New Year, New Perspectives! If you are like my husband and graduated from a decent chiropractic school and passed all your boards you are anxious to get in to the field and sport your skills! Some of you may not be done with school and I would first recommend you transfer into another degree program as soon as possible. Anything but chiropractic. If I can't convince you to do that then read on! Insisting on making your way as a chiropractor is near impossible in today's climate. You probably don't believe me so alas, I write this guide for you! Take it or leave it!
My husband relied heavily on startingintopractice.com over a year before his prospective graduation date and I can recommend it as a wonderful resource. I even quit working entirely out of the home to focus 100% on creating our practice. The hours of work we put in to trying to get it right still resulted in us being streamlined into the typical statistics. Truthfully, I was only interested in beating the "80% of businesses fail within the first 2 years" mark and we beat that by 3 months so I was satisfied. The SBA says 50% fail in the first 5 years. Yep, that happened to us no matter how hard we tried to avoid any mistakes! Here is my gift to you in hoping YOU get it right!
First: Live Somewhere you love.
Not just where it seems businessly plausible.
I have decided to tell you how to get it right. Some testing prep company that my husband studied for the national boards with gave him a paper called, "Opening up your practice on a shoe string budget". I remember we respected that piece of paper and as many items that were to be found on it I only remember the very first one, "LIVE WHERE YOUR HEART SINGS". I probably remember it because we broke that rule when we decided to move to the one state a swore I would NEVER raise our kids in: Utah. So the first item in my guide would definitely be location. Live somewhere you love. Trust me. Please make sure you get at least that right. If you are married or in a domestic partnership consider their feelings too or better, the feelings you share on the matter. My husband and I ALWAYS said we would live in Colorado. We should have done that. He does have a license there so that much we got right. Moving to Salt Lake City has actually been enough like Colorado that I am completely and utterly happy here and thus prosperity has been falling like dew drops on our lives for a year!
Second:Buy a practice or start your own
No big revelation there. All of us who either started our own practice or bought one wish we would have just taken an Associate position right out of school until our friends who all took jobs quit within the first year of said positions and ended up just buying or opening their own place. If you buy make sure there are no liens on your prospective business. Also make sure you find out how many of the xhundred or thousand charts are actually real patients not just ones who have been in 1 time and never again. Also, make sure you have a hearty SBA loan or a job so you can build your practice and still be able to eat and have shelter! Family comes in handy here but listen to me when I say, 19 months in my mother in laws basement probably held us back more than it helped our situation. Autonomy is so important and so is sacrifice. Sacrifice working for a wage around your clinic hours rather than turning to depending on family or day care.
1. The website is important, but you don't need to spend alot of money. You can do that later when you are a rich chiropractor. Start with the no fee setups, month to month, inexpensive one like onlinechiro.com We went with Bill Estebs Perfect Patients initially and regret the expenses. They have actually significantly improved the price and such but I still found out the hard way that the other companies are just as good for very reasonable prices.
2. Start small. Look to rent a room in an established medical/DO/NP/PT office or spa or gym or Wal Mart. It doesn't take a lot of room to help people and build your base.
3. Smart marketing. Business cards, flyers, and free press releases. Spending big money on community fairs is often a crappy return on investment. You'd do better to just dress your friends and family in your T-shirts and pass out business cards or coupons while enjoying the community event. A win win and much much cheaper than manning a booth all day with horrible return on investment! Avoid print ads whatever you do! They will say you need them and valu pac will entice you to take a chance but don't. Word of mouth and genuine relationships with people is all you need and the most effective! Just hand out a set amount of business cards a day in the beginning. 20?
4. Do not give anything away free or reduced unless you are doing the honor box practice. "The best way to help the poor is to not be one of them." This means honoring the law of fair exchange! If someone can't pay they need to go somewhere else. Trust me on this. We went out of business "helping" everyone. Go ahead and set your fees lower if you have to, just don't give your skills away.
5. Hold off on expensive practice software or practice equipment. Start with your PC or lap top and an adjusting table. You can use calendar features for years until the revenue comes in.
6. Set your hours and hold to them. We found that 3pm-7pm where THE busiest times. I suspect this could be universal experience.
Third: Get a back up career
Whether it be teaching science or math like my husband, or continuing on to your MD, PA, PT, or RN get something else. If you ever find yourself injured you won't be able to adjust people easily and you are also in a profession that is relentlessly under attack like no other profession I can think of that requires so much time and money to enter! Even if you find selling products or supplements in your office that is something and you will be glad you did. I encourage you to look at this website for invaluable information that can motivate you to a fulfilling career change if you desire http://chiropractormds.homestead.com/index.html# Be aware that it is an old site and some of the links to Med schools are not working. Make sure you are not scammed into anything that is going to repeat what you already endured in seeking your DC! Fool you twice shame on you!
Fourth: Do Not Default on Student Loans
You wouldn't know it but there is more than likely still a staggering default rate on student loans in the chiropractic profession. http://chiropracticstudent.wordpress.com/category/chiropractic-student-debt/ and http://www.chirobase.org/03Edu/default.html if you don't believe me. My husband and I were naive enough to believe we would never be in these statistics. It was simply not an option! Until we had no money to keep in good standing with Sallie Mae. The rest and bulk of our loans are under the ICR Direct Loan program so we are good. However, Sallie Mae is most unjust and unreasonable and unwilling to work with you despite what they say. Their own website boasts of options that don't exist if you are in default but are not offered until you are in default and thus ineligible. It should be illegal to engage in business this way but they continue to get away with it year after year. Beg borrow or steal to keep Sallie maes admin fees to be in forebearance or else you will be in default. Better yet, consolidate your private loans with ANYONE but Sallie Mae!!!!
Fifth: Get a mentor, not a coach
Find a successful chiropractor that you admire. Take them to lunch and learn all you can about them and how they do things then copy them. Hiring a coach or business management firm will only bleed you dry and cause heartache. My husband did everything he was told to do with heart and faith and lot's and lot's of money going out. It got us nowhere. The best advice is free. Like this blog :o)
Sixth: Live what you teach.
Doctor means teacher. If you are an unhealthy, overweight chiropractor smoking in between patients you are probably never going to be taken seriously by your patients. Ever. Which results in little to no patients. Get healthy, be getting adjusted regularly yourself, and massages so you can exemplify the product you are offering. I was never model thin in practice but I did get adjusted weekly, take standard process supplements, and stayed positive which resulted in health and quality of life my husband's services offered!
Seventh: Try not to borrow money.
Nobody was lending when my husband graduated but we did have 20K saved from student loans and no credit card debt. We were on paper perfect. Both with stellar credit scores and a solid business plan. Eventually a bank gave us a small SBA backed business acquisition loan that we ended up defaulting on when we closed down. Try to avoid borrowing money from anyone. If they donate it to you post graduate- fine. Look for sponsors, sugar daddy's, or money you may have piled up in an old 401K from when you worked at Pizza Hut or something but don't borrow until you have a solid patient base. Credit cards are even better than business loans and yes, we used them..... all of them to their max just to survive in business only to fail and regret it. We are not looking forward to bankruptcy proceedings!
Eighth: Prepare to be disrespected
I was convinced my husband was a real doctor. After all, his diploma said that and I witnessed first hand his educational pursuits and accomplishments. It was extensive and expensive. Tears filled my eyes as he walked in with his graduating class to those Logan University bagpipes and drums blaring! Indeed he and his classmates had finally done it! They were all competent physicians before me ready to embark on defending true health- naturally. What a freakin blow to also get to witness first hand complete and utter disrespect and disregard for what my husband is. In fact just days ago at a family function someone approached his aging PT uncle with "just the man I was waiting for...I have pain in my shoulder." Why they would choose an aging PT over a fresh young spring DC is remarkable to me. I've been at his side while MDs of various specialties treat him like a joke. It is painful to watch but that is because I was completely unready for it. Be ready to be treated like the step-child of health care! A "wanna be," "quack," or worse someone who got their degree from a "cracker Jack box." My husband wore a shirt and tie and owned an otoscope and stethoscope and many of our patients didn't know why!? Be prepared for the disrespect.
Ninth: Keep The Fire Burning
We rather enjoy Parker Seminars in Las Vegas, NV to keep our chiropractic fire burning. Not only do you doctors get most of your CE credits out of the way but you feel fired up the way you did at graduation. When a hot wife or spouse or domestic partner can accompany you all the better! We haven't been in a couple years but we intend to go next year. No matter how disappointing the profession is you can always go to Parker and come home feeling like you have done the right thing despite your crappy bank account or New Patient Averages! I recommend splurging and going to the "Chiropractic Research Gala Dinner" offered that weekend so you can potentially look into the eyes of many of the people who will, or have ripped you off with a smile on their faces over the years! The Expo is full of snakes ready to pounce on fresh meat and sell you their over priced products or services. I say avoid it at all costs except for the freebies! I take that back, there was a handsome black man selling gym clothes that I purchased a pair of workout pants from that had "Under Construction" written across the butt that I still cherish!
Tenth: If you can't have the one you want, love the one your with
I just put this because I can't think of anything else. Bottom line, you can find yourself bitter, angry, and disenchanted, or you can make the most of the situation like I try to do! I am convinced that one can make lemons into lemonade with the present situation of the chiropractic profession but it will never taste quite as sweet as you would like. Even still, it can become a bearable reality with a tart taste you can swallow with just enough support from people around you. So surround yourself with great people, good times, and tasty food! Embrace how far you've come and keep on going! Don't trust anyone- even me! Do your research and take what they tell you with a grain of salt! You might be glad you did!