Are you feeling like maybe you are not as successful as you thought you were going to be as a lactation consultant? Are you getting not so stellar reviews form unhappy pediatricians who disagree with your treatment plan? Maybe clients tell you they can’t afford your fees. . . Maybe you are not attracting the ideal clients, maybe you’ve set your business up in an oversaturated market. . . 

Unfortunately, looking at life through your circumstances will always keep you stuck. It will leave you overworked, burnt out, and completely unmotivated. I see it all the time—we love to play the victim to things outside of our control. Guess what? You’re never in control! Control is an illusion.

Often times we can play the victim in scenarios like this: 

You show up to a new client’s home, and she’s already feeding her baby because the baby was hungry. You accommodate her and even skip the usual paperwork, consultation and evaluation of her history you are thinking about not only this already seemingly difficult client but also of trying to provide the best service and make her happy…

You work diligently and efficiently and even go above and beyond (against your better judgment) by giving her nipple creams, bottles, and pump flanges free of charge. You want to make her happy since she was a referral from another client who refers all her mom friends to you. 

You want to keep your momentum and at a quick pace. 

After you are done, and you tell her she’s still going to need to pump multiple times a day for now and you need to make a follow-up appointment with her. The look on her face screams disappointment. A complete heartbreak for you and now you’re just irritated because you’ve tried to accommodate her every step of the way.

And even though you know you need to head out the door to see your next client, you still cater to this client and spend an extra couple of minutes giving her more info on supplements to help increase her milk supply even though you know they won’t work unless she commits to pumping. Still, this client doesn’t like the end result. And you’ve run out of time. You hate unhappy clients and bend one more time for this client and offer a free follow up appointment a few days from now…

Sure enough, the next appointment comes, she complains of making even less milk than before and admits she didn’t follow your care plan instructions. So you do what you can in the 30 minutes you squeezed her into (which was supposed to be spent picking your kids up early from school) and she’s still completely dissatisfied, a seemingly impossible to please client, that has the audacity to leave you a really bad review on Yelp or Google.

So, what happened in this situation? Is this a bad client who didn’t listen? Was she simply going to be unhappy with your work regardless? Is she suffering from a postpartum mood disorder? Or did you have a part in this situation? How can you set up expectations and responsibilities in your practice that would have set a healthy boundary for your client in case she didn’t get the service she expected? 

Here are three takeaways and possible reasons why that one client transformed into a client of our nightmares. . . and here’s a hint: This may not have been her fault at all. 

#1 – YOU ARE NOT THE VICTIM. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BOUNDARIES YOU SET WITH EACH CLIENT.

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Instead of blaming your circumstances or the client, we should first take a look at our business processes and policies and make sure that we’ve covered all possibilities : Do our policies cover what happens when a client is late, doesn’t follow the plan of care, need ongoing care, cancels last minute, wants a refund, etc.? Did we have them sign our consent form and communicate to them all of the policies so everyone’s on the same page? Or did you let a client’s bad day and emotions stop you from going through your normal consultation process to where you didn’t create the opportunity to discuss your policies? 

We could say that the client was “rushing” you so you felt forced to skip your normal process. But that’s also blaming your circumstances (i.e. the client). In the end, you have to learn to stand your ground in situations like this and respect your own boundaries if you ever want a client to do the same. 

This is what blaming your circumstances looks like: 

  • “The client was difficult”

  • “The client was rushing me”

  • “The client didn’t follow aftercare instructions”

  • “The client had unrealistic expectations”

Set those expectations, enforce those boundaries, develop policies, AND ENFORCE THEM as needed. It is your responsibility to educate your clients regarding how YOUR practice is run. 

At the end of the day, you are not the victim in this situation, you are the business owner and the one responsible for all situations that occur in your business (good or bad). You get to choose to take these situations as learning opportunities and make the changes needed in your practice.

#2 – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHOICES YOU MAKE IN YOUR BUSINESS.

Here’s another scenario: Maybe you are struggling getting clients booked. The local hospital has an outpatient clinic that takes insurance, or there are lots of free support groups in your area.

The truth: Your surrounding market is not the reason why you’re slow, have to charge low prices, can’t find enough clients or can’t make ends meet. The marketing of your business is why you are not seeing the results you expected, wanted or NEEDED for your business to be successful. People pay for what they value.

It’s time to stop blaming every other lactation clinic or support for the decisions they’ve made—because their business goals differ from yours. 

A lot of us take the “If you build it, they will come” approach in our business. When, in reality, we CANNOT have a thriving lactation practice WITHOUT marketing ourselves or our practices. Perhaps you thought you could open a lactation practice and never have to market yourself or your services. . . because you’re under the impression that getting help with breastfeeding is in HIGH DEMAND nowadays and moms are having babies all the time! 

Maybe you thought your prices and convenience of doing home visits was a no-brainer to get tons of clients. Maybe you thought being on the hospital list and posting in moms groups was going to generate a steady flow of clients.

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Maybe that really nice doula collective with all of their promises to “promote you on our social media” or “refer our current clients to you” was a slam dunk and you’d just sit back and watch the dollars flow in! 

If this is your hope, if you’re crossing your fingers that your location, your low prices or your mom friends will do all the marketing for your business and you can just see clients never market another day in your life … may this post serve as your wake up call. 

Your practice is slow, you fear your competition, you charge low prices, or you’re not paying yourself all because you haven’t learned how to market yourself. 

Marketing is non-negotiable to business ownership. Talking about your services, establishing your expertise and authority, posting regularly on social media, having a marketing strategy are essential parts of running ANY business.

You (ahem… not your competition) are responsible for establishing a price point for your services that will cover your expenses, your taxes, and your living expenses and as an added bonus… if you are willing to invest in yourself to master running a business and kick some butt at marketing, you can also include some fun money in your pricing that can include your vacations, a comfortable lifestyle, something other than a 1991 Toyota Corolla (ah… my first car), and ultimately some breathing room in your biz and life to fulfill your reasons for starting this business!

#3 – CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE: YOU ARE THE CAUSE OF WHY YOUR LIFE IS THAT WAY IT IS.

We tend to try to protect our egos and motivations by saying our unhappiness, our struggles, our situation is everyone else’s fault. Because at times it can feel very uncomfortable realizing that we are the cause of what we allow to happen in our lives.

When we are the cause of something, we take ownership and responsibility for it, which means we are also within our power and our control to change it. By placing blame on external forces, you then give away your power. You end up feeling like you cannot change or control the situations around you and you are again, waiting for someone or something else to happen to you to change your circumstances. 

Be the force of change in your life, take responsibility for your actions and thoughts. If you’re afraid to raise your prices, get your butt out there to network, and market yourself… where will your practice be in 90 days, 6 months, or even 1 year from now? YOU are the person with the power, control, say and sole responsibility to give yourself the “OK” to change ANYTHING you don’t like about your practice. The bottom line is that it’s all about perspective. Think about how you can take 100% responsibility and control of your practice instead of allowing clients and external circumstances to dictate or run your life and business.

~Jacqueline Kincer