Healthy Dependency

by Lynn Grodzki

{previously published in the Private Practice Success Newsletter, Feb 2010}

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No business is an island.

Sometimes, a private practice can become too private: we need connection to survive and thrive.

The strongest position for a practice is what I would call healthy dependency. Healthy dependency means that your business, no matter the size, relies on the 3 A’s: Affiliation, association, and alliance. When you apply these, your practice soon generates one more A: Abundance. With healthy dependency, your practice has a better chance to be and stay successful, no matter how difficult the economy.

In the book titled Healthy Dependency (Bornstein and Laguirand, 2003) the authors suggest that the path to success begins with knowing how to:

  • Lean on others without losing yourself
  • Depend without becoming overly dependent
  • Move beyond old stereotypes to continually learn and grow

Who’s got your back? If you are worried about a business problem, who can you call for advice, support, suggestions, and brainstorming?

If your answer is “no one” – your goal for 2010 is to develop more business connections. When facing a serious downturn in your practice, having solid professional support can be the difference between resilience or collapse. Here is a short example from my Workbook about the difference connection makes:

Anne, a social worker, has been in solo practice for years. In four months, Anne’s practice took an unexpected drop from 23 clients a week down to 12.

Anne was frightened; a loss of 50% of one’s income and workload is hard to handle. She did what was natural for her: she retreated inside herself, tried to think through what was wrong and tried to calm down. She is quiet, reserved and works in relative isolation from her peers and her community. But after six months, with no change in client count and with a growing credit card debt, she found herself doing something she hadn’t done for 20 years: she looked through the want-ads for an agency job.

Contrast Anne’s story to that of Jill, also a social worker, whose practice also took a sharp drop. Jill belongs to four professional support groups. When Jill’s practice fell off, she talked about her concerns in all of her support groups.

“Right away I got professional support,” she says. “My therapist colleagues assured me that they had gone through this from time to time, so I didn’t feel like a pariah. They offered some good ideas, and they wanted to know each week how I was doing. The business groups took it as a personal mission to keep me motivated. No one could fix the situation—that was up to me to do. But I found the support invaluable to help me stay upbeat. The women’s business group even turned out to be a source of some referrals, once I let them in on my situation.”

Jill’s practice bounced back quickly, because she had so much energy to put towards her practice and she did not suffer any loss of self-esteem or financial crisis. The support acted like fuel and kept her business engine running. Being a small business owner means that you carry the emotional weight of your practice on your shoulders. Having support makes the burden lighter.

Want to take the next step?  Find ways to link, affiliate, collaborate, partner, share, network, or merge with like-minded colleagues.