August is a slow month for me. When I look at August performance in my own business and in my clinic practices I can see this has always been the case. People are outside enjoying the last of the summer sunshine and planning vacations with their kids before school starts again. Medical self-care drops as people enjoy psycho-social self-care and that’s amazing - I’m all for that. The problem is I get bored. Instead of treating patients I end up staying at home eating potato chips and binge watching Netflix (Stranger Things, anyone?) I could look at this as a mental health break sure, but it doesn’t do much for me and it certainly doesn’t do anything for my practice.
In past years this has been thoroughly demotivating. I used to only feel motivated when I worked with patients. If I didn’t have any patients that day I was a “failure” as a practitioner and a business owner. But I’ve learned over time that treating patients is, at most, half of managing a practice. Even so, it can be very difficult to wrangle up enough drive to fight that heavy late summer inertia and work on your marketing or your accounting. Despite being blessed with the opportunity to work on my business necessities when treatment numbers are low, I’d find myself staring at my to-do list and wasting my time debating what I should work on.
Work on something that interests you every day
The advice we have all heard is to work on your business every day, no matter if you’re treating patients or creating content. A practice (or business) is a living thing. You need to feed it and tend to it if you want it to grow. Letting it fend for itself for a month when numbers wane is an attractive proposition for the side of you that craves sunshine or Netflix, but it’s not what a practice needs. It needs your attention. In those quiet periods I knew I should be building my business but I’ve found that knowing I should do something is rarely what motivates me to actually do it.
But I don’t think the “work on it every day” tip goes deep enough. In working through a routine every day it is easy to maintain a business but stay bored and unmotivated. Personally, maintenance isn’t enough - I want this part of me I am sharing to grow. That growth is what motivates me. Cultivating your practice means finding something that interests you related to your business to work on every day and knowing that if you don’t your business will wither. This could be looking at your books because you’re a number nerd. It could be working on your social media presence because you love the interaction with your patients and fans. Maybe you could take this time to rework your business plan because you find motivation in organizing your thoughts and dreams. All of these things are both useful and interesting.
Do some introspection
Sit down with a cup of tea and ask yourself, “What is the one thing that I like to do that could build my business right now?” Something that you could spend half an hour on and could be a trigger for you to move forward, even if it doesn’t directly impact your business? Personally, I sit and listen to a business podcast or I’ll write a blog post. The most motivating thing for me is to listen to people who are passionate about what they do or to talk about it myself. I started this blog as a way for me to process what I’m thinking and learning about in my business life. Working through that process gives me the opportunity to look at it objectively, decide what I want to keep and what I need to change. I love to talk about it because talking about it creates the momentum I need to do the things I should be doing. It is always easier for me to tend to my practice after I’ve written a blog post. I don’t need to know why, I just need to know that it does.
Once you find that thing carve out some time to work on it before you work on your daily business. When you finish your One Thing, look at your to-do list and ask yourself what you’re motivated to do. I think you’ll find that you’ll make a lot more progress on that list than if you had just started the day with accounting or worse, Netflix.
Related links and posts:
How to build an awesome practice for free
How to suss out your true passions and make your practice thrive
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What inertia busting exercises have you come up with that help cultivate growth?
Jessica Gustafson, L.Ac.
I am an acupuncturist and a mama from the Twin Cities. I needed a place to talk about the nitty gritty of bootstrapping a clinic, parenting and freelancing so I made a blog. Hooray! It was never meant to become what it has, but blogs evolve. I've enjoyed the process and look forward to developing it more as I grow.
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