One of my favorite metaphors for how a business grows and develops is to look to the seasons. We have periods of new life, growth, fruiting, and harvest. Often overlooked, we also need periods of rest–creative winters–to reflect, refuel, recharge, and plan our next period of development. Just like you can’t have fall pumpkins without planting seeds in the spring, nurturing growth in the summer, and restoring the fallow fields in the winter, your business cannot solely focus on the end goal–a thriving private practice–if the time is not put in to plan, create, and nurture.
When I think about my own journey through private practice, and reflect on the concerns and dreams of the practice building coaching clients with whom I’ve worked, I’m struck by four phases in practice development. There are the dreamers, who want an out from their current agency job, or have a dream goal of running their own business, but often are not sure of how to even start or if they have it in themselves to run a practice (pro tip: they do!). Next are the launchers. They are right at the precipice of bursting forth, often with a to do list a mile long, and not really sure how to move from office and furniture to a full paycheck. The growers have gone through all the rigamarole of the launch and are working on consistent strategies to market and network so that they can have a consistently full practice.
All of those roles probably sound familiar to you if you are in practice or are thinking of taking the leap. But the final stage I see in practice development, perhaps akin to “winter” in the seasons metaphor, is the refiners. The refiners are there. They are living the dream of the early stages–they have all-the-things for running their business, they have clients, they are making at least some money. But the refiners have realized that there are pieces of their practice that are not ideally aligned with their dreams and desires. Maybe they grew too fast, or maybe in their desperation to get out of an agency job they took leaps without looking too closely and aren’t super sure how they got to their current destination. All of this is ok, and the refiners always have the option of digging in to what they really want–to reflect, refuel, and recharge–and then emerge with a clarified sense of intention in their work.
I’ve been through all of those stages–several of them, multiple times! They all have their highs and lows, and they are all necessary parts of the intentional business cycle. The approach to take and the needs in each stage, however, is slightly different. That’s why I’ve created my Practice Stages Quiz! In just a few questions, you can clarify where you are right now in practice development and receive some guidance tailored to your stage. I hope you’ll take the quiz today and pop over to the facebook group and share your results! If you take the quiz, I’ll be following up with a couple of emails with more information about strategies to move forward.