I’m someone who has ignored expert business advice. I’ve always been aware that I don’t follow the conventional, expert wisdom for how to grow a practice or make online sales.
I don’t position myself as the expert, or my products as better than other peoples.’ I don’t make tons of sales pitches, I price things lower than what folks suggest.
The list goes on and on for all the ways I don’t follow conventional wisdom.
And truthfully, I used to feel pretty sheepish about this. I thought I was doing everything “wrong,” but I did it so that my marketing strategy would better align with my values as a human and not just a business owner interested in my bottom line.
But as it turns out, my strategy also worked. In fact, it works really well.
I’m Proud That I Don’t Follow The Experts
And so rather than feel quiet and sheepish about doing everything the “wrong” way, I think it’s better if I own it and share it, so that other folks can feel empowered to create a business both that aligns with their values and that also pays the bills.
So in this article, I’ll give an overview of the various ways I intentionally ignored conventional marketing advice, how I approach it differently, and why I think these deviations are actually benefiting my bottom line after all.
Expert Advice Made Me Feel Uncomfortable
When I first started developing private practice skills, I consumed a whole lot of educational content about growing a successful online business.
And I’ll be honest, my initial feeling was that I needed to accept and swallow some of the practices that I felt slimy about in order to be able to make income. Because, I thought that if I just did it however I wanted, no one would be interested in what I had to say.
But turns out, I’m just too sensitive to stomach doing things that feel slimy.
At the time, I felt like that might have been more of a weakness. But in retrospect, I’m learning that may have been more of a strength.
It has allowed me to create a life where I work very part-time, feel good about the work that I put out there, and also earn more income now than when I used to work more than 40 hours a week.
Expert Advice That I Ignored
Here are the ways I intentionally ignored expert business advice about running a business:
1) You need to position yourself as the “expert”
- The truth is, I am definitely not an expert in anything.
- I know that I am a good therapist, but would not call myself an expert in my areas of speciality. The same goes for my business, Private Practice Skills. I know a fair amount about private practice but I am not an expert.
- Claiming I’m an expert is really disingenuous and creates a power dynamic that I don’t want to lean into.
- I would rather be the person who says, “I see what you’re going through and want to walk alongside you” vs “Here’s how I’m positioned to help you.”
2) You need to present yourself as better than you are
- I think it’s fair to say that I try to bring the best version of me to the content I create on YouTube and to my therapy sessions.
- But, I don’t try to pretend that I’m better or more expert or more “together” than I actually am.
- That inauthenticity wears on you over time.
- Plus, I don’t think it serves the people that I am trying to help.
3) You need to continuously scale up your influence and income.
- Let me be clear: in my opinion, there is nothing inherently wrong with scaling up your income or your business in various ways.
- But, there also has to be a sense of why you’re scaling things up. And if your reason why is simply because it’s what successful businesses do, then it’s going to create an environment for greed.
- And leveraging greed as a motivator only causes destruction in the long run.
- If you have an income point that you want to hit in order to be able to lean into other values, go for it.
- And then, either let that be enough, or create bigger values to accommodate your desire to scale bigger.
- So for example, I hit my income goals a couple of years ago, so I’m now looking to scale up my audience size so I can create more affordable and free offerings.
- It’s also allowed me to hold a larger range in my sliding scale for private practice folks, and go longer in between raising my rates.
- So my desire to scale up is not motivated by just having more, but instead by doing something greater and more meaningful.
- And, if I preferred not to scale at all, that’s also totally awesome. There is beauty and privilege in being satisfied with having enough.
4) You need to work on your business, not in your business.
- Here’s the thing: some of my favorite parts about both of my businesses is all the working in my business that I do.
- I love being the person that potential clients reach out to in their first email and in the initial phone screen. I love seeing therapy clients.
- I don’t want to delegate those things out because all of those things are my favorite parts about what I do. If I delegated them out, I could increase my income, but I also would like my job less. And I value the privilege of being able to do what I love.
- Same with Private Practice Skills. I love editing videos. If I delegated that out, I’d free up about 10 hours a week. If I paid someone to edit, I would open up so much more income potential. But I love editing videos. It’s meditative and creative and simple. And I’m not even that expert at it, I just enjoy it. So I keep doing it.
I’m A Human Not An Expert
I think if I can sum up the general process that is happening here, I think there is a general movement towards decolonization of business as well as therapy.
Yes, there are things I have specialized training and knowledge in. But, I’m also human. I also experience countertransference. Sometimes my kids keep me up at night and I’m tired. Sometimes devastating life events happen and interrupt everything.
And so, in addition to my training and skills, I have to accept that I am imperfect. Which we all are!
And therefore, I’m on the same page as my clients. I’m on the same page as anyone thinking about buying one of my private practice trainings. And I’m on the same page as you reading this article. The human page. Where we ultimately, underneath all the other stuff, are human.
If I forget that, then I’m in danger of elevating myself or my knowledge as above others’.
And that is incredibly dangerous and harmful. And also, it’s simply not accurate.
I Think We All Want Authenticity
I’m lucky enough that ignoring expert business advice has really worked well for my businesses, but I think it’s a testament to how much society is moving towards a desire for authenticity and equality.
Maybe we’re tired and jaded from learning from “experts” who let us down and we prefer to learn from folks who acknowledge their humanness.
Hopefully you feel encouraged to represent yourself authentically in whatever it is that you do – whether it’s running your own practice, consulting with a colleague, or engaging with a loved one.
We don’t have to hide who we are in order to find success. Rather, if we embrace who we are and show that to the world, not only does it help us emotionally, but it might just also help us achieve our goals.
Do You Feel The Same?
If this article resonated with you, you may also appreciate my article on why I ditched hustle culture.
I also have a video where I explore the question: Can A Therapist Be Authentic With Clients?
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well.