In terms of your small business sustainability, what would happen if you stepped away from your practice for a week, a month, or even a year?
Most people embark on entrepreneurship to have more freedom and flexibility.1 But unfortunately, in chiropractic, the standard model of practice ownership and small business sustainability rarely offers either.
Unlike other health care business models, most chiropractic offices are solo practitioners.2 Even when practices hire associates, most still feel like they work for the business instead of the business working for them. I know that feeling all too well. When I started in practice, I thought I would have more time to spend with family, travel, and pursue my passions and interests. Instead, I found that I spent most of my time in the office and freedom was always just another year or two away.
Small business sustainability: what if …?
Have you thought about what would happen if you stepped away from your practice for a week, a month, or even a year without being involved? Would your practice thrive or barely survive?
We all know someone who was thriving in practice when they suddenly had a health or personal crisis and had to step away from practice. Or worse, the healthy colleague who didn’t wake up the next day and a family who is left closing a business that cannot operate without a doctor to see patients. Not only did they lose a beloved member of their family, but they also lost current and future income. None of us want to put ourselves or our families in this situation. So how do we change it?
Almost a decade ago, I was still managing my full-time practice, in the early years of growing my current business, and wondering if I was ever going to achieve the freedom I had dreamed of all those years ago. Additionally, I wondered if running two full-time and growing companies would impact my health negatively before I could enjoy that freedom.
Then, one night over dinner, my good friend Jay Greenstein, DC, told me about a book he read that had changed his business and life. The book was “Traction” by Gino Wickman. I have written about this book several times since and its profound impact on my life. The book outlines EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System). It helped me streamline processes in both of my businesses to give me the freedom to work on my business and spend more time with my family.
Transforming a business
I started by having every member of our team read the book. Then, we hired an implementor to guide us in implementing EOS into our business. This was the key to our success.
Could we have done it on our own? Yes. Would we have been successful? Maybe. In the seven years since we have implemented EOS, we have backslid into old habits more than once. Having someone help us stay accountable saves us time and money by pivoting from old habits and back to EOS. The six components of EOS are:
Vision: Where are we going? Is everyone in the company on the same page? Often, business owners have goals and keep them from the team. With each passing year, we become frustrated by our inability to reach those goals. Unfortunately, the lack of communication means the entire team is rowing in different directions.
People: Every successful business needs great people. To create a practice that does not require you to be present 24/7 to operate, you need the right people in place, doing the right jobs, who share your values and your mission.
Data: This is the GPS that lets you know if you are on track or off track in meeting your practice goals. I don’t mean death by analysis, but rather tracking specific numbers that give you a real-time view of where you are in achieving your goals.
Issues: This means prioritizing and resolving problems in your practice. How often do we put off dealing with the lumpy carpet, software that has glitches, inconsistent internet and employee issues (to name a few) until we have more time? Only to find they are even more significant problems six months later. This will help you and your team identify problems and make them disappear forever.
Process: This may have been the most challenging and rewarding aspect of implementing EOS. Documenting the core processes in your practice makes you and your team more efficient, eliminates confusion, streamlines workflow and improves productivity and small business sustainability. While working through this part of the implementation, we found several team members were doing the same tasks. We also found processes previously in place that were essential to our growth no longer existed. Creating processes improved productivity significantly for the entire company.
Traction: The key to achieving traction in your business is accountability. It means you need to hold your team accountable, but they also need to hold you accountable. Some of our team members struggled with holding others accountable, especially me. But, over time, we all became more comfortable with saying, “What’s up? Why are you unable to complete this task?” This improved communication between all our team members and helped us focus on getting things done.
Doing the work
These six components seem simple. However, implementing them into your business takes work.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” He is correct.
In an interview last year, our vice president of business relations and I were interviewed about our experience as the owner of the company and an employee who had been through the EOS process. Toward the end of the podcast, we were asked if we would still be working at the company had we not implemented EOS. Without hesitation, we both stated, “No.” Our answer surprised our host. Our VP elaborated, “In the beginning, I struggled with all of the changes in the company during the first year of EOS. It was uncomfortable and, at times, felt intrusive. However, by the end of the year, the clarity of my job, improved communications between our teams and focus on our company goals brought me a sense of confidence and peace that I didn’t realize was missing.”
In 2021, Gino released the book “EOS Life.” It’s a book I now recommend that everyone read first before initiating EOS into their business. It helps you clarify and customize the life you want — giving you a light at the end of the tunnel as you begin creating a company with small business sustainability that no longer needs you in the day-to-day to thrive.
Knowing that true freedom and security are the reward for your hard work is a great motivator to get you through the first year of implementing EOS. So, what is the EOS life? It is doing what you love, with people you love, while making a difference, getting compensated accordingly and still having time to pursue other passions. I spent a lot of time worrying about what would happen if I couldn’t work, before EOS. EOS helped me restructure my company to thrive whether I was present or not. I had to make tough decisions and establish a plan in case of “What if…” It wasn’t pleasant, but neither was putting my family and employees in turmoil because of my lack of planning.
The freedom to choose
Creating a practice that does not need you day-in and day-out means you can choose to work in the practice and treat patients full-time, part-time or not at all. Having choices is freedom. So, embark on this journey, read the books and begin living your EOS life. What do you have to lose?
RAY FOXWORTH, DC, FICC, is a certified medical compliance specialist and president of ChiroHealthUSA. He has served as president of the Mississippi Chiropractic Association, is a former staff chiropractor at the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center and is a Fellow of the International College of Chiropractic. He can be contacted at chirohealthusa.com.
- Waltower, S. (2022, November 16). The Top Reason Most Entrepreneurs Start Businesses. Retrieved from Business News Daily: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4652-entrepreneur-motivation-benefits.html
- Payne, A.M. (2022, August 10). Doctor of chiropractic salaries on the rebound: 2022 Annual Salary & Expense Survey results. Retrieved from Chiropractic Economics: https://www.chiroeco.com/doctor-of-chiropractic-salaries/#:~:text=This%20year%2C%20males%20made%20%24165%2C000,were%20%24153%2C000%20and%20%24104%2C000%2C%20respectively