Starting a Medical Practice The Right Way
If you’ve considered starting a medical practice? Let me just say that you can do it! As a physician, you were required to learn so many medical skills. If you have the ability to learn (and you do), then learning how to run a business is doable!
Sure you’ll have to learn some skills, but it’s also a certain mindset. I think entrepreneurs are their own breed. We are the crazy people that will work 70 hours to not work 40 hours for someone else.
The question you’re pondering is, “Will I make a good entrepreneur?”
That’s something you’ll want to work through before you sign for loans to get a new practice started.
Let’s look at a few of the signs that you have what it takes to open a medical practice:
- Are you a risk-taker?
- Are you a lifelong learner?
- Are you willing to work hard?
Just as there are no guarantees in life, there are none in the business world or when starting a medical practice. There is always a risk attached when you sign on to any new venture. That means you have to be willing to take risks.
Instead of saying you don’t know how to do something…you start to research how to learn it. That may be watching videos about how to do something, taking a course or reading a book.
What types of things will you need to learn when you’re opening a medical practice?
Let’s jump into what types of skills you’ll need to build.
- Money management
- Marketing skills
- Team building
You might even find learning these things a lot easier than some of the medical skills you’ve had to process.
Is The Grass Greener When Starting a Medical Practice?
You might as well get those thoughts out of your head. Are you thinking if you work for yourself it will be easier than working for someone else?
You may not want to be an entrepreneur or open a medical practice if that’s your mindset. In the beginning, there is so much to do. There is so much to learn. You’ll work a lot harder than any nine to five position.
The pay is considerably less, too! Sure, you’re bringing some money into your new practice. However, you’ll have to pay all the people assisting you and the vendors.
You may be amazed at how hard you need to work!
How comfortable are you with winging it?
I’ve talked about physicians going after the dangling carrot before.
There were always such clear cut goals in front of you. First, there is medical school, then residency, maybe fellowship…then you become a new attending physician.
There is no clear cut path for an entrepreneur who is opening up a medical practice. Things can play out in a variety of ways and you have to be willing (and able) to go with the flow.
As I wrote before, you have to be someone who thirsts for knowledge.
And there are some opposing roles that an entrepreneur plays. As a physician, you are usually learning and working somewhat independently. However, an entrepreneur has to build relationships and delegate some of their work to others.
If you were to think about it in terms of checking off boxes…
There’s no question that physicians have a thirst for knowledge. You love to educate yourself. You can check that box.
Does any profession work harder than a physician? I can’t think of any! Physicians have one of the hardest professions. It is both physically and mentally challenging. Give that box double checks.
Then you start hitting some areas of uncertainty. For some people who are considering the role of an entrepreneur or considering opening up a medical practice, those can be a game-changer.
Can you handle uncertainty?
There are certain professions that can’t handle uncertainty. For example, CPAs don’t like change, much less something like entrepreneurship.
Do you have people skills?
You have to have a certain amount of charisma. Some people just don’t have that certain “something”. They just weren’t born with the ability to handle people.
Without people skills and respect it’s really hard to run a business.
Starting a Medical Practice with Marketing in Mind
How can I market and grow my new medical practice? How will people find me?
People skills and marketing seem to go hand in hand. These days with so much competition there are some things you can do to draw new clients into your practice.
Your new patients will be reading online reviews and looking at your social media, so you might consider asking for a referral.
Are you too shy to ask for a referral?
That may be telling the existing patients in your medical practice that you are accepting new patients, so they can spread the word. It might mean asking your satisfied patients to leave a review on your website.
Personally, I don’t like asking for referrals. In fact, I don’t ask for them! I was always uncomfortable. I’m just not a salesperson.
How can we get past that salesy feeling, so that we can ask for that referral?
One way is to stop thinking of what we’re doing as salesmanship. We have the skills to help someone with their problem.
I’m a fee-only financial planner who can help someone secure their future. I can help someone who is confused about the next right financial step.
I’m actually the solution to somebody’s problem!
I’m offering a service and so are you.
We’ve got to get over it.
When you practice asking for referrals you’ll become desensitized!
Find people who are the centers of influence.
This is a form of networking. There are fields and specialties that are interrelated. They’ll have access to your ideal patients. It’s up to you to figure out what those relationships are and how to form them.
An example is an Ob-gyn who refers to a colleague who is a pediatrician.
What about reviews?
I can tell you about my experience.
I look at it from an advisor perspective, because I have other advisors asking me how to start various businesses.
My response is to have an easy to use and working website.
Your website is like your business card. It can say a lot about you. The last thing you want is broken links or a hard to use format. Your clients may think if you can’t manage a website, how are you going to manage their finances or be an effective coach?
In our industry, we can’t have reviews or testimonials, so you must have a strong online presence.
It’s a trust factor that allows your clients to become familiar with you and they’ll be more comfortable.
Sometimes patients don’t leave positive reviews (even when it’s not merited). As a physician, you can’t refute anything that’s written because of privacy laws.How do you recover from negative reviews?
The short answer is to be on the offensive and don’t take a review personally. I’m not telling you to dismiss a negative review, look at it objectively and see if there is some validity to it. Then make some corrective action.
Satisfied patients will usually let their physician know they’re happy, but they don’t think about leaving a review about the medical practice. It’s unhappy patients who will leave a negative review online.
There is a saying, “If you haven’t pissed someone off yet, you aren’t successful.”
If you went to a restaurant and you had a bad experience, while you may not leave a review on Yelp, but you’ll tell your friend how bad you thought the place was.
When something good happens, you might still share it, but you’re not as likely to share it, especially online. The same thing happens in practices.
So ask for referrals and have people leave comments and reviews on your website, then the occasional negative review won’t have as much impact.
Have you opened up a medical practice recently or want to? Tell us about it. Visit this link to record your answers!