Our common friend Jo Muirhead suggested Frances and I meet. On Skype, across the country, I was floored by her experience and what Frances is up to. If you’re one of those clinicians that really struggles to get your business shit together, Frances is your woman. She’s was the director for a big counseling practice, managing the business side for the company. As the owner of My Solution Services, she is passionate about making our jobs, and thus our lives, easier so we can do what we do best. I reached out to her for a guest blog so she could explain to you guys what she does and what’s possible for your practice.
Some of you know you need to reach out for help with this stuff… Maybe you’re dropping balls, forgetting to check remittance, not collecting your fee here and there only to notice months later. Maybe you HATE voicemail or email and know you’re procrastination is costing your clients. If that’s you, stop sabotaging your business. You’ll spend less hiring help than you probably have in uncollected fees. Just sayin’. Let’s hear from Frances now as she challenges some of your resistance.
10 Myths to Bust About Using an Online Business Manager
So you have a private practice. Congratulations! That is an awesome accomplishment and should bring satisfaction to all the hard work you have put in for years. You love your practice and the knowledge you help people heal every day. This is why you worked so hard, racking up those student loans, and sacrificed hours. You went to college, you studied hard, you busted your gut getting through supervision; you just want to help people heal.
The big surprise quite often is you first need to get through the bookkeeping, the scheduling, the emails, the admin, the HIPAA compliance, the marketing, the website building and maintaining, the staff management, the recruitment, the licensing and CPD requirements and more – before you are able to do what you love!
Then you ask “Why do I feel so overwhelmed, tired, frustrated and not really enjoying my work?”
I have the answer you are looking for!
You are trying to do it all on your own – the calls, the scheduling, the marketing, the bookkeeping, the website, the notes, the billing, and… yes even the counseling. No wonder you are exhausted!! You didn’t go to school to learn how to run a business, you went to school to become a clinician. But all those mentions are critical to the growth and maintenance in order for your practice to thrive.
So what is the solution?
It’s actually quite simple. You must invest in your practice. You cannot do it all on your own – no matter how hard you try. You need an Online Business Manager. This is one who comes alongside you to ease the burden of everyday tasks and management leaving you to do what you do best!
However, I notice as I talk with hundreds of mental health professionals that there are a number of ‘myths’ about Online Business Managers and these myths aren’t helping you grow your practice as they lead to fear, uncertainty and confusion.
So, it’s time to BUST some myths.
Myth: A Virtual Assistant will do! – Online Business Manager (OBM) vs. Virtual Assistant (VA)
Truth: Today more than ever, the world of having a virtual assistant is big. Those in private practice come to the point where they realize they can’t do it all on their own and they need help. However, most cannot afford to hire an ‘employee’ or a business manager and if you could; where would you put them?
First, let’s define a Virtual Assistant and an Online Business Manager, and then let’s understand how they are different.
Virtual Assistant (VA): provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.
Online Business Manager (OBM): self-employed – virtually based professional who manages businesses, including the day-to-day management of projects, operations, team members and metrics.
So we know that they are both able to provide online support. The difference? The VA does “tasks” and assists; while the OBM “manages” and runs part or all of your business.
For example: The VA can answer calls and schedule intake and handle admin work; whereas the OBM is responsible for setting up new clients, training, overseeing, handling and solving problems or questions beyond the knowledge of the VA. Often, the OBM has a team of VA’s working with them to handle your admin tasks.
Myth: You don’t hire a Business Manager because of where you are, you hire one because of where you want to be.
Truth: If you are under the impression that you can only hire an OBM when you reach a certain level of clients or financial status in your practice, you have missed the point all together. The OBM is what will allow you to grow and get to where you want to be. Investment in your business will bring growth. Your OBM should offer packages of service that will allow for growth as you go. The key is to JUST DO IT and get started, even if it is a small amount of hours. How do you climb a mountain?
Myth: It’s unaffordable
Truth: Really?? Ok, let’s talk numbers.
Say your fee per session is $150. But you are spending 10-15 hours a month doing all the ‘tasks’ or ‘management’ of the practice outside the therapy room. That means you’re potentially spending up to $2200 doing “other” things besides psychotherapy, spending time with your family or doing self-care!
Now, if that equation hasn’t convinced you, then seriously who could pay $150 per hour for support services? You wouldn’t now would you?… well that’s essentially what you are paying yourself. This time can be put to better use…like opening up more appointments for clients and bringing IN that $150!
If I could give you an extra 10-15 hours a month, what would you do with it?
Myth: But first, let me get everything organized!
Truth: The truth is, if I had done this in my business I would still be “organizing” instead of moving forward, growing and getting closer to my goals! While there is truth to this on “some” occasions, it is NOT the norm! The OBM you are going to hire will be the one who gets you organized.
Myth: I can’t let go – I will lose control and nobody can do it like I do
Truth: So you have a control issue? I understand; after all I have been known to be a control ‘freak” myself. It’s hard to let someone else be responsible for your business. However, you are only 1 person and have only so much capacity before you will start throwing up – or shutting down! So the sooner you come to terms with this the sooner you will be on your way to growing your business.
You didn’t go to school, acquire student loans, and get a degree, to become licensed to be a business manager. YOU ARE A THERAPIST. You should be asking yourself when doing business tasks “should I be doing this task?”
T.E.A.M. = Together Everyone Achieves More.
Myth: If I hire an Online Business Manager I won’t be meeting HIPAA regulations
Truth: OBM’s have to know this stuff inside out and upside down. If we don’t know this and can’t create a business within this context; then we have no right being in the business we are in.
It is my goal to support your growth and your practice – please know being in the mental health industry for over 10 years I understand and take HIPAA and all its clauses very seriously.
SO then this MYTH is really easy – for me to work with a therapist like you, I would first ask that we develop in writing a contract, in the form of a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) which includes mutual obligations under the Act. This is something you really should make sure is in place with any third party supplier you are working with in your practice.
Myth: An online business manager can do all of my marketing for me
Truth: Are you crazy or just haven’t had your coffee yet? LOL… ok seriously folks! Marketing is one thing you definitely have to be a part of; in fact, it’s really dangerous for you to completely give over your marketing to someone else. Over the years of talking to hundreds – maybe thousands – of therapists there is one thing I know, most therapists hate marketing and would rather dig trenches.
But here’s what you need to know. Marketing is really ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS! So if you reframe your perspective and think about it as “just talking to people” it will become much easier for you. You have hope to give your clients, the promise of healing, they are looking for hope and healing, you just need to let them know you are there!
“You Don’t Build a Business. You Build People and then People Build Your Business.”
~ Zig Ziglar
Myth: I don’t have time to train someone, I’m too busy
Truth: If you invest in the right OBM, you should not have to train. One of the questions I get a lot in my consultations are “but will you do it the way I’ve been doing it? Will I have to “train” you?
The answer to those questions are Yes and NO. Yes, when I work with you, I will use your programs, your system, your ideas, etc. After all it is YOUR practice right? And then NO, because of my expertise, there is almost no learning curve, and if there is a small one, I do most of the work in training myself or my team. In fact, there are several things I do better than the clinician themselves. 😉
The one who will manage the business side of your practice should know your industry and know it well. There will be a small amount of logistical setup, but it should be a smooth and easy transition since they know what they are doing. If not, that should be a red flag to you!
Myth: I need to feel in control of my whole life before I can hire you so my business can continue without life’s interruptions getting in the way
Truth: Now, I can forgive you for thinking I just made this myth up – but I assure you I did not. I hear this time and time and time again. Its crazy talk am I right?
We all have trials, challenges and interruptions in life so this is understandable that you feel that way. News Flash: you ALWAYS will have challenges and trials. Unfortunately, there will never be a time in your life where everything is perfect and easy. It’s kind of like having children. People say “when we get everything done and in order and ready, then we will have kids.” So the truth is, that if we wait until there are no life interruptions, we will never have kids.
Myth: I have friends and family who can do this for me
Truth: Simply – You get what you pay for.
It’s even similar to those seeking counseling who are looking for someone with a specialty yet they don’t want to invest in the best fit – so they ‘settle’. I am sure you can relate to that conversation.
Think about it for a minute. Let’s say you want to dine at the finest restaurant, maybe even The Ritz Carlton, but you are only willing to pay the price for a dinner at McDonald’s. Many of us wouldn’t hesitate to spend a good chunk of change on a superior pair of shoes now would we? You really do get what you pay for and even possibly risk losing a friend or straining a family relationship going down this path. Whenever I have tried to cut corners and let friends and family help, it has always ended unfinished, horrible or just not what I wanted.
Invest in your practice, invest in YOU. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
I trust I have busted these 10 myths about investing and hiring an Online Business Manager. Maybe there is a “myth” you have that I did not address? I would be happy to have a conversation and together we can bust it so we can get you and your practice moving in the right direction of growth, thriving and give you back “more time to do what you do best.”
Frances is an Online Business Manager for Clinicians and founder of My Solution Services – bringing guidance and hope to clinicians around the world. If you would like more information or are ready to schedule a consultation, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.mysolutionservices.com.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.