Dear Nick: I feel old, tired and bored with the pressures of running a practice
Mental health coach Nick Elston helps a practitioner who has lost their practice mojo but can't decide whether they should sell or systemise their practice.
Dear Nick: “I’m 55 but feel old, tired and a little bored with the pressures of running a practice. Over the last few years, it’s grown and has been profitable. At conventional rates, it has made its 40% net profit. So selling at 1x fees seems a disaster, and after clawback, it's probably nearer .7. So less than two years profits.
I wanted my team to step up. I’ve taken on a consultant to help, but profits are falling, and I get constantly frustrated with its poor performance over the last few months. I’m torn. I’d love the great work we do to continue, but we seem directionless, with team issues, and going nowhere. I hate the idea of a sale. I feel I’d be selling out both my top team and clients I really care about.
Should I look to recruit a managing director to run things like a proper business? Or should I sell? I can’t sleep and I’m really sad.”
Despite me coming from a non-accounting background this really resonated with me. I absolutely get where you are right now. Truly. Yet, weirdly, being ‘successful’ makes these decisions a lot tougher to make. It’d be easier to sell or at least make a decision on whether to let go of a business you hate than one that isn’t working and you see no hope in. However, ‘successful’ is subjective in itself. I assume you know what success means to you but if you don't maybe this is something to address.
Sometimes in life, it’s easier to stay exactly where we are even if we are in a position of pain, frustration or hopelessness. It’s more difficult to forge a positive way forward, especially when you have lost sight of what that actually looks like.
The reason why this resonates with me is that there is not a week that goes by that I don’t want to press that big red EJECT button on self-employment and what I do now – even though I love what I do most days. So, when you throw in the challenges you are facing, it’s no wonder why you feel the way you do right now. When I mentor my clients, there is one technique that I call ‘cold processes’ where you take emotion out of an emotional subject – ie take a step back and look at things in a third party, considered manner without your emotions attached to them. Sometimes, we need to step back to take a step forward.
You seem unclear as to why the consultant was brought in, or indeed, what it was that you intended them to do. But sometimes we place control of our ‘success’ in the hands of other people when actually you have all the answers – maybe you aren’t asking the right questions of yourself?
Maybe you have the right framework, but maybe not the right people to follow that through? It could be that they haven’t bought into your vision or if you even have a vision left anymore. You see, when real life gets in the way or we are put into a position of fear or anxiety, and we make decisions that aren’t really ours. They are our ‘fight or flight’ instinct kicking in. We react, instead of proactively moving forward.
My initial advice to and others in this situation is to do this:
- Get yourself some space.
- Think about the reality of the situation, not the emotions.
- Think of your ‘why’ – why you do what you do. Does that still work for you, or are you doing this because you have always done this?
- Grab a big sheet of paper and put you in the middle.
- Ask yourself this ‘if nothing were impossible, what would my business, my life look like’.
- Question everything!
- Once you’ve finished you’ll know your 'why' again, what you want to achieve and then you can see what pieces fit into your plan or not?
- Keep an open mind and be courageous enough to be brutally honest with yourself.
- Then…. GO! Put the plan into place, make things happen, make those tough calls, and share it with your team, your family, your friends – your world!
This is now your blueprint for change. Get yourself a mentor. Not (necessarily) a consultant but someone neutral who challenges and inspires you. And most importantly, put yourself – personally – as a priority. To be happy and strong in business, you need to be happy and strong. You are one and the same person.
This question was originally posted on Any Answers as 'To sell or keep my practice?'
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Nick Elston is one of the highest-profile and leading Inspirational Speakers on the Lived Experience of Mental Health.
In life, we can either let our adversities, our challenges, define us negatively for the rest of our lives…or…we can choose for it to forge something beautiful, something powerful – something that never would have existed...