Work on your business, not just in it.
Ever feel like you’re on a giant gerbil wheel? Or that you have a vision for your veterinary practice but don’t know how to get there? Or that you wish you could leave for more than a few days and know your practice will continue to consistently perform in your absence?
You are not alone. “These are things we hear every day,” says Tricia Huebner, Director of Coaching at EMyth, a business coaching company. Huebner outlines seven steps to set the stage for improved business results:
1. Work on it, not just in it. Be sure to put on your “entrepreneur hat” periodically to take an overall look at your business and how it’s performing. “Balancing the entrepreneur and technician in yourself is a common underlying problem,” says Huebner. The entrepreneur sees the business as a product to create, build and sell one day, while the technician focuses on the work, seeing the business as a job. A third role, the manager, sits between the two, designing a way to achieve the business vision. “Find time to step back and wear each of those hats,” she suggests.
2. Take back your life. “Your business should serve your life, not the other way around,” says Huebner. Most people start their own business because they want a level of freedom. Get back in touch with this idea, she recommends. Think about what you want to do in your life. What experiences do you want to have? What’s on your bucket list? Create a list of personal objectives. “You can create a business that gives you that,” says Huebner.
3. Create your picture of a business that works. Next, create a vision of your business three years from today. How would it look, act, feel and perform? “A very small percentage of business owners actually craft a vision that is directing them each day so that they feel a sense of purpose,” Huebner notes. “The technician will whisper there isn’t time, but the technician and the manager have to go out of the room. This is a job for the entrepreneur. You have to allow yourself to dream again.”
4. Become the leader your business demands. Help everyone on your team see themselves as part of the three-year vision to get them excited and on board. “You can’t do this by yourself; it’s going to take everybody,” says Huebner. She recommends writing your business vision in the present tense, so everyone can see themselves in it. “Then act your way into that reality,” she says.
5. Systemize your business. Think about your practice as if you were going to franchise it, so it isn’t dependent on certain people. “You have to see your business as a system that you can teach and train your people to do,” Huebner advises. “You’re trying to create a certain experience that you become known for.” That will strengthen your brand, create a consistent customer experience, and increase your business value.
6. Develop a high-performing team. Every frustration in your business is caused by a missing or broken system, says Huebner. “You might think that one person is the cause, but if you really look at it, there are probably a set of standards you haven’t identified yet,” she says. For example, you could create a standard for a receptionist position of answering phones within 2 rings and saying “[phrase]” in a friendly and upbeat manner. “Most employees just want to know, ‘How do you want me to do this? Just tell me!’” says Huebner.
7. Continually improve your systems. Have a process to continuously spot places to upgrade your systems. “Businesses are fluid—they need to adapt to change,” says Huebner.