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!”