“Happy New Year to you and much happiness and success in 2015!”… You know that all business conducted by email or holiday card during the past few weeks has ended with just that greeting – or variations on that theme.
It can be the hollowest of greetings – not that you don’t really wish the person you’re writing to success and happiness – of course you do! But usually when we add it to a casual correspondence because it’s easy, it’s simply cordial – a good ending – without much thought to what’s behind it.
But this holiday season, I’ve actually put quite a bit of thought into that closing statement, for reasons I will share with you here, because I think they could have a positive effect on your work, and a ripple effect, then, on your own level of happiness and success – and your CLIENTS’ levels of happiness and success, not just in 2015, but for years to come.
Here’s why: In the span of three days, I learned of three friends – good friends, people I care about or work closely with – who suffered / are suffering major medical circumstances. One died within two weeks of a totally unexpected, practically symptomless diagnosis. Two were given devastating diagnoses and are undergoing very difficult treatments. I also heard from a handful of friends, including APHA members, whose families suffered truly tragic circumstances or news… I began to feel like that proverbial camel, just waiting for more straws.
I reacted just as many of us do; it’s this kind of news that makes me sad, so sad, at first. Whereupon I quickly transition to where I realize how important it is to LIVE life, not just slog through it. Setting aside the somedays and grabbing the bull by the horns today – right now. Doing what we love, what makes our souls sing, the reason we jump out of bed in the morning in anticipation of another incredible day. Today.
Within my thought process is that fact that this is where YOU and I – uniquely – have the opportunity to respond to this kind of stimulus so much more vigorously than others… it’s because WE – uniquely – have chosen a profession that has a major positive ripple effect on everyone it touches. When we grab those bulls by the horns, we can influence lives in ways no other profession can. As independent advocates who focus on improving people’s well-being, both through their health and their money, the positive impact we have on them, and in turn ourselves, is just enormous. Huge.
That fact not only makes us the lucky ones. It also puts responsibility on our shoulders.
There is the obvious responsibility of working with someone we are helping, making sure they are getting what they need, providing our services to them, helping them weather medical and money storms. That’s what we do.
There is also the important responsibility of running our businesses, our practices, in smart-business and ethical ways. Doing the marketing we need to do, keeping our financial records in order, tracking our time, delivering private, encrypted email, tweeting or blogging, or….
But there is another responsibility to ourselves that some of us aren’t paying attention to – and that’s where I will focus the rest of this post.
That responsibility is about fulfilling and maximizing our potential. Too few of us are doing so.
If you are:
- serving as many clients as you can
- providing as many services to them as they need (whether you do the work, or bring in someone else to do it)
- converting potential client outreach into paying clients
- charging them as much as you can charge
- maximizing their outcomes
- maximizing your income
…. then you can stop reading this post now.
<<pause, while we wait for the stampede to leave the building…
What? no stampede? >>
Just as I thought – you’re still here. So let me point out the obvious: that the start of a new year is a great time to begin working on fulfilling that potential! Which, when you have done so, will mean you have taken that bull by the horns, that your soul will be singing, and that you’ll be jumping out of bed every day in anticipation of all the good that will be accomplished that day.
I know… you’re nodding in agreement, but thinking – all that is so much easier said than done! And you’re right, it is. But no one said you have to do it all tomorrow. Maximizing your potential is not a goal; it’s a way to conduct your life for maximum happiness. Every day.
So let’s look at that responsibility / potential list:
1. serving as many clients as you can
If you aren’t, you need to be marketing. Every person who goes to a doctor today needs an advocate. If those folks aren’t your clients then you aren’t marketing well enough – you aren’t doing it right – and that needs to be fixed. Start reading (or re-reading) the articles on the APHA site, or buy a marketing book, or consult with your local SBA, SCORE or SBDC…
2. providing as many services to them as they need (whether you do the work, or bring in someone else to do it)
This one is obvious. Look for additional ways you can serve the clients you’ve got, and begin mentioning those services early in your relationship, as time goes on, through the work you do. I’ve blogged previously about how to handle the services you can’t provide yourself.
3. converting potential client outreach into paying clients
This is the #1 reason most new advocates never make it past their first year in practice – because they get the phone calls, but don’t end up with signed contracts. Here are the two reasons, and the two simple solutions.
4. charging them as much as you can charge
Most private advocates think they charge too much for their services. Further, most think that the reason someone hesitates to sign a contract is because the price is so high. Both assumptions are wrong. Don’t forget – you get what you pay for. The problem is not that your rates are too high. The problem is that you haven’t shown them why you’re worth it. The value of what a private advocate brings to his or her client is worth a substantial amount of money to everyone who can afford it, and believe me, when they see the value, they can afford it. If they don’t understand the value (your job to showcase the value through your marketing) then they will say they can’t afford it, even when that isn’t true. Charge more and you will have more clients. (A long, detailed explanation of value propositions and how to price your services if found in The Health Advocate’s Start and Grow Your Own Practice Handbook.)
5. maximizing their outcomes
Improving a clients’ outcomes from their interface with the system reaps at least three rewards: their improved situations, first and foremost. But for us, the second reward – that it makes our hearts and souls sing from the feeling of a job well done. And third, that their word-of-mouth reports to friends and acquaintances create THE most fruitful marketing for our practices. Maximizing clients’ outcomes is the very best approach to all aspects of business – but of course – it must balance with all these other aspects, too.
6. maximizing your income
… will only happen when you take care of 1-5 above.
And so, with no empty cordial greeting of Happy New Year, I share with you my advice for making it so, and invite you all to share additional ideas below as YOUR greeting to your fellow advocates.
I wish you the happiest, healthiest, and most successful of new years as you find happiness fulfilling your potential.
PS: Practicing what I preach 🙂 I have something new for you! One of my goals, as director of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, is to make sure I’m reaching as many potential advocates as possible. I do so in a variety of ways, but recognize that many people are further “upstream” in their decisions of whether or not to become advocates. They know they want to do the work, but can’t find the balance in their own heads between employment as an advocate, and self-employment. What’s involved? How much money do patient advocates make? etc.
So – NEW! – and published last week: So You Want to Be a Patient Advocate? Choosing a Career in Health or Patient Advocacy – learn more about this new book, what you can learn from it, and more. You can even read a sample – about 35% of the book.
See? Figuring out how to serve your potential customers and clients is the responsible way to do business. 🙂
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