Expanding Beyond a Solo Practice Coaching Session
“And this would have my name on it, and this person would be a representation of me, and my practice, and the way I work. I’d really have to trust someone. I don’t know who this magical person is!”
Meet Natalia Buchanan
Natalia has been working exclusively with those that struggle with disordered eating in her private practice since 2007. She has a Master’s of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from The University of Kansas. Natalia also holds a Texas license as a Licensed Professional Counselor and is an active member of the Central Texas Eating Disorders Specialists.
In This Episode…
Are you considering ways to expand beyond your solo practice? In this coaching session, Natalia shares that she has been at capacity as a solo practitioner for quite a while and is considering whether it’s a good time to expand into hiring someone and creating a group practice.
Natalia and Linzy dig into what it actually means to transition from being a solo practitioner to a group practice owner, and they talk through the benefits and limitations of making that transition. The conversation takes a surprise turn, so tune in to hear what Natalia and Linzy wind up exploring as they consider ways to expand beyond the limitations of being a solo practitioner.
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Natalia [00:00:03] And this would have my name on it, and this person would be a representation of me and my practice in the way I work. And I really have to trust someone. And I don’t- I don’t know this magical person.
Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question: How can therapists and health practitioners go from money shame and confusion, to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham, therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello and welcome back to the podcast. So before we get started today, I wanted to share a review on Apple Podcasts that one of our listeners left. The review is from Eileen. Eileen says Profound gems, and each episode she says, As of writing this review, I’ve listened to all of Linzy’s podcast episodes. I have to say that I’ve taken away profound nuggets of insight, advice, wisdom and tangible skills to try in each episode. My only regret is that I listened to most of these while driving in the car. Next time, though, I’ll be ready to have a pen and paper ready in order to capture the gems sprinkled throughout her episodes. This podcast is a must for healers of any kind. Thank you so much, Eileen, for your podcast review on Apple Podcasts. It’s so appreciated. I’m so glad that the podcast has been connecting with you and that you’re finding value in every episode. And for other folks listening, if you’re also enjoying the podcast, jump over to Apple Podcasts. It really helps. Today’s podcast episode is a coaching episode with Natalia Buchanan. Natalia is a therapist working in Austin, helping those who struggle with disordered eating. She is a graduate of the original beta course of Money Skills For Therapists, as she mentions towards the end of our conversation today. And she came to our coaching session today wanting support with feeling blocked around expanding beyond solo practice. If you have a full solo practice, you’re really going to relate to Natalia in terms of having a wait list of people that you just can’t serve. You just never get to it and realizing that you really are not being able to help those people. But also, she talks about this feeling of kind of like leaving money on the table, like all these people want her help and yet she’s not able to see them. So she talks about these blocks and concerns she had around expanding and hiring an associate moving into group practice. Very quickly, our conversation shifted, and I’m not going to give it away, but if you are someone who has a full practice and you’ve been contemplating moving into group practice but are finding yourself hesitate, this is going to be the episode for you. Enjoy. Natalia, welcome to the podcast.
Natalia [00:03:15] Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Linzy [00:03:17] I am so happy to see you. I was just saying this off mic. It’s always so nice to see you and I’m really excited to have you on today. So let’s just dig right in to what you want support with today. So tell me, what do you want to have more clarity on by the end of our session?
Natalia [00:03:32] Yeah. So I think I would like to look at my fear of, I guess it’s continued success, bigger success, up leveling.
Linzy [00:03:44] Okay. Okay. Yeah. So tell me about what that fear is looking like right now. What are you noticing about it.
Natalia [00:03:50] Right now I am feeling resistant to hiring an associate in my private practice. My private psychotherapy practice. I have not been able to take a new client in quite a while and I could really use the help.
Linzy [00:04:12] Okay. Yep. So you’ve got more demand than you’re able to meet.
Natalia [00:04:16] Mm hmm. And there’s a part of me that feels very afraid to take it to this next step.
Linzy [00:04:24] Okay. And what do you notice? Kind of the stories around that fear are?
Natalia [00:04:28] The word that’s coming to mind is I will lose control. The secondary fear is it’ll be too expensive. I won’t be able to generate the income, the referrals, whatever it may be, to support an associate.
Linzy [00:04:48] Right. So first off, you’ll lose control. The second one that sounds like it’s like it won’t work, like the numbers won’t work or the marketing won’t work, that it ultimately won’t be successful.
Natalia [00:04:58] Mhm
Linzy [00:04:59] Okay. So that fear of control piece, like what control do you see yourself possibly giving up by bringing on an associate in your practice?
Natalia [00:05:06] Well, I can’t control the way they do therapy. No, the way I do therapy.
Linzy [00:05:13] Right. Yes. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So what actually happens in that room with clients you can’t control?
Natalia [00:05:19] And this would have my name on it, and this person would be a representation of me. And my practice is the way I work. And I really have to trust someone. And I don’t know this magical person.
Linzy [00:05:34] This hypothetical human. Yes. Okay. Okay. Right. So you’d have to you’d have to trust. I mean, a question that I have is thinking about this, like branching out to an associate is I’m hearing that part of it is like it kind of solves a problem that you have, right? There’s like more demand than you can meet. You haven’t been able to take a new client in a while. And I think this happens to a lot of us. Like when you’re good and when you’ve built your reputation and you’ve carved out your niche, you do naturally get to a point where you just can’t serve everybody who wants to work with you. It’s just not possible. And even if you have a waitlist, you’re never going to work through that waitlist. Kind of at the pace that people are coming right now, it just doesn’t work. So a question that I have looking at it in the positive is what other needs would it mean to work with an associate? Like do you want to be a manager or do you want to be a mentor? Do you want to, you know, like work closely with someone else? Is there anything like that in the mix for you?
Natalia [00:06:29] Well, since this is a financial podcast, I am very money minded and I realize that’s money on the table that I’m leaving.
Linzy [00:06:39] Right. Yeah. So that idea that you’re leaving money on the table. Okay. Yep. So there’d be a financial opportunity cost that you’re missing by not having somebody on.
Natalia [00:06:48] That’s one reason I like the idea of being a mentor or supervisor. Being a manager? I’ve never done that before. I don’t have any experience with that.
Linzy [00:07:00] Yeah. Do you think you would like it? Just knowing yourself.
Natalia [00:07:03] I’m not sure.
Linzy [00:07:05] Okay. You know, the reason I’m bringing this to the forefront of this conversation right now to tell you is I think that when we are in the situation that you’re in, which, again, I have been in that situation to myself where it’s like, okay, this is it. Like I’m at my capacity of who I can serve. The natural thing that comes to mind and that everybody else will tell you is just hire somebody. Just start a small group practice. Like just hire somebody. I had like my next door neighbor tell me that, like, she’s a teacher. Even she, you know, was like, well, obviously you need to hire someone. And we kind of get that message from from all corners. Right. And so it’s easy to think that that is that is the move we have to make or that, as you say, we’re leaving money on the table if we don’t make that move. What I have noticed, though, is that, like, that’s a specific job that you’re signing up for. Even if you just have one associate you are signing up to become, as I say, you’re becoming a manager, you’re becoming a mentor. You’re going to be that that point person for clinical issues. And maybe you could hire out for supervision. But no matter what, as you say, what’s happening in that room directly reflects your brand. Right. Any things that are going wrong in that room do come back on on you and your reputation. And so that is part of what you’re signing up for, right? You’re not just signing up for more money. You were signing up for a job of being a manager. And I’m curious for you. Pure gut check. Do you want to be a manager?
Natalia [00:08:21] No.
Linzy [00:08:23] Okay, so let’s think about some other options.
Natalia [00:08:26] I like that idea.
Linzy [00:08:27] Yeah, because there are other ways to also get certain types of service to folks who want to come to you for your reputation. So here’s some of some other options that might be there for you. One would be creating a course on your area of expertize. How does that idea land with you? Just kind of off the top.
Natalia [00:08:48] If I could snap my fingers and say I have my course up and running. Absolutely. Put it up there. I would be happy and proud and excited.
Linzy [00:08:56] Okay. Those are words you are not using when it comes to having an associate. Happy, proud, excited.
Natalia [00:09:02] That is how I feel. Yes.
Linzy [00:09:03] So that’s helpful information for us, right? Like on a gut level. That sounds a lot more energizing. And so I’m hearing that like getting to that destination of having the course, that would be exciting. What about between here and there? Of creating, of course. What comes up when you think about that?
Natalia [00:09:19] I would worry that I wouldn’t have the discipline to do it alone.
Linzy [00:09:22] Right. Okay. So lacking the discipline. And is that something that you know about yourself, that sometimes you can lack discipline when you’re left to your own devices?
Natalia [00:09:31] Absolutely. Okay.
Linzy [00:09:32] Okay. So what would be a solution for that?
Natalia [00:09:35] I work really well with accountability. If I’m checking in with someone, if I’m taking some sort of course or mastermind, I will show up. I will do the work.
Linzy [00:09:49] I know that about you. And I’ve seen you do that. Yes. You’re an excellent student. Right. So that’s that’s something that you can use to your advantage. The good news is, Natalia, there is a ton of courses about making courses and a ton of master minds out there that would love to support you with this, I’m sure. Right. So there there’s like a support that basically is like sitting there waiting for you if this is something you want to do. Because what I would be curious about with this and tell you too is like even just running your numbers what financially could look like for you if you did a course as opposed to an associate, because something about associates is they also get paid, right? Yes. Because they’re actually the one providing a service. And even if you do a 50/50 split, you know, which is kind of it depends on in your area what is kind of like a normal split. But what I see kind of the steeper splits, I see it’s more like 50/50. That means there’s only 50% of the money to then also like pay for any expenses associated with that associate. You’re also putting in time and work. Right. We know that there’s taxes that come off of that because you’ve done money skills and you’ve got your systems worked out. So it’s like it often doesn’t pay as much as people think it does.
Natalia [00:10:51] Right.
Linzy [00:10:52] Yes. Which is why often people scale into larger practices, because it’s when you start adding five clinicians, seven clinicians, that money really starts to come in. Of course, all of that money is for you. Right. All of those sales that you make, some of those will go to like running software and stuff like that. But the cost of software is much less than the cost of paying an employee. Yes, significantly less.
Natalia [00:11:12] Mm hmm.
Linzy [00:11:13] So that’s one idea. Would you like to think about other ideas for this?
Natalia [00:11:18] Absolutely. I like the idea, number one. That’s a good one.
Linzy [00:11:22] We started good. So another I mean, I’m going to tell you, I’m biased towards courses because I think that, like, you can package up your gift and you have a gift, right? There’s a reason that you are full. You can package up your brilliance and you can sell it for a good amount of money because it literally changes people’s lives. So I’m a huge fan of that. Other kind of options would be a membership site. Right. So have a place where folks can join like a lower price point. Right. But it’s like a larger community. You’re offering more of a community experience rather than content. You would have content in that membership site. Membership sites, I find, probably work better. It’s like a longer term model, right? And you’re kind of like always on. So I find it works well for people who are very extroverted, who love building community, who are excited at the thought of kind of like it’s always going on. How does a membership site land with you?
Natalia [00:12:09] Gut check reaction is no.
Linzy [00:12:13] Yeah. Okay. I’m sorry. Maybe I could have sold it better, but my gut for you is also No. So, I mean, with this, like, I don’t know if you’re going to do better than a course, truthfully, like you could do info products, like you could sell like smaller courses, you could write a book, but books, we don’t make money off of books. Books more like establish your credibility. Right? Unless you’re a writer and you love to write, is writing something you love to do?
Natalia [00:12:37] It is something I’m good at. It’s not something that I do often.
Linzy [00:12:40] Okay. Yes. So and there’s a writing component to your to creating a course. Right. But what I have certainly seen is like when you have expertize like you do, having a course is where you can really like package that expertize. You know how your clients learn. So you can think about how to set it up for them to succeed. You can think about how much support do they need and when. Like, is this something? Are they really going to want to do it by themselves? Would you have calls that you do every couple of weeks? Does it work? Well, if they go through in a cohort, so they’re with a group and they feel that momentum of a group or will people kind of want to do it at their own pace? Like there’s all these little tweaks and variations, but ultimately. What you’re doing is packaging up those conversations that you have over and over and over and over again with your clients. Yes, you’re packaging those up, but in a way you’re packaging them like the best version of that talk you get to record. Right. And then you get to create the worksheet that goes with it. It’s like those key pieces that you wish every client would take the time to think through. And then you think about what is their journey? What is your client journey like? What are the key things that need to happen for them to get them on the other side of the transformation that you’re offering them?
Natalia [00:13:44] Yes. Yes. And as you’re saying that, I’m thinking that sounds fairly easy for me because my specialty is I work with people who struggle with emotional eating, and I can tell you, the first five sessions, what I’m- the things that I am trying to find out about.
Linzy [00:14:03] Totally. Yes. So something for you to think about. And like I’ve had a couple of people on season three that we’ve recorded with and they haven’t come out yet episodes, but who are course creator people who are like, talk to a lawyer, talk to a lawyer, talk to a lawyer. So I’m going to say that to you, too. You know, you want to make sure that you’re staying within the bounds of what’s appropriate for a course and also helping people to flag when it’s time to seek medical attention. Talk to a professional. Right. Like we don’t want to be saying that you’re replacing therapy, but you are you can package up some of those therapeutic resources that you have that people can self-study. Right, and then offer some amount of support. So that’s something you want to think about, too, within your licensure, making sure that you’re saying, you know, like above board and within your code of ethics. But those are all figure out all things.
Natalia [00:14:47] Yes, agreed.
Linzy [00:14:48] So what do you notice about about this idea as opposed to hiring an associate?
Natalia [00:14:52] I feel a lot more energy and flow behind it. I have tried twice now to hire an associate, seriously, yes. And each time it has not felt right. Yes.
Linzy [00:15:06] And why do you think that is?
Natalia [00:15:08] It’s not the right way for me.
Linzy [00:15:09] Yes. And I think that that is true for a lot of therapists. Maegan Megginson and I have joked before about like sometimes we feel like we’re the people who try to talk people out of group practice. And I’ve seen people who love group practice. Natalia And like they light up at the thought of like mentoring and like creating a community. Like it’s like the stuff that lights them up is all the content of your practice. But I’m not really hearing that.
Natalia [00:15:33] For, you know, that is not what liked me up. No. Yeah. Okay.
Linzy [00:15:39] So what I’m hearing is, of course, seems to be much more energizing.
Natalia [00:15:44] Yes, yeah, yeah. I like that idea.
Linzy [00:15:46] So thinking about that then, knowing yourself, what are your next steps to get you started down this road? What do you need?
Natalia [00:15:53] I would probably need to start investigating, seriously, a side hustle slash course mastermind.
Linzy [00:16:02] Yes. Okay. So I don’t know her, but I am going to recommend to you, as we’re recording, Marissa Lawton.
Natalia [00:16:08] She’s actually who I was thinking of.
Linzy [00:16:10] Yeah. Therapist side hustle. So I would definitely check her out. She’s kind of like a colleague of colleagues. I just. I hear good things about her. So, you know, there are people like her who have programs specifically about this.
Natalia [00:16:21] Yes.
Linzy [00:16:22] So it sounds like knowing yourself, you know, that that structure is important.
Natalia [00:16:26] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I like being around other colleagues and hearing their ideas and what they’re doing. And I like that energy.
Linzy [00:16:39] Are there any other pieces that’ll be helpful for us to dig into while we’re thinking about this together?
Natalia [00:16:44] I feel pretty good about this piece that we’ve just done.
Linzy [00:16:47] Did we do it?
Natalia [00:16:48] I think we did.
Linzy [00:16:49] Beautiful. Coming back to your original question, I guess now a question I have for you is, is it that you have a block around expanding or is it that you’ve just been maybe looking at expanding in a way that you knew in your gut was not right for you?
Natalia [00:17:01] That is a great differentiation. I was attempting to expand in a way that was not right for me because you and I were chatting before we started the podcast that I also had a side hustle of flipping used books, and that started during the pandemic because basically I was bored and yes.
Linzy [00:17:25] Need a challenge.
Natalia [00:17:26] And there’s a part of me that’s very much an entrepreneur. I like, I like a challenge. I like figuring things out. How is this going to work? This didn’t work. Let’s make it better and it’s something I’m still doing and it’s very, very fun.
Linzy [00:17:40] Yes. Yes. So yeah. So I think that this it sounds like in a way, you kind of maybe generalize the story that it’s about expanding. But what I’m hearing is actually like you like a challenge. You do have an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s just finding the right thing.
Natalia [00:17:52] Yes, yeah, yeah. Okay.
Linzy [00:17:54] Anything else before we finish up?
Natalia [00:17:57] No, this was really fun.
Linzy [00:17:58] This was great. I feel like we almost got to the point so fast. But I’m excited for you and, for folks listening, Marissa Lawton, as I say, a colleague of a colleague, I hear great things. She’s got resources around exactly that. So I always say like the value and I mean Natalia. You’ve paid for my course and mastermind. You’ve paid for other people’s stuff. I think you and I both know the value of just like getting the right help. Right. Not trying to reinvent the wheel all by yourself.
Natalia [00:18:25] Absolutely. And I want to say here publicly on the podcast, I would not have the kind of thriving, full, private practice that I do. I wholeheartedly believe if I had not taken their courses. Thanks for the mastermind.
Linzy [00:18:42] I am so glad. Like, that’s very touching to hear. I’m so glad to hear it. And like you, you’ve accomplished incredible things and I’m so excited for you to now take that next step and package up into your course and just like expand, keep expanding your you’re doing amazing things.
Natalia [00:18:57] If I could say before we got on, I found my journal that I started at the beginning of 2018 when I first started your beta course.
Linzy [00:19:09] My very first round. Yep.
Natalia [00:19:11] And I was going through all the questions and my fantasy of what it would be like when I have arrived.
Linzy [00:19:17] Yes.
Natalia [00:19:18] And one of them was I would only look at money – I forgot exactly what I said – maybe once a week or something like that. But now I’m only having to do that once a month.
Linzy [00:19:30] Right. Because it’s all working.
Natalia [00:19:32] It’s all working. The systems are in place.
Linzy [00:19:35] That’s it. Yes. And I think that’s like I appreciate you you saying that, because I think that’s a misconception that people have as they think that once you’re more in touch with your money, it adds more and more work to your life and it becomes like it’s arduous forever. And what I’ve seen is like it is more work for a bit as you’re building systems, because systems take time and energy and if you have to clean up a mess from before, that takes work. But once you have your systems working and once you have your numbers set up so that they’re working ongoingly. It actually takes very little work to keep it up.
Natalia [00:20:06] Yes. Yeah. I love that idea that maybe in five years because I think it’s been about five years since we first started talking that four or five years, maybe in four years I could have a class get her a course. Now it’s just going on my website because.
Linzy [00:20:25] Yes, totally.
Natalia [00:20:26] I love the idea of somebody waking up and seeing that two people signed up.
Linzy [00:20:30] Oh, yes, it’s a good experience. I can tell you. It feels good. It feels good. And similarly, Natalia, I will say, it’s kind of like you build out the system. You know, this is how course courses work too. Right? You build out the system. At first it takes a lot of thought. You’re trying to package up all you know, you’re trying to figure out how to talk about it in a way that people understand what they’re buying. But again, once you do that and you set it up like, you know, you literally wake up to somebody having bought your course, right? Because all of these things that you’ve seeded out in the world, they’ve had enough experience of you that they’re like, Yeah, Natalia is the person who I’m going to, you know, who’s going to help me with my emotional eating. And they’ve bought while you were literally unconscious. It’s pretty good.
Natalia [00:21:11] That that idea makes me light up.
Linzy [00:21:12] Yes. Yes. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Natalia, for joining me today.
Natalia [00:21:17] Absolutely. Thank you. This was fun.
Linzy [00:21:32] In my conversation today with Natalia, the energy shifted so quickly once we moved away from the idea of her hiring an associate. Because I know Natalia and she is a money skills grad and also did a mastermind with me a few years ago. I know that she’s tried before to hire an associate, so that’s kind of maybe part of what was happening on my side that led me so quickly to just gut check with her whether she really wants to hire an associate. I know that this is an idea she’s had for a while and she hasn’t moved on it. And I was really curious what the reason for that was. I think so often, as I mentioned in the episode, we get so many messages just to like just hire somebody, just hire somebody as though they’re just making it seem like that’s a very simple thing to do. And the reality is moving into group practice and having associate has a whole other list of responsibilities and roles that you’re going to be playing for that associate, even if it’s just one. If you really want to be having an employee who is supported and well cared for and wants to stick around. There’s work involved in that. So it’s important to ask yourself, is that the job you want to have? So often with expanding, we focus on, as Natalia mentioned, the money that’s being left on the table or the opportunity or the fact that this is what we’re being told to do and we don’t stop to think about, is this the job I actually want to have? Am I creating a job that I would want? And often when we ask ourselves that question, we’re going to get a gut response that gives us some good clues of the directions that we might actually want to lead when expanding. As soon as I shifted into suggesting the idea of a course to Natalia, her language change, she talked about feeling excited and happy, thinking about it. She immediately knew what her content would start to be like. You could see that immediately there was starting to be flow and possibility around it, which just did not exist around the idea of her hiring associate and had shown up when she had tried to hire an associate before and it had never really taken off. So if you’re in a similar situation to Natalia, I do encourage you to be curious and think about what are some other ways you might be able to expand what you’re offering to clients or different types of side hustles? Like Natalia mentioned, flipping books, that is distinctly not therapy. And sometimes it’s nice to to just do things that are income generating, that are not therapy, and those are all valid options and all valid ways to bring more money into your life and create more financial stability for your family. If you like what I do, you can follow me on Instagram @moneynutsandbolts. We are sharing free, practical and emotional money content there all the time. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, I would so appreciate if, like Eileen at the beginning of the podcast, you would jump over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review. Let me know what you think about the podcast, what’s helpful about it? It helps other therapists to find the Money Skills For Therapists podcast. Thanks so much for listening today.
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