I know quoting the rapper Snoop Dogg seems a little unlikely when talking about the business of private practice. But the rapper is right on point when he said that even during recreational activities, “I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” While we are in the business of therapy to help people, we are also in business to make a living. We worry about all aspects of finances: overhead, spending money wisely, advertising, taxes, insurance… the list goes on. I’ve found that it helps me to think of every dollar I spend in terms of client hours.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
My initial investment ended up being about $1500 more than I had anticipated (I had to buy some furniture I wasn’t planning on). When I first realized this, I kind of went into a tailspin. When I look at that number in terms of client hours, that’s only about 12 visits at $125 per visit. If my rent is $400, that’s only 3 sessions a month, less than one a week. The new couch I decided to buy was around $600, or 5 sessions. I’m able to put my mind at ease by quantifying my overhead in relation to clients.
Some of my expenses are optional. Advertising is one of those costs. When I think about advertising costs, I think about my return on the investment (ROI). For example, if I spend $200 on an Facebook ad for my services, and I have one new client who comes for 8 sessions, I’ve made my money back plus $800! In my eyes, that was a great ROI. If I had gotten 2 clients who each came for 8 sessions, that’s an even better ROI.
Knowing where my referrals come from helps me decide how to spend money on advertising. I have a question on my intake form to find that out, and I usually ask when they call. In my new practice, most of my clients have found me on the internet. The $30 a month I spend on Psychology Today is made up each year with two client visits—definitely worth the money. I’ve always done my website myself, and while it’s not perfect, it’s simple and professional. I’m now considering having a professional help redesign my website and help with SEO since it’s proving to be the main way I am getting clients. Even if I spend $2000 on a new website (which is a lot of money in my eyes!), that’s around 15 client visits, which I can make up in about a week.
Snoop was right in saying that money is always on your mind. Money is a constant source of stress for everyone, especially small business owners. Thinking about my expenses in terms of client visits gives me a new perspective on investing in my business and myself.