Chiropractic Economics has created this timeline to help you prepare for a successful startup. For each year of school, you will find suggested activities in several areas.
Here’s to the start of your successful practice!
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
1. Get a notebook or large (81/2 x 11-in.) journal to keep notes. Include:
“¢ Information from books you have read;
“¢ Resources for your business plan and startup;
“¢ Key points from seminars you have attended;
“¢ Details from practices you have visited; and
“¢ Facts you want to remember about locations you have visited.
2. Create separate sections in the notebook, following the topics below. By the time you finish school, you will have reference book full of help and support for practice startup.
YOUR FIRST YEAR
Your first year in school is the time to begin visualizing the future and gaining some skills and insights that will be valuable over the long term. During this first year, scout possible locations for practice, lay out your plans for licensure, and set goals for yourself and your practice.
1. Financial goals. Review your financial situation. Prepare a budget and stick to it.
In three years, you will need to borrow money for a startup loan. While you can’t invest student loan money, you can live more frugally to save money. Consider a part-time job or work-study position to earn some extra money. Save as much as you can.
See “Developing a Personal Financial Statement.”
2. Personal goals. Set personal goals for yourself. Start to envision your life in a few years. Create a vision board and fill it with photos of people, places, and things you want in your life.
Post this goal board where you can see it every day. After a few months, make changes to renew your interest and keep your vision fresh. Prepare a personal SWOT analysis (See “Your Personal SWOT Analysis” ) or read one of the personal development books listed below.
3. Location activities. Begin to search for a practice location. Use your term breaks to visit possible cities. Drive around and get a “feel” for the area. Stop and talk with people. Talk to local chiropractors. Research licensing requirements in the areas where you want to practice. Plan your strategy to get licensed, including when you will take boards and what other requirements you will need to meet. For more information, see this studentDC.com article: “Understanding the Licensure Process.”
4. Business know-how activities. Go to seminars and workshops. Start with a personal-development workshop in your area. Check on the offerings at the local community college on business principles, marketing, or computer skills. Take a course in Quicken or QuickBooks or another accounting program. Keep your personal books using this software to get familiar with financial accounting systems.
5. Advisors. Find some chiropractors in your area who are willing to mentor you. They might be faculty at your school or just local doctors who are interested in helping students. Hang around with them. Volunteer to work in their offices.
6. Books to help you: Read books on business and personal development subjects. As you read, take notes, keeping a notebook of ideas generated by your reading.
Here are a few good titles to start with:
“¢ The E-Myth Revisited. Michael Gerber. Collins, 1995.
“¢ The Art of the Start. Guy Kawasaki. Portfolio, 2004.
“¢ The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen Covey. Free Press 15th Anniversary Edition, 2004.
“¢ Now, Discover Your Strengths. Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. Free Press, 2001.
“¢ Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill. Fawcett, 1937/1988.
YOUR SECOND YEAR
Your second year in school focuses on learning the technical skills to be a great chiropractor. This year is also a good time to move your vision forward and learn more about the business of chiropractic.
1. Financial activities. Check your credit rating. Now is the time to review your credit rating, to see if there are any errors that need to be removed, or if you have been a victim of identity theft.
Checking your credit now will give you time to do a “find and repair” before you have to show your credit report to a bank. You can get a free credit report each year from each of the national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to request this report. Read more about credit checks here: “Checking and Repairing Your Credit.”
2. Practice goals. Begin to work on your vision for your practice. Think about your USP (your Unique Selling Proposition), “Creating Your Practice USP.”
As you think about your USP, consider your practice name, and begin working on a practice logo.
3. Location activities. Narrow your location search and begin to collect marketing data.
Continue to visit locations until you find one that feels right. Then start collecting information about the town, city, county you will be living in. Go to City-data.com for information on most large U.S. cities. For cities outside the U.S., do a search on city and country.
4. Business know-how activities. Attend seminars and workshops to learn more about starting and running a business. Look for free or low-cost seminars in your area. Two sources of seminars and consulting are SCORE and the SBA.
“¢ Go to a workshop put on by your local SCORE office.
“¢ Find the local Small Business Development Center at a local college or university for other workshops or personal assistance.
5. Books to help you. Find books that will help you understand the world of business in general and business and practice management subjects specifically. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
“¢ Guerrilla Marketing, 3rd Edition. Levinson, Jay Conrad. Mariner Books, 1998.
“¢ Accounting for Non-Accountants. Dr. Wayne A. Label, CPA. Sourcebooks, Inc. 2006.
“¢ Beating the Odds in Small Business. Tom Culley. Fireside, 1998.
6. Advisors. Visit as many chiropractic offices as you can; make visiting practices your focus for this second year. Take notes on each visit. The more offices you visit, the better idea you will have of what you wand and don’t want in your practice.
YOUR THIRD YEAR
As you conclude your schoolwork and begin to make specific plans, prepare a business plan so that you can start your practice soon after graduation. During your third year, you continue to gather information, but it’s now time to make some decisions.
1. Financial activities. Gather information on everything you will need for startup, from equipment to malpractice insurance.
2. Practice activities. Collect marketing ideas and put them in your notebook. Look over Yellow Pages ads; tear out ads from newspapers. Create a “swipe” file of advertisements and marketing ideas.
Begin working on your first year marketing plan. The type of marketing you do will depend upon your preferences (see “Creating Your First-Year Marketing Plan“).
3. Location. Make your final choice on location and spend some time studying the city or area, so you will have a good idea where to locate your office.
When you find an office, begin the leasing process. See “Leasing Your Office” for how-to.
4. Business know-how activities. Attend seminars and workshops provided by chiropractic consultants.
Use the Chiropractic Economics Buyers Guide to locate consultants, many of whom conduct seminars to help chiropractors start and operate their practices.
5. Books to help you. Focus on books relating to practice startup, writing your business plan, and getting funded.
“¢ The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies. Abrams, Rhonda. (2001). Palo Alto, CA: Running R Media.
“¢ Planning: From Business Plans to Game Plans. [/ITAL] King, Jan B. (1994). Santa Monica, CA: Merritt Publishing.
“¢The Business of Chiropractic: How to Prosper After Startup, 2nd Ed. Ivan Delman. Do Write Publishing, 2002.
“¢ Up and Running ? Opening a Chiropractic Office. [/ITAL] John L. Reizer. Pagefree Publishing, 2002.
“¢ Planning for Practice Success, 3rd Ed. Jean Wilson Murray. Emence Enterprises, 2006
“¢ The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide. Stephanie Chandler. Aventine Press, San Diego, CA, 2005.