You’ve chosen a career as a chiropractor because eventually you want to have a practice.
Excellent””and while you are building a practice, you’ll also be building a small business, facing the same challenges as all other small business owners: increasing cash flow and getting customers (patients).
Even the most well-intentioned chiropractic college cannot prepare you for the technical aspects of running a small business. Before you burn through your parent’s retirement nest egg only to face the shame and guilt of squandering it, consider these five imperatives:
Love the business
Golden hands, brilliant diagnoses, and clinical awards won’t be enough. The analytical skills that helped you produce great test scores in school will not serve you as well in the real world. Instead, it will be your ability to make a profit that counts.
If you’ve never run a small business before or been responsible for making payroll, it would be a good idea to become an associate or a subcontractor so you can learn how practice actually works. Yes, far too many chiropractors exploit young doctors, but hold your nose and learn how the business partÂ Â of practice works under the tutelage of someone who is good at it.
If you can’t stand the business side of chiropractic, you’re a good candidate for being someone else’s employee. There’s no shame in that.
Don’t run out of money
A third of new small businesses, regardless of type, fail in the first two years because they run out of money. Not because they aren’t delivering a great product or service. And not because they don’t have a great location or the latest thingamajig. They run out of money because they couldn’t convince enough people to become customers.
When I sold my former company and started Patient Media in 1999, I thoughtÂ IÂ hadÂ enoughÂ startupÂ capital to last two years. It only lasted nine months. Thankfully, I got through it. If you’re going to borrow money, borrow more than you think you’ll need”” because you probably will.
Live on less
After years of living on ramen and peanut butter, you want to live the life of a doctor as soon as possible. Resist the urge to rush. You may be a doctor, but you don’t have a doctor’s income”” yet. Continue to live a frugal lifestyle until you attain success.
Returning to the real world with a $200,000 (or more) albatross around your neck is a crippling disadvantage but also a good reminder. Its weight will remind you that the “borrower is a slave to the lender.”
“If you build it, they will come.” Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams gambles foreclosure on his farm in favor of following his passion for baseball.
It was just a movie, yet countless chiropractors emerge from school with a similarly naÃ¯ve notion that all it takes to heal the hurting humanity in their town is a highly-trafficked practice location, a backlit sign, and a new diploma on the wall.
The world doesn’t owe you a living. You’ll need more than delighted patients; you’ll need to make a ruckus. Build a compelling website and develop your public speaking skills.
Get over yourself, get out of your comfort zone, and tell the truth to as many strangers as possible.
Remember your purpose
Never lose sight of why you’ve chosen the difficult path of chiropractic. You’re a rebel and a renegade so it’s not going to be easy. But it will be worth it.
You’ve chosen a discipline that honors the patient and respects the wisdom of their body.Â Still, you’ll often face rejection. But keep reaching out. As Aristotle observed, “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
Â William Esteb is the creative director for Patient Media, Inc., a patient education resource company for chiropractors.Â Subscribe to his weekly email, Monday Morning Motivation, read his blog, and add his disruptive patient education tools to your procedures at patientmedia.com.