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Are you looking to move to the next level of your private practice? Have you been yearning for some support and connection from like-minded clinicians in your area of mental health? How do you add clinicians to your private practice?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about starting a solo practice side gig with Brandon Shurn.
Podcast Sponsor: Level Up
March 20th – 23rd is Level Up Week, and we are offering over 20 webinars focused on helping you Level Up totally for FREE.
We have guests like Valerie Harris, talking about how to grow your practice with insurance. We have speakers from the Speaker Lab. We’re going to talk with you about the new public speaking gigs, as well as Experts on how to get a TEDx talk as well as every single phase of practice.
We’re talking about five simple marketing techniques you’d have to master and how to add virtual assistants to your practice. We have Profit First professionals coming in to teach you how to grow your money.
Whether you’re starting a practice, growing a group practice, or expanding to do multiple streams of income, Level Up week is for you. Mark your calendars, March 20th-23rd
See all of the webinars that you can register for over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup
Meet Brandon Shurn
Brandon Shurn is the owner and operator of EmPower Me Holistic Counseling. He has a passion for helping people reach their goals by tapping into their internal power. He believes that everyone has the ability to overcome the challenges they encounter in life, it is just a matter of being EmPowered to do so. The path to this sense of empowerment will be different for each person and so each session is custom-fitted to the client.
Visit EmPower Me Holistic Counseling and connect on Instagram.
In This Podcast
- Making the space to start a solo practice
- Running a side gig practice
- Brandon’s tips
- Brandon’s advice to private practitioners
Making the space to start a solo practice
Starting a new business at any stage or level is going to be tough at times.
Brandon knew that there would be a time of hard work and some long hours to get everything going, but he managed to balance it all by having boundaries around his time and energy that he stuck to.
I had to be strategic in how I planned it, and I fumbled a lot on the way … to where I’m at now but that’s what I did. I said, “You know what, I need to structure this so that I’m giving my best in all of these areas”.
Brandon had conversations with his wife around time boundaries, made sure he got enough sleep whenever possible, and stuck to his word when it came to working time versus family time.
Running a side gig practice
It’s investing the [number] of hours that you want to work, [then] work those hours on the business.
The hours that Brandon sets aside for his practice he makes sure to work.
During designated client hours, if there isn’t a client in that slot, he will work on admin or create content because it’s within his designated work time.
- Brandon found the Practice of the Practice 28-step checklist and incorporated it into his business-building-plan
- He listened to content, and podcasts, and sought after some expertise from the people who had done this type of work before him
- After some time, he joined Next Level Practice and found a community that he wanted to be part of on his solo practice journey.
[Joining the Mastermind] helped push me out of my comfort zone. I’m part of a small group and it’s beautiful for me because we are all in different areas of the US … we are constantly pulling each other and pushing each other.
- Creating great video content directed to his ideal audience
- Consider creating your own community for networking
Brandon’s advice to private practitioners
There is a need that you can fill. Drill down into your niche because it will give you the confidence to create content and speak to the people that can benefit from your work. It’s worth every penny to invest in yourself and join a group of people that are on the same journey as you.
Books mentioned in this episode:
Sponsors mentioned in this episode:
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
Check out these additional resources:
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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March 20th through 23rd is Level Up Week. We are offering over 20 webinars focused on helping you level up totally for free. We have guests like Valerie Harris talking about how to grow your practice with interns, we have speakers from the Speaker Lab who are going to talk with you about getting public speaking gigs, as well as experts on how to get a TEDx Talk and every single phase of practice. We’re talking about five simple marketing techniques you have to master how to add virtual assistance to your practice. And we have Profit First professionals coming in to teach you how to grow your money. Whether you’re starting a practice, growing a group of practice, or expanding to do multiple streams of income, Level Up Weak is for you. Mark your calendars, March 20th through 23rd and see all of the webinars that you can register for over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup. Again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/levelup.
This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 849.
I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast where we, every week, several times a week, we are talking private practice. We’re talking marketing, business, keeping the heart in your practice, all those things. This month we’ve specifically been diving into all around how to start a private practice. How do you start a solo practice? We’re talking to people that are in the earlier stages of a solo practice. Some folks have done the startup several times. Like in our last episode, just two days ago, Benita talked about starting a new practice three times when she moved because her husband’s in the military so she got really good at starting practices but was only two years into her current practice. Or we were talking about some systems that work in starting a practice so just conversations with people that I like that are starting solo practices and rocking that out. Today we have Brandon Shurn, who I’m so excited to chat with. He’s been a member in our communities. He shows up for himself. Brandon, welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast. I’m so excited to have you on today.
Thanks. Thanks for having me, Joe. I’m excited to be here.
Yeah, every time that you show up in a meeting or one of our trainings, I don’t know why I just get a big smile. I’m like, Brandon’s here. I’m so excited he’s here. So when I saw you on my calendar today, I was pretty dang excited. I knew my day would be a good day.
Ah, that’s, you’re too generous. I will just say that for me, it’s about being uncomfortable and so even putting myself on a schedule to get podcast, to be interviewed was uncomfortable for me because, you know you’ve been in this space and so I look up to you in terms of mentorship and you’ve been where I want to be and so having this opportunity for me, it’s like I got to, I have to play fallout. I have to. It’s a must.
Yes, I mean, that’s such a good point. I mean, there’s things that for me kind of make me crap my pants too. Like when Simon Sinek a year ago asked me to start doing some speaking for him, I’m like, oh my gosh. Like, I have followed Simon for years. So it’s just good to push yourself into those times. It reminds me of, oh shoot, who was it, it was, oh, a business writer. He was talking about how he, Al Gore, he was working for as an intern and said, who has speech writing experience? This guy raised his hand and he had no speech writing experience, but no one else raised their hand and he’s like, I got to learn to be a speech writer and he became Al Gore’s speech writer because he raised his hand. So that’s so awesome. Well, anyway let’s talk solo practice. Tell us about your practice, like just the brief, two sentence overview. Tell us a little bit about your life outside of practice so people know who you are outside of a business owner, and then we’ll dig into what launching a solo practice has been like for you.
Okay, so, I mean, I have Empowered Me Holistic Counseling right now, it’s virtual and I specialize really in working with males who’ve experienced a traumatic event in their life. Outside of the practice, I’m a husband, I’m a father. I just recently completed my dissertation, so a doctorate, doctoral graduate so a lot of things happening outside of life, outside of practice for me, but yeah, a husband and a father is really, and I’m a reader too. I love reading.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Uncommon Sense Teaching and it talks about the neuroscience behind brain, behind the brain and how the brain learns and how to structure teaching for students to be able to learn and grab the material. Also, I’m a full-time professor as well, so the private practice right now is a side thing for me that I want to expand but having a family I got to make sure that there’s income coming in, so it gives me the ability to play around with pricing and deciding not to take insurance. So that was, for me, having that security so to speak, was really beneficial.
Wow, so on top of a doctoral program, on top of being a professor, on top of being a husband and a dad, you launch a side gig counseling practice too.
Yes, how many hours in a day do we have?
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I just want to start with, from a energy and time standpoint, how did you figure out how to make time for a side gig counseling practice?
It was, I determined that I wanted to be successful in this space, and so it requires me to lose a little sleep and structure my life in such a way that I can, I’m available, so a lot of the times the mental health counseling is one of those late afternoon, early evening things. So becoming a professor allowed me to have that time free so that I could, and so it’s not, I’m not taking leave and I’m not not showing up for other things that I might have. Because of that, when I’m done working even with seeing clients, that’s family time and that’s time with my wife. So I had to be really strategic in how I planned it. I fumbled a lot on the way, on the way to where I’m at now, but it was, that’s really what I did. I said I need to structure this so that I’m giving my best in all of these areas. But when I unplug and I’m done teaching, or I’m done grading or I’m done working with clients, that time is for me and for family.
I know that, even just having just one business, let alone all the things that you’re doing, there’s always things to do, like the work is never done. Do you have specific habits or boundaries where it’s like, after this time I never check email or this is specific family time and we’re going to put our phones on silent? Or do you have any habits or things like that that help you set those boundaries around all the different things that you’re working on?
I do. So on my work, my professor-related email, I have a time where it goes off where I’m in “do not disturb.” A lot of the times for me personally, I get up early in the morning, so I get up around five o’clock and that’s when I work out, that’s when I journal, that’s when I take time to center and meditate and do all of those things. So it’s a lot of me time. That’s also when I do a lot of reading as well before the ecosystem of my world starts. So I get a few hours in personally and so then I know that when I’m invested in these other areas, I’ve also invested in myself.
Now, what time do you go to bed to be getting up that early?
Mostly around between 10 and 11. And that’s Monday through Thursday. So I don’t, I read Thursday is the New Friday, so I began to structure my life. That was another thing I did. I said, okay, I want to not have to work on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. And having a conversation with my wife, she said, we are okay and I’m okay with you not really being present or available while you’re doing all of these things, getting your business launched and all of that Monday through Thursday, as long as Friday, Saturday and Sunday is for us. So on those days, I do nothing. I don’t have my phone, I don’t walk around with it or any of that stuff. I’m on “do not disturb” for most of the day.
That’s awesome. Well, I think that that’s something that I’ve heard with partners, how it’s like even when you’re here, you’re not here. You’re thinking about the business, we’re talking about the business, you’re excited about it because when you’re starting a private practice, it can be really exciting and it can also be for the partner of the person launching it. Like, I want Brandon to be Brandon not to be talking about his business and brainstorming and like, I want you to be here. So that’s so great that you guys have found a rhythm for your family as to what works during what could be a really busy time where you feel disconnected from one another.
It’s really, it was really, I’m fortunate in that my wife was in the military. So she just retired like a year and a half ago but she was really understanding because there was a lot of giving and a lot of moving and things like that so a lot of what I’m doing now I have the ability to do it because we are stationary and I know that we’re not, if we move, it’s because we want to, not because we have to and it allows me the freedom and the flexibility to just go ahead and launch. So that’s what I did.
Are you in solo practice and wondering how to get things going, what marketing techniques to do and what the order is that you should get things done? Maybe you want to start a group practice because you’re busting at the seams, but you have no idea when is the right time. Or maybe you want a seven-figure, multiple-location practice that you can grow. Also, maybe you’re even growing beyond that and building e-courses, podcasts, membership communities. No matter what phase of practice you are in, we have something for you at Level Up Week. Level Up Week is March 20th through 23rd, 2023. Again, that’s March 20th through 23rd. We have over 20 webinars that are totally free. We have things like how to get a TEDx Talk, how to get more public speaking gigs, how to use Profit First in your private practice, how to pay yourself, starting a solo practice panel where we have five successful solo practitioners.
We also have essential systems you have to have, how to add virtual assistance, how to add multiple streams of income, supersizing your practice to over 50 clinicians in the five simple marketing techniques every practice has to master. No matter your phase of practice, it could be that moment that you just said to yourself, I need to leave my full-time job and start a practice all the way up through having a thriving group practice and you are launching something that’s going to go international. We have several webinars for you. So head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/levelup to see which webinar is the best fit for your time and your phase of practice. If you want the recordings, just register for the ones that you want and we will send you those recordings totally free of charge. Again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/levelup, practiceofthepractice.com/levelup.
So take us through specifically when you’re launching a side gig counseling practice that eventually you may want to grow into something bigger, how would you say the mentality is different when it’s a side gig and you’re keeping your professorship and for now that it’s not taking over as a full-time business? Like how would you say you thought through it differently than someone that knows they want to be full-time in the next three months or so?
Probably not that much different. For me the side, being a side gig, again, it’s something that I know you talked about a lot and it’s investing the amount of hours that you want to work, work those hours on the business. So I’m doing content creation, I’m doing things like that with the hours that I have structured that would typically be client hours, finding creative ways to market and network within the community and specifically in my area. To me it is not much of a difference because I do put that energy into it, like showing up in Next Level Practice and taking part of a lot of events that’s going on there. The only thing for me with the professorship is it just allows me to say, I know for a fact I don’t want to take insurance and if it takes me a minute to gain that traction to really drive in and start building and launching to where the phone is ringing off the hook, I’m okay with that because I don’t want to take insurance. Insurance is just a pain in a neck.
Yeah, I think that’s such a good point. I think that when you have it as a side gig, you can take some of those risks of maybe having your price be a little bit higher than someone that just needs to get full. You can test things out because you know you have that reliable income coming in through your full-time job and to say, no, I don’t want to take insurance. I want to have this price point. Then to know, okay, yeah, I have five people or I have 10 people, or I have two people, whatever it is, that is the number that you’re at and then where you’re headed. You can take those risks differently when you know that it’s a side gig for right now that may grow into something bigger.
Oh, it’s definitely going to grow into something bigger. I have a real, I have a plan, I’ve sketched it out in terms of where I want it to be. I want to, before the end of this year, I want to bring on a clinician. I’m vacillating between being a 1099 or a W2 because I know that there’s, prior being both of them in past life I understand the nuances but also understand some of the trappings that could come with hiring a 1099. So I’m waiting through those decisions, but I definitely want to branch out. Something that like, when I get six or seven consistent clients, it’s something that I’m going to look at doing.
Yeah, I mean, before I left my full-time job, I had four clinicians working for me in my “side gig” counseling practice. I mean, you can do it all sorts of different ways and people are like, holy cow, how’d you manage that? Because I had a full-time job already, I had to set up systems where I could be absent and still have the phone getting answered and people getting scheduled. So it was really good that it really didn’t matter what my caseload was. It was just like, let’s fill up this office. I’m not going to fill it up because I’m 40-plus hours a week in my full-time job at the college. So it’s interesting how sometimes the limitation of your hours forces you to create systems and value your time differently to say, yeah, I’m going to hire an assistant before I think I even need one, but it’s going to get people in to see these other clinicians. Well, what was helpful when you were first getting going, so imagine there’s people listening and they’re in the startup phase of their solo practice, what was helpful? What was confusing? Take us through some of that journey.
So I was, it was really, I knew a while ago that I wanted to do private practice and do my own thing, hang my own shingle and it’s interesting because, I just did like a Google search and that 28-step checklist came up, the infographic that you created. So I had that a while ago before I even knew you were doing podcasting. Then I started my doc journey at the end of 2018 and I had a professor that was mentioning a podcast. Then by watch, by listening to that, I got, I heard you on the podcast and then I started following you and I started following you more than another podcast. So it was a lot of you just giving real good content free of charge to me and working through and I said, wow, there is no way that I can’t and that I will not join Next Level Practice when stars aligned.
And I know for me, I had to force myself. I said, okay, I have a few things that I need to do. One, I need to go ahead and tell the owner of this practice that I’m not going to renew my contract because it was set to renew automatically. So I had to put that in place. That was already uncomfortable. Then it was the last, I think it was last year when you did that Level Up Week and then the doors to Next Level Practice opened and I joined and I just never looked back, even though I still had some time on my contract with my prior business partner, I guess you want to, if you want to call it that. When I was done with that, I was able to just flow freely and so get in all these systems that you talk about, having a good website and having good copy and search engine optimization and all of these things that I had never really thought about. I was like, I’m just going to tell people I’m here and they’re going to say, hey, beat down the door.
Yeah. So for you, what was the value or what is the value of being in a community like Next Level Practice to help you save time, know what to do? Like how did that speed up your progress?
Because it helped push me out of my comfort zone. So I’m a part of a small group and it’s beautiful for me because we are all in different areas of the world, or the United States I should say. So there’s the threshold for sharing goes down a little bit, like with the fear of sharing and so we are constantly pulling each other, pushing each other. One of the things that Dana had pushed me to do is, her, in addition to the other cohort members, they were like, you got to, I was going to, one of my plans was to email five therapists, like on Psychology Today or Good Therapy. One of the members was like, well no, you should probably double that. Then Dana was like, yeah and I was like, ah, man, y’all don’t know how introverted I am. This is going to suck. But I did, and I actually have one right now that I’m scheduled to meet with. So I was like, wow, okay, so getting pushed out of my comfort zone was really good because I’m pretty good at talking myself out of doing stuff even though I want to do it. So Next Level Practice is amazing.
I mean, I think that’s the value of just being around people that in some way or another are where you’re at, but in other ways are ahead of you and that they just see things differently, they can push you. I mean, I think about how many times in What’s Working, someone comes and says, I’m getting pretty full and I don’t know if I should raise my rates. Then we talk about raising their rates and they just are like, there’s no way. Then they raise it by $35 or $50 and then the next month they come back and they got three new clients at this new rate and they’re like, oh my gosh, what was I doing? It’s just so exciting to have people around you that can push you to think differently in different ways.
And it’s all positive and I get so many jewels and gems from them and it’s fun and it is just going back to even what you were saying about me showing up and because I’m so introverted, I know the only way that I’m going to speak up is to force myself. So it’s really about me becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s even on being on this podcast, that’s what that’s about for me.
Now you said that they gave you some gems and jewels. What are some of the most helpful things that either people gave you advice on or that you did early on that you’re super thankful that you did right away?
Beginning to record content as a way of marketing, getting my name out, not just focusing on YouTube but doing like Instagram, really getting a sense of where my ideal client is and beginning to market there. So producing YouTube content, but then having it filter out into Instagram and then maybe to Facebook. But one of the other things, Joe, and this just came up in the last small group meeting, was the idea of creating a community myself for just the networking community on like Facebook or something where we can all in the area in where I’m at in Maryland, where we can be a resource to each other because there’s a lot of competitiveness that I’ve noticed and inside of this space, like there’s not a need that we all can’t work symbiotically to feel and address.
Yeah. I mean, so having those ideas to push you differently when you, when you think about adding your first clinicians to your practice, so we’ve talked about where you’ve been and what was helpful then, what are you thinking in regards to like how you’re going to work through those things, what your plan is as to level up into a group practice? Because I think a big question a lot of solo practitioners have is like, when should I level up into like, having a group of practice? For you, how are you making that decision as to when to start to get serious about adding more clinicians to your practice?
Well, it goes back to something that, I mean, you’ve said this many times, even on the podcast when you would talk about people, when you would talk to people or even on during the Ask Joe’s about being 60% full. For me that’s like six clients because right now I’m at a space where I only want to do between 12 and 16 sessions a week. So having six clients that I’m consistently seeing or if, I could have 35 people, but if I’m only seeing, if I’m seeing six of them a week, then it becomes time for me to really begin to look at who to hire. And also understanding that I don’t want to hire somebody just like me, that wouldn’t work. I’m a big visionary, so I need someone that is a little more process and operations oriented. So those are some of the things that I’ve been thinking and that again, it’s something that I got from being a part of Next Level Practice and so Predictable Success and the synergist, you know like you sending out Predictable Success and me going through and it saying, ah, okay, this is why I don’t click with a lot of people so Understanding that about myself.
So Predictable Success was one of the books that we sent out to people and then brought, was it Les, was that his first name, as one of our experts to be able to have people pick their brains. I think that’s when, I had to miss that, because was that when I was hospitalized? I think it might have been because I had to miss that for some reason so I think Dana ran it, or maybe LaToya did. Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think that just talking to people who have added folks to their practice and to see like how they think through it, how did they not, and to me, it was, I didn’t even necessarily have the client flow coming in, but I had the space. So it was like, hey this guy Steve wants to be in there on Tuesdays and what’s Steve good at, he’s good at toxic families and he’s good at addictions work and that’s not work that I was doing. So it was amazing how as soon as I started adding clinicians. It was almost like people came to the website thinking that they wanted to work with me, but then they wanted to work with Steve or with Nicole or somebody else and all of a sudden, I have this group practice that’s thriving outside of my counseling work at the college. So yeah, you never know how it’s going to take off.
Yeah, it’s, for me, I’m enjoying it. I was just counting, I’m really, I’m very, very new at this. I’m only three months in but I do have a couple clients that I’m seeing. I am getting my name out and becoming more comfortable with recording content and trusting myself enough to hang it and send it out and let people see it. So all of that stuff is me getting outside of my comfort zone, something that I would not have done had I not been a part of Next Level Practice.
Well, I appreciate all the shoutouts around that. The last question I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
Wow, I had been more than this over in my head a lot. There is a need that you feel that you understand, knowing your niche, knowing who you serve, and being able to drill down into that will give you the confidence to speak, to record, to produce content and being a part of a community where you are getting that support, you’re getting pushed to take those uncomfortable actions and put yourself out there is very valuable. It’s worth every penny. So I would just say find a place. It could be Next Level Practice, it could be something else, but find someone that is doing what you want to do or has done it and learn from them.
So awesome. Brandon, if people want to follow your website, if they want to follow your work, where’s the best way for them to connect with you?
So I’m on Instagram at EmHolisticCounseling, that’s all one word. My website is emholisticcounseling.com. I’m on Facebook and YouTube under the same name. I’m going to, I’m producing, I’m getting set up to produce content so that I can record the video so that I can release them on a regular basis and just talk about things that I’m doing and initiatives that’s going on with Empower Me Holistic Counseling.
That is amazing. Keep up the great work and thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice Podcast today.
Hey, thank you for having me, Joe.
I just love that Brandon is three months into this and he just dove in and got those systems going. He’s meeting with his small groups and his accountability partner coming to meetings that we’re hosting and really taking what he’s learning and putting into action. That’s the thing that I see over and over as the difference between those that just listen to the podcast and those that listen and then take action. So whether it’s people doing one-on-one consulting with me and we talk and then they go take action or it’s people in Next Level Practice or any of our communities, it’s when you take that action on top of the learning, you can’t just keep learning and learning and never take the action.
He did mention Next Level Practice. Our next cohort for that opens in March of 2023. That you can read all about over at practiceofthepractice.com/invite. But we have an amazing event, summit, virtual conference, call it whatever you want to call it. But we call it Level Up Week, and that’s going to be March 20th through 23rd. A number of things all align around that week. We’re going to have over 20 webinars from every stage of practice, from starting a practice to when do you level up into a group practice to how do you rock out a group practice to then how do you level up into passive income and e-courses, that whole journey that many of us go on of starting a practice, growing a practice, leaving a practice, or having to be more automated.
We’ve got some amazing people coming. We’ve got people from the Speaker Lab talking about public speaking. We have a strong maybe from Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman. She has some grandkids stuff that might get in the way so that’s a big maybe. That’s always exciting to have Julie be involved. We have a ton of just webinars with other partners, but also that we’re going to be putting on. All those details are going to be over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup. That’s going to be a great place for you to sign up for whichever webinars look good. Some of them, if you’re not starting a practice, so you have a group practice, you wouldn’t obviously register for all the solo ones so you can pick whichever webinars look really good to you for that week.
Thank you so much for hanging out and letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music.
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