Vet Confessionals: Corporate, owning and the almighty dollar

March 30, 2017
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

DEK Don't get discouraged by confessions like these. Sympathize, realize you're not alone, and know you have choices. You can "go your own way" ...

Complaints always overwhelm compliments.

Seeing the negative, what's wrong, is often easier for us than seeing the positive. Lamenting and worry about the choices we made and the costs of those choices always overwhelms our awareness of the positive benefits of those choices. We are a negative species, in many ways, especially when it comes to the "Suggestions" box or the end-of-the-day decompression period with our loved ones or, yes, the Veterinary Confessionals Project.

The confessions I've picked for this gallery-as part of dvm360's "Go your own way" Leadership Challenge on corporate consolidation and what it means for medicine, money and mental wellness-are no exception.

They mostly fall in the "Con" category. But remember that many veterinarians and veterinary team members get their joy from healing and helping patients, not thinking about money or practice sales or management duties.

These are tough topics, but don't look away! Don't get lost in your emotions and worries about how the world of veterinary medicine is changing. Realize you're not alone in those worries and then educate yourself about where you fit in ... and then go your own way.

"We've been bought by a corporation. Our fear is corporate 'medicine' means corporate money. I love my job, but hate the direction it's going."

Sounds like this associate, practice manager or team member is asking, "Does a corporate buyout mean I should look for a new job?"



"I have found out that 'corporate' does not mean '$' driven. My organization means quality of veterinarians' lives too! P.S. I love couponing!"

Need a pep talk about why corporate practice isn't the end of the world? CVC educator Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM, lays out some inspiration and tough talk here.



"I wish it was about the pets and NOT about the $. Say 'NO' to corporate!!"



"I'm building a veterinary clinic, but feeling trapped in the profession. I'm only building so I can sell out."

Building just to sell, but you're sick of practice? That's a pretty long-term project for someone who's miserable. Could we take a stab at inspiring you about how great it can be to build or remodel at the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Conference? Maybe your plan to start your own practice can help you find your love for practice again! Or maybe we can help you figure out there's a path outside of ownership with 37 things  you can do with a DVM degree?



"I've owned my clinic for 4 years so far, and the business has not been financially stable at any point. More than anything else, I just wish I didn't have to be afraid to check my bank account every day!"

Financial troubles as a business owner are scary, no question. Would any of the advice or tips we offer every day help you find a place in your expenses or client communication or marketing or revenue that could help you turn a corner? Start here. And if you have a specific question, please never hesitate to email us for help.



"So glad we have a new [presidential] administration and hopefully less capital gains tax when I sell my practice in a few years."

We know this is a hot-button issue and not everyone is as happy as this practice owner about the election results, but if you're curious about the tax ramifications for you under Pres. Trump, start here.



"Now that I am ready to retire, my 43 years in practice have not prepared me financially for retirement."

"I worry this is true for a lot of people in the field."

"Right on!! IRAs don't cut it!"

It's terrible to find out near your ideal age-or that year you wanted to sell your practice-that it's not going to be enough for your retirement wants and needs. And you're obviously not alone! We wrote this a few years ago on the subject of personal finance for veterinarians.




"I never thought I wanted to own my own practice. Have been the owner for 8 months. I love my small staff and especially my awesome practice manager."



"I regret working 70-80-hour weeks most of my career. I saved a lot of lives-but lost my own."

"Thank you-I am going to use this to change that story for myself."



"Just took over the practice: I am tired all the time. I just don't feel like I can keep up with everything."

"Delegate and take a bit of time for yourself. Ask for help."

Sounds like this reader needs a primer on delegation (right here) and a little inspiration for better self-care (right here).



"After 11 years in practice and 6 as the owner of a successful practice, I still feel like an impostor! When does that stop??"

"15th year of practice. Still wondering ... "

Let this fun doodle do the heavy lifting for you as you start exploring and facing your likely very unreasonable sense of not being good enough for this career of yours.



"I have to buy a practice this summer but am completely overwhelmed at what needs to be done to accomplish it and terrified of financial failure."

"Be sure to have a GREAT manager by your side."

Deep breath! Don't panic. Buying or starting a business is scary. You can do this. Take the Post-It writer's advice. Find a great manager and keep this checklist with you to make sure you cover all your bases as you think about, plan and execute that fantastic practice sale.



"I opened my own hospital so I could practice medicine the right way. Ten years later I realize the headaches and stress of being the owner has almost eclipsed the joys of practicing medicine. Sometimes I think it was a giant mistake and long for simpler days. Not sure where to go from here ... "

So, so, SO many practice owners feel this way a little-or a lot-during their career. Don't despair. Click back to the page before and go find yourself a fantastic manager. Take this quiz to discover all the cool things a manager can do for you.