7 Things Therapists Working with NDIS Can Learn from Business People

In this article we talk about what skills therapists and practitioners in the not for profit sector can learn from business people. Read on to understand the fascinating intersection between Therapy and Business. Discover the skills that can make your team more productive, financially viable and engaged.

In our last blog we explored the skills that business people can learn from therapists. During the course of my career I have been in and out of many types of workplaces as a trainer and a coach. My background as an occupational therapist brings unique insights into the business world, particularly in the areas of communication, behavioural science, and working together in harmony. It also allows me to take back learnings from the corporate arena to the early childhood intervention sector.

Looking outside your industry can prompt innovation and help you make changes to the way things have always been done. In general, in my experience, Therapists tend to be altruistic and motivated by the love of helping take care of others. They often have feelings that money can get in the way of trust. They might even feel bad asking for money. This is not the business mindset that the NDIS is asking for now is it?

What can Therapists/Practitioners learn from Business?

There is an enormous amount that Therapists and Practitioners can learn from business people. Many of these relate to valuing your products and services and understanding that fiscal restraints are a part of business.

I often have conversations with practitioners who don’t feel right ethically talking about money with stressed and emotional parents. Facilities and services can only continue to thrive if they make enough money to keep themselves going.

These are the 7 things that Therapists can learn from business people:

1. How to be altruistic and yet comfortable to ask for money for what you do

I often find that therapists have come to their careers to help people and not necessarily to make a profit. This is a constant challenge in the not for profit sector.

2. How to value what they do in monetary terms (How society values time)

Business people tend to be quite good at understanding what they are worth per hour. This makes them quite good at pricing their products and services and not scared to ask for payment.

3. Sticking to time and learning to limit a session to an agreed time

It can be difficult to end a session when a parent is upset or brings up the “real” issue 2 minutes before the session is meant to be over. Creating a shared understanding and expectation of time allocation at the start is essential.

4. Being budget focused AND client focused at the same time i.e. develop a business mindset

In my work with early childhood intervention service providers, I find myself having the same conversation regularly with service provider managers. They share with me how hard it is to get therapists and ECIS practitioners to bill for everything that they do. The sector faces a reality where therapists need to achieve around 75% – 80% billable hours to cover the costs of their salaries, rent and other business costs.

Many managers tell me their practitioners struggle to meet this target of 75% client facing billable hours. It’s not that they are sitting around twiddling their thumbs, quite the opposite actually! To my mind, it is more about expanding our mindsets to incorporate business thinking as an adjunct to providing a quality, family centred and sensitive service. It is about becoming more aligned with the way psychologists, for example, operate. Clear expectations of time allocation and flexibility with fee for service ensures you can meet the needs of a family and be paid appropriately for the work provided.

5. To see a service as a “product” that brings value to the community

In therapy a practitioner can only bill for the time they spend with a family, and not the time behind the scenes sourcing resources or making appointments. I have found that when practitioners are able to get clearer on what is the product they are bringing to their clients, they begin to redefine what “therapy” is. From here therapists are able to bring innovation to the way they get non-therapy tasks done, which in turn improves billing statistics whilst building client capacity.

6. Feeling OK to work within reasonable realistic guard rails (e.g. budget constraints)

In my experience practitioners get upset with being told there is no budget to do the things they see as vitally important. This can be disheartening and feel like a real mismatch between their altruistic nature and the roadblocks of funding and budgets.

7. To understand how making money enables the service to exist

In an NDIS environment, the focus on making money creates significant stress on therapists. Many feel that making a profit wasn’t what attracted them to the not for profit sector. This mismatch of values can often lead to talented therapists walking away from their calling.

By teaching therapists the skills gained in business it is possible to give them the best of both worlds. They meet their altruistic goals of supporting the learning and growth of a child and their parents. They also contribute to the sustainability and growth of their organization and practice.

Do you need help building skills for your team? Do they need a more human approach? Or do they need to understand how to deliver their services in line with an NDIS environment. Ask about our tailored training for your team, where we can help you bring your team together to help your organisation thrive. It is powerful knowledge. Contact me to find out more and to discuss your specific requirements.

Hi there! I’m Jacqui Snider and I’m here to help you and your business grow and flourish.

As an Occupational Therapist and Workplace Culture Coach and Trainer, I am passionate about helping individuals and organisations develop better home and workplace practices that everyone enjoys being part of. With more than 35 years of coaching experience, I have personally coached and trained in excess of 350 leaders, bringing about transformational change in both individuals and teams.

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