Lessons Learned As a Result of Running a Business

This 6yr anniversary prompted me to think about what I had learned as a result of running our medical practice.

As I look back, there have been many reaffirmations, triumphs, challenges, successes, trials, less than excellent outcomes (…what do people call them? Oh yeah, failures), and mistakes, just to name a few.

In essence, lessons.

So I wanted to share with you these six lessons and see what your thoughts were. I’d also like to hear some of your successes and less than perfect outcomes. Nothing like learning from the experience of others.

Here they are:

1. Give the benefit of the doubt. – This is one of my top rules in customer service and I try to always have it in mind when dealing with parents, employees, and vendors. When you start out by giving people the benefit of the doubt, in the absence of complete confirmation, communication outcomes improve.

However, giving people favorable judgment in absence of evidence only exist if there is trust. In other words, if one is unable to give a person the benefit of the doubt, you most likely do not trust the person. Likewise, if someone like an employee or a patient doesn’t give you the benefit of the doubt, they don’t trust you.

2. Communication matters. It amazes me that we humans still have communication issues. We do more communicating than anything else, yet we are not that good at it. You’d think we would all be experts by now. But the reality is that most of us stink at it.

These past years I’ve realized that more than ever, how I communicate, when I communicate, to whom I communicate, matters. I realize now that the outcome of each of my communications hinge upon on how I convey messages. So I try not to take communication lightly.

3. Be your own boss is a lie. – When one decides to strike it out on your own, the assumption is that you are your own boss. Anybody that tells you that is lying. The fact is you will have as many bosses as you do customers/clients/patients.

Oh, another thing about being your own boss… once you are on your own, expect to work 10x more than you’ve ever worked when you were working for someone else.

4. Experts don’t really  know. – Let me explain. Throughout our brief history as a company, we’ve come to different crossroads in which we’ve reached out to experts in an effort to help us decide which route to take. And in our experience, these experts bring a lot of data, analysis, tables, graphs and anecdotes of what other practices have done, but when analyzing our business, they often lack deep perception of the situation and judgement.

Now, I’m not suggesting experts are not valuable. In fact many have helped us. But what I am suggesting is that at the end of the day, you know your business better than anybody else. So don’t rely solely on experts, because they really, truly, don’t know.

5. Challenges are a necessity of growth. – If you study great role models lives, you will almost certainly find they’ve overcome extraordinary hardships. And as a result of their difficulties, they are able to inspire others to overcome their own challenges. One can conclude then, that without these hardships, it is highly unlikely these roles models will have achieved the level of wisdom or grown as people, as businesspersons, or as leaders.

I have a love and hate relationships with challenges. Being tested is annoying, not gonna lie. But at the same time, I understand that these trials I am faced with enable me to be better prepared for future challenges.

6. Trust your gut. – In business, there is a lot of grey areas when it comes to making decisions. Sure, there is data, statistics, analysis, reports, input from others etc., that will help one steer towards the right direction; but very rarely will things be clear-cut or simply black and white.  More often than not, one will have to trust your self to do what is right without having 100% certainty of the outcome. Therefore I’ve learned that trusting my gut is OK.

5 thoughts on “Lessons Learned As a Result of Running a Business”

  1. Really nice list of six excellent points. I come to this post as a so-called small business expert, having written some similar things, and from that point of view I want to say that you’ve gone well beyond the specifics of the professional medical practice here. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved with a small business for which these six points don’t apply. And every one of them. Great job. Tim

  2. How much of the experts-don’t-know issue do you think is related to the lack of pediatric experience? I find that the tenor of pediatricians is so different from the other specialties and what most consultants offer is so generic…

    However, as one of those very consultants who comes armed with data/charts/anecdotes (don’t worry, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and agree with your point!), let me tell you something from the consultant’s point of view: I’d guess that 3/4s of what I tell practices *they already know*. Sometimes more. Sadly, however, they usually lack the discipline to make a change, have refused to listen to a partner or office manager, or have tried to pretend the issue doesn’t exist.

    Frankly, it’s like therapy more than anything else. Usually, it’s just re-framing some challenge in a way that the providers can understand how to do something about it. Sure – most practices know they could be better coders…but do they know how much it’s really costing them? Do they know how to get the education and training they need to fix the problem? And, to speak to your comment about anecdotes, I can assure you that hearing about other, similar practices getting out of the same rut often has “inspirational” benefits. “If THEY can do it, WE can do it.”

    This all sounds more defensive than I intend.

    1. Chip,

      Funny, I thought about you and PCC when I was writing this point. But I’ve been clear about the immense value you and PCC provide, so you’re not playing in the same league with the people I’m referring to.

      The issue that I see you are bringing up seems to be more about compliance than about providing value.

      Getting people to see the benefits is difficult. But let’s face it… people don’t like to be told what to do, even if it is to their benefit. If that weren’t the case, people would stop smoking, lose weight and get at least 8 hours of sleep.

      The point I was trying to make, particularly to those who are new to practice management, is that they need to be very cautious when calling in “experts” into their practice to help them solve problems. Also, they should not be wooed by consultants. Because 8 out of 10 times, these “experts” are not going to provide any more insight into what managers already know is the solution to the problem.

      By the way, I think it has A LOT to do with not having pediatric experience.

      Brandon

  3. I so agree that practice management consutants may not have much to offer. I mean, if you have a newbie practice, with no experience, no systems, thay can help. We had a top notch, professionally recommended consulting firm come in–we were already doing 90% of what they suggested. I think they learned more from us than us from them. We “fired” them after the second day.

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