How to Run a Business When You’re a Practitioner
Originally Published Jun 25, 2020
Many health and allied health professionals, even professionals from other industries such as architects and designers operate as solo practitioners. When demand rises, they start to think of expanding their business to hire staff.
It’s common to then discover that running a business and being a good practitioner are two separate things. I made every mistake when I started my own clinic – here are some of the lessons I learnt.
Good practitioners have a high standard that you believe represents quality care and if the person you hire doesn’t meet that standard, you feel as if they’re doing half the job you can. The solution is not to simmer in frustration or get rid of them, but to set up an infrastructure for excellence.
I learned that, unless there is a standard, there’s no way to replicate your desired outcome with each subsequent team member. Infrastructure helps the process become repeatable, consistent and scalable, which is what you want when you’re building a business reputation outside of your personal reputation.
Practitioner business owners wear many hats and, at some point, something has to give. I’ve tried and failed to do everything myself. I’ve also made the mistake of saying “yes” to just about every consultant who came through my door offering to help.
The worst case was an agency I hired to take over my AdWords account. My leads dropped by 90 per cent. I outsourced my Facebook and found that we went from having a beautiful organic feed to copy that was written by someone who clearly didn’t know our business. I realised I was throwing money at a problem without actually understanding what the problem was – I’d lost the purpose of social media.
I’ve improved the outsourcing either through having better checks and balances or brought it back in-house using more efficient ways of getting the job done. You need to understand enough to know what a satisfactorily completed task looks like and set the parameters before you delegate.
Know when to grow
The balancing act for a practitioner business owner is knowing their business well enough to drive growth when it’s ready but before you burn out.
I started a document of stepping stones that I would update every month. It worked towards a 10-year vision of where I wanted to be. Each month would contain small steps towards success, leading to quarterly goals and annual goals. Monthly goals were pretty easy to achieve, which made quarterly goals easy to achieve and so on.
The catalyst for growth comes when have I tapped out my own ability to get to the next step. Last month I saw that in order to grow at 10 per cent a month, I had to hire a new Victorian state manager. The stepping stone showed me a decision point: that if I don’t hire, growth can’t continue. You can’t cheat and skip to the next step.
Enjoy what you do
My final advice is to spend the vast majority of the time doing things you absolutely enjoy doing and reduce or eliminate things are not conducive to satisfaction. The flipside of this is to find people who absolutely love doing the things you don’t.
If you love marketing but have fallen out of love with seeing patients, why are you spending 95 per cent of your time seeing patients and five per cent of the time on marketing? When you enjoy what you do, even stress takes on a different flavour. The quality of your work and your life is better. And that’s what we want from owning our own businesses, isn’t it?
Are you interested in owning a health care business, or do you require help running yours?
The information provided on this blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.