Starting your own business? Consider your business plan now
All vets appreciate the value of a unified treatment plan for their patients, but less know that it's just as important to create a cohesive business plan when considering opening and running their own practice.
The conflicting aspirations of compassionate treatment and running a profitable business do not always sit comfortably with each other, but they must when developing your own business plan.
The commercial side of management guarantees a practice will become financially viable. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help formulate your plan into reality by incorporating some basic elements into your business plan early on.
Create a plan to take from you from conception to reality; what do you want your service to offer? What does that look like? Can you afford to get your idea off the ground? Who will your clients be, and is there enough demand in your specific area?
Understand your USP
In the eyes of a client, all practices offer the same services. What will be your unique selling point that gets potential clients through your doors? There are lots of possible routes to diversify your practice, perhaps you capitalise on your speciality, offer more out of hours appointments, or have a really personalised and bespoke approach to your clients care.
Alison Lambert, owner of OnSwitch says “Optimising the success of your practice actually 'just' comes down to doing the basics really well.”
Marketing is essential to any new business, but especially within the veterinary world where to build your client base, you are asking people to leave their current practice.
As the managing director of a 14-vet equine practice in Kent, Julian Samuelson felt that studying accounting, marketing and finance as part of a Masters degree would replace his lack of management training.
Julian Samuelson now tries to focus in strategic development for future growth of his practice
“Completing the MBA has allowed me to gain a critical insight into key management concepts and develop a wider management perspective outside that of a traditional veterinary practice. I am now more analytical about the business challenges and try to focus on strategic development for future growth rather than just the day-to-day running of the practice.”
In order to run a small business effectively, you must be in financial control and this means that you have to be aware of how the business is performing.
There is research that says running and managing a practice requires a full-time vet for every 1,000 active clients.
The first six months can make or break, by planning for this period with data behind it to shape it, you can create an effective business model to carry you through this potentially rocky period.
Alison Lambert recommends:
Alison Lambert recommends a Balanced Scorecard audit to keep track of your business performance and outside influences
“Use a Balanced Scorecard audit - a strategic performance management tool used to keep track of business performance and outside influences. The balanced scorecard process creates a dataset of key practice performance figures from four areas:
- Operational Effectiveness
Map the revenue journey. Look in detail at where the practice will make, spend and potentially lose money will identify where gaps can be filled and profitability increased. Simply charging correctly for your time can make one of the biggest positive impacts on the bottom line. It's so important to get your pricing correct for your business - charge appropriately for the unique and valuable service your team provide and avoid the all-too-common mistake of 'charging what everyone else does around here'.”
And finally, enjoy the journey
While it might be daunting, stressful and difficult at times, it is possible to build your own business and (more importantly) become profitable while offering the best quality client care.