Steph + Drew running together

Starting A Business: The First Steps

The decision was made, we’re starting a business! What came next was figuring out what the first steps were. If you’re reading this, likely you are considering starting a business yourself, congratulations, that’s the biggest step, pointing you in the direction you want to go!

SO YOU’VE DECIDED YOU’RE STARTING A BUSINESS, NOW WHAT?

We knew that there were a ton of tasks that we could get to work on, but we still didn’t know where to start. The one thing that was apparent to us was the fact that it was going to cost money before we would make any. Since we had been in school for pretty much our entire lives, we didn’t have the cash to bootstrap it ourselves. We’d need some form of financing to help get the ball rolling. Putting together a document with our projected start-up costs seemed like the best place to start. We needed to see what we were getting ourselves into.

This step was actually pretty straight forward: sit down and spit out as many expenses and costs that come to mind. Once we had a mega list of fees, expenses, equipment, and more, we threw it all into a spreadsheet. Once we finished that, we had our first glimpse of what kind of financial support we would need.

DON’T BE CONSERVATIVE

Before we move on, I want to emphasize an important point. We applied the highest potential cost for a particular expense or piece of equipment. This was important to us for 2 reasons:

1) To see if we needed to reconsider our plan.

2) To bring an accurate figure to lenders.

Underestimating these costs might have made us feel safe at first, however it would have come back to bite us in the you-know-what down the road. I can’t emphasize this enough; be extremely generous with how much you’re going to allocate to particular costs.

OBTAIN FEEDBACK WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS

Now that we had this starting point, we wanted to get another set of eyes on it for some feedback. We set up a meeting with a faculty member at our school to review what we’ve worked on. The following meeting would save us a lot of work and headache down the road.

He started the meeting by telling us that his role here was to be straight with us. He wasn’t going to sugar coat anything because keeping yourself comfortable will hurt in the long run. After hearing what he had to say about our plan and projected costs, essentially his feedback was, “what in the world are you guys thinking!?!”, and recommended that if this was the route we were going down, that his advice would be to stop…

THE WAKE UP CALL

If you were to look at our original cost projections, you’d quickly realize that this would be the most luxurious healthcare clinic you would ever step foot in. No expense spared. Top of the line treatment and office equipment. Requiring the largest loan we could likely obtain. While we did our research on certain costs, there were definitely a few that need revision and re-evaluation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to practice in the clinic that we dreamt up there. And I’m confident that someday we will. However given our current financial situation, we needed to be a bit more realistic. Based on what we initially had laid out, the business wasn’t profitable until sometime in the third year of operations, which certainly wouldn’t look enticing for lenders. He recommended that we review this again and find compromise where expense can be saved or reallocated.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

We left feeling slightly discouraged, but that didn’t last long as we quickly realized that this was good news.

It was going to cost us FAR less than we thought, while still being able to deliver a clinic with excellent care!

We went back to the drawing board and were more realistic in what would be a reasonable cost to allocate to particular items. Again, we didn’t underestimate anything, we were just more practical. We got back to him with the updated start-up costs and he was much more optimistic about the prospect. Hooray!

Click to see our projected start-up costs.

TAKE-AWAYS FROM THAT MEETING

So what we learned, when you’re working on your own start-up costs, be both realistic and practical. Believe it or not, your business isn’t Facebook or Google, you don’t need a $3500 iMac rather a mid-level $600 laptop will do. You don’t need 4 $5000 treatment tables. Instead, ask around to see if there are any clinics selling any tables in good shape. There are other options to keep costs low.

We also took away the value of leaning on others for support. You may be surprised how willing and able people are to helping you out. Just make sure that you come prepared because no one wants to hold your hand and do everything for you. To reciprocate the favour, find areas where you can provide value to others, this is how you build a network of colleagues that can depend on each other.

WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS…

Don’t lose sight of what you’re delivering! If you’re a good practitioner and an even better person, your patients won’t care that you don’t have gold plated waiting room chairs. They are there for Y-O-U.

Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable and ask for help where needed. Don’t take things on blindly because you’re too proud to simply ask. We are very thankful for all of the expertise and advice we have received thus far and we know it’s a major factor that’s gotten us to where we are today.

Starting a business is not an easy task and there is no path laid out for you. If there were, more people would be doing it! The good news is, there are people and resources out there to help you find your way. Our goal with Partners in Practice is to share our experiences so that others can learn from them and apply them in their own entrepreneurial journey.