Bonita Ackerman du Preez is a qualified Registered Trauma recovery therapist, specialising in PTSD, trauma, grief recovery, anxiety and stress management. She has spent 23 years teaching and 4 years as a therapist, and she runs her own business called Future Edge Therapy.
From Teaching to Therapy
After spending over two decades teaching, Bonita Ackerman du Preez started feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from her work, and she set out to change something.
“I had a conversation with my wife one evening, and she said, you know what, you need to work with people and train, that’s your strength. And it just so happened that I started on the outstanding teacher program, and really enjoyed it. I realised that this thing called coaching, so I did some research and found a two-day course with The Coaching Academy in London, went on it and realised, oh my gosh, this is what I really love to do. Self-employment was for me!.
My direction was found. And then I thought, some so many people have got anxiety and stress. What are these anxiety and stress? Where does it come from? Then I realised through the coaching work I was doing that everyone suffers from trauma. The world of anxiety, stress and trauma came to me, and then neuroscience became something that intrigued me. And so this whole new career just jumped at me, and I tailor-made my training to where I am today. It was really out of naivety that I am where I am today.“
Cash Flow, Time and Energy Levels
Bonita shares her four-year lessons about the benefits and the challenges of running a business.
“People say, oh, you’ve got flexibility when you run your own business, but it’s not like that, because my diary is completely dictated to me by my client base. Over the last year, my business has gone from literally making enough to cover my expenses, to now, where I’m far exceeding what I was earning while teaching. My businesses maxed to the point where I can’t take on any more one-to-one clients; I need to move my business in a different direction.
I’ve had to make big changes, like on a Monday, and I don’t see clients at all, I do work for the business, But now I have my own office, which I haven’t been able to have before, which is amazing. I still need to work on this concept that it’s okay not to be in your business 24 hours a day. I’ve just been able to get to that peak. It’s a struggle at times to manage everything, and now I have amazing VAs that work with me.”
“The biggest challenge for me was, literally, cash flow,” she continues. “I had no idea. When you teach cash flow in a classroom, it’s easy, isn’t it, like this business has an opening balance, and then when you get to it, you think, oh my gosh, I need so much to live off, I’ve got to pay this, pay that, you need all this business expense. But you need to change your mindset; you need to spend to win. My biggest other challenge is time, time, time. It’s me, myself and I’ve had to learn how to balance everything. And then thirdly, the energy levels. I had to think very carefully about what I needed to focus on. For me, it’s my nutrition, and it’s exercise. And it’s making those non-negotiables.”
The Power of Referrals
Bonita does not advertise her business. Instead, her best work comes through referrals, but she has invested countless hours of coaching in relying on referrals and Google reviews.
“I’m not a coach; I’m a hybrid – a therapist coach. My clients have had severe trauma, and then I have to take them through that first, before starting the coaching process. In the first two years of business, I made sure that I worked with anybody and everybody who needed me, whether they could afford me or not. If it were a service-based transaction, I would make sure I got something out of it. I’ve worked with someone who came into my garden because they couldn’t afford it. I was getting my practice, and I’ve honed my skills.
Because of that, it means that my referral out is fantastic. I have people ring me all the time, who’s heard for me from their friends, colleagues, family. I’ve also worked on my Google reviews. I ask people to leave me a review to attend my free workshop, and I’ve got over 60 reviews now. I’ve also invested in a great SEO company, and for LinkedIn, I’ve got a social media lady who does an amazing job. We don’t sell, I just put out information, and offer a free 30-minute session,” Bonita explains.
Corporate Therapy and Online Group Therapy
Bonita has big plans for her business this year, such as expanding her brand, working with corporates, and creating an affordable group program.
“I’ve never set goals. I’m just a driven individual; for me, it’s about having strategic thinking, I need to see the big picture. However, for 2021, I’ve just invested heavily in a big program to help me move my business online. I’ve realised that not everybody can afford one to one therapy. I must turn away 12 to 20 people a month because of the affordability. So my main aim for next year is to develop an online offering in groups.
My one to one client’s base tends to be professional, so it has also opened the door to corporate work. Next year, my vision is to have a powerful corporate program, which I’m developing with another partner, The Mental Vitamins Program. I also want to get consultants and trauma therapists under my brand called The Integrative Therapy System. I’m in the process of teaching and training up five of my closest therapy colleagues to work under my brand,” Bonita concludes.
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