Build a Super-Successful Solo Practice

by Dr. Carrie Louise Daenell ND | Follow on Twitter

Pity the fool that thinks they can resist my passion for the work I do.

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DO WELL, so you can do more good.

“Doing well, doing good”. So goes the mantra of today’s social enterprise.

What is social enterprise? It’s a for-profit business based in the mission more commonly associated with non-profit organizations.

I see each and every Naturopathic Practice as a social enterprise. I love my colleagues, because I believe, that we are here to save the world, through health promotion. For the greater good of health for all people – I want every one of us to be wildly successful.

“We are here to save the world, through health promotion.” <– Click to Tweet

In this case, the more successful we are, the more good we do in the world, because when we help more people become more healthy, more people are capable of living their lives to the fullest and making the unique contributions they were born to make.

But where does the “more” come from?

“If you build it… they will come.” Right? Well, not necessarily.

If you build it, and market it… they will come. Then you can do all your good.

So it comes down to marketing.

What is marketing?

In its most authentic state, marketing is simply letting the world know, how you can serve them.

So let’s explore some no-tech moving into low-tech ways to let the world know, how you can serve them.

I’ll simply share what I did that helped me get the word out on the good work that I can do for people.

In the beginning, there was a desk and a chair and a bookshelf. I also had a ledger pad, a pencil and some carbon paper. Nothing fancy like a desktop computer or a copy machine.

1. Talk a lot.

I gave talks. Simple. Natural. Real. I gave talks to 50 people or 2 people. I gave talks to 1 person, more than once. I was in health food store aisles, church basements and in the back of a department store. I gave talks in living rooms.

What did I talk about? Naturopathic Medicine? No. Herbal Medicine? No. The principles? No, again. I talked about what ails people.

People care about what hurts. They want to know that you can help. The noble profession from which you hale, is mostly irrelevant to them… as unbelievable, to us, as that may seem.

So I talked about “Digestive Healing” and “Hormones”. I talked about “Cholesterol” and so on.

2. Be choosy.

After the talks, I asked people to interview for the position as my next patient. WHAT?!

I had a wide open schedule… and I was picky? You bet.

I didn’t know very much back then, it took years to develop my clinical acumen but I was good at a few things. So I interviewed patients to make certain that what ailed them fell into my wheelhouse, so to speak.

If not, I referred them on to someone else. I was also “kinda different” in their minds, because they really didn’t know what a Naturopathic Doctor was. People didn’t know what to expect when working with me. I wanted to make sure there were no surprises when people showed up so that we could make an informed choice about moving forward together. This took time.

Why did I do it? Because I had been that patient. I had been to so many people, and though my valuable resources of time and money were wasted with each false start, the more destructive thing that was going on was that I was losing hope. They call this “despair of recovery” in medicine. Perhaps, losing hope, was the most expensive thing of all, for me.

“Losing hope may be the most expensive thing in medicine”. <– TWEETABLE

Without my knowing it at the time, this turned out to be the best marketing I have ever done. Pity the fool that thinks they can resist my passion for the work I do.

Seventeen years later, I have a sign in my office that says “this is my happy place” because there is no bad day that going to work can’t fix. There is no “high” like working with someone to help them get their life back, especially when all else has failed them. <– Tweet this

There is more to those conversations though. It is within these conversations that you have the opportunity to build a reputation for integrity as a trusted resource– when you won’t take someone’s money to do something you are not sure of.

And when almost all of your patients are a wild success because you hand-chose the ones you know you can help, well guess what, business people call that referral marketing. And this is the best kind that money CAN’T buy. Because first it’s their friends and family, next thing you know it’s their primary care docs and their gynecologists and now, it is concierge docs and (gasp) gastroenterologists. The best part about this “marketing” is that it is simply taking the time and taking the high road to best serve people that reach out to you.

So that was my very humble start. Many of the core practices I put into place then, have survived to this day in my practice, or have simply been updated, automated or delegated. But some version of those simple “strategies” remain and continue to serve me, when applied methodically and consistently.

3. Be methodical and consistent.

None of these strategies are overnight practice exploders. They drive organic, incremental growth. They work, when you consistently apply them in a methodical fashion.

I can’t stress that enough. Doing something once doesn’t deliver. Neither does thinking about it! (TWEET THIS)

Now, lets move into the low-tech next steps. I call these low-tech because in this day and age everyone can access this next level (if you haven’t already done so) and I bet most of you have some version of the infrastructure from which to learn and grow.

Why did I say “learn”? Because, with technology, you must embrace constant learning no matter what level you find yourself working with. I also say “learn” because it is in the trying and the doing that you are “testing” what works and learning from what doesn’t. This is so simple, and so valuable.

“You must embrace constant learning no matter what level you find yourself working with.” <– Tweet this

4. Test and learn.

I was able to attend Dr. Bastyr’s funeral. When they talked about who he was and how he lived, I will never forget that he was a learner. Now, when I say this, you would think that I am talking about medicine, nature, midwifery, homeopathy. No… that is not what I am talking about at all. The man was a whole-person learner. He read about everything from animal husbandry to airplane mechanics. He gobbled up learning for the sake of learning. I have to wonder if being so “rounded” didn’t help make him the amazing healer that he was.

Also, may I be so bold as to suggest that even if you never learned one more clinical thing, from here out, you know so much right now and you could spend the rest of your life helping people with everything that you are today.

Eight years of formal education on the depth and breadth of the provision of natural medicine makes you an expert. A real expert. Not one of those self-proclaimed experts.

So, what if, every once in a while you spend some time learning about marketing, practice operations or websites and email technology? Because then you could use THAT knowledge to put your Naturopathic knowledge to work for more people and really make a difference. Just sayin’.

“Even if you never learned one more clinical thing, you could spend the rest of your life helping people with everything that you are today.” <– Click to Tweet

5. Build a presence.

If you don’t have a website you are going to need one.

Today, you can make it yourself. Go to SquareSpace.com and get going. Why do I love Square Space? Because it is like using your iPhone, anyone can do it.

But more importantly, your website MUST be updated regularly. Square Space is something you can update yourself. Not so much, with the ever popular Word Press. You need to keep the “keys” to this kingdom, because you probably can’t afford, or don’t want to pay someone, every time you update your website. And with Word Press, you might have to. With Square Space, you won’t. I bet there are other user-friendly do-it-yourself web site builders popping up out there, too. Move forward with one of these so you can constantly, with great ease and simplicity, update your own website.

Why update? Updating is search engine optimization. It is that simple. If you want someone to find your site, and you do, it has to show up when they search.

6. Stay top of mind.

You are going to need an email sender.

First, if you don’t have a list of email addresses for your patients you will need to start collecting them. There is no way out of this. Start now. Build from here.

Now, you can look into an email sender, which can serve, to some degree, as an automated email sender, too. Even better. What works? Constant Contact and Mail Chimp. I am sure there are others. These are the most popular and best supported. Constant Contact has been offering online and in-person training lately too.

Why is this important? Apparently in marketing they call this “farming your list”. I called it “I am chatty and excited about what I do so I like to my people all the time.”

Think about it, no one is in a better position to engage with your good work or refer someone to it than those that have already trusted you enough to work with you. Now, the task is to stay in touch with them in helpful ways. Done. Easy. Real.

Why does this matter? Because although you may be the best thing since sliced bread, and I am sure you are, sometimes people get busy, distracted and other things fill the “front of mind” space in their lives. You need to keep putting yourself back there.

The secret to making this matter is to do so by being of service. No one needs your sales pitch and I am sure you aren’t up for delivering one, but they do need to know that you are working with a new hormone protocol that is working or that you just came across an interesting study on how probiotics promote immune health in elementary age school children.

Think about it, if you are front of mind for them, and say their sister just started struggling with something you can really help with, the referral to you can save their sister the suffering and frustration of false starts and conventional bandaging of her symptoms. People need you. Help them help others to find you, so you can do your good work.

7. Keep it short and sweet.

Keep it short and sweet and try to keep it to one point. That’s hard for me. That’s hard for most of us. But not only do you not need to write an entire article, they don’t want it. Cut to the chase, a couple of sentences and some bullet points are best. If you MUST say more put it on your blog (its built into your super easy Square Space site that you built yourself and are always updating with your thoughts and discoveries) and start the article in your email and place a link back to your blog, right there in the email so that if they want to read more… they can do so “over there.”

Why is that good?

Because people going to your website is “search engine optimization”, too. Why not send them there? They are your people, after all. And your people, will help other people find your good work simply by stopping by every once in a while, they move your site up on the page in the search.

So, that’s me. No tech to low tech and enjoying the practice of my dreams. Now that you know what I do and how I do it, do something, but do it. Take action today and get the good word out on the good work you do.

About the Author
Dr. Carrie Louise Daenell ND

Carrie Louise Daenell, ND enjoys a successful solo practice that she doubled during the first year and a half of the challenged economy of 2008. She has sought to share her simple, high-integrity methods, with colleagues, since. In addition to practice, she celebrates her 22nd anniversary of servant leadership, in the Naturopathic Profession, in the fall of 2015, currently serving as a Director for the AANP and as a Trustee for Bastyr University. An author, frequent radio and TV Guest, including multiple PBS appearances, you may know Dr. Daenell as a guest professor from your classes in school or as an internationally celebrated continuing medical educator. Why? If you ask her, she will tell you that Naturopathic Doctors are here to “save the world” through our medicine and that our collective success is critical for doing so.