A Room of One’s Own: whether to share or lone wolf it

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[This article was originally published on the Natural Touch Marketing blog in 2008.]

Last week, Fran sent a question into the “Just Ask Eileen” page, which was a pretty good one. Here ’tis: “OK here goes. I am currently renting space in what really is a Chiropractor’s office turned wellness practice. It’s a good thing. We all benefit from each other being there. The thing is I really would like to have a space of my own. I share the room with two other people. I’m paying $400.00 rent and that’s really great considering. But sometimes it feels a little crowded. I would like a spot of my own and wonder what will I be giving up and gaining from such a move.”

Okay, me again: I’m telling you right now, I have absolutely no experience in renting/leasing a place for bodywork. So, folks, right here, right now, I’m going to Wing It. Feel free to add your thoughts. Please add your thoughts. Here’s how I see it:

Pros of Sharing a Space

Lower rent, camaraderie, a united front for marketing (does the clinic pay for mailings and such?), and I take it there is someone to answer the phones and schedule for you.   Since you work through (essentially) a chiropractic office, I assume most of the clients you see are chiropractic patients. This can work to your advantage because the clients already have a degree of confidence in you: “If the doctor hired her, she must be good/qualified/share the same philosophy of healing.” When you’re part of an office, you get to see and learn many things about running a business. If you pay attention, you’ll go through less trial and error when you go out on your own.

Cons of Sharing a Space

There’s not so much flexibility in scheduling, client choice, decor, set-up, etc. Maybe (again, assuming most of your clients are from the clinic) you don’t want to focus your work on the kinds of patients the doctor attracts. Who markets for you? Who creates the message? Are they talking to the clients you want to work with? Do you communicate with your clients or do your clients get messages from the collective? I think if I didn’t have control over my message to my clients I’d go a little kooky. But that’s me. And this is a little left field: Therapists make such a psychic stamp (for lack of a better term) on their spaces. It’s pretty obvious when a room is shared. Not bad, not off-putting, just obvious. To me it’s like the difference between walking into a chain “family” restaurant and a family-run restaurant. This makes a subtle impact. Clients may feel they need to rush because someone else wants to get into the room ASAP. The atmosphere isn’t as exclusive/calming. I occasionally have the irrational thought that someone is going to come into the room in the middle of a session to get a chart or sweater or something. The not-so-subtle impact is when one person is running late and you all get backed up. I actually had a 45-minute wait once to get into a room. My poor therapist was terribly embarrassed.

Pros of Having Your Own Space

It’s all you. Everything.

Cons of Having Your Own Space

It’s all you. Everything. When you go out on your own, do way more prep work than you think you need to. Serious. Make lists of everything. Make plans. I’m not kidding. One thing I love about bodyworkers in general is their easy going, right brained, universe-will-provide attitudes while they deal with me during a session. I think many healers have difficulty transitioning from a session to the business stuff that happens outside of sessions. The most successful therapists I know are people who have trained themselves to make that switch from “table to desk.” They are very well prepared, mentally and financially. They have plans for building clientele, illnesses, acts of various deities, and sudden windfalls. They schedule time for all the usual stuff (paperwork and all) and also for stepping back and looking at the Big Picture. They ruminate about things, and plan things three months ahead so when it’s time to do a mailing or rearrange the office, they are ready.

So I guess I’m suggesting that you pay close attention to what is going on around you in your current situation. What can you learn from it? Do you want to take on the task of … well, everything? Do you still need to learn a few things? Do you need to do some planning and to take a good look at realities? When you feel you can eeeeease out of your current place, instead of breaking out, you are ready to go.

Fran, there’s a lot more to this, of course. I’m sure there will be some comments on this entry that will help you. Also, you could do a lot worse than by going back to the planning worksheets by Cherie Sohnen-Moe (author of the must-have Business Mastery). I’m sure you’ve seen these before. They are free on her website.

All my best, Eileen