2014 has been a good year.
I re-opened my practice and now work with Allison and we are a rock star team.
We stopped taking insurance, then started taking it again. Getting paid by insurance is a pain in the ass. Yet, it lets us help more people.
Personally, I learned a lot about trust and relationships in business and life and how those two facets of my world are intimately intertwined. More on that later.
I honestly learn something new every day. But four specific lessons kept coming back to me again and again. Apparently, I needed multiple exposures to get the message. In no particular order, my Four Small Business/Private Practice Lessons of 2014:
1. Trust your values and mission.
Your head and your heart inform you business at it’s core. Working from a place of clear compassion and empathy are what will make you a success. Let’s face it, many of our institutions in our culture are suspect at the very least, corrupt and unethical at the worst. The world needs people who lead with their heart.
This does not mean you go poor or do everything for free. It means you have a mission to serve people who need what you do and you develop a solid business plan to get paid fairly for it.
My mission for years has been to open a child development behavioral health center to support families of children with neurodevelopmental differences. Why? Because I was that kid, my son is that kid, my friends’ kids and his friends are those kids and they get inappropriate served and under-served and their brilliance is tamped down, if it isn’t snuffed out. And I believe every child is capable of great things if given the opportunity to learn how they learn, to see their greatness and to believe in their unique abilities to contribute positively to the world.
On the business side, since that population is under-served and inappropriately served, it’s relatively easy for us to attract and keep clients, as long as we do excellent, valuable work.
Because I care about truly helping kids and families and because I want to make it affordable, while still making a good living, I problem solve ways to meet my values and mission in the middle of earning money.
This core value/mission informs EVERYTHING we do at Child Development Partners. It informs how we get paid, how much we charge, the services we offer, the hours we work, the staff we bring in, the staff we let out, the office space we rent, our brand colors, our logo, etc. We don’t do the work because it’s a way to pay the bills. We do the work because we believe it’s important work and it happens to pay the bills, too.
If we didn’t have a strong mission and focus, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are. We’d be “getting by” and feeling uninspired and that isn’t a whole lot of fun.
In 2015 commit to clarifying your mission and values and TRUST that they will support you in building something meaningful and successful.
2. Good people don’t share your definition of “fair.”
I’ve worked with good people this year who didn’t treat my business fairly. They charged too much, didn’t follow through, tested my boundaries and took my business inexperience as a green light to maximize their profit.
The truth is, I like these people. If we weren’t doing business together, we could be friends.
But they separated out a friendship relationship from a business one and I learned quickly that only *I* can be responsible for how my interests are represented in that dynamic.
I suppose this is true for all relationships. We have to take care of ourselves and our interests.
In 2015, empower yourself to take care of your business, know what you are worth. When a business relationship isn’t serving you, renegotiate or move on. In most cases the disconnect isn’t personal.
3. Build a team of advisers you can trust absolutely.
No one can build a business alone. Questions come up. Sticky situations arise. Every successful business person has a team of trustworthy advisers that will cut through the BS and help you navigate the rough waters.
My “Jedi Council” of advisers are Allison, my husband, Peter and our lawyer, Craig. These people are the real deal. They don’t always tell me what I want to hear (especially Pete…love you!), but they always tell me how they see things and advise with my best interests in mind. They will also support me if I don’t follow their council, but are allowed to say “I told you so,” if things don’t work out.
In 2015 connect to your coalition of trustworthy advisers. These must be people who will be 100% honest, without being shaming or blaming and will have your back, even when you make mistakes. This won’t be a big crew and they won’t necessarily be family. Also, don’t get stuck with a Jedi Council member who brings you down or violates trust. It’s ok to demote a Council member, while remaining close in other parts of your life.
4. Embrace change as the norm.
There isn’t a straight line toward a successful business. Things are in a state of constant flux. Just know and accept this. Waiting around for things to “settle down,” or “straighten out,” means waiting forever. Allison and I change our minds at least 4 times a week. It can be about small things, “Are you buying the printer or am I?” or big things, “We weren’t taking insurance and now we are taking insurance!”
Don’t get emotionally attached to business decisions. If something is a loss, chalk it up as a loss and move forward. Don’t sit around feeling angry, ashamed or ambivalent. If a strategy isn’t panning out after a few months, change the strategy, rather than bemoan it’s lack of effectiveness. The truth is, what used to work 5 years ago, won’t work now and what we think “should” work doesn’t always. Use data, rather than emotion to inform your operations. While your values and mission should drive your engine, they aren’t the measuring stick that will get you to profitability.
Make “problem solving” a part of your business lexicon. No issue is too big to fix. Every problem has a solution. Sometimes the solution isn’t what we prefer or it’s hard work or it means we have to seek out support or additional learning.
Businesses most often fail because the owners get stuck in a rut. They set up artificial barriers and inflexible contingencies. Don’t do that.
In 2015, embrace change as the norm. Every tech industry does this, which is why their products are profitable. No one wants the phone technology from 2003. It has to change to sell. This is true in all business endeavors.
I am so looking forward to what 2015 will bring! If 2014 is any indication, I have a lot to learn!!