Elephant in the room: 5 things we sideline

On the weekend, I flew to Perth in Western Australia to speak to a wonderful group of Speech Pathologists in private practice. We had a great day talking about regulations in healthcare, tips for running a better business, and ways to tweak marketing so we can ensure we offer great value and customer service. It is a wonderful learning experience to get out and talk to other practitioners in healthcare about their thoughts, ideas and concerns in healthcare today. "Busy-ness" is one of the key areas that impacts on one’s ability to running an effective practice – how can you do all those little things that are important when you are so busy seeing clients? Here are the five things that I think we sideline when busy in our day to day business…. Are you forgetting to focus on any of these?

  1. Planning: Knowing where you are headed is so important. It can save you money and time from making the wrong decisions. Business plans do not have to be huge and overwhelming. The longer you make them, often the harder they are to revise because it just takes too much time to wade through. The key reasons business plans don’t often work is because they are not incorporated into the day to day running of the practice, or they are sat on a shelf and forgotten. If you don’t have a plan, start one today – just start by listing, where you want to be in 5 years time, and break that into what you might do each year to get to that point.
  2. Organising the diary: I’m not just talking about putting clients into your diary. I am talking about all the other things. Do you book in things like time for things such as planning, time to work on marketing, time to write content for an article or time to review your website traffic? Or do you have an ad hoc approach and try to fit them in when you can, run out of time, and tell yourself you will do it in 2016?! If you are time poor, consider who you interacted with during the last week, what tasks you completed, and what interruptions you had and ask yourself “which ones were necessary?”, and eliminate these so you have more time to be productive in the things you need to do.
  3. Understanding the financial aspects of healthcare: This is such a crucial aspect of running a practice. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you really need to spend some time investing in learning about your figures and the activities you do that affect these figures. Ask yourself “How much does it cost me per hour to open the door and treat people?” “Does my profit and loss statement change each month, and why?” “What is my breakeven point and how much profit do I make from each consultation?”
  4. Measuring how you are going: This is easily sidelined when we get busy. It can take time to track where you are going and analyse results. Sometimes the hardest things are working out where to start and what you will track. I would suggest you get very friendly with Excel and create a template that you can use to track your practice performance each month. Things to consider are the efficiencies of your practice, profitability and financial performance, and happiness (don’t forget this last one, you need to know how happy you are, your staff are and your clients).
  5. Planning for longevity in practice: We can get burnt out in any workplace, and it would not be great to burn out in a workplace you had created and run! To avoid burning out, or becoming overwhelmed, think about getting a mentor or another practitioner in your similar situation you can share ideas and debrief with; be mindful to yourself that you can’t do everything at once and you are doing the best you can; book in holidays or things to look forward to on a regular basis; and creating ways to stay organised – to do lists, setting up great systems, and automating tasks where you can so they happen without you needing to think too much about it.

If you are someone who pushes these things above aside because you can’t fit them in, try to find some time before Christmas to sit down and work out how you can make these work for you in the new year – it might just be that you start to plan your diary more effectively. Either way, you will feel so much more control and approach your practice with so much more bravery when you can master the items above.

Planning, Business Basics, Organising

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