1 Evaluate where you stand.
Make sure you have a firm grasp of the current state of your business. Assess your revenue, costs, budget, and staff productivity on a recurring basis. Celebrate your strengths and current successes, but also make an honest evaluation of your biggest weaknesses and needs as a business. And don’t forget the last step: document the assessment to ensure follow-up and execution.
It may seem obvious on the front end, but starting—and maintaining—a routine of self-monitoring and assessment is an essential first step for scaling and fostering long-term success at your practice.
2 Dream—then set realistic expectations.
Are you looking to expand your services? Have you had your eye on some new equipment or exciting technology? Wish you could move into a larger, sleeker office space? That’s great—as the office entrepreneur, give yourself permission to be creative and think big.
But chances are you can’t do everything you want in the near term.
Try to determine what can realistically be done in one, three, and five years given your patient panel, prospective revenue, and responsibilities. By embarking on this exercise, you’ll find that you’re less likely to get overwhelmed trying to achieve all of your goals. Creating a documented plan to manage the change will keep you on track.
3 Determine what kind of financing is best for you.
Expanding your footprint can be exciting—but price barriers can get in the way. Practice startup costs alone run upwards of $100,000. So if you’re looking to grow your practice, you’ll need to evaluate what borrowing options will work best for you.
Remember, interest rates don’t tell the whole story—there are account fees, premiums, and other closing costs to consider. Always scrutinize the details and entirety of the lending relationship before making a decision.
A key consideration is the term of your loan. Cash- flow is extremely important, and while you may want to do a quick payoff, that can create a cash flow crunch. Most loans will allow you to pay down the debt quicker if things are going well.
SBA loans can be especially helpful for doctors who are looking to open, acquire, or expand a practice because of a federal guarantee of up to 85%. That means there’s less risk for the lender and easier access for the borrower.
When you’ve figured out what type of financing works best for you, don’t just let the banks interview you—interview them as well. You’ll find that some have expertise and experience dealing with certain types of businesses—including medical practices. Often, the business savvy they bring is every bit as important as the financing itself. Do your research and ask questions.
4 Formalize your thoughts in a business strategy.
Once you’ve arrived at a strategy, put pen to paper. Your bank or lender of choice can assist with developing your business plan, setting financial goals and parameters, and weighing financial gain against your interests and passions as a physician.
From there, it’s time to go shopping—but stick to your plan and your budget. Any smart lender will make sure you do so. It’s mutually beneficial.
5 Carefully build your team.
Human capital is your most important growth area, and it’s where you’ll be investing the majority of your money.
Whether you’re adding a partner, hiring a non-physician provider, or bringing on an office manager to help with the administrative load, you’ll want to take extra care to choose team members that will be the right fit for your practice in the long run. Unlike a big company, each employee represents a significant chunk of your business.
Resist the temptation to hire quickly because of immediate demands or pressures. This is where the best plans are often ruined. Focus instead on curating a high-quality staff for sustainable growth.