The Time Has Come to Admit You Can't Do It All
By: Tim Reynolds, M.D. There are many things that may limit or allow your Medical Practice business to grow. One of those things is how effectively you build a team that oversees day-to-day operations and helps plan and work towards your organizational success. Over the last seven years I have been fortunate enough to build a successful team to run all my businesses. But it didn’t happen over night. Step 1: Realize You Need a Team One of the hardest parts about growing a business you’ve started is realizing you can’t do it all. When you first opened your Medical Practice, it was cheaper, more cost-effective, comfortable, and at times seemed sensible to try to do as much as possible yourself. As your business grows, however, you'll find yourself stretched thinner and thinner. Eventually, you'll find you just can't continue to oversee the medical practice, marketing, accounting, staffing, purchasing-- and hope to continue to grow your business, too. When that day comes, you’ll realize you need to develop a team. I still remember the day that happened to me. My wife and I were scuba diving off Sipadan Island in Malaysia. We had finished our morning dives and were resting before going out in the afternoon. I had a legal pad in front of me and was contemplating the thought, "How do we take this to the next level?" As I thought about that, I realized we could not simply keep doing what we had always done. We could not simply work harder and grow. In that moment I realized we needed a team of people smarter than we were. We needed people on board who were dedicated to what we were about, and who were dedicated to helping us grow our company. I took out a piece of paper and drew a picture of a table. Then I started to draw in the positions I would need sitting around that table if we wanted to grow our Medical Practice business. The good news was some of the positions I drew (Nursing Director, Director of Lab, Director of Radiology, Medical Director)were already being filled by people. Some of those team members were already doing a great job. Others we realized needed to be moved into a different position, or replaced entirely. Then there were the positions we didn’t have that we believed we needed: Chief Financial Officer, H.R. Director/Legal, Director of Marketing, Director of Information Technology, Director of Billing, Director of Occupational Medicine. If we added all of those, I would also need to create a Chief Operating Officer to oversee everything. I also realized at some point I might need a personal assistant. As I drew all of these new positions on paper, I realized my next step was convincing my partners. Step 2: Get Buy In from Your Partners If you aren’t the sole owner of your business, the next thing you’ll have to do is get buy in from your partners. When I returned from my scuba trip, I was super excited as I presented the idea to them. As you can imagine, it sounded very expensive, so at first there was resistance. I explained that all the roles didn't need to be filled immediately, but we could slowly start working in moving our infrastructure that direction. Together we created a plan for how to make it happen. Step 3: Find a Way to Finance It After creating a plan we had to commit the capital to making it happen. We realized we did not have enough money to add each of these positions right away. We also knew filling them would take from our bottom line. More importantly, however, we realized not filling them would leave us unable to grow. After all, hard work and dedication had helped us make our business successful, but we were out of man hours to put in. Not filling the positions would not allow us to grow or expand. We made a commitment to finance the positions slowly. Step 4: Hiring & Refining the Plan Once we made the decision to grow a team, we continued working like we always had, but with a new purpose. I formed an executive team to meet every week (even though there was no one on it yet), and it has met every week since. I started looking for the right person for each position intentionally seeking out those who would best fit our culture. We made some mistakes in filling those roles along the way, but that didn’t deter us. Instead, we just kept looking and adding. Step 5: Maintain and Improve Finally, we knew that if we wanted to grow, we would also have to continue to grow the skills of the leaders we had picked for our executive team. We began creating ongoing training programs that would not only help them develop their skills in their unique areas, but would also help them grow as leaders, build our company culture. I often think of the time on Sipadan Island when I decided to turn our practice into a business. I am very grateful I drew a table on that tablet of paper. Seems like I should go scuba diving in remote places more often!