think about what’s the average length of time your clients are going to stay with you. I found a good general rule is that private paid clients are harder to obtain but they stay longer, in my experience with the clients I worked with and therapists. Coaching clients I worked with and their practices, I’ve seen that to be the case. Insurance clients may be a little bit less cost to obtain but from what I’ve seen they tend to stay a little bit less time and maybe not come to that first session quite as often as the private pay client. So take that into account. Maybe you say, okay, I’m going to look at my last ten longer terms or maybe longer than twice private pay clients or insuring clients or whatever the case may be and look at the average. How many times do they came? Was it usually– Maybe we can say they came at least five times or at least eight times. Even if they had some breaks in there, but over the last such and such months, that’s when they came in that number of times. I gave a lot of details in that explanation but the bottom line is getting hourly estimate and estimate number of hours that they come, and then you have your own lifetime customer value.
Perry: Love it. And then you can know, “Okay, if my lifetime value of a customer is, let’s just say, 1000 dollars, I have to make sure that I’m spending less than a 1000 dollars to get a client.” If you’re spending more than a 1000 you’re going to be out of business sure.
Stephanie: That’s called bad return investment.
Perry: Exactly. But the other thing to remember is just because your lifetime– And this might be relating back to the eight to nine months thing as well. So let’s just say your lifetime value is 800 dollars. It’s going to take time for you to recoup that 800 dollars from every new client. So you’re going to be spending more money to acquire clients in the beginning and it will still take you that eight months– Well, actually fewer than eight months. I guess it depends how often you’re seeing someone but basically it’s going to take more time for you to recapture that full lifetime value. So remember that when you’re looking at your numbers as well that it sort of has a J-shaped curve to it. A capital J, where you’re starting at the start of the J on the left hand side and it’s going to dip down in terms of your ROI, you’re going to spend more. But eventually you’re going to recapture what you’ve spent at certain point. And then it’s going to go up and all that is profit above that, that medium mind where you started. Just remember that everybody listening to this. And this is just such great advice Stephanie, I hop everybody– People, if they’re not listening to this with pen and paper are going to have come back and re-listen to this with pen and paper because this is business 101 for therapists out there, and understanding how to build a real thriving private practice by knowing your numbers.
Stephanie: Yeah, I like the way you explain it. This is why I love talking to technical people because I’m a little bit of the artistic side of the brain, that with the logic side out of necessity. But you got that technical explanation down perfectly. I love that J image. I think that’s a very useful application that people can use.
Perry: We should publish a little like a blog post or white paper about it on what that J-curve really is. And that just I sort of made up on the spot there but I think it’s very accurate in terms of how private practice life cycle client would look. You know your number really well, Stephanie, and you’ve been able to determine what your average session rate should be. Would you mind sharing with our audience what your average–? You already shared your journey to it but what is your current session rate to see a client?
Stephanie: Well, my current session rate is– I start at my flat rate is 125 and hour and I have a small slide of the scale arranged down from there. So not a sliding scale down to– I think the lowest I’ve gone so far is 90 for certain situations. So that I average at least a 100 take home per client. In the difference of the people who are going to get– I get there to have that evened out. So that’s how I can estimate how I can keep track of my numbers because I know between that low end and that high end, that’s how I get there. The explanation where I got that number came from market research which I just find this weird nerd love even though I’m not usually a numbers person. But it’s basically just researching what’s normal in your area. Now, I started out– When I reinvented my practice I was in Dallas, so I saw people on the high end 150 or 200 an hour, on the low end 60 to 80 an hour. And I was like, “You know, from my experience and my specialty this is kind of in the middle.” And I also gave myself a little wiggle room based on income for the sliding scale, and that seems to be working really well for me. Well, I’ll just say it’s transferred well to Fort Worth because I’ve been in Fort Worth kind of for almost a year now, at the time we’re recording this. And it’s that numbers fit in pretty well so I’ll probably test it in five or six months and see if it’s time to adjust that or keep it going.
Perry: And how did you do your market research? Has someone just sort of pulled numbers out of the hat or is looking to redo their pricing, how would you recommend that they go about researching their– Doing some marketing research to find out good price for their area and their specialty and experience?
Stephanie: Well, what I did– And some people may have a different experience but for me Psychology Today has been a really good kind of barometer of other therapists. And they have this handy teacher of having the therapists list their prices. So what I did was I went to my Zip codes because you get most of the zip codes you’re practicing, so I compared myself to my– I hate the word competitors because I think we’re all unique, but my competitors for lack of a better word, in my area. And took their high end and their low end and really just did the numbers and did the old fashioned multiply and average it out, divide and average it out. And that’s the number I came pretty close to. I mean, I think it was like– It wasn’t exactly 125, it was probably either 123 or 127 or something.
Perry: So exactly 125. Hahaha.
Stephanie: That would be nice, that would be really poetic but it was close enough and I was like, this is kind of a good clean number that seems to make sense. And I compared it to– And it’s also when it really highlighted for me at that same time, that nobody else was seeing teenagers with anxiety. Because I was looking all these other profiles and all these other therapists and their operation.
Perry: Perfect. Stephanie, there has been just so much value here and I hope people have a pen and paper out or are going to re-listen to this with pen and paper because we got to be taking notes. Stephanie has shared so much value and advice here that’s really going to help any therapist in private practice grow their business. Market themselves properly and figure out their numbers. Alright, Stephanie. Now we’re going to move into the final part of our interview. The part we like to refer to as Brighter Insights. What I really love about this part is before we gave so much detailed information but there is a lot there, a lot to digest. Now what we get to do is distill down your advice into quick little sound bites and just little blurbs that people can use to inspire and motivate them throughout the week. Are you ready?
Stephanie: I think so.
Perry: What or whom inspired you to become a mental health professional?
Stephanie: Well, probably in common with a lot of other people. I had that moment when people were coming up to me and talking to me about things they were going through. For me it was my freshman year of college. I had girls in my dorm coming up and telling me random things about trauma they’ve been through, boyfriend problems, test anxiety, learning issues. And these were not just girls I was friends with but girls that just kind of sought me out, and I realized how significant it felt to be able to be a part of supporting them through that. And I really wanted to learn how to actually do a good job with that in addition to trying to listen and be there for them, but also to take it to the next level. So I think that was my turning point.
Perry: Ironically, college again.
Stephanie: I know.
Perry: Working with people in those same issues.
Stephanie: Yeah, it’s just such a time of transition, so much is happening, so much is changing about your personality maybe. That’s where it all started with my fascination with that time in your life.
Perry: What is it that you do to clear your head and get a fresh start in your day?
Stephanie: Well, it’s really two things. One’s spiritual and one’s practical. One is just praying and kind of connecting to your, my higher calling, because that helps me remember what I am and I’m not capable of. I am not God and I don’t have to try to be. And that’s really freeing sometimes because we all feel so responsible for our clients. We just– In a very healthy way, I think, we love them to death. We want them to succeed. So you have to have that barrier of, “This is what I’m capable of and that’s all I can do.” I think to remain sane and to be effective as you can be. That’s kind of the emotional spiritual side of it. And the practical side of it is just keeping lists. I have mounds of yellow notepads, legal pads, everywhere and I’m also starting using outs and Google Docs to keep notes but it’s really important to keep notes and stay organized. Because when you’re an entrepreneur everything is your job. Everything is important and if I can write it down, cross it off the list and go, “Okay, this one I can wait on.” Because you have to do that sometimes and just go, “I can’t do this. This is not important. This has to wait and this has to be done today.” So that helps me get organized and make sure I don’t forget something very important.
Perry: Are you a ‘pen and paper list’ person or do you like using an application for that?
Stephanie: Honestly, I’m moving more towards the application just because my hand gets cramped up from writing so much but I prefer the pen and paper if as always my hand doesn’t give out because, I don’t know, there’s just something very grounding about being able to cross it out and all that stuff. But I also got a note phone so that helps.
Perry: Haha. A note phone, is that a brand of phone or is it made–? Tell me about that? I’m just not iPhone guy.
Stephanie: Yeah, it’s the Galaxy Note phone. It’s one of those where it has a little stylist in it and you can actually write notes on the go.
Perry: That’s pretty cool.
Stephanie: That’s about half the reason I got it, because I like the physical act of writing.
Perry: There you go, nicheing again within a product. Getting back to technology, what are some tools that you’ve used to leverage the power of technology in your private practice so that technology is no longer a hurdle but instead an asset for you?
Stephanie: I love technology as assets. There’s so many different things but I think the biggest thing is having a really good practice management system that you trust.
Perry: And which is the one that you used?
Stephanie: I use counsel.com/ I’ve been using them for years and years and just found them to be very excellent at listening to therapists and giving tools that work. So I have the extension that does the online counseling part of it. So that helps me make sure I can see clients when they’re out of town and potentially retain clients with my habit of moving all the time that I’m hopefully done with, for now. It helps me keep those clients long term and then even if you don’t use the online counseling the practice management part helps you have paperless office which is just so awesome. So I have one file of client signature stuff that I tried to scan and upload. I tried once a month realistically, it’s the end of month because I put it off but after you upload them you can shred them and really have a paperless system because they have all their forms online. You get automatic appointment reminders, so it’s like having a secretary.
Perry: That’s nice.
Stephanie: That’s really nice because I couldn’t afford a secretary or the health care as much as it would be fun to have one to do that. And just practical things like tracking the billing or like I can click on any client if maybe a third party is paying for their session and I can see we’re there out with that and who I need to call the follow-up with. It’s just very helpful.
Perry: It makes your life simpler, right?
Stephanie: It does.
Perry: So Stephanie, what’s a quote that you hold near and dear? Something that has helped formulate your perspective on life or has inspired, motivated, or provided guidance for you?
Stephanie: Well, I thought about this for a while and I decided that the quote that mattered the most in my business was the quote by Milton Berle that says, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” So I really like the idea that our power is in our own hands. Really all the quotes that I tend to like are about self-efficacy because I think that’s the core of entrepreneurship. You make your own opportunities. This is your business. If you wanted a job you would have had a job. You wanted to create your own business, you wanted something that fulfilled you, that stimulated you creatively, that makes you want to explore new creativity. It’s just go for it, don’t let anything hold you back. And looking at that helps me remember that.
Perry: Stephanie, if you could recommend one book to our audience, what would that book be and why?
Stephanie: I read a bunch of books. So pretty much for any topic feel free to message me and we’ll talk about a book I can recommend but I think the number one was the purple cow book by Seth Godin. It’s called ‘Purple Cow: Transform your business by being remarkable’. And it kind of is about that unique selling proposition we’ve talked about. Because basically the concept is what do you remember? Do you remember a black and white cow or a brown cow? No, but you’ll remember a purple cow because it’s going to stand out and make your business remarkable. And I think that’s something we can all remember is that we have the power to make our counseling practices remarkable, stand out, and change our client’s lives because we have the opportunity to get there.
Perry: Perfect. And Stephanie, I’m sure our last question you have a great answer too, and have a bit of an advantage over everybody else. If you moved to a new city tomorrow, you didn’t know anybody and all that you had was your computer and 100 dollars to start a new private practice, what is it that you would do on your very first day?
Stephanie: My very first day I think I really would develop my unique hook, my unique selling proposition and would just make a list of ways to get that message out there. So you have your hook, “This is what I do that’s unique.” And you find people that care if you do that unique thing you talk to them. You create a webpage and a handout about that unique thing that you do and send people there. You ask people to call you and talk about this unique thing. And there’s many, many ways you can develop all of those avenues but that’s where I would start.
Perry: Fantastic, and Stephanie, I know you have some special free giveaway for our audience, is that right?
Stephanie: Yes. I like to give practical tools to make people who are afraid of numbers feel comfortable and feel like it’s doable. So I have the Private Practice Income Blueprint and that’s basically a worksheet video and spreadsheet tools. Whichever way it works for you, you can use that kind of way of developing it. It helps you pinpoint the exact financial needs of your private practice so that you can set your hourly rate, determine how many hours you need to work and more. Basically it will take into account your income, your office expenses and everything. And it just really helps you pinpoint your needs so you know what you got to do. So that’s at myobcounselor.com/getfreeblueprint/ All one word.
Perry: And we’ll have the links to this everybody in this week’s show notes, of course, at brightervision.com/session18/ Stephanie, anything else that our audience should know about you or places they should go to learn more about you?
Stephanie: Well, I would invite anyone who is interested in private practice and wants to find out more to visit my website Myobcounselor and get connected to our Facebook group through there, since we have a lot of really great people that like to support other counselors in private practice. And similarly, I have a group for new counselors, for student counselors and graduate students. So if the supervisor is listening and you have a student interning that you think could use a community, you can find that at beginningcounselor.com/ and join us there in that private Facebook group. Basically, we’re all about community and that’s what I’d love people to take away here. To come and let’s find some friends for you in your area.
Perry: Fantastic. Again Stephanie, Thank you so much for your time. And everyone listening, show notes this week, brightervision.com/session18/ Stephanie, again thank you so much for your time, your expertise, and your knowledge. We appreciate all the great advice that you provided and the therapist experience that you have shared. Thanks again.
Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me and to everyone for listening.
Perry: Thank you so much for tuning in today. If you have a question for us please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and of course, if you’re interested in launching a website reach out to us. Brighter Vision is the worldwide leader in custom therapist website design. For less than two dollars a day you’ll get a website that’s as unique as your practice. That markets you according to your unique selling proposition. Receive unlimited technical support and complementary SEO so people can find you online. Head on over to brightervision.com to learn more. That does it for today. Thank you so much for listening and we will see you next week.