Well begun is half done – Aristotle

Ambition. Drive. Focus. Mission. All good things, right? All are important for achieving success in our businesses and our lives.

PT owners who want to grow their practice need to set big, audacious goals.

This is where things can get tricky. With that awesome, ambitious goal in place, one of the hardest things for practice owners is to set realistic expectations for how and when they’ll achieve it, and for what success will look and feel like.

When expectations aren’t grounded in reality, you can’t accurately measure progress. Everything falls short. You can’t ever celebrate incremental wins. No achievement is ever good enough. Worst of all, you send your staff endlessly critical, demoralizing messages that prevent employee buy-in and kill motivation, creativity, trust and accountability.

Failing to set realistic expectations threatens the very success you’re seeking. Here are some of the most common expectations traps I see PT owners struggle with:

Making unfair comparisons

I’m a business owner. So is Elon Musk. Our ideas of what’s realistic for our businesses are wildly different. Not better or worse. Just not the same.

What makes a goal realistic looks very different from one practice to the next. Let’s look at one single, fundamental metric: visits per patient. For a generalist outpatient clinic, 10-12 visits might be a solid benchmark—a realistic measurement for success. A clinic that specializes in chronic pain or sports medicine will have a higher number. Think about all the variables that create the profile of an individual practice, and you begin to see how truly difficult it is to make useful comparisons.

Realistic expectations aren’t magic. They’re based on tangible pieces of information.  

  • What do you want?
  • What are your resources?
  • What experience have you accrued?
  • What do you believe is possible?

The answers to these questions are different for every single practice owner. That means expectations will be, too.

Not defining success for YOU

I tell practice owners: BEGIN with the END in mind. Then I tell them: make sure it’s the end you really want. So often, we view success through other people’s eyes. We want to impress. We strive to measure up. We get so caught up in trying to achieve success on other people’s terms that we lose sight of what success means to us, right now. That might be adding a new full-time therapist, or expanding your practice to a second clinic. It might be the freedom to travel three months of the year, or to make it home for dinner with the family every single night. When setting the expectations you’ll use to measure success, make sure you know first how you’d like success to look and feel.

Not setting yourself apart from the competition

When we let other people define success, it’s tough to break away from crowd. But that’s exactly what you need to do to give your practice a permanent edge over the competition. Instead of asking, how can we be as good as Clinic X, we should be asking, what makes us different? Download your FREE copy of my newest guide, 3 Simple Things That Will Get You More Patients and Make You More Money Right Now.  You’ll learn now to set yourself apart from the pack and increase referrals–by understanding what you’re really selling. You’ll also get expert, road-tested strategies for connecting with your target audience and increasing your bottom-line profits.

Chasing diminishing returns

You know the law of diminishing returns: there’s a point at which the benefit or profit we gain is simply outweighed by the time, energy, or money we invest in capturing it.

This is also the point at which setting realistic expectations bumps up against the perfectionism that so many high-achieving practice owners embody. (One study found that more than a third of business leaders fail because of their perfectionism.) At a certain point, it’s simply not worth it to reach for that little bit extra. Your time, money, attention and effort are better spent elsewhere. (The good news, you can actually measure and predict that point.) Knowing when to say “good enough” is a powerful, highly underrated skill for business owners. Learn, and you’ll have taken a huge leap forward in achieving your goals.