I SIT HERE AT 4AM.
Initially, I started writing this article with my background story and the blah blah blahs of running a business. But you already know the struggles of running a business otherwise you wouldn’t have wanted to start reading this article, right?
Let’s get straight to the point. The biggest issues you are probably facing right now are:
- Time, and lack there of
- Plenty of ideas without execution
- A stack of books you’ve been meaning to read
- Internal struggle between being a practitioner and a business owner
This was where I was when I was approaching my maternity leave.
Ok, I’m going to go into a bit of a background on my life up until my little one came into this world:
I was running two businesses, just put a ton of money into re-branding myself as The Maxim Movement and doing my best to pay off my debts.
Then I turned 30 went on Plenty of Fish and 10 days later was sitting across the restaurant table from my future husband.
3 months later, we purchased a house and not even a week after we moved in, the opening of ‘Look Who’s Talking’ was in full effect. Of course I did not know this until a month later and, being the action taker I am, basically told him we were going to get married, planned a wedding in 3 months and 4 months later, here we are… baby and all. Whew!
Nothing puts you more into debt than a mortgage, a husband and a baby!
On top of that, with a new baby means that, at least as the mom, you need to stay home to take care of her, which means less time at the office, less money, more stress….
I knew that I would not be able to afford taking any more time off than 1-2 months. If you decide to take any less than 1 year, be prepared to have to hear this from your patients,
“Oh, you’re not taking a year off? That’s too bad. You’re going to miss so much.”
With the same repetitive smile for 9 months, I responded,
“Well I am a business owner and do not have the privilege of receiving maternity leave pay.”
Employed people just do not get it.
An amazing thing happened though. After my 20 thousandth time of responding to that statement I think it finally set in. I am not employed. I do not get a steady pay check. I am offering a tremendous service and I deserve to be paid accordingly for it.
I think up until this point I was so concerned about having patients pay me that I would discount here, offer a free supplement there, free visits on occasion.
Enough is enough I’ve got a family to take care of now.
Another amazing thing happened. I allowed myself to truncate my schedule so I would book more patients into a smaller space of time giving me more time outside of the office to do what I wanted to do. This brings me to my first bullet point, TIME.
Time (creating what cannot be created)
I had been consulting with a Business Coach in the months prior to my maternity leave and one of the biggest principles of making a business grow is to organize your schedule so that you can run a business and see patients more effectively. This includes organizing the schedule into blocks of time.
For instance, Monday morning is for new patients, Thursday afternoon is for acupuncture and all day Wednesday is for marketing. If my schedule was anything like yours, I let my patients dictate when and what time they would come in. I had no control over it. I often sacrificed my personal time to accommodate patients.
During our meetings, my business coach would ask,
“have you thought about blocking your time yet? What is stopping you from doing it now?”
Honestly, I didn’t feel that I had a good enough excuse to start reducing my hours, and blocking my time, that was until I had a kid. It was the perfect opportunity to step away from the office, restructure my schedule, so that when I came back people would understand why I had reduced hours in the office and why now my time was more valuable.
It took me 40 weeks and 18 hours of labour (which is pure hell by the way) for me to realize that my time was valuable.
Funny isn’t it? I went from 50 hours down to 16 hours and you want to know how much that affected my income… not one bit.
Instead of seeing 8 patients over the span on 9 hours, I am now seeing 4-9 patients in 4 hours. Same income and way more time to do what I need to do outside of the office. When I step into the office, the clinician hat goes on. When I leave the office the marketing and mom hat goes on. This instead of wearing all of the hats at once.
This is the ultimate goal of a healthpreneur is it not?
Work less hours and make more money?
One word of caution though. I earned the right to reduce my hours. I worked my ass off to build up two solid practices so that when it came time to reduce my hours, I wouldn’t reduce my paycheck.
If you are just starting out or if your work week is already considered part-time, then this transition may not be as seamless.
With that extra 34 hours not being spent in the clinic, getting nothing done between patients, I am able to do all of those other things on my list:
- Attack the pile of books I have been meaning to read
- Watch those webinars on how to grow my business
- Attend conferences that I have been wanting to go to
- Execute the ideas that have been keeping me awake at night
- Create consistency
That last bullet point deserves it’s own section.
Have you ever listened to anyone who is a master in their field, a master at running a business or phenomenal at what they do? When you ask them, how did you get so successful? What is the common denominator they all share? Consistency.
One thing that I was not, prior to my maternity leave, was consistent. Why? Because I did not make the time.
Do you see how this cycle works?
To be a YouTube sensation, you must consistently post videos to get more subscribers to get to the top of the search list.
To drive your social media followers, you need to consistently post, share, like and tweet content that your followers will like.
To create a name in your community you need to consistently book seminars and create good content to make those attendees know, trust and like you.
To run a good business you need to consistently be in touch with your patients. Check in often. Re-ignite inactive patients. Encourage referrals.
What makes a business or a brand memorable? They are consistently in your face with good content and a reason to buy.
My maternity leave gave me the opportunity to do these things. During midnight feedings I would let my creative juices flow. I started writing ideas down in a journal and instead of closing the book and forgetting about it, I executed.
It is amazing what you can create at 3am, like this article for instance.
The bottom line is, it took me giving birth to a child to create a functional business. I’m hoping that you will learn from this article regardless of your family’s status. Do not be afraid to make some big changes to your business, without feeling the need to create an excuse.
This is your business, your career and your livelihood. Do with it as you please, just be sure that whatever you do that you are consistent and diligent. Keep that drive towards success and if possible, find a mentor or a business coach to guide you.
If you have any other questions or comments about this article, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.