It wasn’t too long ago that if I heard someone talk about spending money to grow your private practice, I would practically gag. I am the QUEEN of being frugal. On the weekends you can find me perusing the clearance rack of the local thrift store looking for my next outfit. I am legitimately allergic to spending full price.
And maybe that sounds like a good thing. Spend less money, save more money, right?
Unfortunately, this was another one of those lessons that I’ve had to learn the hard way. So in this article, I’ll share some of the mistakes I made being too frugal in my practice and offer some tools to help you understand where it really makes sense to spend a little money in order to grow your private practice.
How Spending too Little won’t Help Grow Your Practice
Here are just a few of the reasons why spending too little can cause problems when it comes to growing your practice.
(spoiler alert: I’ve made ALL of these mistakes!)
1. You shop around for the cheapest price…and then you get what you paid for
I have made this mistake more than once. When I was ready to take my DIYed website to the next level, I wanted help from a professional designer. I saw the $5,000+ price tag most designers offered and scoffed.
Imagine my relief when I found someone who told me they could do it for $600. What a steal!
Fast forward six months: the designer completely ditched me. He actually ghosted me. He stopped returning my messages and basically disappeared, leaving me with a half designed website.
So take it from me: shopping for the cheapest price is NOT always a win, and it’s certainly not likely to help you grow your practice.
2. You wind up DIYing things that you’re not equipped to handle
So naturally, after this web designer ghosted me you’d think I would have learned my lesson and sprung for a more expensive designer to fix it, right?
That is where you’d be wrong.
Instead, I tried to clean up the mess the designer left behind by DIYing it myself. Having no knowledge of what I was doing. Using WordPress for the first time without any prior education.
I gave it my best. I gave it my all. But on several occasions, I ended up breaking my site, making the mess much worse, and generally feeling stressed and frustrated with myself.
So take it from me: DIYing things you’re not equipped to handle may save you money in the short term, but it’s not likely to grow your private practice.
3. You miss opportunities to speed up your growth and increase your income
As a result of sheer determination and being too proud to admit defeat to my frugal nature, I hung in there and I spent tens and hundreds of hours investing in learning how to create my own website.
Did I get there eventually? Yes. Am I kind of savvy now on how to create a website that grows my practice? Yes.
Guess how long it took me to get there:
Literally. Two plus years of grueling work.
If from the beginning I paid $5,000 upfront and had a designer build an awesome website for me, I could have leveraged that amazing website from the beginning to GROW my practice. Rather than waiting over two years to get the ball rolling on my growth, I could have gotten there in a matter of months and potentially filled up my practice.
Think about it: even if I only got one extra client each month from having the professionally designed site ready quickly, I would have made that $5,000 back within just a few months.
Take it from me: spending money in the right places not only can grow your practice, but it winds up saving you money in the long run because you’ve made an investment that you will earn back many times over.
How Shifting your Money Mindset can Help Grow Your Practice
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Lindsay Bryan-Podvin of Mind Money Balance on her podcast. She is the queen of shame-free money mindsets. She helped me really dig into my frugal tendencies and name how some of my not-so-helpful stubborn money mindsets are rooted in my childhood experiences.
It was a great episode! We got to talk about how being too frugal has not always served me well, how spending as little as possible isn’t the same as managing your money, and we even touched a little bit on travel hacking! You can check out the podcast episode here: Marie Fang Overcomes Frugality
You can also have a listen right here if you prefer:
What Kinds of Spending can Grow Your Private Practice?
Now I’m not advocating that you throw down money every which way and spend on everything you can. Not at all. That would just create more problems. So how do you determine what kinds of spending can help grow your practice?
1. Know your goals
Part of the reason why folks can tend to overspend on too many categories is often related to a lack of direction.
To illustrate this point, let’s say you plan to remodel your house. But, what if you don’t have a sense of your goals for how you’re going to use the space?
You might then just remodel every single thing in your house to upgrade it, but in the end, it still might not be of great use to you. It may have also come at a pretty hefty price tag.
But let’s say instead that your goal is to be able to host a fun party where guests have space to interact, eat food, and play games. Then maybe you might focus your remodeling budget on your kitchen, dining, and living spaces. And you may not need to upgrade every single thing, you may just need to shift your layout a bit and add a few key upgrades to make the difference.
The same goes for your practice. What are your goals – beyond simply growing your practice? Is it an important goal to have folks be able to find you without you needing to put in too much effort? Then you might find value in investing in a great website with SEO in mind and possibly investing in running ads.
Or maybe a goal of yours is to fill your practice with a specific target population. Then really think about who that person is, where they hang out, and focus on setting up systems that help you to meet them there.
2. Identify what’s needed to help you reach those goals
In our remodeling example, once you identify your goals then it’s easy to see what’s not working. If you want space for people to eat together but currently your dining area can only seat four, then it’s easy to identify the solutions needed to increase your dining space. You might also consider hiring a contractor to help you see what your options are such as removing walls, etc.
Similarly, when you know your goals for growing your practice, it’s easier to identify where things aren’t aligning with those goals. If you want your website to generate enough leads to fill your practice but you only receive one inquiry a month, you might consider investing in education on building a profitable website (I have a course for that – click here to check it out!) or hiring a professional to take care of that for you. Name your problem areas first, and that will help you identify where to focus your spending.
3. Create a budget and prioritize your biggest needs first
To use our home remodeling example again, let’s say you identified that you want to tear out a few walls to expand your kitchen, dining, and family room spaces. But on closer look, you only have the budget to do one of those things. It’s SUPER important to identify that before you invite the contractor in for demo, only to run out of funds partway through.
Name your budget, see what from your list fits into that budget, and if needed, prioritize one or two items to invest in now based on your funds. You may need to space out your investments in your practice. But if you focus your investment in the right direction, it’s going to pay off toward your goals and make it easier to continue making ongoing investments as your income increases.
If you’re a frugal person like me, then I hope this article helped validate the importance of being mindul of your budget while also investing your spending in intentional ways in order to grow your practice.
Want a little more help with starting your practice? I have a free guide for that! Check it out here to grab your free guide: Start a Private Practice in Counseling
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!