My Journey to Becoming a Self Employed Counsellor and Hypnotherapist

My Journey to Becoming a Self Employed Counsellor and Hypnotherapist

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Expert Author Susan Leigh
I never anticipated becoming self-employed. In my family there was very much the culture of getting a 'proper job' where you worked for a good company, hopefully until the day you retired. Your employer took care of all the messy stuff; pensions, income tax, holiday and sick pay, getting customers. Yes, you were expected to turn up and do a good job. And I did; I worked for a blue chip company, got promoted to a senior level and enjoyed every opportunity that came my way.
Becoming self-employed came about by accident. My husband came home from work one day and said he fancied training to become a hypnotherapist. He was extremely well read, knew about lots of things and I trusted him. Even so this announcement came as something of a shock. I wasn't even sure what a hypnotherapist did back then and twenty-five years ago it was rather an unusual choice of career. Intrigued, we went along to discuss the training.
All that seems a lifetime ago now. We did the course and set up the practice as a part-time interest, initially for my husband. A year or so later I redid my hypnotherapy training, took redundancy from my job and took over the practice from my husband. Since then I've enhanced and extended my skills and expertise.
At the time I had no idea what I needed to know about being self-employed. Fortunately I got some guidance from my employers and I had the cushion of my redundancy money and some additional contract work.
So my hypnotherapy practice began. I had business cards printed, bought some standard leaflets and advertised in various places; calendars, wall clocks, a miscellany of magazines and publications. Eventually I was cold-called and agreed to have a website made. When I searched for it I couldn't find it, which was rather disconcerting, especially as I knew its name! I was offered rooms to rent in several clinics, agreed to do talks to an assortment of groups, attended many networking meetings and events.
It took time to discover which things worked best for me and my business. What copy should I use on my website and leaflets, do I need videos, a PowerPoint presentation, what's the best way to promote my business, which is the most effective way to network? All this whilst maintaining positive confidence levels, self belief and managing stress.
Also it took time to discover what I wanted for my business. Things that suited other therapists were not necessarily for me. Every experience was a valuable part of the journey to where I am today.
There were times, certainly at the start, where my confidence wavered, I felt stressed and questioned if I was doing the right thing. Being self-employed can be a roller-coaster, at times wondering where the next clients are coming from. But with a good team behind you providing quality information and support, helping your self belief and motivation it's possible to become a positive new business.
Over time I've found my niche. I work mainly from home, do corporate workshops for clients, usually at their premises, have established good relationships with other businesses and therapists where we cross-refer, I write articles for websites, magazines and newspapers, have had a book published, do talks and media work. All this has been a process of trying different things, saying 'yes' to opportunities and being receptive to new ideas whilst supporting my core business.
My advice? Keep up the enthusiasm, manage your stress levels, believe in what you're doing and enjoy the ride. Having access to an organisation that offers the necessary advice and skills can help you avoid many of the pitfalls and expensive mistakes that are often made when starting out.

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