Profile: Kat Fulton! Part 2

KatFulton-36b_opt

Kat, you are a huge inspiration for music therapists who are trying too build their online presence. Will you share any suggestions for the aspiring clinician?

 

“Building an online presence can be very time consuming, and it may not directly produce paying clients. Remember that your time should be focused on getting that first paying client! If you’re starting to work online, your minimum entry will be a Facebook page, and don’t even think about Twitter, Instagram, or whatever. And don’t be discouraged if you only have 36 ‘likes’! Businesses do great marketing by shaking hands, by being at this race for Autism, getting a booth at the race, by going to the charter school conference, by presenting for the charter school board of decision makers whoever they are! That’s how they get their work. So if online presence isn’t your thing, don’t get discouraged, just keep on keeping on. You’re doing fine just the way you are. And again, it has to do with looking for people you admire, not just within music therapy, who have a thriving company and learning how their clinic operates, or how they make it happen. Everybody does it differently! When you are opening a website and you have an area for a blog, but if you’re not fired up with the time and ability to write a bunch of great posts, I recommend you write at least three blog posts, then figure out how to hide the publication date.

“To take things a little deeper, in online marketing, there are different levels of engagement: There are a group of people who have never heard of your business, then there’s this group who have heard of you but aren’t engaging, there’s the people who like your social media page, who signed up for your e-mail list, and those who signed up for a free consultation – you can start to see these levels of engagement leading towards paying clients! Going through these levels can be a beautiful process for your audience. Keep guiding them forward. In your e-mail newsletters, include a link to your social media page. In your automation you invite them to join your newsletter to get the latest updates and whatever value you offer. Set up your levels so that’s it’s very clear to you where these people are and where you want them to go from there.

“There is a misconception that because we’re music therapists, we’re not good at business. ‘Oh, my skill set is only in therapy,” and, ‘Well, my empathetic therapist side thinks it’s okay to charge $15 an hour for my services.” But what I love to do is to turn that on its head. Because of your therapeutic skills, you actually are a better business owner. Period. When you’re starting out, the fewer levels you have, the better, the easier to understand and manage. You have to think about sustainability. You don’t want to burn out, and you want to be more effective. Collect data and figure out what’s really working. How can I do more of what is working, and less of what isn’t working? If you’re feeling overwhelmed or inadequate, then that is a strong indicator sign that you need to stop, write out all of the things that you have to do, and cross off any of those things that you have found simply do not work. There’s a principle where we probably spend 20% of our time working on 80% of the stuff in our lives, whereas the other 80% of the time is probably just goofing around, which, if that’s what you need, is okay!”

What are the intangibles that made you a successful business owner, and how have you, as a business owner, changed over the last ten years?

 

“I am a changed person! One thing that I have really honed in on is recognizing the value of my time, and then making decisions around time allocation. I used to spend so much wasted time doing stuff that I didn’t know didn’t work until I tried it, and then I realized that I was running experiments! I used to spend long days driving from session to session, six or seven sessions a day, and filling all these post-it notes front and back with ideas about how to better market myself. I would call my aunt, hyperventilating, and she would say, ‘Just take a deep breath, type them everything out on the computer, then turn off your computer and go to sleep!’ I did that and it kind of calmed me down, but now I can take it a step further. It doesn’t work for everyone, but now when I write out those long lists of things to do, I go through and start deleting almost all of it until there’s maybe two things left that I actually, really need to do. My time allocation has changed dramatically by this point. I even have a list of things I should stop doing.

“I’ve learned a lot about relationships. I never knew that I had this fiery passion. Music therapy is the future of healthcare, and I truly believe that from the bottom of my soul. Before I went to grad school and discovered this passion, I was a shy person, and though I still see myself as an introverted, shy person, when I’m talking about music therapy, I’m ready to go! I’m a totally different person! I think in my work relationships I can even be too intense, so I’ve learned to hire a middleman. Dawn is my director of operations, and she helps me filter stuff out, tone stuff down. I’ve learned how to maintain and sustain healthy relationships not just within my team, but with my colleagues, community partners, and everyone else.

“Another thing that’s changed is the way I speak about music therapy. I’ve learned to put myself in another person’s position, to ask them more questions about who they are, what they do, what they need, and just immediately fit music therapy into their life. It doesn’t always work, maybe I can’t always fit it in, but I can still build rapport and trust because I genuinely care about them. I’ve been able to know them better, I’m able to hear their story. We’re always learning new things, so something else that I’m always playing around with is how to always be a student, while still being a leader and an expert. We need to be able to be vulnerable. If you don’t know something, it’s okay to let someone know that you don’t know that. At the same time though, if you don’t have an answer for a question about music therapy, you can say, ‘I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can let you know within three days!’ Because – man! – there are so many resources available in our field!”

As practices grow, they can keep branching out and providing new series or products. What are some of the coolest things that you or other successful music therapy business owners have done?

 

This is the great thing about having a business – there is no ceiling and there is no end to the possibilities! MusicTherapyEd.com has really turned into a great success; we inspire people to take action to do the best they can to improve their practice. People have also written books, there’s a radio show, in the ‘expert world’ people will provide their own live events outside of conferences, such as retreats, they’ve offered consulting, online mentoring, and people do incredible advocacy for the profession!”

Kat, thank you so much for your time and insight! What are some of the great things we will find if we jump over to MusicTherapyEd.com?

 

“We have a lot of opportunities for professional growth at MusicTherapyEd.com; we have a free CMTE course on professional success, and we also have all sorts of freebies. For the month of April, Autism Awareness month, we’re going to knock your socks off, you’re going to love it, it’s going to be all about presuming confidence, what that means and strategies to help you. It’s going to be about sensory processing, and connecting you with all these wonderful resources and experts in our field. In May, we’re going to release this really awesome guide that will help the parents in your life get music therapy in their IEP. Make sure you sign-up for the Tuesday Shout-Out, which is at http://www.musictherapyed.com/sign-up/. We have more than 4,000 music therapists who have opted in to receive the shout-out in their e-mail inbox every Tuesday. More than 4,000! And finally, check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/MusicTherapyEd. You could spend a good afternoon checking out all of our videos, and we’ll be adding a lot more about Autism topics soon. Thank you!”

Read the first half of our interview with Kat Fulton here!

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Profile: Kat Fulton! Part 1

Kat, what do you wish you knew when you were first starting your clinical business Sound Health? What are some of the best resources? What advice would you give?

 

“To give you a bit of a candid answer, I’m a bit of a person who tends to have anxiety. So when I was starting my private practice, I was so overwhelmed trying to figure out what to record and how to do it, what I “should” do to be a business, and everything. Months and months later someone told me something I wish I learned earlier: The single most important thing to focus on is getting your first paying client, and then to multiply it from there. All of the details about bookkeeping, filing your taxes, setting up systems, developing a website… those can come later! It’s okay that they’re not in place before you begin. If you don’t have revenue coming in, then it’s just a hobby, not a business. You have your revenue goals, such as how much you need to live off of, but only your real work will bring any financial results. As you continue, or especially before filing taxes, you’ll want an accountant who can help you set up bookkeeping software, and I highly recommend you find a good accountant, it is so worth it to avoid the extra work, uncertainty, and headaches. Ask your accountant to help you figure out your system so that you can work smarter instead of spinning around in circles – just go the experts. You’re going to get so many other opinions and resources while saving yourself so much valuable time by just reaching out to the experts. You need to be very resourceful. Being resourceful and reaching out for available resources is part of what makes someone successful. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help! If there’s someone you look up to and admire, ask them for help! The worst that can happen is that they’re too busy and may have to say no, but who cares? Big deal! A lot of people will be there to help.

“There are so many good resources, and which resources you need depends on what kind of business you want to build! Our values in our company have to do with self-care and leadership, so that’s what I build everything around. That’s what I make every decision for the business based upon. So if you can find a mentor who shares similar values, then ask if they help you along. MusicTherapyBusiness.com is a program that I run on an annual basis; it’s called the 90-day activator and it’s really to help you get jumpstarted. It includes templates for contracts, checklists, and sorts of different things to help you with your private practice. I love the work of Rachel Rambach, just Google her because she has a couple of amazing websites, but rachelrambach.com is a good start. Jamie George might offer mentorship; I really admire her work, she’s just on fire. If you want billing to be part of your map for what you’re creating, then go to her and ask her for help. I would get to know different practices and find out what their values are, and find a mentor for supervision – which could count for CMTE credit hours, called “unapproved” CMTE hours, but you figure out how to make those supervision hours count. A final resource I want to bring up is the Therapy Business Blueprint by Kimberly Sena-Moore; It’s a nuts and bolts checklist and outline that is really helpful. It’s really well structured with all of this information about starting and growing your business. But… don’t forget to get those paying clients first!”

What are some of the most important to spend your money on when you’re first starting out?

 

“Most music therapy and other healthcare practices bootstrap; they’re not seeking outside investors, but investing their own capitol into the business. When I started out I had to sub-contract for other agencies on the side of building my own business for the first 2 or 3 years. I think by the end of year 3 I only worked 2 hours a month and the rest was directly through my own business by then. So if I had to do it all over again, I would probably do it the same way: Buy the minimum level of equipment that you’ll need. I focused my purchases on what I need for Alzheimer’s groups. I knew that I needed some sort of rattles for each individual in the group to hold on to. I wanted to work up my drum equipment, but I never got there until just a couple of years ago. I would drive up to REMO every other weekend where they have a warehouse full of used drums. I would scope out as many deals as I possibly could. There are people who buy things and then realize they don’t want them, which you can find on a closed Facebook group called Music Therapy – Buy, Sell, Trade. You can also keep your eye on Craig’s List and different places. Spend your money on an accountant and on equipment. Otherwise, you gotta spend money on gas and basic requirements. And there are marketing aspects you can spend money on, such as brochures, business cards, and and the list goes on, but you can get a lot of that very inexpensively by going to the internet! But remember that all of this is directed towards generating real clients. The direct way to generate revenue is actually connecting with people, giving presentations, offering your services, and literally saying, ‘I am looking to build my practice right now,’ and telling everybody you know that you are in this space of growth, and that they can help. ‘Oh you love my services over at this place? Great! So tell me, are you a member of a group where I can give a presentation for people who are like you?’ That’s gotta be your focus!”

How do you market yourself and your business?

 

“So I like the direction of this, because first you asked about resources, and now you’re asking about time. Time is your most valuable resource. Time might even be more valuable than money at the point of starting your business. The way you spend your time is important and valuable. What I have found to be the most successful way to market myself is by word-of-mouth. When I hear someone say, ‘Kat! Your session, it’s not even close to entertainers! There’s an obvious difference.’ And they’re regurgitating all of the education I’ve provided them. If I notice that they’re regurgitating the education I’ve given them, then I tell them how I appreciate that they’ve noticed and say, ‘I’m curious, since you’re in this position, maybe you have a family member or know any other families who may benefit form a service like this, or are you a member of any support group outside the setting I normally see you in?’ Offer yourself. Do presentations. Get in front of a group of decision makers, and make sure they make some decision before the end of your presentation. There’s gotta be a flow to your presentation. Be strategic and be smart. By the end of your presentation, you want to make sure everyone knows, ‘I’m building my private practice now!’ Maybe you give a little marketing freebie out or something, but also pass around your calendar and have them sign up for free 30-minute consultation within the next two weeks. There’s only so much you can cover in a group, so make sure they know that you want to meet again to dig in and get to know them and their situation on an individual basis, you want to help meet their individual needs. Whenever you have the opportunity to get in front of a group, you want to wow them, provide them with the neuroscience and research behind music therapy, engage them in something experiential and share real experiences, and get them excited – you have to have contagious excitement coming with you wherever you go, and it’s easy for us to do that because music therapy is our passion, our life calling. Word-of-mouth is an active process of selling music therapy. When you start out, you want to do events whenever you can, but over time you might eventual start weeding out which to do as you start learning which opportunities will turn into the most real clients. Collect data! How many people or what percentage from which presentations actually led to consultations? And then how many turned into paying clients?”

How has ethics played a role your work?

 

Ethics pertains to the relationships within your work. So, ethics pertains to the relationships you have with your clients, your relationships with colleagues, and the relationship you have with the general public. When you’re considering ethical decision making, I highly recommend Cheryl Dileo’s book, which goes through this ten-step process of ethical decision making. Of course, we have a couple courses on MusictherapyEd.com too, which are really helpful: cultural ethics, and then a course on web ethics. Ethics plays a part in every aspect of your business. Don’t discriminate if a client can’t pay; If you cannot financially take them, you can make the ethical decision to refer that client to a different agency or organization. Instead of shutting them out, of course you always want to refer them to services that they do have access to! Depending on your state, there’s probably some health and human services available to help that sort of individual. Give them additional resources and point them in the right direction. It’s very important to maintain healthy relationships with your colleagues. Sometimes a colleague turns into a direct competitor, and maybe they’re in the same area, and maybe even serving the same population! There are a lot of examples of how music therapists in this situation maintain very healthy relationships. You don’t want to solicit places who already have music therapy services, so if you can build relationships with other music therapists and learn where they’re already working, you can cross those places off of your list and then discover everywhere else where you can reach out to!”

Continue reading our interview here!

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