goal setting

Answer 3 Questions About Your Business Before 2017


As you get ready to set your business goals for 2017, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What worked this year?

  2. What have you started doing that will likely show results in 2017?

  3. What have you been doing that needs a small tweak in order to show results?

If you’re just starting out, read this post with 2018 in mind.

The Pereto principle states that 80% of your success will come from 20% of your efforts. Let’s apply this principle to your therapy business. Identify the marketing activities that contribute the most to bringing in clients, do more of those things, and you’ll fill your practice.

Are you drawn to trying new things? I get it. Me too. As you set goals for 2017, it’s tempting to add new marketing activities. That MIGHT be a good idea. After carefully considering these 3 questions, you’ll be in a good position to choose the right new activity. It might be the year for you to start a blog, add a workshop to your offerings, or launch a podcast. Just wait until you’ve figured out what’s already working. This process is like going through the clothes in your closet before you head to the store.

You may think doing a little bit of every marketing activity will be the best way to build your practice. That's exactly wrong. 

Doing a very small number of activities well and consistently is more likely to bring you the practice you want.

Wondering how it can hurt to do everything? You’ve got limited time. If you spend 2 hours a week on marketing you’ve only got 100 hours to dedicate all year. Spending those hours wisely is one key to your success.

When you spend time on one marketing activity, you’re taking time away from another one. That’s opportunity cost. Doubling or tripling the time and energy you spend on the most effective activities will bring you more clients. You can’t increase the most effective activities unless you cut back on the activities that have been taking up the other 80% of your marketing time. Something’s gotta go.

If you were a larger business, opportunity cost would be less of a big deal. For example, you could afford to send a team off to work on social media and then measure the results of that experiment. You’re one person. When you experiment with social media, you spend less time writing articles, talking to your colleagues, or finding public speaking gigs. You must make room for change and innovation, but you also must be careful with how much of your time you spend in different areas.


How did your clients find you in 2016? It might be difficult to identify which of your marketing activities led to new clients. Sometimes you don’t know exactly where your clients found you because they don’t remember. That’s ok. Do your best to figure out where your clients came from this year.

Two tools that will help you gather this information are an inquiry tracking system and Google analytics. If you aren’t familiar with Google analytics, um…Google it.

If you’ve been using an inquiry tracking system, you have a wealth of information to examine. If you haven’t, start now! At minimum, track this information for each person who inquires about services: date, name, where they found you, and whether they came in for a session.

To figure out what’s happening with your website, use Google analytics. Install it now if you haven’t already. Google analytics will start gathering information from the moment you install it, but it can’t gather past data. Start looking at how many people visit your site each month, where they come from, and which pages on your site are most popular. Don’t go down a wormhole and spend too much time on Google analytics. As all online tools, it can be a helpful assistant or a time suck.

If you have no tracking system and you don’t have analytics installed, do your best to remember where your last 10 clients came from.

Now get ready to do more of what worked. Here are two examples.

If you discover that many of your clients found you through an online directory, put MORE energy into your profile on that directory. Get a better photo, update your specialties, and edit your statement so that it speaks directly to your right-fit client in the very moment that they need you. Then consider joining a second directory.

If you notice that one or two colleagues sent you many of your clients, nurture those relationships. Invite those colleagues to attend a training with you, or set up a lunch date. Then think about what makes these referral partners such a good fit and look for a few more colleagues just like them. Nurture those relationships too.


Maybe you’ve planted seeds with some of your marketing activities and they haven’t had a chance to grow yet. Don’t abandon your activities before they have a chance to work.

For example, if you’ve started relationships with colleagues who have told you “I’ve sent you a few referrals,” but those people never seem to call, don’t give up. It sometimes takes months for the necessary chain of events to happen: Your colleague gets to know you and understands what you do well, they talk to a person who is looking for a therapist just like you, they give that person your name, the potential client looks you up, and then the potential client takes the first step of contacting you. If you’re planting networking seeds with several colleagues, those seeds will bloom. You just can’t control when.

In my experience and the experiences of the many therapists I’ve worked with, these are the activities most likely to start working after a number of months of persistent activity:

  • Networking 1:1 with colleagues

  • Giving talks to groups that include your right-fit clients

  • Having good, niched profiles in directories with high traffic

  • Creating great copy on the most popular pages on your website

  • Creating great content such as articles for your website


Maybe you’re doing some of the right things, but you need to make small changes to HOW you’re doing those things.

Let’s look at a few examples.

You study Google analytics and discover that your website isn’t turning visitors into clients often enough. You’ve got hundreds of visitors to your site each month, but you only get one or two phone calls. Just about every visitor looks at your homepage, so work to make the copy better. Every word should speak directly to your right-fit client. Need some help with this process? Here you go.

You’ve gone to an organization’s networking event every month all year, and not a single client has been referred from those colleagues. If no one you’ve met there appeals to you, jump ship now and don’t look back. If, on the other hand, you feel like you’ve made some good connections with colleagues who you like and respect, make a tweak to your process. Go to the event every other month, and invite one or two of those colleagues to coffee one on one in between. Go here for more help with networking.

You’ve done 3 public speaking gigs this year, and only one client has resulted. Ask yourself a few questions to identify what small changes you need to make. Did you give your audience members an easy path to sign up for a free consultation right after the talks? Did you keep the topic of your talks narrow enough that you could cover that topic well? Did you give opportunities for the participants to interact with you and the other participants? For more tips on public speaking, go here.

Before you go on to the next stage of goal setting, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on what worked this year.

Ready to create the practice you want and deserve? My next Superpower Method For Therapists® Program begins in February. Find out more. 

Visual Goal Setting Works (Here's How)

visual goal setting works.png

Here’s a tool that will help you accomplish more in your business without working harder.

I’ve started using visual goal setting. It’s way more fun and creative than your usual quarterly goal setting. If a to-do list and a vision board had a child, it would be this method.

The chalkboard method was created by life coach Jay Prior. I learned about it from Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson of the podcast Being Boss. It’s a way to create intentionality, and it uses the principle “that which is measured improves.” -Karl Pearson (at least he’s one person who said it).

It’s really working for me. I’m hitting my goals and staying inspired every day.

What is the chalkboard method?

Your “chalkboard” or "goal board" doesn’t need to be an actual chalkboard. You can use a big piece of paper or poster board, a chalkboard or a dry erase board. Your board should be big and visible in a place where you’ll see it every day. My “chalkboard” is a big piece of paper taped up to the wall.

At the top of the board, write one big, long-term overarching goal that you’re working towards in your business. Your one big goal should take you from six months to 18 months to accomplish. In my course The Superpower Method For Therapists® Program, I dedicate a lesson to choosing your “one big goal.”

Some examples of a possible one big goal are:

  • Fill my practice with an average of 20 sessions per week.
  • Earn an average of 12,000 per month.
  • Consistently fill my therapy group.
  • Write my book.

Then you write a few words that will set the tone for the next three months. Choose words that represent the values you most want to lean into.

Choose between 3 and 6 smaller goals that you want to accomplish in the next 3 months that will move you closer to your one big goal. Visually represent those goals on your “chalkboard.”

Use markers or chalk in your favorite colors. Use illustrations wherever you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a skilled artist. If you plan to write a book, draw a picture of a book. If you’re hiring a therapist, draw a picture of a therapist. Stick figures are fine.

Create space on your board for what you want to bring into your business. If you want to bring 5 new clients into your practice in the next 3 months, draw 5 empty boxes or circles. If you want to earn $30,000, you can create a thermometer that goes from 0 to 30,000.

As you accomplish those goals, you’ll fill in the blanks and color in the thermometer.

Leave a space on your board labeled “something else” or “unknown” so that you’re on the lookout for new opportunities.

Here's what a goal board might look like. I created this one for a fictional therapist based on lots of folks I work with. 


Here's what this method can do for you: 

This process forces you to choose what you need to accomplish most.

When you stick items on a regular to-do list, you might add more than is realistic. When you visualize goals and tasks on your board, you can see exactly how much you’re planning to accomplish.

You step out of ambivalence as you choose your goals and map them out on your board. The decisive action of writing out a goal in large letters helps you commit.

The board helps you remember what’s important.

Working in private practice is isolating. You’ve got some colleagues you can talk to about the clinical stuff. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a few colleagues you can talk to about the business side as well, but no one is holding your business vision with you. With no team members or accountability, it’s easy to let your plans fade into the background. One day you’re excited about some new plans for your business. A few weeks later you can’t remember exactly what you planned, and you can’t find the excitement. Your board can serve as a physical reminder.

You’ll still need your to-do list. This goal board will be your inspiration and your reminder. You’ve got tons of everyday tasks that you need to keep track of, and those shouldn’t clutter up your board.

Every 3 months, or more frequently if you need to, you’ll create a new board. Hold this planning time sacred. Give yourself plenty of time and space. Light a candle, make some tea or have a glass of wine. This is time for just you and your business.

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I Changed How I Set Goals For My Businesses And Here's How

It’s early February. How are you doing on your year-long goals? Every year I set myself year-long goals in my personal life and for my businesses. I did it again this year. Then in January I read the book The 12 Week Year, and I’ve completely converted to a new kind of goal setting.


The book points out that when you set 12 months goals, you tend to procrastinate. 12 months is pretty far away.


Let’s say you want to have a full practice by the end of 2016. You may not feel the need to take any major steps in January. Even if you haven’t made a lot of progress by May, you still might feel like there’s plenty of time to turn things around.


Perhaps there are actions you dread that you know you SHOULD to build your practice. You might put those off until closer to the end of the year.


In the 12 Week Year method, you choose a small number of goals that you’ll accomplish by the end of 12 weeks. Then you map out what steps you’ll take to accomplish each goal, and give yourself a due date for each and every step.


The key to this is that you choose goals that will move your business forward.


After your first 12-week “year,” you assess what your next most important goals are.


Does this mean you’ll lose track of your long-term vision? Nope. Before you choose those 12 week goals you spend time thinking and writing about your LONG TERM vision, the one you’d like to get to within several years. You choose the goals that are most likely to move you towards that vision.


Let’s say your long-term vision includes having a practice full of cash paying clients. First you’ll create your vision, considering what you’d like to earn, what kinds of clients you’d like to work with, what your hours will be, and even what your office will look like. You’ll spend some time thinking and writing about that vision until it feels clear and you can easily tap into your desire for it.


Then you’ll choose one or two measurable goals that you can accomplish within 12 weeks to bring you closer to making your vision into your reality. You won’t pick more than one or two goals because you also have to do all of the regular stuff that takes up time in your life. Choose goals that will stretch you AND that you can accomplish in a few hours a week.


If you think you don’t have a few hours a week to carve out, question that. (link)


I’ll repeat: The key to this is that you choose goals that will move your business forward.


Maybe you’ll choose a goal of rewriting all of the copy on your website or of reaching out to 50 colleagues. Then you’ll break down the tasks that it will take to get you there, and spread those tasks out with due dates spanning the 12 weeks.


Why not just map out your goals for the whole year all at once?


Once you’ve accomplished your first 12-week goals, you’ll be in a better position to decide what your next goals should be. Opportunities and challenges come up several times throughout the year, and 12 weeks is a short enough time to stay flexible.


Will you find out how much you can change your business in the next 12 weeks?


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