Top Secrets of Successfully Self-Employed People

Being your own boss often translates into Laughing Out Loud at time... and this is can be a disaster for hands-on practitioners.

Are you in charge of your own time — or Laughing Out Loud at it? To keep your dream from becoming a nightmare, use it the way successfully self-employed people do!

Last month, when I was teaching at the Feldenkrais Guild of North America® Annual Conference, I asked people to raise their hands if they were NOT self-employed. Only a sprinkling of hands went up.

It didn’t surprise me – most hands-on practitioners work for themselves, especially if their modality isn’t really well-known. And that’s a problem for a lot of practitioners — because they know how to work with clients, but have no idea how to work for themselves.

This is a major factor in the high failure rate of new businesses. For practitioners who keep trudging along without ever earning enough money, it contributes mightily to the feeling that “it’s never going to work out.”

How do people who work for themselves achieve success?

Self-employment is possible in just about every occupation, but it’s how they go about being self-employed that we’re interested in. In this post, we’re going to take a first look at how they deal with time.

(In future posts, we’ll look at other aspects of being your own boss.)

“What’s the best thing about working for yourself?”

Every successful self-employed person I know ranks TIME somewhere near the top of their list. It gets expressed in a number of ways–

~~ I want control of how much I work 
~~ I want to set my own hours.
~~ I want to take time off when I want it.
~~ I want time with my kids.
~~ I want a weekend.

These are also top-rated benefits practitioners typically cite.

Interestingly, they’re also a major reason that so many practitioners don’t have enough clients, don’t feel like they get time off, and most important — don’t make the impact they’re here to make on the world.

Why? It’s simple…

Practitioners usually think they’re working only when they have clients…

In other words, if you want 20 clients a week, and you have 3, you’re likely to think that you’ve got only 3 hours of work this week.

Successfully self-employed people look at this in an entirely different way. They start as they mean to go on — so they put in at least the number of hours they intend to work when they’ve “made it,” right from the start.

They’d say something like this about the 20 clients vs 3 hours situation:

What you really have is 3 hours a week when you already know what you’re going to be doing. When are you putting in the other 17 hours — the ones that are going to get you 17 more clients?

Those other 17 hours are for doing the work needed to fill your practice, but chances are, you don’t have them scheduled, because if you’re like the vast majority of practitioners I’ve talked to, you don’t see them as work hours.

The reason for this comes from a misunderstanding that gets expressed more or less like this –

Why schedule hours when you don’t have clients to fill them?

Before they embark on it, most people think that working for themselves means they never have to do anything they don’t want to do.

On the one hand, it makes sense because if you think about having a job, one of the things most of us hate is having to do something we don’t like, don’t want to do and would never choose to do if it were left up to us.

On the other hand, this makes no sense at all, if you want to earn a living. Earning a living implies that you have a business, and no business succeeds unless all the things that need to be done actually get done.

What do hands-on practitioners want to do?

Obviously we want to work with clients. And in fact the research I’ve done on how practitioners choose to spend their time bears this out.

The problem is that if you see working for yourself as giving you permission to do only the things you like, you’re likely to spend a lot of time hoping for clients. That’s because getting clients is something most practitioners don’t like to do– at least not before they find out how to do it so that it feels easy and natural.

Even if you are totally averse to doing anything other than working with clients, not having a handle on your time makes it harder to serve the people who want to work with you.

Suppose someone calls and wants to make an appointment with you. On the surface, it’s really simple to say you’re going to make an appointment with someone, but WHEN is that going to be?

Has your side of the conversation ever sounded like this?

Well, let’s seeeeee… I could do it on Tuesday afternoon – no, wait, I help out in Susie’s classroom then and after that we have soccer practice.

Thursday is usually good — oh, but this week I have a dentist appointment and then of course, I volunteer at Hospice and …

Well, I could … … … hmm. 

If you’re serious about building a business, as opposed to having a hobby — if you want to earn a living with your practice — you have to set your work hours, make them protected time, show up for them and use them all to build your business.

Otherwise, you’ll fill up your whole week without doing anything to develop your business. You’ll look unprofessional because you don’t know when you’re available. And you’ll find another use for all of your time — because being self-employed means your time is your own.

The rub is that when you’re self-employed, you get to do everything…

Even the stuff you don’t want to do.

And you know as well as I do that things you don’t want to do often end up not getting done unless somebody makes you do them.

When you have a job, that person is your boss. When you’re self-employed, that person is YOU.

What successfully self-employed people know is that you have to take yourself seriously enough to make sure that everything that needs to be done, gets done.

That starts with setting a schedule and showing up for work when you say you’re going to.

Take charge of your own time — RIGHT NOW!

If you’re ready to step up to the plate, the first thing to do is commit yourself to working the number of hours you ultimately want to work. Here’s how to do it, in 4 easy steps:

  1. Decide how many clients you want and how many hours it will take you to work with them all every week. Include your classes here, and workshops if you teach them. (Heads up!: When you’re fully booked with client contact hours — working IN your business — you’ll need to find other times for working ON your business.)
  2. Open your calendar and schedule all of those hour as work hours.
  3. Fill in client appointments you have now… those are the hours you’re going to work IN your business.
  4. Show up faithfully and work ON your business in all the other hours you have scheduled but don’t yet have a client.

Working ON your business includes preparation and deepening your skills, learning how to GET clients, marketing to ATTRACT clients, finding places to teach and speak, taking care of your studio, dealing with your finances — and all the things that successfully self-employed people do so that they can continue to live while bringing transformation to the world.

What’s your Client Attraction Quotient?  Click here to find out! It’s free and you’ll get a personalized report to help you know what to focus on.

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How to Communicate the Value of Your Hands-On Work in Every Session

You Touch Communicates Your Value

Clients don’t come back several times to find out what they’re going to get from you. You have to communicate it the first time, and every time.

Last week on one of our practice calls for the Heart-to-Heart program, a hands-on practitioner voiced a concern that’s pretty common among the folks I work with.

First let me explain that these somatic practitioners are learning to offer a paid consultation instead of whatever they normally do in their first session with a new client–that isn’t working as well as they would like.

This is a completely new concept to most practitioners, so they often don’t see at all how they can possibly succeed when their experience seems to be completely the opposite, and so they say things like:

“I don’t understand how to convince a client to work with me in a consultation, when it often takes 3 or 4 sessions for them to really see the value of what I do.”


If this describes your practice, you’ve got a problem

Continue reading


Are You Talking to a New Client or Another Deer in the Headlights?

I’ll bet you’ve seen it too many times…

Don't let your prospective clients turn into deer in the headlights because you give them too much information! Photo © Creative Commons, Fabrice Florin

Don’t let your prospective clients turn into deer in the headlights because you give them too much information! Photo © Creative Commons, Fabrice Florin

There you are, talking about your work to someone you think you can really help. Then — out of nowhere –WHAMMO!

Your prospective client turns into a deer in the headlights and runs for cover.

It happens to most of the people I work with — hands-on practitioners who are really serious about helping people… good at what they do… intent on making a difference in the world.

If only they could get anybody to listen…

And that’s exactly where the problem is… not that talking is wrong, but talking about the wrong thing makes prospects run. Continue reading

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How would you answer this client question about your hands-on practice?

When potential clients ask you questions about your work, how do you answer?

See through the phone line

Sometimes prospective clients are asking a different question than the one outlined in their words. Answer as an EXPERT, no matter what!

For example, this question came up on one of our calls last week, when we were working on talking to prospective clients on the phone. The “client” asked his practice partner: “Do I need to come for classes or for private sessions with you?”

The “practitioner” on the call answered with a lengthy description of what classes look like.

Others might answer by outlining the philosophical or practical differences between private work and group work.

Answers like this leave potential clients more confused than they were before they asked the question!

Why? It’s simple really–
Continue reading

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Waiting for Godot

Waiting works sometimes in a hands-on practice, but if you don't know how to talk to clients so that they commit, waiting to learn doesn't help anyone.

Sometimes, waiting is perfect in a hands-on practice, but if you don’t know how to talk to clients so that they commit, waiting to learn doesn’t help anyone. Photo© yortw

Personally, I wouldn’t have waited.

The day I was told the spot on my nose had to come off, I rearranged my life to take the first available chance to have the spot replaced by 2 stitches and a Band-aid.

Waiting frustrates me. I like to DO more than I like to THINK about doing.

Whatever it is, I’d rather do it NOW than wait 10 minutes to think it through again, find another layer of meaning. or another way somebody will be affected by “it.”

At the same time, I know that a lot of hands-on practitioners are just fine with waiting.

And that’s a really good thing because honestly, I know that the world needs people who are more patient than I am … and if that’s you, great.

But sometimes, to avoid harm, you have to act even–if you aren’t finished waiting.

Continue reading

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This Is How I Got a Full Class, Just 2 Days After I Announced It!

This is the story of how Christine moved from a sprawling metropolis to an island 6,900 miles away and built a blossoming hands-on practice …

Christine changed her Feldenkrais® Practice by learning how to really engage with her prospective clients about what they want to know about.

Christine changed her Feldenkrais® Practice by learning how to really engage with her prospective clients about what’s most important to them.

The first time I spoke with Allison, I was living in Mexico. I had just moved there from Los Angeles, and I was looking ahead to moving again to be near my parents, because they were getting older. I’d been living in Los Angeles for years and I was sure it was going to be a lot of work to build a practice in New Zealand.

I had been a Yoga Teacher before becoming a Feldenkrais Practitioner® in 2004. When I talked with Allison that first time, I had quite a few private yoga students and I was making a reasonable living, but I wanted to stop making house calls and raise my rates.

I had no plan

I didn’t know how to Continue reading

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Al went to the store for bread and came home with 3 potential clients!

I love it when people post things like this on the Facebook page for our Success Circle group!


When you’re a hands-on practitioner, you’re looking for clients where you live… and that means that your clients Continue reading

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What’s in a yawn?

What does it mean to you when  client yawns?

What does yawning mean in your modality?

A recent post on yawning on The New Yorker website opened with a paragraph about people paralyzed on one side of their bodies. When they yawn, they have access to motor functions on the affected side for the duration of the yawn…

Yawning has been studied extensively for generations. In addition to knowing what we can all see — that sometimes a yawn is contagious, or inopportune, or irrepressible — we also know that babies yawn spontaneously in the womb. We have evidence that we’re more likely to yawn in empathy when family members yawn than when strangers do it. Darwin saw yawning in animals as a sign that we are all built on the same structure.

Does yawning have significance in your work? Moshe Feldenkrais said that yawning meant the brain needed oxygen…

What do you do when your client yawns? Yawn in unison? Change what you’re doing? What goes through your mind when a client yawns? Do you take it as a sign that you’re boring or as an opportunity for something new?


I blog to help you shift how you think about your practice and what you do to get the one you want — sign up for automatic email notification of new posts — just enter your email address below — so you won’t miss any of them!! ;)

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Quotes from Moshe Feldenkrais

when you knowlife is a process This week, I bought a new toy — an inexpensive cloud-based graphics platform that lets you upload a photo, add words and publish a graphic to Facebook.

Being a technology-lover, I spent the better part of a day trying it out… and came up with the idea of using quotes from Moshe Feldenkrais that you don’t see very often, together with photos that are — well, I hope they’re thought-provoking when coupled with the words. I want to share it all with you because the more we think about these things, the better! Continue reading

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What’s Your Practice Dream?

Success begins with clarity and commitment

Having a successful hands-on holistic practice starts with knowing what you want and committing yourself to doing what it takes to get it.

The last time I saw Brindl was in December of the year my older daughter was born… nearly 3 decades ago.

We’d been students together in Moshe Feldenkrais’ first US training. She was an Observant strict Jew who made impressive sacrifices to attend our training with Moshe.

For example, every summer, she gave up eating meat, because she couldn’t find any in San Francisco that met the Kosher standard she observed. She was determined to learn as much as she could so she immersed herself in the work. Most summers, she lived with Gaby, one of Moshe’s assistants, and she watched every lesson Gaby gave at their apartment.

She convinced Moshe to let her watch the lessons he gave at HIS apartment. When he saw her taking notes and told her “No notes!” she Continue reading

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