Do you want to start your own practice? Here’s what you need to ask yourself

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If you are considering opening your own practice, be sure to answer these 3 questions first

Mykola/stock.adobe.com

Mykola/stock.adobe.com

Of all of the twists and turns my veterinary career has taken, I can’t think of a more rewarding or exciting accomplishment than starting my own practice. I think back on that period when it first opened and how proud I was to have my name on the doors. I had worked to secure financing to cover the purchase and renovations. It was truly an amazing time and I appreciate the person I was entering into that process.

However, I quickly grasped the magnitude of what I had done. I realized that there was a direct line between the amount and quality of work I did and whether I could pay the bills, plus an entire staff that depended on me financially. I had very little training or expertise on how to make payroll, let alone run a business. The gravity of these responsibilities weighed me down like a 3-ton elephant. I felt anxious, isolated, and unsure of my next moves. Fortunately for me, I received great mentorship and financial training that would help turn my outwardly thriving, but financially failing business profitable, and reflected the amount of work, blood, and sweat it took to build. Over the years, I talked to countless veterinary hospital owners who experienced these exact feelings. It’s not easy running a successful veterinary hospital while trying to practice quality medicine.

With all that I’ve learned in the last decade, starting my own practice is a decision that I would make repeatedly regardless of the challenges. However, I am now keenly aware that practice ownership is not for everybody. If you are considering starting your own veterinary practice, but don’t know what you don’t know, here are a few tough questions to ask yourself. I promise the answers to these questions will either set you on a journey to entrepreneurship or help you dodge an otherwise difficult and lonely journey.

Why do I want to own my own practice?

This question, although simple and obvious, takes some deep internal thought. Sit quietly with this for a bit. Consider all of the reasons that you want to own your own practice and try to answer from a long-term perspective. For instance, if your answer is for money, you must first understand that there will most likely be no profit in the short term because you must build your business, pay off expenses, and work to gain and retain clients’ trust.

Dig deeper than the surface to answer this. What would that money allow you to do? How would it benefit you in years to come? Take the time to not only answer the question but understand how that answer will affect the trajectory of your life. Even though money is a strong motivator, maybe your reason is not financially based. Maybe you want to own your own practice because it’s what is expected of you or because you want to be the boss. Whatever your answer is, dig deeper. By getting to the root of your answer, you will have a more solid foundation that will anchor you to the business when problems occur.

Are you a risk taker?

Another important question to ask yourself is if you are a risk taker that is calculated not careless. Being a risk taker is a huge part of being an entrepreneur. Being able to properly assess risk versus possible rewards help you navigate hazards that could affect your bottom lines and outcomes. If the honest answer is no, you may want to strongly consider how that could affect your decision-making process when it comes to owning and running your hospital. Indecision often causes a lack of growth, creativity, and profitability in the business space.

Does practice ownership align with your overall goals in life?

Though most people have thought of the first 2 questions, this question is often not considered. Life is all about achieving balance in all areas, so is owning a practice going to help you achieve this goal in the long term or is it going to take away from you in other areas of your life? Do you have the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to endure all that practice ownership will throw at you? Doing a deep internal dig on whether practice ownership aligns with your overall goals and purpose in life can be sobering, but it’s necessary work if you plan on being a successful practice owner.

In conclusion

Practice ownership requires a certain level of mental strength, tenacity, and grit. It is critically important to do a full self-assessment when considering embarking on this journey. In answering the above questions, be honest with yourself and dig deep. Learn to ask yourself questions that may be difficult; but may stretch you beyond your current experience. Once you have clarity on whether practice ownership is for you, the process to get there becomes a bit easier to navigate. Continue to make it a habit to ask yourself difficult questions as you go along on your entrepreneurial journey. Those tough questions hold the answers you need to succeed!

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