3 Things you need to know before you start your business
There is a lot of hard work, money, anxiety and learning that takes place prior to opening the doors of a new business. I can tell you that I am a very detailed and organized person who made a lot of mistakes prior to opening Impact Physical Therapy in July 2015. I want to share our mistakes and challenges so that you are better equip for opening your practice!
Here are 3 very important items that you should know prior to starting your business:
- Start small- Our original business plan was for a 3,000 sq/ft facility with a multitude of services including physical therapy, nutrition, personal training, and strength & conditioning. We wanted all new equipment, tables and even a turf field! We would need at least $250,000 in loans for our dream business. Now, we also have $150,000 each in student loan debt not to mention 2 small kids, a car payment, a house ect. The building we wanted to lease was still 18 months away from construction. We were anxious and could not wait that long. We wanted out of our jobs and had been ready to start a business for over 6 months. So we had to come up with a plan B since the new build was going to take too long. It was the BEST blessing we could have had! A friend of mine who trained me several years prior approach me with an amazing opportunity. He is the owner of Underground Fitness, which is a very successful private personal training company that has over 6 locations in the valley. It just so happened that he was moving to a 1st floor location in which he was able to lease out 750 sq/ft of space along with allowing us to use 2,000 ft training facility that was connected by 2 glass double doors. We had to go back to the drawing board and create a new business plan that was a fraction of our original mega clinic. I was working at an insurance based out patient clinic and I remember coming home one night after seeing over 25-30 patients. There had to been at least 3-5 patients that day I didn’t even communicate with nor performed any type of manual therapy. I also had 30 notes to do at the end of the day in which I had to complete before waking up and doing it all over again the next day. I was mentally and physically exhausted! I knew that if our new clinic were to take all insurances we would have been forced to hire more staff, need more space and need to pack more patients in per hour in order to make a profit. I didn’t want to be in the same situation I was at the insurance based clinic. We had to do something different! I had listened and read stories of other cashed based clinic owners and their journey to success. It seemed like the perfect plan based on our building space, personal financial situation, patient demographics, connection to a high end personal training studio, ideals of how patients should be treated and the freedom to create our own schedules. Fast forward to several moths after opening. We were making money and only had to take out a fraction of money compared to the insurance based clinic model. We know exactly what we make, no denials on claims, no begging physicians to refer to us, no more waiting on hold to insurance companies, no more seeing 30 patients a day (with 30 notes) and becoming too tired to play with my son at the end of the day. There was no way we wanted to compete to the large insurance based chains, we wanted to be different and have another healthcare option for patients/clients to experience!
- Create systems & automation– This is one area in which we continue to tweak, change and refine. It will be much easier if you start your business with systems and automation in place before you get too big and too busy. The idea of automation is to make things easy for you and the patient, reproducible for every patient experience and future clinics (if you plan to expand to multiple locations), and allow you to focus on the patient experience! We know that being a cashed based clinic that we needed to create a different experience than the traditional insurance based clinics. We didn’t want our patients to have to arrive 30 minutes early for paperwork, nor did we want to pay someone to scan it and keep it for 6+ years (no room in our clinic anyway). All of our intake paperwork is automatically sent to the patient in an automated email. They can fill it out on their iphone/ipad or android and it only takes 5 minutes. Appointments can be scheduled online, and we have the ability to schedule patients with our cell phones if we our out in public. No more waiting until Monday to be called back by the front office staff. Patients also have the ability to text our main line if they want to change or create a new appointment, which makes it faster and easier for our patients. Systems also mean that the staff understands the vision of the clinic and can communicate with patients in an effective and consistent way. This takes a lot of initial and ongoing training along with reminders. I would suggest creating scripts via word docs or even videos of how you want things to be done. What is the script supposed to look like if a patient asks, “Do you take my insurance?“ “How much is each session?” “Why don’t you take insurance?.” There are a lot of great resources and professionals that can help to automate your business.
- Take the Leap! At this point you may have read every business blog know to man, listened to every Jarod Carter podcast, talked with friends and family, found a great location (small), created a detailed business plan, crunched the numbers and stayed up late in visioning your dream! The only thing left to do is…. TAKE THE LEAP. Some people will get this far and back out, while others may dabble taking on a few cash based patients but never full invest the time or energy into creating a viable business. Here is some last words of advice- be confident in who you are and what you offer, be prepared and take the time to research systems and automation, find an ideal location, run the numbers, and be willing to network. Everyone you come in contact with could be a potential patient or may refer someone to your office so make sure to network and meet new people.
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