by Riley Uglum, OD
OD Success is what most all of us envisioned as we went through optometry school. For many, the dream was to provide superb patient care in a private practice setting, while providing a comfortable lifestyle for our families. In my case, I worked for another OD for five years prior to purchasing the practice, a common scenario in the mid-1970’s.
What a thrill! I no longer worked for someone else. I owned a private practice and could now become an OD entrepreneur. I was the master of my destiny and my dream was fulfilled as the practice attracted more patients and our financials became healthier. But as the business prospered and more patients needed to be cared for, a different set of dynamics evolved that I was totally unprepared for.
I had received a great clinical education in optometry school and learned a lot from practice management consultants once I graduated. But I had no idea how to deal with the sheer magnitude of the non-clinical administrative workload such as:
• Hiring more staff
• Staff compensation and benefits
• Training staff
• Dealing with staff chemistry/tardiness/sick days/leaving the practice
• Managing frame inventory
• Managing lens packages/warrantees/remakes
• Writing orders/checking in orders
• Filing insurance
• Handling accounts receivable
• Managing accounts payable
• Managing lab/frame/CL/drug rep visits
• Equipment purchases
• Accounting reports
• Cash flow
• Building maintenance
After seeing patients all day, I still needed to deal with all of these things. There was little time for family, friends, hobbies or giving back to the community. I thought I was an entrepreneur, but as Michael E. Gerber of E-Myth fame says, I was just “doing it, doing it, doing it”. Instead of me running a practice, the practice was running me. Yes, I could take time off any time I wished, but the fixed expenses didn’t take vacations. The vision I had of OD Success had mutated into something totally different.
I believe that for many of you reading this, my story will resonate profoundly. That’s because you are living in the same mutated dream of success that I was. The good news is that I extricated myself from the nightmare by implementing E-Myth principles (E-Myth is short for the Entrepreneurial Myth that many small business owners live in). It’s all about leveraging efficient business systems and financial strategies from a strategic vantage point, rather than “being in the trenches” doing the tactical stuff day after day.
If you are a private practice owner now, or are considering it in the future, stay tuned for more as I show you how E-Myth philosophy can transform your dream of OD Success into something other than the mutated version that you may be experiencing now.
Photo: Copyright: fotodesignjegg / 123RF Stock Photo
Dr. Riley Uglum is a 38-year veteran of the optometry profession and is President of Eye Care Associates Of New Hampton. He is also the founder and CEO of Promethean Ventures, a company whose mission is to help private practice health care practitioners prosper by combining systemic health care strategies with time tested wealth creation tools. He has co-authored a book titled The E-Myth Optometrist with Michael E. Gerber, and is a Michael E. Gerber Partners’ Company author and founding partner. Dr. Uglum is also executive director of the National Wellness Alliance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org