Many acupuncturists find the prospect of building a high volume practice to be a daunting prospect. The following 10 tips can help you be successful:
1. Treat your practice like a business. Commit to working on your practice just as you would work as an employee in a job. Instead of going hiking or out to coffee with friends, hunker down and take the steps necessary to succeed. All successful entrepreneurs manage their time very well. They do not have time to waste and they only engage in relaxing activities when they have earned it. Work first, then socialize and relax.
2. Only work in a part time job if it is absolutely necessary to stay afloat financially. If you can swing it, put all of your time and energy into your practice. Having another job will only delay the realization of your goals. The only exception is if you can work in a job that will enable you to promote your practice.
3. If possible, get an office that offers long-term potential and that you can be excited about. For acupuncturists, this means having a minimum of two treatment rooms, a bathroom, and a waiting area. If you can swing it financially, make sure you really, really love your office. You should look forward to going there every day. Your patients should comment on how much they like it. Your office should not feel like you are going to ‘work’ every day. You should really enjoy being there.
4. If you want to work in another practitioner’s office as a way to get started more quickly, we recommend also finding a nice office space apart from this. Many practitioners find that they get locked into the short-term security of working under someone else. They are given a steady stream of clients, but their earnings are significantly less than if they had an independent practice. Always have your OWN venture. This is the only way to achieve financial success.
5. Have a very clear and strong vision. Through all of the ups and downs of building my practice, I have always remained steadfast in my vision of one day experiencing a full practice. If your vision is strong, if you KNOW that your purpose is to make a certain income and see a certain number of patients, and you KNOW that you will not stop until this occurs, then you are bound for outer success. If you waver in your purpose and get easily distracted, or if you don’t really have a long term vision, then I would recommend writing down daily and monthly goals as a way to keep you on track. Write them down and repeat them regularly. See if you can use the practice of goal setting as a means of heightening your conviction and purpose in the career you are embarking on. Be specific. Write down how many patients you will be seeing in two months from now. Write down what your ideal practice would look like and how long it will take to realistically get there. V isualize your practice, smell it, feel it, talk to it, dream of it, and most importantly, know that it is within you already. Phrase your goals as if they are happening now: ‘I am seeing 30 patients.’, instead of ‘In two months, I hope to be seeing 30 patients.’
6. If hope or fear feels like the motivating influence in making a marketing decision, don’t do it. Hold off for awhile. Feel it out. When I look back at the ways I leaked money on poor marketing decisions, I can remember a feeling of blind hope that it would work out or the fear of not having enough.
7. Be willing to take risks. Any successful entrepreneur has to learn the art of managing risk in business. This point is closely tied into the last one. Do not think that playing it safe will lead to success. You have to take risks. The key is to learn from your mistakes and to keep refining your understanding of how to play the marketing game.
8. Never stop marketing. Interestingly, even though my practice is full, marketing remains a constant focus. In some ways, this will never stop as long as I am in business. Either I am marketing to current patients or thinking of ways to increase my exposure in the community. Why do I do this? Because I believe you are either going up or down in your practice. Moving up means constantly growing and expanding. It means putting out the energy and intention of newness. Otherwise things will quickly get stagnant. And I am not interested in stagnation.
9. You will have to market your practice so learn to enjoy it. You will have to market your practice so learn to enjoy it. Make the marketing inseparable from your craft. Attracting and treating patients is all part of the same energetic process. Too many alternative healthcare practitioners do not allow themselves to take an interest in marketing, which only compromises the quality of their practice. I have learned to really enjoy marketing, which is another reason why I am more successful than 95% of the acupuncturists out there. It has become a passion of mine, just like Chinese medicine is. I don’t even see the two as separate at this point.
10. Create a dream team of business professionals to support your practice. You can’t do this on your own. Well, I guess you could, but you are setting yourself up for failure. The following are professions you need to have on your team:
- business/marketing coach
- graphic designer
- web designer
Obviously, there is a lot that goes into building a successful practice that is beyond the scope of this article. But if you follow these basic guidelines, you will be well on your way toward creating your ideal practice.
Kevin Doherty, L.Ac. and Dominic Sembello, L.Ac. are licensed acupuncturists and practice development consultants for Dream Practice Coaching. They help practitioners around the world with all facets of practice management and development. They offer a free business building kit with 2 special reports and a 16 minute audio at www.buildyourdreampractice.net. If you have questions, you can email Kevin or Dominic at [email protected]