Things I learned about being a group practice owner
There’s no shortage of lessons learned since I became a group practice owner. And I’m guessing you feel the same way. When I look back, there are so many ways I’ve grown as a business owner, in my leadership skills, and in my overall ability to manage so many moving parts. Let’s take a look at some of the things I have learned about being the owner of a group practice, being a leader, and everything else that comes with the position of a business owner.
It will challenge the ease of having a balanced life. Work/life balance is something that we hear a lot about in our field, especially when you are a business owner. With even the most amount of mental preparation, you will find yourself working more hours than you expected and at some point, feel unbalanced. Taking ownership of your time, not burning out, and setting boundaries on when and where you will do work is a must.
You will *think* you have the whole managing-your-staff thing down packed. But your leadership skills will be challenged. It’s not that simple to do. Our past stuff comes up, and how we deal with resistance, anger, feedback, lack of follow through or any number of concerns with staff will come through the lens of how we were taught to handle things. I’m a quiet and reserved person who is not one to start or engage in conflict. I’ve had to push myself to hold my staff accountable and not let things slide by for the sake of not having someone potentially mad at me. You may find yourself in the opposite direction. Maybe conflict is easy for you, and toning it down and coming to your staff from a better angle will be difficult. Either way, you are bound to have some difficult conversations, and even if you have been in managerial positions in the past, nothing compares to actually being the business owner and having to have these difficult conversations versus doing it because it is your job position at some company.
You will second guess yourself. Probably often. Should I expand? Yes. No. I don’t know. What if it doesn’t succeed? I’m going to do it anyway…. Wow. What was I thinking? This is hard. I shouldn’t have expanded. Does that sound familiar? What about, Should I hire her? She seems like a good fit, but doesn’t have as much experience as I hoped. Maybe I should wait for another candidate. What if it takes a long time to find someone. What if someone better doesn’t come along? Or maybe this sounds familiar. Should I unpanel our group with XX insurance? How will it affect my practice? What will my clinicians think? What if everyone isn’t happy with the decision? I shouldn’t have gotten off the insurance, we’ve had less calls this week. OK, this week is great, I’m glad we decided to unpanel with them. These are just a few of the thoughts that will likely swirl around your brain at one point or another. And whatever you decide, there will be times when you second guess it.
You will realize there are so many more decisions you have to make than you anticipated. See above inner dialogue. So many decisions. And you are the deciding factor on if your practice decisions are complicated or simple. I never thought I would have to make so many decisions about small things. Things that take up time that seem so miniscule. Like which ISP to use. AT&T is only $50 a month, but less speed. Do I need more speed or does it not matter? I have 5 clinicians, we may all be using it at once. Does that matter? Do I need to get a guest Wi-Fi too? How do I make sure it’s secure? What about the phones. Do I need HIPAA compliant phones? I have no idea what needs to be HIPAA compliant. What about my clinicians texting clients. Should I care what they do regarding texting clients? What if it is only for scheduling purposes? Do I need a policy on that? How do I make that secure? These are just some of the thoughts that have taken up space in my head throughout the years.
You will need to learn the art of delegation and outsourcing. Please, if anything, learn how to let go (see point #1 about a balanced life). The fastest way to burnout is doing it all yourself. Some of you may have a hard time letting go because of a need to control. Others may not know where to find a good support staff or what to give out. Either way, work on it, and get a move on delegating. The most successful business owners are doing what they do best and no more.
You will sometimes feel lonely. You are in a different position from everyone else in your practice, and that makes your relationship different than the relationships your clinicians may have with each other. You also likely won’t be spending your time talking business with your therapists, because, well, boundaries and all. This is where finding a good support of other business owners or group practice owners can be a lifeline. You need to have a few people in your court there to brainstorm ideas, understand what you are going through as the owner of a group practice, and be able to ask questions and grow with.
I always say finding the common humanity of it all is what helps us move through life and business journeys. We all experience the ebb and flows of the group practice ownership journey. It provides us with challenges, and helps us grow in ways we can’t imagine before starting the ride.
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here: LEARN MORE HERE