Despite logging in several decades as a psychotherapist, it has always surprised me to encounter other clinicians who did not aspire to be in private practice, who preferred the structures, safety, and confines of agency work -- which I acknowledge says more about me than them. Of course, there is much to be said for a steady paycheck and the relief from needing to market for clients.
Established mental health centers, hospital behavioral health departments, addiction treatment facilities, and other such opportunities for being employed with steady case loads is an attractive option for many licensed therapists. It's a near necessity for the newly graduated who need to rack up hours for licensure exams.
Plus, not everyone in private practice has a solopreneur mindset.
The solopreneur mindset is perhaps best described as an attitude of independence. It is the condition of doing one's best work when having the ability to make one's own rules while still adhering to stellar ethics and personal integrity. It is such independence that is the necessary requirement for being able to thrive.
Where an entrepreneur is intent on developing a service or product that eventually becomes business that employ others, a solopreneur is typically a one-person business that outsources some tasks to other independent contractors. Psychologists in private practice might pay a billing manager or social media guru for routine monthly work, for example, but those helpers aren't considered employees of the psychologist.
More often than not, though, the solopreneur is a do-it-yourselfer in an effort to keep operating costs to the barest minimum. This requires a considerable learning curve about the various aspects of running a business, such as accounting, marketing, record keeping, and regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR.
The Solopreneur Mindset
You don't have to be an extrovert to be a solopreneur, although there can be certain advantages when it comes to networking and building referral sources. Other extroverted traits that may be helpful as a solopreneur are:
ability to talk to anyone anywhere at anytime about your work
comfort giving presentations
energized by networking meetings
possible ability to take more risk
willingness to build a team of allies
outgoing personality exudes self confidence
may be able to shamelessly self-promote
Read up on Getting Clients Like an Extrovert
But the introvert may have some advantages as well, such as:
higher tendency to plan and organize work and marketing efforts
may manage marketing budget for maximum use
quiet determination to succeed and self-reflect
assess opportunity costs and know when to say no
better at web-based marketing strategies
gravitate to social media or info products /blogging
out of the box thinking /problem solving
Read up on Getting Clients Like an Introvert
How Having a Solopreneur Mindset Helps Attract Clients
The key to all client attraction is to stand out from the crowd. Clinicians and others with one-person businesses who attempt to blend in with the crowd, who strive to emulate their mentors, or fear the disapproval of colleagues, unnecessarily add more burden to their marketing efforts. The end result is that you use methods that are not authentic to who you are, and that tends to impair marketing efforts and results.
While there are certainly some marketing methods that everyone should be doing -- such as having a website, and finding a comfortable way to engage potential clients or enlist referral sources -- the way you go about this should be unique to you.
The solopreneur mindset encourages us to experiment and find out for ourselves what works and what doesn't for our own personality, energy, time, budget, and ethical boundaries -- as well as for the niche clients we want to attract. We may explore what has worked for others, but then craft our own unique path instead of trying to shoehorn their experience into our style of business management and client attraction.
The solopreneur mindset drives us to be more creative, to do something different.
For example, when I first started out as a therapist in private practice I held 2 hour sessions. The length was natural for me and clients loved it. It became a unique selling point. Admittedly, it helped that I didn't take insurance and back then many clients paid out of pocket, so I had no artificial and arbitrary time limits to adhere to.
I highlighted this in my marketing as a benefit and technique for more rapid change, and keeping overall costs lower. These were two advantages that clients wanted and couldn't get elsewhere because my competition therapists who didn't have the solopreneur mindset were unquestioningly sticking to the standard 45-50 minutes.
Suggestion: Do some deep reflection on how you operate your practice. Then ask yourself these questions:
1. What have you adapted to simply because you never dared to be different?
2. What can you do differently while still keeping good boundaries and ethics?
3. Imagine a way of working that would feel more freeing to your style and purposes, and then list the features of that way of working as advantages for the client. What does that list look like?
4. How soon will you start marketing these advantages?
Feel like you are neither extrovert nor introvert? Take a look at the Hybrid Strategies for Getting Clients.