Have you ever dreamed about establishing or buying your own practice?
As Baby Boomers and even Gen X optometrists begin exiting their practices, now might be the right time to do it.
However, before you launch into action, there are a few steps you should take to give yourself the best chance of success.
According to medical finance specialists Credabl, a common trap that aspiring business owners often fall into is not preparing a business plan that records their goals and details how they intend to achieve them.
Understandably, the whole concept of coming up with a business plan can feel overwhelming if you’ve never had to prepare one. Furthermore, taking time out to think through the nitty gritty is hardly enticing when all you want to do is activate your dreams.
Yet clearly articulating a roadmap for your business will force you to think through your ideas with logic and practicality. It will also help you consider the pros and cons of your ideas, then make initial decisions that are integral to getting up, running and succeeding – decisions like how you intend to structure your business, who and how you will run and manage it, who the customers are that you’re going to target and how you’re going to reach them.
As you write down your thoughts and ideas, you’ll begin to refine them, in the process articulating a comprehensive business plan with a practice strategy that includes both short-term and long-term goals.
Importantly, this business plan will also be integral to raising the finance you need to turn your dream-practice into a reality.
Five Top Tips
mivision asked Credabl for the top five aspects of your business plan that are most important when appling for a loan. Here’s what they came back with:
- Practice vision
Include a brief biography about yourself, your skill sets, and how long you have been practising as a medical practitioner. What services you are looking to provide at your practice? What makes your practice different to everyone else’s that will make patients choose and stay with you? What is your competitive advantage and what else makes you unique?
- Practice location
Will you be a sole practitioner working in or on your business? Or will you look to have associates working with you? If so, does your current space allow for future growth? Will you provide easy access to parking or public transport for your patients? What is the size of your space? What are your lease terms if you are looking to rent? Is there an opportunity to also secure the premise to ensure the longevity of your practice?
- People and processes
It’s important to create a positive experience for patients at every touchpoint you have with them. From an efficient booking system and reminders, to a smooth check-in and check-out process, as well as a reliable medical record system, you need to invest in the right people and processes to achieve this. So, provide the details around these aspects, allowing your lender to clearly imagine the experience as they read your business plan.
- Demographic intel
Understanding your patient demographics and featuring these details in your business plan is important, as this level of insight will influence what services are in demand. This may include the spending habits of the population in the area. Are they young families, singles, or elderly? What exactly are they looking for in a medical practice and what is it that will keep this cohort coming back? This can also help you gauge your operating hours plus your patient fees and charges, ensuring your practice is suitable for that demographic.
They say you can have the best product in the market, however, unless you actively let people know about it, how will they find you? As a eye care professional running a business, you need to make patients aware of what your areas of interest are and how your skill sets can help them. You may also need to build a referral network. In the evolving digital age, most patients look up healthcare professionals online before they book their first appointment – so your virtual presence via a website or social media platforms can greatly influence your patient volumes. Be sure to cover your marketing ideas in your business plan.
Be Bold, Be Strategic
A strategically thought-out business plan, that includes financial budgeting, is essential for success in contemporary practice – there’s no chance that you can win by ‘winging it’. Equally important is the need to develop processes and measures to assess outcomes of your planned initiatives so that you can constantly identify opportunities for change and growth.
The hot tip Credabl gave was, “identify where you can grow organically when you are first starting out, as there are many uncertainties around putting your dream practice into a reality”.
Remember, while your business plan is not set in concrete, it should always be your go to.
- In good times use it to check that you’re on track
- In tough times, use it to remind yourself of your overall goals, so that you can pivot as needed to remain on target.
To talk Credabl through your business plan, to gain expert advice and discuss the options available for finance, visit: www.credabl.com.au or call (AUS) 1300 273 322.