Why I Developed Practicality
After nearly a decade in practice as a chiropractor, I was still having moments questioning how I could run my clinical practice more efficiently and with less stress. I decided to enroll in an Executive MBA program through the Ivey Business School at Western University to take my business management skill set to the next level. After only a few months in the program, I began the development of Practicality to help healthcare practitioners learn and implement critical business processes into their practices to avoid the common challenges we all face running our practices because of our lack of formal business education.
I remember the very first day I opened my clinic doors for business and how much I was overwhelmed with excitement and enthusiasm to offer my services to patients. After two months of discussions and legal handlings to acquire an existing massage therapy clinic, I was finally now ready to start my career as a chiropractor. But now what? I was eager to help patients but how did I get those patients through the door? I had a team of massage therapists still working under the new multi-disciplinary clinic model, and thus I had a great opportunity to generate internal chiropractic referrals from the existing massage therapy patients. But, what about the external sources I had yet to tap? I also had a new business to run, staff to manage, and patients to treat. There was new equipment I needed to purchase, advertising opportunities being thrown at me, and daily operational challenges I needed to resolve. Looking back at that first year in practice and knowing what I know now, there are three major areas of business that I wish I was well versed in before launching my practice.
Financial Management: Purchasing an existing clinic fresh out of chiropractic college was pretty much a leap of faith for me, with very little knowledge or experience on the financial processes necessary to achieve a successful new business acquisition. I was 27 years old, it had been months since graduation without any income, and I had a student loan that was about to begin repayment. To say the least, I was desperate to find a practice location and start seeing patients. This opportunity to become a clinic owner was so enticing that I dove in head first without truly understanding all of the financial implications involved. I had no idea how to valuate the massage therapy practice that was for sale and thus never negotiated the sale price. I didn’t perform any cash flow analysis or projections given the scheduling changes to the treating practitioners after the acquisition. Most importantly, I didn’t consider many of the leveraging options to raise capital versus incurring bank debt to finance the business. Ultimately, the decision to move forward with with this clinic purchase was made relatively blindly and without the level of financial analysis and knowledge that all major business transactions should include.
Strategic Planning: Every chiropractor, particularly those launching into their practice, should put strategic planning high on their priority list of business processes to implement from the get go. Considering immediate and potential threats to your business is essential for your short and long term success. It allows you to make organizational and marketing decisions to maximize your business resiliency to these factors. Internal awareness of your competitive advantages over the competition will also allow you to focus how you differentiate yourself from the practitioners around you. It enables you to brand yourself in line with this differentiating strength and highlight this value proposition you offer potential patients. For me, being a highly certified Active Release Techniques® provider in the Maritimes has always been one of the core elements of my brand, but early on, I never thoroughly considered or implemented a strategic plan around how I could use my ART® skill set to create a unique reach to the public looking for healthcare solutions.
Marketing: I cringe when I look at some of the many expensive advertising and marketing campaigns I explored that produced very little to no new business generation. I thought these opportunities presented incredible value for me as a chiropractor and business owner to get noticed and generate new patients. What I didn’t understand at the time was what makes up the foundation of a successful marketing campaign. I didn’t recognize how critical it was to be able to measure the performance of that campaign in order to generate future leads from what worked well. You will be approached by a wide variety of marketers promising incredible new patient numbers and fully booked practices. Some of these strategies do work but most of them don’t. What’s important for you to understand, being the brand behind the marketing campaign, is how to develop your overall marketing strategy that encompasses marketing channels that make sense to YOUR overall growth strategy and how to effectively engage your target patient segment.
I have developed Practicality and the various business learnings related to clinical practice to help practitioners develop greater business acumen and avoid costly, stressful business mistakes when managing their practice. Practicality is about high-level business knowledge to equip you with the tools to understand, analyze, and implement sound business decisions to achieve everything you want out of your clinical practice. My passion for helping other healthcare practitioners along this educational journey in business has brought me here today, and I am excited to be a part of your first steps in launching your chiropractic career.
In next week’s blog article, I will be diving into deeper learnings surrounding the financial management that should be involved in the day to day operations of running chiropractic practice, regardless if you’re a clinic owner or chiropractic associate. Effective financial management within your first few years can not only drastically impact your ability to make or break it as a healthcare practitioner, but reduce your stress and improve your bottom line while you focus on effective patient care delivery.