One of the interesting questions we get asked at Top Practices is, “How would you define success for a podiatry practice?” You might think, at first glance, that there are a few simple criteria that help formulate a definition that allows doctors to decide if their practice is successful or not. The more you study the issue, however, the more you realize that one person’s idea of success may not align with someone else’s. While that means this not an easy question to answer, there are a number of ways to look at it.
Rem’s Personal Definition
First, here’s the “Rem’s Personal Definition of Success” that was shared with me by David Sandler, the great sales trainer:
“Living life on my terms.”
That encompasses just about everything you could have in a definition. Successful people have taken the time and made the effort to craft a life that allows them to live the way they want, not the way dictated to them by someone else. One of the great privileges of being a podiatry practice owner is that you do not have a traditional boss who is telling you when you work, what you make, and how it all comes about. Owning your own practice really means you are an “accidental entrepreneur,” and that gives you the right to be your own boss.
Of course, this is a double-edged sword. Most people want to become their own boss so they can work whatever hours they want. And they discover that, when you are your own boss, you actually work ALL hours, at all times, on all days. This is unfortunate and not usually what people were looking for when they wanted to set their own hours!
So we return to the definition: success is living life on your own terms, instead of being controlled by your practice.
Other Ways to Measure Success
Now, having said that, there are several other ways to define success:
Financial: Are you achieving the profitability month after month (after month) that allows you to not only pay the bills, but also maintain the right number and right people on your staff, and purchase and invest in the right marketing tools, clinical tools, and office space that you need? These are the things that allow you to provide world-class foot care for your patients, but they cost money. Even after all that is paid for, you have to be able to earn what you need to provide for the emotional and financial security and stability of your family.
Profitability and good, positive cash flow is the definition most business owners would use. That’s why the phrase “cash is king” is so common with anyone who speaks about business.
Career Enjoyment: Are you enjoying your career? In some ways this is more important than simply measuring your monetary return. The number of podiatrists who describe total burnout is amazing. They come to Top Practices and say things like this: “I’m in my mid-forties; I’m working nights and weekends; I’m exhausted; I can’t get ahead of the paperwork; and I’m really, really frustrated.”
Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth, addresses these kinds of problems and questions that many small business owners face. The subtitle to the book says it well: “Why Most Small Businesses Fail and What You Can Do about It.” It is not a normal or expected result of owning a private practice that you are unhappy, stressed out, and constantly missing your family while you work nights and weekends.
It may appear that it’s supposed to be that way, since it’s a reality for so many people. But there are many, many members of Top Practices with highly profitable practices that make it home for dinner with their families every night, and who don’t need to work on charts later. They even have something called “a weekend”—which you may recall is a couple of days for you to relax and enjoy, not just catch up on work.
The Way Top Practices Succeeds
So now, let’s go back to that first definition: “Living life on my terms.” This really is all-encompassing. It means you’ve arranged and set up your business so that it serves you, and not the other way around. This is exactly how Top Practices has been set up. It is here to serve me, Rem, and my members, not the other way around—in which I’m always trying to feed the monster of business.
When you reach this point and you’re organized, it’s a really, really nice way to live. The sky’s a little bluer, the sun’s a little bit brighter, and life is just lighter all around.
We’d love to help you reach this point, too. You don’t have to live chained down by your practice. Contact us for more information about the Mastermind group and how we’ve been helping other doctors define and reach their own success. Just call (717) 725-2679 or e-mail [email protected].