Running a practice takes more than clinical know-how, would you agree?
There are other talents you need to bring to the table, more than clinical skills and experience alone. Some of the basic things you must know when you own a practice include:
- How to hire the right staff
- How to work with employees
- How to do billing and work with insurance
- How to handle bookkeeping
- How to manage tax obligations
- How to handle finances and maintain cash flow
- … and the list goes on
While you don’t have to know every last detail nor do it all yourself, you should have enough know-how to determine if things are getting done and done right.
So, are you wondering what happens if you don’t have or lack some of the necessary business skills? Well, the good news is you can always learn the skills you need to know or improve on them over time, without too much difficulty.
You have a wealth of online and offline classes to help you get up to speed. And of course, there are countless books you can pick up, read, and educate yourself on virtually any topic.
But there is one piece of the puzzle that’s not as easily acquired as the rest… and it’s one that’s often overlooked altogether.
What is it?
It’s the mindset you bring to the table. It’s how you think about business, and your business specifically, that can make all the difference.
Here are five points to ponder to see if you have the right mindset to build a successful practice. Reflection helps you shape, fine tune, and re-focus your mindset and keeps you moving toward your goals.
1. Consider The Value You Bring To The Table
While every business exists to make a profit (after all, that’s how you can stay in business), sometimes “profit” seems to be in contradiction to helping people.
It’s an ongoing challenge, experienced by many healthcare providers that can get in the way of creating a successful practice.
So, if you find yourself conflicted about making money from helping people in need, it’s time to reframe your thinking.
While you think about generating revenue and meeting your financial obligations, don’t forget that you also provide value to your patients.
Think about the many ways your practice is helping people. Don’t lose sight of all the value and the good you provide with your services. And don’t allow yourself to live in conflict over helping people while generating an income from it.
Think about it… All of us earn a living by helping someone solve a problem; healthcare is no exception.
So. if you find yourself torn between generating revenue by helping people and charging for it, do whatever you must to find a resolution. For if you can’t reconcile it, it will be difficult to build a successful practice.
2. Turn To Your Team For Help
Don’t buy into the mindset: “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” While it may be OK to think that way when you start your business, it will work against you later on.
It’s tough to get it all done; there aren’t enough hours in a day, and there are limits to what you can do yourself. But more than that, you have valuable skills that should be put to their highest and best use.
And that’s why you want to delegate tasks that can be done by others, as soon as you can. Resist the temptation to do it all yourself. Train your employees to do the things they can do. Then step aside and let them get their work done, without micromanaging.
If you want to grow your practice, even modestly, you can’t do it all yourself. Delegating will free up your time to do clinical work, manage your practice, and plan for growth. Additionally, it will reduce the stress associated with trying to do too much without enough downtime.
Overall, it will make owning your practice more enjoyable, and perhaps more profitable in the long run.
The same principles apply to you too. Granted, you won’t have employees to delegate. However, you can turn things over to a professional, who can do the work for you. Hire a bookkeeper, an answering service, or IT-support to help you when necessary.
Again, it will free you up to do the things you do best and enjoy the most.
3. Sprint Or Marathon?
How do you think about growing your practice? Is it more like running a sprint or a marathon for you?
While starting a business may feel like a sprint, growing it is akin to running a marathon. You’ve got to have the mindset and the stamina of a marathoner.
Endurance athletes prepare to perform for long periods. They’ve developed a mindset that helps them stay the course, regardless that they may be tempted to throw in the towel at times.
And this is the mindset you want to adopt. A mindset that prepares you for the rough spots you’ll encounter along your journey of building your practice.
Think of running your practice as a journey, one with a start and a destination. And while your journey doesn’t have to be a difficult one, there’s no shortcut or easy way to get there. It’s an adventure of daily challenges and surprise, leading to the realization of your goals.
If you don’t think like a marathoner at this time, it’s a mindset you want to embrace.
While life and business can move fast, accomplishing bigger goals takes longer. And this is where the ability to steadily stay the course pays off.
4. Employee Or Practice Owner?
Ask yourself this simple question: am I thinking (and acting) like a practice owner or like an employee who runs a practice? There is a big difference between the two.
When you think like an employee who runs a practice, you end up doing most of the work; your practice can’t function without you. And even though you are the owner, you rarely work on the business but always in it.
You have few if any systems in place that allow you to step away from your business for any length of time. You end up working far too many hours without building a real business.
But if you’re thinking like a practice owner, things are different. And while you may choose to work in your business, you’ve put systems in place that allow you to step away. Now you’re free to do other things like working on your business instead of in it.
It’s crucial you understand the difference between thinking like a business owner and thinking like an employee. Making the switch from one to the other may take time, and for some, it may take real effort.
What’s important is you check in from time to time and monitor your thinking. Are you thinking like an employee or a business owner?
If you don’t have the right mindset, you’ll find that building a practice is far more difficult than it needs to be.
5. Ready To Keep Learning?
It seems we learn the most valuable lessons when we make mistakes. Are you prepared to keep learning, even though it may mean failing again and again?
Getting comfortable with making mistakes and failing may be harder for people with more education. After all, it’s been drilled into you that mistakes are bad and should be avoided at any cost.
But remember, we’re not in school anymore…
Successful people learn by making mistakes and failing. Through these failures, they learn how to run their business and gain valuable experience.
Develop the mindset that it’s ok to fail. See your mistakes as essential lessons and learn everything you can from them.
Now that you’ve agreed to stay enrolled in the school of hard knocks, what about intentional learning?
Are you willing to keep learning to fine-tune your business skills? If you want to grow a successful practice or any business for that matter, ongoing learning is a must.
Keep reading business books, enroll in a class, read articles, join a business organization. Whatever it is you decide to do, keep learning!
How much congruency is there between your mindset and the goals you have for your practice? Do they align, or do they diverge?
If there is minimal alignment between the two, what is it you need to do so that you will have alignment between your thinking and your goals? Because when your mindset aligns with your goals, there will be far less resistance toward achieving success in your practice.
Do you think it’s important to cultivate the right mindset in business? Let us know your thoughts…
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”