Someone recently asked me for some advice about how they might go about building the kind of success I have with my business. I bring in a full time income via my healing business. I have a very long waiting list and a great reputation. My challenges at this stage of the journey are about servicing demand, but how did I build the business I have today?
DO WHAT YOU LOVE, LOVE WHAT YOU DO
Follow your passion. I honestly can’t sell a service or product I’m not passionate about. Your passion is the key to your purpose. Follow it and you will be led to your heart’s work.
Even as a child I believed people should do what they love for work. Bliss is being paid to do what you love. The money is just a bonus and even if you didn’t get paid, you would probably do it for free!
The thought of working in a job I hate, just for the money, makes me shudder. I have seen many people who are depressed try treatments and medications and nothing works until finally they get out of the soul-destroying job that was making them miserable.
I understand that life doesn’t always allow us to be idealistic and sometimes we just have to do what needs to be done, but even in these situations, we can find ways to love what we are doing.
My personal philosophy in life is “If you don’t like something take action to change the situation. If you can’t or won’t do that, then change the way you are looking at it.” Loving what you do, even when this is a challenge, can help you grow spiritually as a person. Learning to focus on the small joys and to see light in the darkness, are shamanic strengths.
I have helped quite a few people transition from hobby into business. What works is sticking with your more mundane job and working as a healer in your spare time. Once demand outstrips the hours you have available, try to negotiate part time hours with your employer or find a part time job to replace the one you have. Once demand outstrips the hours you have available, it’s time to quit the job and go full time as a healer!
People who think they can set up a venue and suddenly materialise clients out of thin air with affirmations and advertising, are taking a very big, unnecessary risk. Building a successful business takes time. Be patient and do it slowly. Don’t let your ego, your romantic inner child and/or your trickster get the better of you!
ACCESSIBILITY and VISIBILITY
When first building your business, you need to be accessible and visible to the general public. I’ve never believed in conventional advertising because I have strong values regarding word-of-mouth. When your community becomes more familiar with you because you are making yourself visible, they start to feel more confident about approaching you.
My way of being accessable and visible was to provide free or very affordable services in the early days from public domains like health food shops and health expos. Unfortunately these opportunities aren’t so readily available these days due to rising insurance costs. I guess the modern equivalent might be facebook, twitter and having an informative, user-friendly website. Be as interactive as possible, respond warmly and professionally, and provide free information and services where possible- this is your best advertising!
Doing free public talks and getting involved in community events is a good idea, so long as you can cope with the curious oglers and cynics who may accost you for being different! Very short sample sessions give people a taste and when this is done in a public setting, people feel safer. They watch other people coming to you and smiling or being touched deeply, and they know they can get up and leave at any time if they don’t feel safe with you.
Always be prepared to work for free or by donation at first. Don’t let money come between you and what you love to do, if you can help it!
DIVERSIFY and SPECIALISE
One of my secrets to success in the early days was wearing many different hats. It meant being able to access multiple markets, rather than being dependant on one. In the past, on any one day, I might be doing a massage, a naturopathic consult, a psychic healing, an aura reading and a mediumship session. If I had been dependant on an income stream from only one of those skills, I would have had trouble filling my diary for the day.
Even when accessing multiple markets you can still specialise. For me, aura colours and psychic ability have tended to be the common underlying thread running between all my various services.
Now that I can pick and choose, I’ve chosen to reduce my hats and specialise in providing the services I most enjoy, especially those that have greatest demand from the public. The process of refining your passion is never ending!
This means being yourself and doing the hard work of daring to be different. It isn’t easy being unique because there are no step by step proceedures to follow. You have to make it up as you go along and it can be a confusing, messy process. I sincerely beleive the pain of trying to work out who you really are, as opposed to just copying everyone else because it’s easier, it vital to success.
What makes you different? How can you turn these differences into assets? The tricky part is being different but still finding a way to appeal to a market who might not yet be familir with what you have to offer. This is where blending the unique with the familiar can pay off in the early stages. Then, as your reputation builds, you gradually shed your skin and drop away the window dressing, becoming more and more yourself. You will lose some clients if you do this too quickly, but you have to balance this out with the authenticity of being yourself. The people who love your approach will love you even more and the ones who don’t will go elsewhere, freeing you up to do more of what you truly love to do.
CHARISMA, WARMTH and PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
I beleive in combing all three.
There is an element of my work that feels like I’m going on stage. Regardless of my mood or what’s happening in my personal life, I need to switch my energy up and be 100% present with and for the client. A little authentic charisma, arising naturally from passion, keeps the client’s attention engaged. Our enthusiasm for what we’re doing and saying can be infectious when we’re genuinely moved by the topic at hand.
Authentic charisma is tempered by warmth and empathy. Being able to put people at ease and making sure they feel heard and understood is the most important part of what I do. Building rapport with the client is imperative. I suspect that 90% of all healing arises out of the client feeling genuinely heard and understood.
Professional conduct means having standards regarding issues such as confidentiality, accountability and healthy boundaries. It’s important to strike a balance between being friendly and maintaining a polite distance. When I go to a practitioner I want to feel cared about but I don’t want them to over-step the mark. Professional boundaries are important and can vary with each client.
What is it you admire about the professional conduct of the practitioners you go to?
SELF-CARE and PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
As a healer, the two usually go hand in hand. Self-care is important because without it we burn out and can’t do our jobs properly. Our standard of care for others slips when our self-care is lacking. I have had to burn out many times to learn the hard way what not to do.
Setting healthy limits for yourself and others is an act of self-care based on robust, healthy boundaries! My spirit guides have really helped me with this by repeating a mantra question to me: “Is this sustainable, Om?” If the answer is no, I have to back off and slow down.
Self-care in our industry is particularly important because it’s about walking our talk. We want our clients to care for themselves, so we need to role-model this behaviour with our own healthy self-care.
I think it’s difficult to identify imbalances in others when we aren’t attending to our own. How can we recognise scattered behaviour in another if we ourselves are scattered? The catch-22 here is that we often need to be able to experience imbalance directly ourselves to have a deeper insight into it. My personal challenges with boundaries are teaching me how to recognise, have empathy for and address these issues within others. We don’t have to be perfect by any long stretch of the imagination, we just need to be tending our wounds and getting on with the work of self-care.
For me, professional development means doing exchange work with other practitioners. They teach me skills I wouldn’t otherwise have. They reflect me back to myself so I can see my own issues more clearly. They help me grow and overcome old wounds. And I learn what it feels like to be a client. All of this is training. Personally, I think this direct and very personal experience is far more valuable than pieces of paper, qualifications and CPE points.
RE-BOOKING and REFERRING
It’s good to get into the habit of offering a re-booking to each client at the end of every consult. Good quality work often unfolds over time. In the first session you get to know the client and the client gets to know you. In following consults, you can often go deeper, because the energy field is starting to trust you and let you in a bit more. You also build a more sophisticated picture of the client’s patterns and can begin to unravel blockages, a little bit at a time.
One of my challenges when I first began as a healer, was trying to do too much all at once. You are far more likely to get a healing crisis if you do too much in one session. The results might seem more dramatic and healing occurs faster, but I personally think it’s better to coax the energy field into opening up and releasing, rather than pounding on it!
I refer a lot of my potential clients on these days because I can’t fit them all in. I really enjoy referring people on because it makes me feel supported by and connected with my healing community, and it stops me from burning out. As much as a client might think I’m the only person in the world who can help them, this is a delusion I don’t need to buy in to! Being able to refer someone on to another practitioner I trust (because I do exchange work with them), takes a lot of pressure off me. It’s lovely to feel as though you are part of a healing community; you can share the load and the joy!
Even when you are first building your business, knowing when to refer someone on is a valuable skill. Not every person is suited to working with you. Sometimes there will be a personality mismatch or a lack or rapport between you. Sometimes the client’s expectations are unrealistic or the issues being raised are beyond your ability to deal with. It’s a great idea to create a list of people and organisations you can refer people to. You don’t have to have all the answers and you don’t have to do any of this alone. Be prepared not to charge a person if you get part way into a consult and have to call it off and provide a referral. You haven’t failed: you are being discerning!