We at Community Acupuncture on Cape Cod have just passed our two year anniversary. We’re still riding the wave of publicity from last month’s press coverage, flirting with 100 patient visits in a one week period and getting ready to add a third acupuncturist to the staff, yet somehow I find it hard to figure out what to blog about. I do know that lately I have been asking myself, “Did 10 years of solo practice teach me much about how to run a micro business with more than one employee? “
I think there is a good chance that it did not.Mostly I learned how to do acupuncture and talk about acupuncture and not much else.Along with this, I have been thinking about things I wish I had done sooner, and thought I would mention a couple:
- Figure out what it all costs
I did this by looking at a year’s worth of expenses and breaking it into a monthly, weekly, and hourly cost.That is, for each hour we are open and booking patients, here’s how much it costs to run the clinic.Once I have this number, I can figure out how much I need to average per treatment to meet all expenses.I can also get a figure about how much we should gross in an average week in order to be on track to pay all expenses, and I will be aware of whether the clinic earnings are at, below, or above expectations.It was radical for me to put my salary right into this equation.If I can’t make a living doing it, the clinic is not working, so may as well crunch that number up right from the get go.
What I learned from doing this is that 6 shifts of four hours each, even if they are pretty full, aren’t enough for our clinic to thrive financially.Once we get to 8 or more shifts, our budget has more breathing room.
- Get a Mentor
Lots of people have a lot of business experience – way more than I do. Some of those people are retired.Many would find my business very inspiring, and for the pleasure of being involved in it and hearing about it, would give a little bit of their time and expertise.For the record, I did not have any luck with SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives), whom I visited with 12+ years ago, when I was first launching my practice.They were all agog with how interesting it all was, and pretty much forgot that they might have something to offer me in terms of advice or structure.
Instead of re-trying SCORE, I’ve found a retired business woman from my UU church who is meeting with me every other week to mentor me on business.I can ask specific questions about management, budgets, cash flow projections, etc, get a sounding board on ideas I have, or just blow off steam with someone who is not working with me or married to me.This is good for me, my business, and my spouse.We are only a month or so into this arrangement, but it has already been of huge value.She gets the social justice principles on which the business is based, and really wants to help it succeed.
- Learn not to think about it
If you think about your clinic all the time you will never give your brain a break.It has been easier for me to do this since doing #’s 1 and 2.Letting go of scary things like money is easier when you know specifically how scary they are or are not, rather than having to wonder.