Articles — Solo Professionals

Business Pros and Cons

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business Pros and Cons

So many people have a dream of having their own business. They focus on benefits that they could enjoy including freedom to choose schedule, pride of ownership and hopefully large profits. Unfortunately, according to Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Canada as many as 97% of new start-ups with less than one hundred employees fail in the first year of operation. Only 85% survive for three years and 70% for five years. Approximately 7000 business bankruptcies occur in a year. Even those who have years of university training and professional licences can struggle if they don't have good business sense....

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Lessons I Learned As a Business Owner

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Lessons I Learned As a Business Owner

Many people believe that all it takes to be successful is to get a degree. Not true! If you are going to operate a private practice as a professional you need to learn some basic business principles. Following are some of the things to remember as a business owner:   The buck stops with you - Take responsibility for your business. If there are problems, learn to solve them. If you are doing well, celebrate. The bottom line is that you cannot blame others or give all the credit to others. Focus on billable hours - It is easy to get involved...

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Are You The Solo Professional and the Janitor?

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Are You The Solo Professional and the Janitor?

I really got tired of trying to find a janitor who would come into the office for a few hours a month at a reasonable cost. For the past year or so, I therefore decided to do the job myself and have figured out a way to do it without being exhausted or resentful. Here are some tips that will save you time and money when it comes to cleaning the office: 1. Supplies and Equipment - I purchased a few items to keep in my storage room so they are handy. A feather duster, garbage bags, paper towels, and...

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Important Things To Put On Your Business Card

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Important Things To Put On Your Business Card

Everyone seems to have a business card these days but some of them are not very good marketing tools. The print might be too small or in a font that is not easy to read. Sometimes the colours or paper used are distracting. The whole idea of having a business card is so that people can reach you. Before you have your cards printed consider the following: 1. How will you state your name? Will you print your full name followed by all of your credentials or just your first name and surname? What font will you use? 2. Will...

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Lack of Medical and Dental Care Can Hurt Your Business

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Lack of Medical and Dental Care Can Hurt Your Business

I have heard people theorize that the reason men tend to die at a younger age than women is because they do not take care of their health. Many men have told me that they do not go to a doctor or dentist unless they are sick or have a horrible toothache. Because of this, the physicians and dentists do not have an opportunity to do proper assessments or teach preventative measures that will lead to an ongoing healthy condition. A lack of medical and dental care can hurt your business in a number of ways: 1. You feel poorly...

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Relationships Can Build or Hurt Your Business

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Relationships Can Build or Hurt Your Business

Even though we are solo professionals,k there are many people who can influence us for good or evil over time. It is therefore important to be cautious about the people who we have as associates. There are several types of relationships that can hurt our business: 1. Partners - Many of us have been burned in the past after beginning a venture with high hopes only to have them dashed when the person who we chose to partner with does not have the same goals, lifestyle or ambition. This may be a business partner who perhaps does not invest time...

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Having Family Work With You

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Having Family Work With You

There are both advantages and disadvantages to having family members work with you in your business. One of my dreams has been to build a business in which all of my family members have an opportunity to use their skills and gifts if they choose to do so. At this time I have two of three children and four of six grandchildren on staff. My daughter is my business assistant and marketing director all of which is done virtually as she lives three hours from my office. My older son does all my technological work, graphic design and accompanies me...

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Earning an Appropriate Income

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Earning an Appropriate Income

A person can only invest their time and energy for a certain period of time without receiving an appropriate income that will meet their personal and family needs. Everyone deserves to have a good return on investment but, there are times when you, as a sole professional, will earn less than you might as an employee or during better economic times. You will need to decide how you will be paid for your work as there are several options: 1. EMPLOYEE - I have an incorporated company and have set myself up as an employee who receives a cheque every...

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Taking Care of Your Health

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Taking Care of Your Health

As a solo professional, your physical and mental health is vital to your business. You are the only one who can do the work and generate income so poor health will jeopardize everything. But, it works both ways. Business can also jeopardize your health if you aren't careful. I have worked with many individuals over the years who do not protect themselves and lose both their health and their careers. There are several things that you need to do on a regular basis in order to maintain the health that will allow you to build your business and enjoy your...

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Balancing Work and Home

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Balancing Work and Home

In "The Places You'll Go" Dr. Seuss wrote "Life is one great balancing act". There are many demands both at work and at home for everyone so it is important that you learn how to balance them. I remember a few years ago when a secretary came into my office and plunked herself down on a chair. She said "I know you have problems but every day you come into the office and with a smile say 'Good morning'" No one would ever know there was anything wrong in your life. How do you do it?" My answer was simple....

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - What Do You Have to Do?

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - What Do You Have to Do?

Life is complex and it can become confusing when it comes to deciding what you have to do. Following are some basic guidelines. 1. PROVIDE BILLABLE SERVICES - If you aren't making money, you aren't in business. There are specific activities which you must do in order to earn money. Be very clear about what these are and invest most of your day doing them. If you find yourself doing things that cannot be invoiced, you need to readjust. 2. OBSERVE HONEST, ETHICAL PRACTICES - Make sure that what you do in both your personal and business life is honest...

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - What Do You Want to Do?

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - What Do You Want to Do?

As a solo professional, you have the ability to tailor your business to meet your wants as well as your needs. I have found that there is great freedom in knowing that I can choose the type of clients, hours of work and areas of focus that will bring satisfaction to my day. A couple of years ago, I realized that there are some things that only I can do because of my knowledge, skills, abilities, and credentials. For example: THERAPY - I am a Registered Psychologist and Registered Social Worker who has certificates in several specialties. I cannot hire someone...

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Enjoying Your Work

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Enjoying Your Work

Often it is the little things that help you to enjoy your day and your work. Think about the things that will help you to look forward to going to the office. You might consider: 1. The hours that you do best - I am NOT a morning person and many of my clients need evening appointments so I adjust my office hours to accommodate this. 2. The environment - If I am going to spend several hours at the office, I know that I will be comfortable because I have decorated the office to my personal tastes. I also...

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Business - Securing Your Financial Health - 10 Ways You Can Save Money and Increase Profit

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Securing Your Financial Health - 10 Ways You Can Save Money and Increase Profit

As a solo professional, you are dealing with investing your own time, energy and money on a daily basis. Your profit is therefore based on the number of billable hours you complete less your expenses. You can reduce your expenses to increase your profit if you are wise. Following are ten specific things you can do to save money in your practice: 1. RESEARCH - There is so much competition in the marketplace that investing a little bit of time to research your options can often save a great deal of money for you. Telephone plans, office equipment or insurance...

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Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Financial Retainers

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Financial Retainers

There are times when you may be providing services for individuals who pay or have a retainer paid on their behalf. This practice allows you to have more control, especially in cases where there is a risk that clients may decide not to pay you unless you say what they want you to say. It also allows you to have good cash flow while reducing your accounts receivable balance. There are several things that you need to do regarding financial retainers: 1. Ensure that taking retainers is allowed by your regulatory body - Lawyers usually take retainers to cover future...

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Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Building Your Professional Team

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Building Your Professional Team

As a solo professional, you will need to have expertise to help you with your business. Over the years, I have developed an amazing team of professionals who have provided me with information, savings and support. You will benefit from building relationships with individuals in the following roles: 1. LAWYER - I actually have more than one lawyer. Because my office is in the same building as a law firm, I have the advantage of being able to talk with any of their staff for issues involving my office lease, client issues and changes within the legal system. I also...

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Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Do it Yourself Or Get Someone Else to Do It?

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Do it Yourself Or Get Someone Else to Do It?

I believe that everyone has a circle and within that circle are a few things that only they can do. When you work within the circle, you do well, feel good and earn a good income. When you are outside of the circle, you tend to get distracted from your purpose. This can result in frustration and financial stress. Often clients ask me how they can keep up with all the demands in their lives. I find that they are frequently doing things that could be done by someone else - either family members, staff or contracted workers. When you...

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Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Goal Setting and Reviewing Your Progress

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Goal Setting and Reviewing Your Progress

It would be very difficult to leave your home and try to locate a destination where you have never visited - especially if you don't have a map! Many business professionals do not know where they want to go or how to get there. It is important that you set up road markers and watch for them as you travel each business day. 1. Your Business Finances - Do you know your bank balance? What would it be if all your cheques cleared? And if all your bills were paid? Do you have a credit card balance? What is the interest rate...

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Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Three Mistakes That Solo Professionals Make

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Three Mistakes That Solo Professionals Make

Sometimes professionals have expertise in their chosen field but do not do well in their practice. They want to have their own business but cannot seem to earn enough money to do so. There are three mistakes that solo professionals make which stop them from having success in business: 1. Lack of focus - When Tiger Woods was asked why he was such a good golfer, he came up with an excellent answer. He said "I focus better than other people". He has wind, television cameras and spectators as distractions. If he doesn't focus on the ball he will not hit it....

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Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Travel For Business and Pleasure

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Satisfying Your Personal and Professional Needs - Travel For Business and Pleasure

Many professionals enjoy travel but feel that they cannot take a holiday because there is no one to take care of business while they are away. This is a dangerous fallacy that can rob you of your health and well-being. You are not invincible! You need to look after yourself! Being away from the office is something that is done by most healthy individuals. Everyone deserves time off. You will need to do some planning in order to serve your needs and the needs of your clients: 1. Schedule time off well in advance and mark the days on your calendar -...

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Business - Ensuring Your Business is Strong - Standards of Practice and Competency

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Ensuring Your Business is Strong - Standards of Practice and Competency

It is one thing to think that you are helpful and to actually be helpful. Most professions have developed Standards of Practice which define and outline requirements for competent service. I don't think anyone would be foolish enough to let someone do brain surgery on them merely because the other person is interested in brain. No matter how persuasive that person is, you would like not give them a chance to practice on you. When clients come to you for help, they want to know that you have knowledge, skills and abilities that are backed with both training and experience....

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Business - Ensuring Your Business is Strong - Developing Appropriate Networks For Consulting

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Ensuring Your Business is Strong - Developing Appropriate Networks For Consulting

As solo professionals, we often have problems and therefore need to know who and where to get help with them. It is important to develop a network of individuals who you can consult with for both personal and professional expertise. FAMILY AND FRIENDS - I always advice my clients to let their family be their family and their friends be their friends. Expecting them to be your financial advisor, therapist or parenting resource can cause problems and actually hurt your relationship with them. They likely do not have the training or objectivity that you could obtain from a professional in...

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Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Financial and Banking Options

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Securing Your Financial Health - Financial and Banking Options

Financial and Banking Systems are businesses that, like you, desire profit. They therefore charge you for each of the services that you choose - amounts which can drastically affect your bottom line. It is therefore important that you carefully analyze and make the best possible choices for your business. You will need to consider the following categories: Personal Accounts - Some people like to keep their personal and business accounts in separate banks thinking that they then have more privacy, control and benefits. Others prefer the convenience of having all their accounts at the same place so that they can make...

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Business - Ensuring Your Business is Strong - Before You See The Returning Client

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

As a professional, you are expected to provide expertise for your clients. Taking a few minutes before the returning client enters your office will allow you to focus your thoughts and be prepared for the session. First review your client file. This will help you to think about the topics from the previous sessions and help you to think about possibilities for this appointment. Second, gather any handouts or information that might be helpful during the session. Do you have an article, survey or book that might be a good to introduce? Perhaps the business card or website of a...

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Business - Ensuring Your Business is Strong Before You See The New Client

Posted by Dr. Linda Hancock on

Business - Ensuring Your Business is Strong Before You See The New Client

As a solo professional you will likely not be paid until you actually meet with the client. There are several things that you need to do in order to ensure that the first meeting happens. 1. Offer a friendly and professional first impression. Many clients decide whether they will meet with you based on their initial contact with your office. 2. Ensure the client is a good match - You will need a brief understanding of their problem in order to determine if you are competent to help that person. 3. Clearly inform the client about things that you will...

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