Let’s give a warm welcome to Alyssa Dazet, acupuncturist and founder of the practice-management website Building a 6-Figure Acupuncture Practice!
Today we’re chatting with Alyssa to learn more about what inspires her and how she’s built both a booming private practice and a successful online business.
In case you missed it, check out Alyssa’s guest post here on Modern Acupuncture from last month, The Secret to Having a Full Acupuncture Practice.
Her online coaching business, Building a 6-Figure Acupuncture Practice, teaches acupuncturists around the world how to be successful and happy acupuncturists. Alyssa provides advice and direction on marketing, how to speak to patients, how to grow your patient base naturally, how to build your business and keep your work-life balance, and much more. Her goal is to “mainstream Eastern medicine” to increase the acceptance of acupuncture in this country and help acupuncturists succeed. We can all get behind that!
Let’s learn more about Alyssa:
- How her original struggle with her practice led her to turn everything around.
- How her open-heart surgery inspired her to pursue acupuncture.
- Her tips on practice building that we can put into action right now.
- What we can each do today to increase awareness of our acupuncture practices in our communities.
- And, the one thing acupuncturists should never do!
Alyssa went to acupuncture school at YoSan University in Los Angeles, California and graduated in 2010. Originally from New Hampshire, she now lives and practices in Los Angeles. In her free time, Alyssa loves to play the piano, hike, bike, and exercise outdoors. With the beautiful Southern California weather, she can do this all year round. She’s also passionate about healthy eating and world travel.
Welcome, Alyssa! Let’s dive right in. You mention in your blog that open-heart surgery inspired you to pursue acupuncture. Can you tell us more about this?
When I was 23 I woke up one day and I was really sick. It took the doctors five weeks to figure out that I had a bacterial infection in my heart. And within those five weeks it had eaten away my mitral valve so they had to go in and give me open-heart surgery. This whole experience was a really eye-opening experience with western medicine. That’s what led me to want to become an acupuncturist and to pursue a different side of medicine that really looked at the person as a whole and more as a human being instead of a number. So that’s my heart surgery in a nutshell! There’s more about that on my “About me” page on my website if you want to check that out.
What kind of business education have you had, either in undergraduate or in acupuncture school?
I didn’t have any business education at all. We get the few classes in acupuncture school, one or two of them. But I found them to be really inapplicable to where you’re at in acupuncture school in that time. I don’t really remember anything I learned from those classes. Nor do I really remember them helping them at all. But otherwise I have no business education. It’s all been just personal experience and trial and error.
My dad had a few businesses growing up when I think about it, so maybe just being exposed to his entrepreneurial mindset helped it seem more normal to me. So that’s it. I hadn’t had any business education at all. And no business mentors or anything. Just trial and error and not giving up!
What made you decide to launch Building A 6-Figure Acupuncture Practice?
I decided to launch my Building A 6-Figure Acupuncture Practice business because it was less than three years out when I hit six figures and it got a lot of attention from my other acupuncture colleagues and people I graduated school with. People had started to contact me and ask for help. So I would invite them into my office and I would basically just data dump everything I knew on them in an hour. You know, I’d invite them in if I had had an hour in between patients, and just try and teach them anything and everything that I had learned over the last few years that had really helped me with my business.
A lot of them kept coming back to me and saying how helpful that had been for their businesses. And I knew that it’s such an issue in the acupuncture community. So many acupuncturist go out of business and it’s horrible.
It was also at the same time, from being in practice, that I really started to grasp how amazing and effective our medicine is. And so I really wanted more acupuncturists to be successful, for more people to be treated by acupuncturists. I really want to forward our medicine and I know that alone I can only do so much. Helping the entire acupuncture community with their businesses and with their success will only help more and more people with their health and bring our medicine more into the mainstream. So that’s what made me decide to launch the business.
When you decided to pursue acupuncture, could you have imagined that helping other acupuncturists succeed would be an important part of your career and a personal passion of yours?
No, not at all! I had no idea that I would do this when I became an acupuncturist. It kind of happened organically. I just embraced it and it’s been a really cool experience. When I started my online business I really wasn’t thinking about how the internet goes to the entire world. So I really had no idea that there were acupuncturists all over the world that were having the same issues that we have here in the united states. I have students from all over the world and their practices are really growing and it’s really exciting to have an effect on the entire world! I could never have imagined that this could have happened!
Your website mentions that you when you first started out in practice, you struggled. In what ways?
When I first started out my practice I struggled; basically like we all struggle. I just didn’t really know how to market, what I needed for paperwork, how to get patients, how to organize things, or how to speak to my patients. And I was just scraping by for the first year to year and a half. I remember I was still waitressing and I was just exhausted.
Now that I think about it, I was waitressing for the first six months that I opened up my practice. And I think it was about the first year that I was struggling. I just couldn’t make it work. I tried everything. I tried networking with MDs, I tried fliers, I tried networking groups, I just tried all kinds of stuff. And I was just struggling. It’s exhausting. And we’ve all been through that. There’s really no guidance for acupuncturists on what the heck we need to do to start a business.
What was the trigger that you needed to make a change?
I was basically on the brink of giving up. I thought about maybe going back to school to become a nurse because then I’d at least have a steady paycheck. I remember I was talking to my dad on the phone telling him that and I was all upset and didn’t know what to do. And he was actually encouraging me to go back to school because you know, this acupuncture stuff is “crazy.”
But I remember that I decided to try one more thing. I decided to take a look at how I was thinking. You know, who was I talking to about business, what was I filling my head with on a daily basis? How was I talking to my patients, what was I saying within the office, what was I telling myself about my job and my work?
I examined my mindset and that really was the missing key. I started to fill my brain with positive, motivating, inspirational things every single day. I read different books, I listened to different podcasts. I really got my head in the game. I did visualizations, I did affirmations, I did all of that.
And that really was the missing key. In December of 2012 I had grossed $3500 that month. That’s really bad for LA. You need more money here! So the next month, doing nothing different other than working on my mindset, I doubled that and grossed $7000 in January of 2013. And it only continued to grow from there. It was mindset and keeping my head in the right spot that made all the difference for me.
Do you have a strong support system to help you through difficult or busy times in your practice?
You know, I didn’t at that time. But now I do because of what I’ve created. One of biggest things that I think has to do with success is that you don’t isolate yourself as an acupuncturist. I’ve developed a private Facebook group for my acupuncture students who are in my advanced training program that is a huge support system for all of us. Even for me, because I still have hard days.
It’s so motivating, positive and inspiring. Everyone goes there with whatever that they need. It’s been really great to bring the acupuncture community closer together. And like I said, I have acupuncturists from all around the world. It’s really cool to connect with acupuncturists around the world for support and to hear what everybody’s going through. To know you’re not alone and to be inspired by other acupuncturists.
What inspires you to be your best every day?
It’s my acupuncture students. They inspire me, seeing how hard they’re working, how well they’re doing, how their practices are growing, and how many more patients they’re treating. That’s really exciting. And I’m also really inspired by my patients. When I see them get better and how much acupuncture helps them, it really inspires me to want to continue to bring this medicine to the world in the biggest possible way that I can.
How do you create time for yourself in your busy schedule?
One of the things that I teach is that I want you to have a success practice and be a happy acupuncturist. That’s a huge part of what I’m teaching. I really believe and teach that you can create whatever kind of life that you want and whatever kind of schedule that you want. So I make sure that I have days off and schedule time for myself to work out and time for friends.
I’ve really built and created my life exactly as I want to live it. And anybody can do that. And that’s something else that I teach. You really want to be clear about what type of life you want to live. And then you figure out what type of acupuncture practice to build off of that because the whole point is to be a happy acupuncturist.
What plans do you have to grow your private practice in the future?
I don’t have any plans to. I really like how it runs right now. I really like having an hour with each of my patients. I love not being burnt out or tired. I really love how it is now.
I got a point a year or so ago where my practice was super busy. It was so busy it was to the point where I really needed to expand to a bigger location if I wanted to continue at the rate I was going. I thought about it for a while and I realized that was not the life that I wanted to create. I had a really great practice just out of one room, I was making six figures, I had time off. I realized that I didn’t want to expand and get bigger. I wanted to have more time to treat my patients. I didn’t want to be doing two or three rooms at once. You really can create whatever type of schedule and life that you want. You just have to be very clear about what you want.
What plans do you have to expand Building A 6-Figure Acupuncture Practice in the future?
I do have plans to expand the Building 6-Figure Acupuncture Practice online training. Because it’s online, it’s a lot different than having my office expand. And my whole goal is to continue helping acupuncturists with their businesses so that we can mainstream Eastern medicine. I’m really working hard now to continue the momentum with the one course that I have. I know that I just started with this. It’s patience and persistence that will really make a huge effect in the acupuncture world.
I just really hope to continue to get more students and possibly start doing live trainings or speaking more live. I love inspiring acupuncturists. We have the coolest job and it’s amazing how we’re helping people! I feel like there needs to be more inspiration out there. I really want to bring inspiration and motivation and success to the acupuncture world through my course.
What one piece of advice would you give us, that we can all put into practice today to increase our practice volume?
I’m a really big fan of one-line wonders. I’m not really into the three-minute elevator speech that you learn about in school. They say you have to have your three minute elevator speech ready in case somebody asks you about acupuncture. I’m not really into that. I have something that I call a one line wonder.
I find that when you’re out and about in life, the one thing that you get asked the most, or that very easily comes up in conversation, is “What do you do?” Instead of just saying, “I’m an acupuncturist,” what you want to say is, “I’m an acupuncturist. Have you ever had it?” So you want to immediately follow up with, “Have you ever had it?”
You want to do this because it immediately engages and interests in other person in a conversation about acupuncture. And that’s what you always want to be doing: educating and engaging people in acupuncture conversations because that can open the door up to, yes they have had it and they love it, and maybe they’re looking for another acupuncturist. Or yes, they have had it, and they didn’t like it, and you can ask them why. Or maybe they have never had it. And then you can go on to speak to them more about acupuncture. You really just want to engage them.
So use the one-line wonder technique when you’re out in about in life and say, “I’m an acupuncturist. Have you ever had it?”
What’s one thing acupuncturists should never do?
The one thing I think acupuncturists should never, ever do is give discounts. It’s a huge, huge no-no. It devalues you in the eyes of your current patients and your prospective patients. Once you give a discount it’s really addicting and your clients will have a really hard time paying you full price again.
We’re doctors; we’re not a clothing store. Don’t give discounts. It completely devalues you. This is the psychology of sales as well as my own experience and what I’ve studied. You don’t need to give discounts to get patients through your door. What’s more effective is knowing how to speak to them about acupuncture and demonstrate the value that you can give them as an acupuncturist.
How do you feel about accepting insurance?
I teach it as part of my program because I feel that we are just the same as any other doctor. So if you want to accept insurance then you should absolutely use it. Don’t be afraid of it. You can get refunded for it and you can get refunded for it really well. You just have to learn about the system first in order to understand how to use it.
But I do have acupuncture students who don’t use insurance at all and they’re also super successful. So I don’t think that you absolutely have to take insurance to be successful. Once again, it just has a lot more to do with how you speak to your patients, how you treat your patients, and your mindset. Insurance is just something that I teach if you want to get into insurance.
Where do you see acupuncture in ten to twenty years?
Much more prevalent in our society and eventually in our hospitals, side by side with all the other medicine where it really should be. I see more studies coming out about it. I see more people knowing why to go to an acupuncturist. I see people taking care of themselves more holistically. They’re coming to acupuncturists more regularly. Just more mainstream. That’s the goal, baby!
How do you feel about being selective about patients? (I.e., turning certain potential patients away if they don’t seem like a good fit?)
You know, I don’t really have an opinion on this because I’ve never really dealt with this. Something that I teach is that when you build your practice you want to build it off of people that you really resonate with. So that’s what I’ve done and that’s what I teach. When you do that, through certain techniques, then you don’t really have potential patients that you feel are not a good fit.
Do you have any advice for “firing” difficult patients?
Again, this is something that I’ve never done. If I needed to tell a patient, I would tell them straight up that there’s a better-fitting acupuncturist for them and I would refer them specifically to different people.
What is one thing the audience can each do today to increase awareness of their acupuncture practices in their community?
Be present when you’re out living your life. Smile, talk to people around you. The more engaged and fun that you’re having in life, the more patients you’re going to get. The more people are drawn to you. Just being present out in life can really help increase awareness because you’ll have those acupuncture conversations come up again and again and again because people are always asking you what you do.
Do you have a mentor, or someone in particular who inspires you?
I actually do not have an acupuncture mentor. I’m a pretty independent chick! I’m pretty self-motivated. Like I said, I was drawn to acupuncture through my own personal health experience. If I have an online business mentor, someone who’s really helped me launch all this online stuff (because I’m an acupuncturist and I had no idea about that), it would be Lewis Howes. He has helped me a lot with the online stuff and learning how to reach out and connect with all of the acupuncturists out in the world through the internet. Because I had no idea how to do any of that and I’m still learning all about it.
Thanks so much for sharing, Alyssa! I’m always inspired by learning what motivates others to pursue success, and I hope everyone else is as well.
And in case you missed it last month, check out Alyssa’s guest post here on Modern Acupuncture, The Secret to Having a Full Acupuncture Practice.
Leave your thoughts for Alyssa in the comments below!