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  • Tonia Higgins ~ the Therapists Success Coach

13 things I’ve learned in 6 years of growing my private practice ~ part 1

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

On 2nd March 2022, Tranquillo Counselling was 6 years old. This ‘business birthday’ seems one to celebrate, as it means I am still here, working with clients and doing what I love, despite the pandemic which has now spanned around two years and has had life-changing effects on all of us in some way. I feel really fortunate that Tranquillo Counselling has survived and that I can continue to counsel clients, and supervise and coach other therapists who are passionate about counselling too. I’ve learned a lot in the last six years, and I’m sharing it in this two part blog series.

1. It’s ok to be ambitious

Hmmmm….the ‘a’ word… Did it give you a bit of a shiver? It’s a pretty powerful word, and not one everyone - especially women - is comfortable with. Ambitious was never a word I would have used to describe myself before I started my practice. I guess I bought into all the negative connotations of what it means to be an ambitious woman. I’m sure you know the ones - things like ‘hard’, ‘clawing her way to the top’, being ‘a ballbreaker’... None of these things remotely describe me, and I have never wanted to be perceived that way. It would make me really uncomfortable to think that’s what I was putting out into the world. I believed that being an ambitious woman and being a kind, caring and heart-centred woman were mutually exclusive. And so I didn’t consider myself to be ambitious. I couldn’t be - I was too soft for that. Until I decided that the only way to live the life I wanted was by being own boss and I realised just how much I enjoyed building my practice. I wanted to see it flourish, I wanted to be working for myself full-time and I wanted to be making my own rules so that I could help people in my own way. That’s ambition, and it guided me forward. And as it turns out, I’m ok with that.

2. Patience reaps rewards

Building a business takes time. Before I started Tranquillo Counselling a colleague told me that it took a couple of years to build her practice to a full caseload. I wasn’t sure I could wait that long! I am not a patient person. I wanted it all to happen right now! It wasn’t a surprise to me though as it was a timescale I’d heard mentioned by other business owners before. It seemed like, whatever your business, two years can bring a turning point. And so I kept that in mind and learned to celebrate small wins along the way. I still wished I could make it all happen straight away, but rewarding myself for the small stuff helped me to keep moving at a manageable and realistic pace.

3. Persistence is a superpower

Probably one of the most valuable traits for building a business is persistence - that drive to keep chipping away at the things that will help your business to grow. You don’t have to have a huge pot of money to grow a business, but having a vision of what you want your private practice to look like and having a plan to move towards that can really help you persist with achieving your goals. Remembering my ‘whys’ - the things that make me passionate about counselling and why I wanted to work for myself in the first place - helped me to keep moving forward in difficult times.

4. A holistic approach helps

Take a minute just now to think about everyone and everything in your life - your partner, children and wider family, your friends. Your home, your job, your hobbies and pastimes. And on top of all that, there’s now your business. A business is not your whole life, it is a part of it. And it’s really important to remember that when you’re overflowing with enthusiasm about getting your business off the ground.

If, like me, you have a tendency towards taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach you are likely to throw yourself into your new business project and neglect the people and things that make your life what it is. And where’s the fun in that? Yeah, it’s important to keep going and get things done to help your business grow, but it’s also important to plan time to step away from that and attend to the people you love and the other things you need to do. Because surely they are what life is all about? This is easier if you take your whole life into account, and set realistic goals.

5. Knowing my values is important

Another thing to take into consideration when thinking holistically about growing your practice, is being clear about your own values. If someone in business world ask “what’s your why?”, your values are what helps to answer that question.

Brene Brown defines values as .”...a way of being or believing that we hold most important”. They are what makes you tick, what give you passion and what will help you to make decisions that are the best ones for you.

Knowing and understanding my values means knowing and understanding myself, why I do what I do, and why some things just don’t feel right. They are a compass that keep me on the right track. When I apply my values to any decision-making process and base my decisions on what my values tell me is right, then I know I'm working towards the fulfilling things that make me feel like I'm doing good in the world.

6. Realistic goals are important

Think about what you really want to achieve in your business, and how long will it will take to reach those goals. You may well have the answer to that right off the top of your head. But have you done anything to check how realistic those goals are, or are you in the ‘all or nothing’ zone? It’s demotivating to feel like you’re not achieving the goals you set yourself, so being realistic is essential to give you the confidence and motivation to continue reaching for the stars.

This is where taking a holistic approach to goal setting comes in. Things that will influence how quickly you can reach your goals are time, other commitments in other areas of your life, and your physical and emotional energy. Remember your values? They are helpful reminders of the right balance to strike.

7. Having a plan is essential

When you know where you want to go, it’s good to know how you’re going to get there. So having a plan in mind is essential. This is where realistic goal-setting skills are helpful in mapping out what that journey will look like, what needs to be visited along the way and how long it will take to reach the destination. Realistic plans mean looking at your whole life and what your commitments are, thinking about how much time you have to spend on your goals (and what you might want to change in your life to accommodate that if necessary), blocking out time to work on them, and being able to be flexible about timescales and how things might look in the end.

Look out for the second part of this series "13 things I've learned in 6 years of growing my private practice" which will explore some more of the widsom I've gained from building my counselling business.

If you are looking for help to start up or grow your private practice, my Steps to Success coaching programme or Success Strategy Sessions are for you. Contact me to book a discovery call.

I hope you find these blogs interesting and helpful. If you’d like to read more of my musings you can subscribe to my blog at or follow me on Facebook at


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