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You started your practice to make a difference to the people you can help. And while you know you need to market your services to pay your bills, you hate the idea of being a pushy, sleazy salesperson.

Don’t we all. “When I grow up, I want to be a salesperson!” said no one ever.

Icky self-promotion is one’s idea of a dream job. And it’s not an ideal or effective marketing system either.

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From my experience, one of the biggest hurdles to growing a busy acupuncture practice is nothing external – not a saturated market or business strategy – but internal. I think it’s our own inner critic, self doubt, our feeling of deservingness and enoughness.

I see this all the time with acupuncturists, I see it holding them back and forcing them to play small, preventing them from the expanding into the huge force for good that they could be.

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Starting, growing, and running an acupuncture practice is one of the hardest things anyone can do.

Many of us make big and little mistakes along the way.

I want to share with you what I learned the hard way, so hopefully you can avoid making these same mistakes.

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As health care practitioners and business owners we find ourselves in a lot of tricky and awkward conversations. And no, I’m not talking about bowel movement convos.

I’m talking about those other conversations where you feel at a loss for words, tempted to sacrifice your boundaries, or worse – you hear yourself droning on and on in an effort to explain our mysterious medicine that you are oh-so-passionate about, only to see your patient’s eyes glaze over.

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I hear acupuncturists tell me this all the time: “I love everything about my work! Except marketing.”

I used to feel that way, too.

But my whole attitude about marketing shifted when I stopped thinking about it as “separate” from the rest of my work.

It’s not.

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This article will probably ruffle some feathers. I’m not trying to be harsh, but sometimes you’ve got to rip the band-aid off. I love our medicine, want our profession to be wildly successful, and believe it can be if we’d all just get a touch more business-savvy. Because the world needs us!

So in the spirit of a tough coach who cares deeply about the team but who also has to call them on their crap from time to time, I offer you: Nine Things that Doom Acupuncturists to failure.

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Don’t get me wrong; I’m a natural born optimist. I have a super-human (maybe slightly annoying) talent of detecting the silver lining in even the direst of circumstances.

Flight canceled – lovely, more time to read our books! Fraud on my business debit card – smashing, I’ll save money until my new card comes in! Any stumbling block can be a learning experience, or at the very least a statistical sign that nothing else could possibly go wrong.

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My first career was in economics and finance, until I had my own personal renaissance. When I had health issues of my own I discovered the amazing powers of acupuncture, and that was it. I was done. I had found my calling. Rays of light were shooting out of my eyeballs and I was full of optimism and Captain of My Promising Future.

After 4 years of grad school, I launched my business, and started tackling the running and growing of a practice.

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I want to live in a world where Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are well-regarded, widespread, and standard care for people, as well as a respected and lucrative profession.

A world in which a mothers’ first instinct is to get shonishin and herbs for her child, not antibiotics, when he/she has come down with an ear infection or cough;

A world in which people go to the ER to get a bone re-set and sutures put

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