Reiki Melbourne

Article of the Week
How I built My Reiki Business
(And Some Lessons I Learned Along the Way)

Healing Dawn in Melbourne

If I had followed common sense, I never would’ve started Om Reiki. Certainly, I wouldn’t have started it when I did.

It all happened back in 2007, just after I learned that my daughter Om had been conceived. Crazily, that same week, I also found out that my partner’s first child – who had been living in Taiwan – was about to get shipped out to us.

This was totally unexpected, and it meant that I was about to get two kids for the price of one.

At the time – having spent years studying and travelling – I wasn’t working, so most people in my situation would’ve gone and got themselves a ‘sensible’ job.

But I hadn’t (and haven’t) ever worked a ‘sensible’ job in my life, and I didn’t intend to start. In fact, prompted by my intuition, I decided not to succumb to the fear of my growing responsibilities and found Om Reiki.

I didn’t have any models for this. I didn’t know anyone who had done anything similar. I simply made my decision and set about making it happen.

You Don’t Have to Get it Right, You Just Have to Get It Going

Not knowing where to begin, I settled on learning to code websites. I figured that it would be important to have a website, and not having much money, didn’t want to pay anyone to build or edit it.

I remember people telling me that learning to code would be too difficult (I had, after all, studied literature and philosophy at university). I remember people telling me that I’d never build a website. But I ignored them. I learned to code HTML, and I built the site I still use today.

Admittedly, these days, I wouldn’t bother learning to code (just use WordPress, anything similar, or get someone to build you a site!). And yes, my site isn’t the most elegant one out there. But it has done the job – particularly since I also took a course in SEO which helped me rank well on Google.

Since I already practised Reiki every day, and had studied under several excellent teachers, I was confident that the practical, hands-on side of the business would be fine. So that meant I could dedicate myself to building the business side of my business, and the next step was to find a location to set up shop.

At this point, my intuition once more gave me clear instructions: it said to move to Daylesford. As far as I recall, I had never been to Daylesford before, but somehow I just knew it was the place to be. So my partner and I drove up there, visited several real estate offices and, after a few challenges, found a great place to live and run my business – right by the side the Wombat State Forest.

The thing I want to emphasize at this point is that I didn’t really have a clear roadmap for my business. I just had an end goal – to get going, have fun, help people and make a profit – and I kept trusting my intuition and taking the next step.

With a new home, I set about writing manuals for my Reiki courses and, after that, promoting them.

It’s fair to say that my first course was a modest affair: one participant plus a friend who came for free to pad out the numbers. So it didn’t make me rich. It may not even have covered costs, but it was a start – something I could build on.

My next course was in Melbourne, and from memory I had about 4 participants. I rented out a tiny room in Johnston Street, Fitzroy, and then proceeded to squish into the course every good Reiki thing I could think of!

Later on, I learned that everything you teach is far more impactful when taught at the right time, but to begin with, I just wanted to share as many great techniques as I could. Over the years, I have continued to fine-tune my course content, but as the saying goes, ‘You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going.’

If you aim for perfection, you’ll never start. So aim for somewhere between good to great and then learn on the job and improve on what you do.

My philosophy has always been that at a bare minimum, I need to provide equal or greater value to customers than what they pay me. So as long as you’re confident you can do that, then you’re ready to start. You will always get better, so no point waiting until you’re as good as you can be, because that day will never come. You will learn from every Reiki session you take. You will learn from every course you conduct. So just get going, happy in the knowledge that your future customers will reap the rewards of your growing experience.

The comforting thing about Reiki is that it is hard to do a bad job. In almost every case, students will love what they learn, and clients will get a lot from your healings. So even starting out, customer satisfaction should be high. Just be sure you are practising consistently on yourself, be sure you have had plenty of practice on friends and family, and then stop agonizing over whether you’ll be good enough or not and take the leap.

Ultimately, you’ll only gain true confidence through action. You’ll only know you can do a good job after enough people have complimented you on your work. You will almost never gain true confidence through preparation, no matter how much you do. Things simply don’t work that way.

Keep Doing the Work – Consistently!

If I look back on my Reiki success, I’d say a few things that helped were:

  1. Reiki was something I loved and did for pleasure in my spare time.
  2. I was willing to work consistently hard over a long period of time.
  3. I decided that I was going to succeed no matter what, and didn’t let the thought of things not working enter my head. I just determined both that they would work, and that I would do whatever it took to make it so.

In the beginning, I both taught and offered healing sessions. Like with my courses, my healing career started slowly. Each week, I’d typically have 1-2 clients in Daylesford, and something similar in Melbourne.

The sessions in Daylesford were fine because I did them at my home. But in Melbourne, having one or two customers on a day I paid $90 for the room and $20-30 for petrol wasn’t exciting – not from a financial point of view, in any case.

But often life is simply about building momentum. You have to accept that the moment you put your foot down on the accelerator, you’re not going to hit 100km/hour. So you simply hold the accelerator down, and before you know it, you’re zipping down the highway gathering speed.

Again, I want to repeat that what helped my success was a willingness to keep building my business. I was always doing something to grow it and move things forward. I was playing the long game and didn’t need an immediate ‘return on my investment’ of time and money (although I tried to keep spending to a minimum).

For instance, in the early days, I offered free distance Reiki healing sessions. My idea was:

  1. To gain more healing experience
  2. To win over new customers by giving them a taste for Reiki.

Another thing I did was start up monthly practice nights (something I’m still doing, all of these years later!).

Like most things, my practice night started off humbly. I probably had about five attendees for the first one, but over time the numbers grew, until now they are generally between 20-30 (which is about all my Reiki room can hold).

I also used to work hard to fit clients in wherever I could. Because I was only down for one day a week in Melbourne, I also used to see clients before and after teaching my courses!

I’d see a client, teach all day, and sometimes even see another client after that! They were long hours, but I was determined to do whatever I could to grow my business.

Are the Limits of Your Success, the Limits of Your Mindset?

I’d probably been going for a year or two when I had a daring thought: What if I raised my maximum course capacity from 6-8?

It seems laughable today, but that was a big leap for me back then. It also meant that I needed to hire a new – more costly – Reiki venue (the Gertrude Street Yoga Centre).

Right away, my numbers grew, and almost every course was full with eight participants. This gave me confidence, and another year or so later, I had an even bolder idea: What if I expanded my maximum course size to 12 participants?

The danger of aiming high is that from a logical point of view, the risk of failure increases. This can be hard to take psychologically. For instance, if my maximum number of participants is 8 and I get 8 of them, then I’ve been a total success. But if my maximum number of participants is 12 and I only get 8, then my course is only 2/3 full! This can feel like a failure.

So it takes a certain sort of emotional/psychological courage to go for a bigger goal, but my experience is that our universe tends to expand with our vision.

So while I didn’t always get 12 participants to my courses, I typically did. This made me realize that the limits of my success were very often simply the limits of my mindset. If I thought 8 participants were the maximum number of students I could successfully teach, if I thought they were the maximum numbers of participants I could attract to my courses, then so it was. But if I raised my vision to 12, then that soon became the new reality!

I’m not saying I could just hope for 10,000 students per course and they’d magically appear. But no doubt we can all raises our vision and achieve greater success without anything dramatic needing to happen.

Courses by Donation!

After a few years in business, I tried another experiment: courses by donation.

Call me naïve, but I liked the idea of anyone being able to come to my courses, no matter their financial state.

Yes, almost everybody who had tried something similar (in a variety of different businesses) warned me against the idea.

Yes, Mrs Takata (the most influential Reiki teacher after Mikao Usui), even made up a story about Usui healing a beggar for free in the Tokyo Beggars Quarter and realizing it was a mistake (the healed man supposedly returned to begging, saying that it was easier to make a living that way!).

But I was determined to make it work, even if others had failed to do so.

Ultimately, I stubbornly continued the experiment for six months before abandoning it – learning a crazy lesson along the way: It really is better for people to pay – or at least invest something – for learning Reiki!

Sadly, the donations courses didn’t have the same feel as regular fee-paying ones. In general, participants weren’t as committed, and after a course, they wouldn’t do as much practice. If a healing crisis (what I call ‘healing cleanse’) occurred, they typically stopped practising instead of continuing on and completing the cleanse.

Just as bad, often they simply didn’t turn up to class, many would turn up with an ‘entitled’ attitude (as if it were my moral obligation to teach them for free), and many were far less polite than their fee-paying counterparts.

A lot of it defied commonsense logic, but that was how it was: fee-paying customers were far better to deal with, worked harder on their Reiki, and as a result, got more from the classes!

Those six months were the least pleasurable of my teaching career, but they did help me get over any lingering angst I had about charging for my healing services, because once I realized it was in my clients best interests to pay me something, I understood that doing so was a win/win.

Note that I’m not saying you need to be dogmatic about this, and I’m not saying that a client always needs to pay you in money. But some sort of exchange almost always helps them get the most out of your courses/healing sessions, even if, at times, your intuition may still prompt you to let someone come along as a non-paying guest.

How I Continued to Grow

One of the keys to the consistent growth of my business is that I have continued to take courses and learn new skills. In fact, some years I’ve spent as much as 30K on course-related expenses for personal development. This is a lot of money, sure, but it has meant I have continued to evolve as a teacher, practitioner and person. As a result, my business has never grown static. Rather, it too has continued to grow and evolve.

A lot of people say that you should invest ten percent of what you make into self-development. Perhaps that sounds like a huge amount, but there are probably few investments that will net you such a good ROI, and if you work in a field like Reiki and healing, these courses also have the benefit of being tax-deductible expenses.

What’s more, you almost always have a large surge in business on your return from a course. It’s like the course charges you with fresh energy that helps you attract more success.

For me, this idea of staying hungry to learn is actually built into the Reiki precepts. The third precept, ‘Show gratitude’, can also be translated as ‘Be humble’, and for me, humility entails knowing how much you don’t know. It means understanding how much there is to learn and how much you can evolve beyond your current state.

The founder of Reiki, MIkao Usui, apparently had a ranking system out of 5 for Reiki practitioners, where 5 meant you were a beginner, and 1 meant you were the head honcho. Well, Usui apparently ranked himself at a 2, because he knew he had a lot of improvement left in his healing arts.

Not surprisingly, the English translation of the Japanese word ‘Shinpiden’ as ‘Reiki Master Level’ is misleading. The term more literally means ‘mystery teachings’, which has no connotations of mastery at all.

You don’t ever master Reiki, you simply go deeper and deeper into it.

The Idea of ‘Kaizen’

After the 2nd World War, Japanese businesses like Toyota started to implement a practice of kaizen. While people may debate the meaning of the term, most people understand it as the art of continuous improvement.

At the time, Japanese goods were world famous for their poor quality. Thanks to kaizen, they are now almost universally respected.

In a Reiki business, kaizen means continuously improving how you do things, and for me, in a broader context, continuously doing something to grow my business (or at the very least, keep it moving forward).

English has many sayings about the necessity of taking a long-term approach and continuing to make small improvements. For instance:

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

“Yard by yard it’s hard, but inch by inch it’s a cinch.”

These sayings have become clichés, and they can be annoying, but they are nevertheless true.

If you want to succeed as a professional Reiki practitioner, you have to keep plugging away, knowing that one day, sooner or later, all your efforts will build momentum, and that you will then find the success you are looking for.

Take the newsletter I am working on now. I have been writing regular newsletters for my Reiki list since I started my business, and I often have students who enroll in a course only after reading my emails for years and years first.

Over time, I built up a degree of credibility. Over time, they discovered that they resonated with the way I thought and taught.

But I wasn’t trying to win them over with a single sales pitch. I worked to provide value and gave it without expecting anything in return. Do that for long enough, however, and the returns inevitably come.

Different Business Models for Professional Reiki Success

There are many ways you can make it as a successful Reiki practitioner. To start with, you might only offer healing sessions. Almost certainly, it will take a reasonable amount of time to get known and build up a reputation and clientele, but it is doable. The thing to remember, however, is that at the start you might only get 0-2 clients per week, so don’t dump your job imagining you’ll be paying the bills from your new profession right away.

Working exclusively as a healing practitioner isn’t something I’ve ever done, but I have known people who have had 20-40 clients every week, and doing so they can earn a solid to excellent living.

That said, these people often offer more than one modality. For instance, they offer massage and Reiki, or Reiki and kinesiology. I like this approach because you effectively have two ways to attract customers.

They come to you for massage, you do a good job, and they’ll probably also try your Reiki.

You do a good Reiki job, and they’ll probably try your massage.

Two ways to be found on Google. Two ways to gain referrals. And two ways to keep things fresh and interesting.

That said, while I now teach Reiki, Pellowah and meditation, for many years my model was to offer Reiki healings and courses.

Teaching is a great way to make a living off your healing work, and it is also, ultimately, better for your clients because it empowers them.

It’s like the proverbial difference between giving someone some fish, and teaching them to fish.

Teaching people Reiki enables them to connect to Reiki energy to heal themselves and others whenever they want, and as a result, is far more impactful.

The key is simply to choose the path that intuitively feels right to you at any given time, knowing that you can always alter things as you go.

The Art of Realistic Optimism

I like to practise what I call ‘realistic optimism’. This means that you are realistic about where you are currently at (you are a good healer but have crappy business skills, you are nicely connected to your upper chakras, but could do more work on the lowers ones, you are good communicating with people one on one but struggle in groups, etc.). But it also means you are optimistic that you can fix any of your seeming ‘shortcomings’, that you are confident you can continue to improve your craft and reach a high level of proficiency in whichever area you are working on.

So you’re not kidding yourself about your current level or standards.

But you are also not beating yourself up for your lack of talent or skills.

Instead, you confidently do whatever it takes to upgrade your skills, and focus on where you are going, rather than what you are ‘missing’.

My philosophy has always been that if someone else can do something in a field I’m excited to work in, then I too can have success in it.

I also believe that you can ultimately excel even in areas where you currently struggle – if you put in the work.

For instance, in my twenties, I used to find public speaking a nerve-wracking experience. This put me in a difficult position because at the time I needed to lecture and tutor at Melbourne Uni. So what did I do? I enrolled in an adult education course in public speaking. It wasn’t the most spectacular course ever, but it did give me a little confidence, and bit by bit, with more practice, I even began to enjoy presenting in public. Nowadays, people presume I was always confident in front of people, but far from it. That is a skill I’ve developed and worked at over the years.

So believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to learn new skills, and never let any supposed deficiency in any area stop you from living your dream.

Instead, get to work. Learn the necessary skills, and reap the rewards.

Conclusion

I’m now in my 14th year working as a full-time Reiki professional, and I’m happy to earn a good living doing so.

Yes, it took time to build my business. Yes, there were plenty of times at the start when I’d need to get the no-brand supermarket item because I couldn’t afford anything more expensive, but because I did what I loved, I always enjoyed myself.

If you think about it, much of the ‘quality’ hours of an average person’s life is spent at work.

If you work 9-5, five days a week, then most of your sunlight hours are spent either at work, or commuting to work.

And it’s not just your time, it’s also your ‘life force’. Your energy and vitality.

Think of all the people who get home from work and don’t have the energy to do anything much else but loll about on the couch, eat a microwaved meal, munch on a few Doritos, and then pig out on a tub of ice cream for sweets?

As such, despite all their good intentions to do something new, they can all too easily remain trapped in unfulfilling jobs or occupations.

Of course, as appealing as it might be to jump into a new profession, for a lot of people that simply isn’t practical in the short-term.

Kids to look after. Mortgages to pay. You typically can’t just dump everything and do what you ‘love’ right away.

But one thing everyone can do is build the skills to transition over to what they love.

They can improve their healing skills. They can practice more Reiki on themselves and others. They can study business. And they can start off working part time from home.

Then, bit by bit, they can build the foundations for a full-time new professional career.

One thing we know for sure is that in 5-10 years you are going to be somewhere. For many people, that will mean ‘working for the weekend’ in the same unfulfilling job.

But if you get moving now, you can lay the foundation for a successful transition into healing (or whatever else it is that lights you up).

Better still, rather than growing frustrated with your present job, if you set about building the skills and foundation for the job of your choice, then your current job will actually help fund your new mission. It will support you while you lay the foundations for it. As such, rather than resent it, you’ll grow to appreciate its positive side.

It mightn’t be your dream job, but it is helping you get to it!

I’m not saying any of this will be easy. Almost certainly, you’ll hit road bumps and frustrations along the way. Most likely, you’ll even have moments when you’ll doubt whether success will be possible, but if you keep plugging away, if you employ the kaizen principle over the long-term, then sooner or later success will pay a you visit.

Better still, since you are building a business in an area you love, you’ll get to enjoy the vast majority of the journey.

So if you want to be a healer (or have success in any other endeavour), decide that is what you are going to do. Decide that you will keep working at it until you find success, and know that one way or another, sooner or later, that success will be yours. You simply have to keep plugging away.

In chess there is a saying that ‘no game is ever won by resigning’ and that is true in life.

So keep playing. Practise realistic optimism, and bring your dreams to life.

The only thing that can ever truly stop you is yourself.

(Article copyright, Jeremy O'Carroll 2021)

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