I’ve been practicing for 21 years (since 1994). The first 3 years were tough, I ran up debt as I couldn't make enough to support my family. I over spent on things that I thought were important, but couldn’t afford. I tried sharing space, renting space, sharing staff, bringing in other practitioners, buying equipment that I thought would bring in more patients. I did talks every week. I set up health food store booths, joined any social or marketing group, bought mailing lists and did mailings. I ran up $60,000 in debt over 3 years and finally went bankrupt to erase the debt.
But that didn’t fix the problem. I ran up more debt because I still didn’t make enough to live on. I ended up owing another $40,000 on my wife's credit when I finally hit bottom. We ran out of ways to borrow and I knew I had to do something.
Gradually, things got a little better. I started making enough to pay my overhead, and take home a little. But, no matter how hard I tried, or how much I worked, I could not get past this point.
I was working 5 -6 days a week and a lot of hours (6-7/day) and still couldn't get to the point where I could make enough to pay my basic bills and have enough left over to be comfortable. I was always paying my last bills with the income from the last 3 work days of the month.
So, I met with a friend who did financial advice, and he told me to cut expenses where ever I could. I tried that but really there was nowhere to cut. So he told me, maybe I should look for another profession. That of course got me angry. I was a doctor, and I had spent $100,000 and 8 years learning to do what I wanted to do and loved to do, and I was going to make it work.
His next bit of advice was to carefully look at where the money came from. Where did I make the most from? Office visits, supplements, therapies, outside labs, selling water bottles, etc. Interestingly enough, 2 years before this I had manufactured a nutritional supplement out of necessity. I had found a formula I really liked but it was very expensive. My patients couldn’t afford it. A friend mentioned I could make it myself if I had enough volume, so I found out more and did exactly this. When I did what my financial friend told me to do, I found out that I was making more from this formula than any other product. So, he advised that I do more of this, so I made one new formula every 3 months as I could save up the money to do so. I also came up with membership plans, therapies that would give some repeat business and help patients even more.
It took me 7 years to finally figure this thing out.
It took another 3 years to fully implement the programs I came up with. Now today I can work 3 1/2 days a week. I'm not wealthy nor do I need to be. I am comfortable. I gross between $400,000-$500,000 a year and take home between $150,000 and $225,000. (Many times I reinvest into the business rather than spend it just to lower the tax bracket. Reinvesting in things like equipment to do testing in-house, equipment that can give visual feedback to patients so they can see their progress, equipment to do therapies, training in therapies, computers and electronic medical records software, advertising). I can pay my bills, pay off my debt, and have some left over without working so many hours that I don't enjoy it anymore. And the most important part is, YOU CAN TOO!