I remember when I first started my business the tables of numbers didn’t mean anything at all. I felt too embarrassed to ask the accountant to explain it again, and again. So I pretended to know what it all meant, which resulted in me not learning Money Management 101 and not managing my private practice properly.
My trial and error learning approach was inexcusable and amateurish, to run the private practice of my dreams I need expert advice and assistance. I changed accountants and I engaged a passionate business coach who had the patience of a saint and the vision of a night owl. The ascent up the vertical learning curve had begun!
I spent time interviewing accountants, determined to find the best match possible. I nervously started working with a local, low overhead patient and kind accountant who specialised in small business, she has several in house book keepers which proved a god send. We have now worked together for over 10 years. She was able to explain it all step by step and in small bite sized pieces, and I started to get it. Her bookkeeper worked onsite in my private practice weekly, dovetailing in with my admin team beautifully. With growing confidence and knowledge I was then able to manage my admin and finance team differently and best of all fully utilise the amazing practice management system I had invested in. I knew the practice management system was good, I just didn’t know how to get accurate data into it and the best reports out of it.
The reports are only as good as the financial data that you put into them. My admin and finance team were exceptional and worked tirelessly to get the right data in the right place at the right time. They checked and double checked and worked seamlessly together. Yes there are lots of admin expenses in private practice but when you finally get good systems in place procedures run smoothly and time and money are ultimately saved. In the later years of my private practice, I would receive the reports I needed on the days I needed them, with full confidence that they were checked and correct and that they had been distributed to external accountant for management. Better still I understood them, could pick details and issues and manage each appropriately.
As I engaged more and more staff, it was critical that I had an assertive hold on all things finance as I was increasingly responsible for the income of others. I attended business management programmes and worked tirelessly with my business coach. With the belief that there is no such thing as a stupid question, I started to ask more and more people more and more questions. I was starting to get it. I forced myself to attend monthly meetings with my accountant, the second week of the month, for months and months and years and years one end. During these meetings we reviewed every single aspect of my business, income streams, debt management, cash flow, expense management, ’the budget’, GST, BAS and we poured over profit and loss statements. I fast tracked my understanding of the concepts and the vocabulary by reading books (no internet way back then) and asking. After a while I started to look forward to these meetings, especially for those busy flat out months when we know the numbers are looking good. The work with children and families as you all know is highly seasonal, this too need to be assertively managed.
It is one thing to be a brilliant clinician but quite another to be a strong manager. Now more than ever private practice owners need to be great at both. Hence the relevance of the expression working IN the business Vs working ON the business. As an accountant once said to me “if your clients improve, then so will your business, but if you can’t manage, how will you know?” and he is right. For me, with the NDIS roll out fast approaching the systematisation of admin and finance procedures will make or break private practices. Are your management and admin systems NDIS ready?
Rest assured this work took years. I built a great crew and was equally well supported and appropriately challenged by my business coach, luckily I tackled it all early in my private practice career. This provided the absolute foundation to my business’s growth, success and finally sale in 2012. With my lived experience and yes, plenty of sleepless nights, I am keen to assist other Private Practitioners get their heads around Money Management 101. No magic wand available on this one I am afraid, but good advice, links to helpful content and shared wisdom will do wonders.
At the Paeds Private Providers Forum, Melbourne July 25th 2015 the topic of Money Management 101 is covered, along with other Private Practice relevant marketing and social media, HR advice and NDIS updates. There is a terrific line up of quest speakers on each of these topics. It is looking like a fantastic day and I am delighted with interest we have had to date. I look forward to meeting lots of you on the day.
Click through to read and register for the P3 Forum here.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is anything I can help you with.
Occupational Therapist, Disability Service Consultant, Coach, Facilitator.
M: 0488 316 319