Allison Rapp

How Sarah Almost Killed Her Hands-on Practice

Building your practice takes skills not t typically taught in practitioner training programs. The wrong kind of help will set you back and stop your growth.
Having great hands-on holistic skills is important for your practice... and so are your business skills!
Hands-on practitioners love to help people — and only get to do it by developing the business skills it takes to get clients.

Sarah is typical of the hands-on practitioners I work with — deeply committed to her work and struggling to get clients. Her professional training gave her skills to work with her clients — but it didn’t cover how to get clients in ways that really worked for her.

That’s not surprising — I don’t know of any modality that teaches you what you really need to know about GETTING clients while they’re teaching you how to HELP clients.

Like most hands-on practitioners, Sarah really wants to help people get the kind of transformation she got from the work she offers, and —

  • She’s never thought much about what it means to be self-employed, beyond being in charge of her own time. She loves working with her clients and learning more about how to help them — and procrastinates about almost everything else connected with her business.
  • She’s fairly internal, doesn’t like directing a conversation with a potential client and hates dealing with pushy salespeople — the last thing she wants is to come across that way to anyone interested in her work. She avoids learning how to have a “sales conversation” because she doesn’t want to feel bad about her herself.
  • She relies on convincing just about everyone she meets that they need her modality — but it’s hard to explain and things have gotten to the point where she really hates even being asked “What do you do?” because the conversation almost always goes nowhere.
  • When she looks online for help, she finds a goldmine of free information and figures she’s all set.

“Free” seems to make perfect sense

Sarah is smart, she likes a challenge, and she hasn’t got any problem tackling something new, especially if it’s interesting to her… getting more clients is definitely interesting, so it should work.

And she figures it couldn’t hurt because she doesn’t have to spend any money on it.

So she takes off on her own, and soon she’s immersed in loads of information on lots of different aspects of marketing a business —

  • How to brand your practice — pick a name, get a logo, make business cards, etc.
  • How to setup a website without a webmaster
  • Why a great landing page video is a must and how to make yours
  • What’s the importance of a newsletter and how to create one without help
  • Why you need a list and how to grow one
  • Why and how you must use social media to attract clients
  • How to network — write an “elevator pitch,” find the best group, recognize prospects, etc.

It just goes on and on. Everything Sarah discovers leads to 10 more things to pay attention to. She tries things as she finds out about them and moves on when they don’t work. When something does work, she doesn’t know why or how to make them more valuable to her. Most of what she hears about just doesn’t feel like her, and she doesn’t use it.

And it all takes so much time.

That goldmine is more like Pandora’s Box.

Eventually, Sarah gets in touch with me to talk about what she really wants and what it takes to get that. When we talk, it becomes clear that:

  • She’s deeply affected by the state of her practice and knows something needs to change.
  • She doesn’t know how to get people interested in working with her.
  • Too few people call her, and when they do she doesn’t know what to say.
  • She always feels like she’s auditioning for the next session — new clients may come for one session, but only a few continue.
  • Despite her best intentions, she feels salesy when she talks to people she knows she can help. Sometimes she doesn’t even admit she can help, and every time she has to tell someone her fee, she flinches inside.
  • Her dream of helping people is turning into a nightmare: her practice is NOT growing, she can’t pay her bills, she thinks she doesn’t know enough and her confidence is digging its own hole in the ground.

All of this will change in our work together.

Sarah will discover her strengths and learn to use them to attract clients and talk to them so that they understand why they should commit to working with her.

She’ll learn how to develop skills that feel natural to her — that will help her build her practice in ways she’s been avoiding or ignoring altogether.

She’ll find that it feels natural and easy. She’ll be amazed that she’s got more than enough clients to pay for our work

She’ll be amazed that she’s got more than enough clients to pay for our work together, and that her practice is finally moving in the direction she wants it to go.

But the real question is… Why didn’t those free resources work?

All the reasons boil down to one thing: there’s a big difference between having information and being able to implement it!

Let’s look at some specific examples of what that means.

Sarah didn’t know what was important.

Remember when you started learning your modality? How would it have gone without taking a training program? With everything there is to delve into, sort out, experience and absorb—how could you have done it without an experienced guide leading you?

Practitioners need the same kind of guidance to build a practice.

Because Sarah didn’t know what was most important to focus on, she squandered her energy.

She couldn’t personalize what she was trying to do.

You may already know that it’s impossible to take anyone else’s template for success and follow it blindly.

But how can you make it your own—make it feel like you—when you’re on the ground level and that kind of understanding requires the 30,000-foot view? Without an experienced guide who sees the bigger picture and knows how to help you follow your own path to your goal, you’ll flounder, waste time, resources and passion—and your clients will be suffering because they can’t find you.

Not having a way to make it feel like “her” made Sarah feel like she wasn’t good enough and would never be able to “do it.”

She couldn’t see her own  blind spots.

Who can?

After all, it’s probably why your clients need you!

We all benefit from having another pair of eyes on our situation, and helping us to see and develop strengths we didn’t know we had. Without that kind of support, it’s easy to get stuck doing the same thing over and over—or harder and harder—and wondering why you aren’t getting results.

No matter what she tried, Sarah kept doing the same things over and over because that was the only way she knew and the only view she had of the situation.

She was stuck in overwhelm.

Too many bills and too few clients… so much information and so little direction.

Without help to get a clear focus on where you’re going and the action steps that will get you there, it’s really hard to make progress. Without progress, you’re stuck in one place, mired in overwhelm that can destroy your confidence and suck your passion dry.

Sarah found herself unable even to get started because she couldn’t sort out the situation on her own.

She overlooked the hidden cost of “free” resources.

Free content can be valuable, but it comes at a price.

Just think about your practitioner training for a moment—how many years would it have taken you to acquire the skills you got in that training, if you had to figure it all out on your own? And how many people wouldn’t get help while you did that?

Sarah didn’t realize how much it was costing her—and her clients—because she was afraid to invest in herself and thought she was “supposed” to figure it out on her own.

She wasn’t really committed to taking action at the “free” level.

Okay, it’s a cliché—but you do get what you pay for.

When you don’t have skin in the game, you don’t have to be accountable to anyone. Without accountability it’s easy to quit. When you quit, there’s nobody in your corner urging you to get back in the game.

Too many reasonable “outs” presented themselves to Sarah, so she didn’t follow through, even when she was convinced that she needed to.

And one more thing–

Sarah didn’t know the biggest secret about people who give free advice.

The thing most people who give free advice aren’t ever going to tell you is that they paid for help getting to the point where they have advice to give!

Most people don’t get anywhere doing it all by themselves because the difference between having information, knowing how to use it, and putting it into practice is huge!

By trying to build her business all by herself with free resources, Sarah was missing the thing she needed most… help from an experienced mentor who has solved the problem she has, has helped others do the same thing and can help her achieve similar success.


I’m Allison Rapp. I paid a lot to learn what I know 😉 and I use it to show hands-on practitioners how to become transformational leaders, using practice building as a way to embody the Feldenkrais Method®.

If “free is not enough” for you CLICK HERE to talk with me about what you want and how to get it. There’s no cost, no obligation and no pressure to have this short talk with me.

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