I started my own practice on January 4 —finally—after six years in practice. This decision was hardly a hasty one because I dreamed of having my own practice since the first day of OD school. Like most ODs fresh out of school, however, I was saddled by debt and fear of the unknown. In an earlier blog, I wrote about obtaining an MBA which was a great introduction to the business world, yet in some ways, it still could never have prepared me for owning my own practice.
Related: The ROI of an MBA for an OD
When I began to seriously plan the opening of my own practice, I found that there were very few resources to help with the process. There are a thousand different ways to design your dream practice; you may be dreaming of a heavily medical setup or heavily optical. Maybe you’re dreaming of a specialty contact lens practice or one with a pediatric specialty. No matter your situation, I believe that there is a general sequence of events that must occur before the grand opening.
Step 1: Commit (variable timeline)
OK, yes, this might sound ridiculous. But if you’re gonna do this, you’re gonna have to want it. Bad. When I read advice like this, I shrugged it off as silly. It’s not silly. Starting cold is tough. There are many moments of, “What am I doing?!” and you must know that it is the only path for you. If you’re like me, you’ll read this and say, “Yeah, obviously.” If so, continue on!
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Step 2: Get it together. (A couple of months)
Your personal stuff, I mean. Take an honest look at your life and the way you’re living it. I’m referencing your liabilities—including debts—but also personal spending habits. Starting cold is a big goal, and it may take rearranging your other priorities to make it work. I personally revamped my spending habits a full year before starting cold, re-appropriating what would have been clothing or eating-out money to savings.
Also, figure out any obligations you have to finish. I personally had to get my MBA degree finished up before taking on another large project. I also knew I’d have to move to start up in my target area, so moving and buying a house was on this list for me, too. From personal experience, I know that having made these little changes early on in the process made it easier once I started actually checking off boxes.