Opening your own optical practice is a big step to take in your career. There are a lot of advantages of being your own boss and operating your practice exactly how you envision it, but along with the excitement comes challenges and a whole lot of responsibility.
Starting your own business can be a stressful process and isn't the best path for all optometrists. There are also benefits to working in a practice where you don't have ownership responsibilities. Have you felt the itch to open your own practice? Before you take the leap, we encourage you to think through all the positives and negatives that come along with it.
What's Better, Leaving Your Problems at the Door or Opening an Optical Practice?
Every coin has two sides, just like every aspect of owning your practice comes with pros and cons.
Money is probably one of the biggest driving factors when it comes to opening your own practice. The opportunity to make more money by owning your own office can be so tempting. It's also motivating to think about the endless avenues for growth. However, opening your practice is a big financial risk to take. The initial loan you'll likely need to open can be daunting; on average the loan amount most businesses take out is $337,730. There is also no guarantee that your practice will be successful or financially stable. Don't expect your income to be a steady flow, especially right after opening. If you're looking for a way to cut costs while opening a practice, consider opening with a partner.
Opening a practice is going to take a lot of time and effort; you don't just get to leave your work problems at the door when you head home at night. You'll need to be open to the possibility of having less time for your personal life, especially in the beginning. It's estimated that 72% of small business owners work over 40 hours a week, so if that isn't something you are prepared to take on right now, it might be best to hold off. On the other hand, once your practice is up and running, you'll have flexibility in your hours up to a certain point. You'll be able to set your business hours and vacation time based off what works best for you, and your patients of course!
Freedom & Responsibility
The idea of doing everything in your practice your way is a glamorous thought. When you open your own practice you'll get to make decisions on everything from décor to technology to hiring the right staff - it is all up to you! But with freedom comes responsibility. Owning your own practice means everything falls on your shoulders. If you make a bad practice decision or even if your staff makes a mistake, the burden falls on you. On the bright side, you'll be responsible for everyone's success as well! Having that entrepreneurial mindset is an important characteristic for anyone who is thinking of opening their own business.
Owning an independent practice is a great way to put down roots in a community. You'll be helping the local economy as you employ your staff. After all, 60-80% of all new jobs come from small businesses. Plus, the revenue you earn from your practice will have the opportunity to go right back into your community's economy. Being the owner of a business means you might also have to fire or turn down employment for members of the community, which isn't a fun task.
As you mold your practice's success, you'll get to grow personally and professionally. You'll need to learn new things like book keeping, marketing techniques, and even interior decorating. This can be a postive or negative aspect of owning your own practice depending on the type of person you are. While you'll be able to employ people to help out with these somewhat foreign areas, you'll still have to have a grasp on what is going on in all aspects of the practice.
Is opening a practice the right choice for you? There is a lot of work that is required to starting your own practice, but if the pros outweigh the cons for you, it'll all be worth it in the end. Have you recently opened a practice? Let us know in the comments if it was the right choice for you.
Our OD Handbook: Small Business, Big Profits can help guide you to becoming a business owner. Read it below.