Myth #6

I went through the process of trying to lease a large space for 11-13 chairs again this year.I was after the same space as last year at this time.Some things had changed.My proposed business partner was different.A massage/healing touch therapist is now renting space from me and sharing my office was coming along with us.What was the same was my drive to get a big clinic, taking it on faith, and looking no farther, that a small clinic just wouldn’t do.

As the negotiations with the landlord through the RE agent started to feel bad (too hard to put this together – it should flow smoothly if it’s right) we all started to become more honest with ourselves and each other.

I was told that the space is in an area of town where the reputation is, frankly, very bad.There are even more businesses closed in the area than last year.While that makes the rent very desirable, the neighborhood looks seedy, down and out rather than up and coming, closed for business and empty.The strip mall is less than half full but the fantasy store across the street is doing well.All I saw was good access & parking, lots of square feet and really low rent.

I learned that I am more of an owner/director than a partner.As I talked with acu friends, I heard a few stories of how it might feel to lose control over the practice I’ve built up over 7 years.I also faced the fact that I have been the lead on everything to do with my clinic, including the negotiations for the move.My proposed partner and the m/ht therapist were fine with this, but once I admitted it, they just laughed and nodded.Yes, I’m more suited to be the boss since that’s how I act.My mother’s oft repeated saying, “Actions speak louder than words” rang in my mind.  Trouble is – I have a hard time seeing myself.

My proposed partner also reread the Little Red Book –especially the part about finding your community for your practice.Since I’m his mother’s age, we do have different communities we resonate with.Not that we can’t treat each other’s community, but he’s more urban and certainly younger.I’m in the suburbs and draw a lot of middle aged and retired folks.We are dear friends but we may not work in the same clinic after all.

I also came to the conclusion that I’m doing fine in my clinic with only 7 chairs.I am working 5 days a week, 3-4 hr shifts.Even though my building isn’t open on Saturdays, there are 5 shifts a  week that could be covered by another L. Ac.I still have room in my schedule to build up to 80-90 a week which would be heaven!

I had thought my building had problems – not open on weekends, somewhat limited parking, waiting room and reception in a common area so we have to whisper, overheard noise in the treatment rooms.I had been telling my patients that I was going to move in July.I had told them where.Now that I’m not moving, I am hearing a lot of relief as well as denials of difficulties with parking, the waiting room and noise.I concluded that I had wanted everything perfect for my patients and they haven’t got such high demands.They are happy with the location, the nice office building, the parking,and they don’t mind the occasional loud voice from the common area.

I also got real with myself about my ambitions, my age and whether or not I would want to work with a lot of people and help manage a small business as opposed to run a micro business.  I plan to work until I can’t but doing what?  I asked myself if I really want to duplicate WCA in size and scope.I had thought that when I was in Portland in Oct. of 06.I came home saying, “I want what they have.”To me that meant great people to work with, large clinic seeing lots of patients, spread the word about CA.

I realized I am doing a lot of that where I am.I hold conferences and classes in the common space that is my waiting room, have access to a break room with a table, frig, & microwave for the classes and, thanks to Dr. Tan, I’m being helpful to a lot of middle class, middle aged and retired folks in the suburbs and some people from all sorts of other demographics who live and work in the area.The landlord is prompt with repairs and has been very easy to work with.In short, I have a good set up to work in and spread the word from for years. 

I am closer to looking at my actions and not being blinded by rhetoric.I figure this is still a work in progress and I can change my mind and go for something larger, but for at least the next year, I’m going to enjoy staying in my imperfect place where my patients and I feel comfortable. 

Author: annmongeau

I've been a member of CAN since the beginning.  It just makes sense to me to offer acupuncture at affordable prices.  Then, because it's so much fun to do community acupuncture and it's so useful to people, I got active in spreading the word. 

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  1. Thanks for sharing this!

    Good for you for taking the time to contemplate all these things and share with us! This is the kind of direction that I believe most people looking to start a cinic need. It’s easy to think so much about acupuncture or affordability or finances or whatever that you can ultimately lose knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your ambitions and characteristics, and what you really want in a clinic, and then end up in the wrong place.

    I can understand these recent thought processes and uncertainties you talk about since I’ve recently faced many of them myself. Before you ever run a clinic you don’t realize just how much there is to do and how many hats you have to wear. Each detail must be contended with and it seems there are endless decisions to make – some of paramount importance, others very minor – ultimately I believe most good ideas are simple. It’s good you took the time to really consider whether or not to move, and to see some of the warning signs; that you weren’t seeing the potential space through rose-colored glasses; that you have wonderful patients backing you up and supporting you, who love coming to you and your space just the way it is; that you know who you are and what you really want in a business – and it is hard to try and run a business with a partner who you may be so different from, bringing such different flavors and feels to a place, having different opinions on things and knowing in your gut that you are suited to be the boss – better to know all these things now before you get too far down the line with it.

    Best of luck with your continued success!

  2. Ann’s clinic

    It sounds like have truly looked into yourself and made the best decision for you.  Your current space is very nice and has a good feel.  I can’t imagine any reason for you to move if you and your patients are happy there.  I think as CAN grows we will see many versions of a workable community acupuncture clinic.  Your version is a valid one and may work better for many practitioners, you will be an inspiration for many future Canners.  

    I enjoyed sitting in your clinic and looking at the trees outside the window, that’s something you don’t usually see with a ground floor space.  There is a lot that is good about your space to focus on instead of the imperfections.