We are hard lined about the importance of this planning in our day to day, but somehow, planning our business and our future goals does not get the same weighted importance.
One way we can tangibly put the intention of future planning for our businesses, as well as have a framework for day-to-day decisions (ie, How does the impact of this decision fit into my big picture for life / practice?) is by having a business plan. I know many of you (myself included) have now or at one time believed the following misconceptions about business plans. It’s time to dispel those now so we can move forward in planning our practices.
It must be in a certain format or it is useless. This is simply not the case. There are several recommended structures for business plans, but nothing is more than a guide. Depending on your goals, business structure and desired outcome from having a business plan, you can choose from several different formats. You choose the format that makes the most sense for you. And this can change as your practice evolves.
It is only necessary for funding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this statement. It’s a commonly held belief that business plans are needed only if you are looking to secure a loan, or if you have an endeavor for which you are looking to secure VC funding. But the fallacy is this: That is essentially saying your business plan is for everyone but the owner of the actual business.
You’re the one planning, so thinking a business plan is only useful for someone else’s review is essentially the same mindset as, No one else is going to look at my calendar, so there’s no need to have one. Your planning is more critical than anyone else’s – it’s your practice.
Once I write it, I can’t change it. Another misconception is that business plans are less of a framework and more of a hard-set, long list of rules. It’s often thought that if we structure a business plan and anyone other than us sees it, we are somehow bound to the specifics we have outlined. It’s a sentiment similar to when we tell ourselves, I don’t want to say [X] out loud because then it will be true.“
However, just as we have plans on our calendars that end up changing, the same applies to business plans. They are meant to be a framework, an outline and an accountability partner for us. If goals or circumstances change, the plan can change as well.
They are not useful for acupuncturists. I’m hoping most of you have read the top three misconceptions and no longer hold on to this last one, but we should discuss it.
I do recognize that our education is by and large clinical in nature, and unfortunately there is not a lot of emphasis or room in the curriculum for business courses or classes that give you the tools to be successful in running a business (which the grand majority of our profession does as small-business owners or sole proprietors).
However, the reality is we are small-business owners. Most acupuncturists are entrepreneurs. Most of us have needed to identify different revenue streams, have looked at how to scale, and share many of the same concerns other small-business owners do. So, even though we were primarily educated as clinicians, we still need to do the best we can for ourselves and the people we want to serve with thriving practices. Planning is critical for this to become a reality.
For Next Time…
I have one more misconception that we will solve in our next article: the thought that business plans take a long time to write. Not true! They can be living, breathing, shorter, starter documents that get updated as our clarity increases. Next time, I’ll outline a quick and easy way to set up a business plan (sometimes in an hour or less!).
Click here for more information about Nell Smircina, DAOM, LAc, Dipl. OM.