Starting a new Physical Therapy Practice or reinventing an old one can be an exciting journey. Many PTs dream of owning their own Practices one day, yet very few take the necessary steps to create and grow a successful PT Practice. 

It’s very common for PTs to spend time learning and perfecting the technical aspects of their craft. Almost every Physical Therapist that I know wants to be great at what they do. And who could blame them? Who wouldn’t want to be the best at what they do? I know I did when I was starting out.

I remember being in school and spending long, monotonous hours mastering the art and science of being a good physical therapist. Do you remember those days? Many of my colleagues did the same and are considered to be some of the best PTs who will ever treat patients. 

Over the years I’ve often asked myself a question. That question eventually changed the direction of my Practice and how I ran it.

That critical question was: “Why are some of my colleagues successful with their Practices while others are having a hard time keeping their heads above water?” 

If you put five PTs in a room and each one of them is great when it comes to the technical aspects of treatment, what is it that makes one more successful at building a Practice than the rest?

I have discovered the answers to these questions and many others through research, investment combined with trial and error over the years. Building a Practice is not easy but it can be a very rewarding experience when done right. 

THE STRUGGLES AND PITFALLS OF STARTING A NEW PRACTICE

Have you ever dreamed of starting and running a successful Practice? If you are anything like me, then you have “BIG DREAMS.”
You dream of becoming a rock star Practice owner; you dream of having more time, money, and freedom. You constantly think about how it would feel to make a huge difference in the world. You crave the time freedom to spend with your family doing the things that you love. You are motivated and ready to go, right up until you learn the truth of what it takes to run a successful practice.
 
Running a successful Practice is not a walk in the park. There are many subtle nuances when starting and running a successful business/Practice.

I’m reminded of a story that I once heard about a struggling PT who almost ended his life. For the sake of this blog, we will call our struggling PT John. John was a sharp, up and coming Physical Therapist who had dreams of starting his own Practice. After several years of working for some of the most prestigious Practices, John made up his mind that it was time for him to go out on his own. John was married with no children and ready to conquer the world. A year into the start-up of John’s practice he began to experience some notable success. John was in a growing area and there was no shortage of new patients.

The more patients John acquired, the busier he became with less and less time for anything else other than seeing patients. John’s philosophy was that his hard work would one day pay off. John immersed himself into his new practice which now consumed most of his energy and time. Without realizing it, John had created nothing more than a new job and no way close to the dream business that he had envisioned or desired.

During the second year of practice, John experienced more growth and his wife got pregnant.  The increased demand from new patients meant John needed a bigger office and to hire three full-time staff members. John hired an Office Manager, a Bookkeeper, and a front desk Receptionist. During his first year in business, John did 90% of everything by himself with his wife helping where she could. In his second year, John decided to delegate some of his time consuming daily tasks to his newly hired staff.

John believed that his new employees would help him, leaving him more time to spend with his wife and their newly forming baby.

But it didn’t.
As more and more patients began rolling through the door, John found himself going home later, and later each night. The growth in practice was making John even busier. The more active John became in the Practice, the more problems he had at home and the office. The pressure mounted and John started drinking, at first to relax but as the pressure mounted, that relaxing drink quickly became a full-blown drinking problem. .

Why was this happening to John? The Practice seemed to be growing, and everything appeared to be going well from the outside. John had hired new staff with the aim of achieving the time freedom that he desired. What was it that kept John from achieving his goal?

THE JOURNEY FROM TECHNICIAN TO ENTREPRENEUR

John had a growing Practice, but his Practice was literally driving him into the ground. Even though John decided to bring on staff members in his second year of Practice, he made the one fatal mistake that so many of practitioners make when they are in the beginning stages of becoming a Practice owner. John had created a practice that was totally dependent on him. The whole Practice was centered on John and his ability to perform his function as a Physical Therapist. Ninety percent of the growth and sustainability of the Practice was dependent upon John’s ability to treat patients.

John needed help.

John was never taught how to be an entrepreneur in physical therapy school. And neither were you. In school, you were never taught how to create, build, and run an effective business or Practice. You were only taught the technical skills necessary to be successful in our profession.

Being a successful Physical Therapist does not mean that you can create and build a successful Practice, those are two distinctly different things. The first depends on technical skills learned in school and years of practice while the second depends on you the technician getting a business education. 

The technical skills that you learned in Physical Therapy school won’t help you to be an entrepreneur or build a business. To build a successful Practice, you must think like an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur’s mindset and the technician’s mindset are totally different.

The entrepreneur focuses on big picture thinking such as building a profitable, expanding Practice while the technician focuses only on specific tasks within the Practice such as being a good Physical Therapist and keeping clients happy. You may need to be a little bit of both when you are first starting out, but you have to quickly move from technician to entrepreneur if you are to grow your Practice.  Technicians can’t run businesses, they are not prepared for the task.

The question you may be asking is “How do I go from being trained to be the best technician in the Practice to being a kick-ass entrepreneur who builds growing, thriving Practices?

In John’s case, he made a life (and business) changing decision to get help.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ACQUIRING A BUSINESS EDUCATION

Although John was running a growing practice with new staff members, he had never learned how to run a business. John wasn’t running his Practice, his Practice was running him … into the ground. He had no clue what his staff were doing or whether they were proficient in fulfilling their daily tasks. All John knew was that he was increasingly overwhelmed and seemed to be making even less money than last year. 

In a moment of desperation, John decided to reach out to an old colleague who had been running a successful Practice for over a decade.  They decided to meet for coffee and John literally poured himself out all over the table. It was the first real relief he’d felt in months. His friend smiled and said, “John what you need is a mentor.” Later on that week, John was introduced to his new mentor.

Over the next several weeks John received an in-depth boot camp like business education. His mentor was known for taking struggling, failing Practices and their owners and transforming them into growing, profitable multiple seven figure Practices.  John’s new mentor helped him get clarity on the problems and challenges he was facing along with immediately actionable strategies for fixing those problems.

One of the first concepts that John learned was the concept of working on the business versus in the business.  John had always been working in the business treating patients but never on the business to insure its health. As he soon learned, those who put all of their time and energy into working in the business but not on it never truly achieve their desired result in business or life. 

So the first suggestion was for John to hire new staff including new PTs to work in the business so John could work on it. By this time John’s wife had had the baby, and he needed more time away from the office to spend with her and the new addition to the family. John’s mentor taught him a hiring system that helped him hire “A Players.” He hired staff members according to their strengths and how they would fit into the vision of the Practice.

The new PTs that John hired gave him more time to work on his Practice while spending more time with his family. As his stress as work was reduced John was able to focus on himself and get his drinking in control. John was now running a business as an entrepreneur rather than a technician.

John was getting his life back.

The second big concept that John’s mentor taught him was the practice of becoming systems dependent rather than people dependent. His suggestion was that John should document and record every function and process in his Practice in order to create systems that ran the critical operations of the Practice.. Successful businesses run on systems rather than people.

Over a six month period, John documented every single function in his Practice, created systems around them and hired more staff to run the systems everyone used to rely on him to complete. This new power move gave John more time to focus on the mission of his Practice. It also gave him the opportunity tp provide training for key staff members on specific operational functions that would allow them to run the Practice without him needing to be there on a daily basis.

John had effectively turned his Practice around giving him the time and money he needed to spend time with his family and enjoy his life. John learned that every business is a family business. The struggles and challenges that you face in your business will affect your family in one way or another. John learned that he needed to change himself, his systems, and his processes in order to change his Practice and become an Entrepreneur. John is the proud owner of a thriving Practice and is in the process of opening up multiple locations.

John did what so many of us fail to do even when we see the need to do it, he reached out and got help.

THE TAKEAWAY

John’s story can be your story if you are willing to take the same steps he did to achieve the results that you desire.

I would like to dispel the myth that every technician can become an entrepreneur if they just stick it out. That statement is simply not true. Being a good entrepreneur is something that has to be learned and practiced over and over again. Don’t expect to start a Practice and become an overnight success. You have to be willing to learn the game of business if you want to be successful at building your Practice.

There are a number of good books you can read, one being The Automated Practice, which I’m happy to give you for free, just click here to get it. When you are ready, you are going to need a good mentor and coach in your corner. Someone who has been where you are trying to go who can help you put the right systems and processes in place and help you avoid the mistakes that are inevitable if you decide to go it alone.

Every successful entrepreneur and business owner including me has become successful through the help of a coach or mentor. John’s story does not have to be the only success story that you hear this year. You can hear the stories of other community members as I mentor them through success and as we journey together helping each other achieve world-class business and personal success. 

You don’t have to be overwhelmed any longer. You can learn the systems and processes needed to create the Practice of your dreams. It doesn’t have to be that hard and it won’t take as long as a Doctorate. If you are ready, let’s talk, I’d love to help you set your course.

Please let me know your thoughts on this blog post and what you’d like in future posts. I look forward to serving you better by giving you what you need.

To your success!