Our careers as solo professionals go through stages and each stage has its challenges. This article highlights three of the most common challenges.
Challenge Number One – Getting Clients: Feast-or-Famine and Barely Making It Financially
As a solo professional, you originally got into your area of expertise because you love and value what you do. You started off working for others but then you realized you wanted to go solo and create a private practice (or you always knew this was what you wanted to do and knew you had to spend time paying our dues).
So, you did and you soon discovered that loving what you do and being an expert at it wasn’t enough to build a full practice. Your first challenge as a solo professional is trying to get clients, trying to get your name out there, trying to bring in the income you need.
Early on, you suffer from the feast-or-famine syndrome which goes like this: You get several leads at a time and things start looking up financially. So you concentrate on serving these clients but stop doing the things that attracted them in the first place. The next thing you know, there are no new leads coming in and it’s back to not earning enough.
The problem is that, while you were learning your area of expertise, you were never taught how to attract clients and get all the clients you need to fill your practice. You have not yet learned a system for generating a consistent flow of clients – especially the kind of clients you love to work with in your practice. The answer to this challenge of getting clients is to learn, develop and implement a simple, practical and replicable system for attracting them. This system requires you to know exactly who you want to serve, where to find them and how to communicate with them.
Challenge Number Two – Maxed Out and Burned Out
Once you develop your system and implement it consistently, you will get to the stage of having a full practice. What a pleasure this is when you finally achieve it and you are delighted at how effortless it has become! Getting clients is no longer a mystery or a struggle.
The challenge comes in you are maxed out in the number of clients you are seeing, your income has hit a plateau, your expenses are going up and there’s no other way to make more money other than seeing more clients – and this only leads to burn out.
The problem is that as long as you only provide one-on-one direct service, your income will always be limited to how many clients you can see. The answer to this challenge of maxed out and burnt out is to create additional income streams within your practice which are based on what you already know – income streams that provide leveraged or passive income.
Leveraged income is the kind of income where we maximize a direct service hour. An example of this is would be seeing a group of people rather than just one person in an hour – i.e. group coaching rather than individual coaching, group therapy rather than individual therapy. Another example of leveraged income would be teaching a workshop or doing psycho-educational classes.
Passive income is the kind of income where you create something once and then continue to earn income from what you have created over and over. A basic but well-known example of this would be writing a book, publishing it and then receiving royalties from it. A book may not be in your realm of possibility, but there are many different ways to create a product which you can sell and create passive or residual income.
Challenge Number Three – Feeling the Call to Do More Professionally but Not Sure What to Do Next
You will reach a point in your practice/business when you know you are ready to step into a bigger role. You know you have a larger message besides the work you do in direct service to your clients and you want to reach a wider audience, make a greater contribution and have a bigger impact.
This might be a leadership role, a mentoring role or a trainer of others in your profession. It may mean writing a book, becoming a speaker or a media figure. Or it may even mean taking your knowledge and expertise and applying it in an entirely new and different way and create a whole new venture. No matter what it is, it’s the next step in the evolution of your practice and it’s important to give yourself permission to play bigger.
The problem is that you may have to deal with that small voice in your head that tries to convince you to remain at the level at which you are comfortable. Or, you may have to deal with not knowing exactly what the next step will look like.
The answer to these challenges is to get guidance from someone who has already walked this path. Getting coaching can be of great value in developing a new mindset of success, in exploring the options that are right for you and determining the steps to achieve your new goal.