The day started out reasonably smoothly, with a couple of miles run around the rain-spashed streets of 'that there London' to get the blood pumping and wake me up for the day ahead, having travelled down the night before. After showering and breakfasting, I headed out to make my way to the venue with what I thought was plenty of time in hand. As I was carrying handouts, laptop etc., I grabbed a black cab for the mile or so trip to the venue, Faraday House at the University of Syracuse, London.
Now then ...
I still thought I had arrived in plenty of time, but walking in to Faraday House at 9.20, I discovered the event started not at 10, but at 9.30. Okay ... I can handle that. With the technician, I quickly got the laptop set up and started my Keynote presentation, only to find the projector enlarged everything, so it didn't quite fit the screen. Not a problem ... I can handle that. Gulping a quick coffee, I found myself launching into the day ... introducing myself, because I hadn't had time to brief Jim, who was meant to (sorry, Jim).
The audience was a mixed group of professional therapists, all with a CBT-leaning, nearly all in the first throes of thinking about working privately. Jim & Adam from the IPSIG, both with full-time practices, helped facilitate and contributed really usefully to discussions with their own experiences, but mostly I was faced with questioning, eager folk, tempted by the thought of working for themselves, but daunted by what might lie ahead if and when they dip their toe in the private therapy waters, wondering what they need to do to make this a reality and, hopefully, a success.
So I told them! The day comprised of a lot of talking at the group, because there is so much to get across, but there was also plenty of time for questions and some small paired discussion groups, where they were asked to expand on their visions for their business, their ideal clients and to set goals for what they would work to achieve in the weeks following the workshop.
One of the more interesting parts of the day was when I gave everyone a blank postcard and invited them, without sharing with their neighbours, to write down their intended hourly rate for their services, and then to pass this back to me face-down. A quick review of these showed a fairly significant range of difference, with the highest proposed rate being 4 times the lowest, with the average just below half of the highest! Interesting. I then used a spreadsheet to show how, once you set a figure as a target income for your practice, it is important to take account of all your outgoings across the year, break the working year down to actual days available for work, and use all this information (and more) to calculate a realistic hourly rate for your services to be able to achieve this ...and when the worked example came out at a figure 100% higher than the average the group had suggested, it caused quite a stir.
Now, it is important to bear other factors, such as market forces and target market, in mind too, but I think this exercise helped bring home the fact that to build a practice that will make money (that is the point, after all), you have to be realistic in your pricing strategies, or you are not going to last very long.
The second half of the day had to go ahead without the projector, as after lunch, it decided to only project a small fragment of the desktop screen, so the Keynote slides were impossible to see ... not a problem, I can handle that. Everyone had the print-off of the slides, so I was able to work through these and lead the discussions around things like practice development, marketing and staying safe in your practice. All of this generated plenty of discussion and in the end, I ran out of time, so was unable to cover all I had wanted to ... but, as everyone got copy of my ebook on Setting Up in Private Practice as part of the day, hopefully they now have this extra information at their fingertips.
I ended the session, in the run up to 5 pm, by getting everyone to take some time with their workshop-buddy to plan their next steps and set goals (and make commitments to report back on these to their buddy). This also seemed to motivate and excite the group, as there was an energy in the room at the end of a long day that was great to see.
As I made my way home to Chester on the train yesterday evening, I have to confess that I was well and truly knackered, but, given the response of the group and the enthusiasm to take things forward, I'd have to say: knackered? ... not a problem, I can handle that.
Afterword: On the train back last night, I had emailed everyone the ebook and spreadsheet, reminded them of my free newsletter, and invited them to stay in touch. When I logged into my email this morning, I was delighted to get a response from one for the group saying: