When we are working in a clinic setting, we are available during the hours that we are scheduled to be at work. When we become self-employed, these lines can get a little blurred and this can be a problem.
If you are not available enough, (lots of time away from the office), then people won’t take your new business seriously. Particularly in the beginning, you need to be very available during your scheduled hours. You may need to schedule longer days to see what the needs of your client population are/will be and then adjust your hours accordingly. That’s what worked for me. I spent a number of hours sitting in my office doing research or developing handouts because I didn’t have too much scheduled time. Over time, I have adjusted my hours and things work a lot smoother for me and for my clients. I used to work 3 nights until 8 pm. Over a few months, I found I was there, but clients forgot or got home, settled in and just didn’t want to come to an appointment that late. Now, my latest appointment is 6 pm and I have those times 3-4 times per week because that’s what works for my clientele. If your hours are too short, your business can’t grow, so make sure that you are accessible enough to encourage growth.
The other issue is being too available. In this world of technology, it is very convenient to give people your cell number. When I first started, my cellphone was my only business line, but now I have a landline and a cell number for the practice. We NEVER discuss confidential information via text!!! I don’t even like having confidential conversations on cellphones because they aren’t always secure. I inform people that I trust them to use the number judiciously and appropriately. Now, I have misjudged a few people (one client texted me at 11 pm to cancel an appointment that they had never confirmed in the first place!) I told them that I would delete without reading any texts that came after 8 pm or before 6 pm. You do have to be cautious when you give people your number. I have even had clients text me when I am on vacation and I quickly tell them I can’t help with anything until I return from vacation and this has worked. Don’t feel you have to be there ALL the time. Make sure that you give them a back-up plan if you are not available, but you need to make sure that your time is your time!
Have a great day!