In the beginning, there was an idea, a vision, a goal. Start a practice, be your own boss, work flexible hours and most importantly, do what you love to do and what you believe in. The beginnings are so sweet, full of passion and determination. However, according to statistics published by the Small Business Administration, 50% of businesses fail within the first 5 years and a little over a third will make it past the 10-year mark. Why is that?
- Unprofitable business model. This one is pretty clear. If you are offering products or services which no one really needs or wants there will be no revenue stream and therefore no business. How will your practice be different than the others in your area? Do some research before you start!
- Lack of financial data and poor planning. Unless you are starting with a huge amount of capital, cash flow can be very tricky in the beginning, or always. Projection of income, budgets and knowing where you stand today, or a week ago, can be extremely helpful. Here are some questions you had better know the answers to:
Who owes you money right now, and how much? Who is the most profitable client? How did your average invoice increase/decrease compare to last month and why?
These may seem like it would require a lot of complicated spreadsheets or costly software, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn more about how to have access to this valuable insight on a daily basis with little effort here.
- The leader sucks. Managing a veterinary practice is hard. Managing people is even harder, especially with no experience, education or a plan. A lot of owners are surprised by the amount of time the practice requires of their attention. Small business owners wear many hats; Manager, Head of HR, Marketing Manager, CFO, Chief Information/Tech and Social Media Officer, Customer Service Resolution Officer and many more. It’s important to focus on the parts that you can excel in. Support your experience by hiring the right people for the rest or outsource them completely.
Questions to ask:
Do you like to hire and fire people? Do you know the legal rights and responsibilities of being an employer? Do you enjoy managing your own website and keeping up with social media? Do you know how much traffic your website is getting? Are your employees coming and going and you have no idea why? Do you feel like you need a strategic partner, someone who can give you an advice on the go?
- Growing too fast – Grow is good, but when you suddenly have more patients than you can manage and you and your employees are struggling to keep up with demand, be alert. You need to figure out very quickly what and who you need to add; before unhappy anxious clients start tweeting how much your service sucks.
Success comes from fully committing to those things you do well while empowering yourself with the right tools and right people for everything else!