Let’s be honest, I have way too much to say to limit this topic to just one blog post, so I had to come out with a part 2 to my last one (if you missed part 1, you can find it here). As always, I will be the first to admit I’m no expert, and I certainly don’t have it all figured out. I’m still learning and failing every single day and am a firm believer that owning a practice (or a business of any kind) is a continual try-fail-learn-grow-repeat cycle. But it’s beautiful and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Enjoy five more of my tips for opening your own practice.
1. Be resourceful and read a lot of books
Fresh out of school, I found myself complaining a lot about how school didn’t prepare me for opening a business, and I’ve heard this same complaint among many of my colleagues and from current students. I didn’t know the first thing about it or where to start, and I felt completely unequipped. I didn’t know how to put together a business plan, make financial projections, negotiate a contract, get a loan, advertise, or do any other business operational tasks. I knew how to be a chiropractor, but I didn’t know how to be a business owner. And believe me, there’s a major difference. It’s easy to play the blame-game and get mad at your educational institution for not better preparing you, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t do you any good. Feeling sorry for yourself does not move the needle forward. Things really changed for me when I decided to take ownership of my situation, face the things I didn’t know, and use it as a learning/growing opportunity. I realized I could go to the internet or my local library or Barnes & Noble and find a book or article on just about any topic I wanted to know about or didn’t understand. And with some time, patience, and curiosity, I could inform myself on said topic. I felt so empowered! It was almost addicting. I found myself devouring books, podcasts, blogs, and anything else I could get my hands on. And to this day, when I want to know about something, I seek out resources to inform myself. With infinite resources freely available at our fingertips via the internet, there has truly never been a more exciting time to start a new business venture or learn a new skill.
2. Get the right people onboard
Piggy backing off the last point, part of being resourceful means getting the right people on your team and in your circle. Behind every small business is likely a village of people who helped, contributed, or supported in some way. It’s important to recognize areas in which you are weak so you can either (a) grow in these areas, or (b) outsource them. There will be some aspects of your business that will be worth outsourcing because it will take a professional less time to do a much better job, and it will free you up to use your time doing something income-generating or something you are better at/enjoy more. Consider this an investment in your business, and one with usually a significant ROI. Aside from my family, boyfriend, and close friends being moral support, I have an incredible team I depend on for various aspects of my business. This team includes a lawyer, banker, accountant, bookkeeper, financial advisor, and business coach. I can confidently say The Body Lab would not be where it is today without each member on this team, and I encourage every entrepreneur to build a team of their own that fits their individual needs.
3. Be prepared to lose friends / say no a lot / get lonely
Man, I feel like this one just does not get talked about enough, and it’s something that certainly surprised me. I remember in the very early days of owning my practice thinking, “Wow, I’m surrounded by and interacting with people almost all day long, but I still feel weirdly alone.” It’s the type of loneliness that comes from blazing your own trail, going against the norm, and having very few people understand you or your circumstances. I remember hearing a lot from friends, “So if you own your own practice, you can set your own hours and just take time off whenever you want, right?” Or having friends not understand why I couldn’t go out on weekends or go on trips abroad or be at their bachelorette parties. I don’t get PTO or sick leave like they do. I don’t work 40 hours a week like they do. I’m not guaranteed a paycheck every 2 weeks like they are. And that’s okay and definitely something I chose, but naturally not everyone will understand sacrifices you make or agree with your choices.
Owning a business changed everything for me. It changed the way I viewed my time, my money, and my future. I stopped spending money on a lot of the things I once did. I could no longer justify going out as much on the weekends and sacrificing a whole day or two of productivity from being hungover in bed. I’ve missed out on, and will continue to miss out on, lots of fun social activities, and some friendships have faded away because of this. But beautiful new ones have formed along the way, and I certainly feel as though my circle has been elevated, even if it’s smaller now. I now choose to have people in my life who support my choices, encourage me to continue sacrificing for my dreams, and are doing similar things in their own lives. Not everyone will understand, and that’s okay–they aren’t meant to.
4. Get involved in the community
You cannot expect support from a community that you do not support in return–the universe simply doesn’t work that way. Community involvement can look like just about anything. It can look like joining a local gym, eating at local restaurants, swinging through the local neighborhood coffee shop for your morning coffee instead of Starbucks, finding a local nonprofit to support/volunteer with that aligns with your values, showing up to community events, buying birthday gifts from small, local shops instead of ordering from Amazon…the possibilities are endless. It’s so rewarding, and I think you’ll be surprised at how many connections you start to make and relationships you start to build within the community. And I can promise you that effort and support will come back to you tenfold.
5. Think about your business as a whole experience, rather than just a product or a service
I think one of the best examples of a company that does this well is Apple. Think about the last time you went into an Apple store or bought a brand new Apple product. Sure, they sell laptops and phones and watches, but it’s so much more than that, because to buy an Apple product is to have a whole experience. Without me describing it, you likely already know what I’m talking about. The packaging is so beautiful, so perfectly designed and well thought-out that it feels like a piece of art. It feels like you’re opening up something really special. Walking into a store feels like a glimpse into the future–from the clean-line, minimalist aesthetic to the perfectly nerdy-yet-sophisticated employees at the ready to answer your every question–you just get the feeling you’re a part of something special. The point of all this is that (for someone like me at least, and obviously many others), I couldn’t care less about if Apple technically has the “best” products or technology. But I will continue to buy from them and support their brand until the day I die because of the experience. And I’m sure that regardless of how you feel about Apple, you have certain products you buy simply because you like the packaging, or certain restaurants you keep going back to because of the ambiance or excellent service.
Think of your own business this way. How can you do more than just provide your service or sell your product? How can you make your clients feel like they are a part of something special or high-end? What personal touches can you add to make it memorable or something they want to talk about with their friends? The power of an experience should not be underestimated.
Once again, wherever you are in your entrepreneurship journey, I hope you were able to find something that resonates with you or that you can put into practice in the future. Ultimately, experience is the best teacher, and there’s no business owner out there that hasn’t made thousands of mistakes along the way. Don’t forget to check out part 1 if you haven’t already, and feel free to reach out to me if you have further questions or thoughts you’d like to share. 🙂