I always wanted to work for myself. When I started my private practice, I was finally able to do that. I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn. The thing is when you are your own boss, there is no one at the top guiding you. Of course, I had spoken to peers before making the jump, but sometimes you don’t know the questions to ask until they are hitting you in the face. So here are three things I wished someone would have told me before I started my business.
1. Account for sick days
I learned this lesson when I was first starting. It was a Sunday night, and I was getting a scratching feeling in the back of my throat. Anxiety descended upon me as I realized I couldn’t afford to get sick.
My practice isn’t what it is now, and we were relying on my paycheck while my wife was back in school. So I loaded up on drugs and waited for morning. Fortunately, it didn’t get worse, but the anxiety was more than enough to scare me into action.
When you are working for yourself, you don’t get the luxury of sick days. When you don’t show up, you don’t get paid so if I were to miss a day or two of work that is a significant amount of my weekly income.
After that day, I made a separate account for sick days, and once a month, I would move money into it. Soon I had enough so the next time I got sick, it wouldn’t cause anxiety, and I would never be in a situation of thinking about working sick to pay the bills.
2. Account for vacation days
Most jobs offer paid time off, so the idea of a vacation is wonderful. Get paid while drinking margaritas on a beach in Mexico, sign me up. Except accounting for vacation days is similar to accounting for sick days, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. So going on vacations for extended periods gets expensive.
Vacations already put a dent in your savings account but what I found was the vacation expenses would more than double when I accounted for the money lost from not working. Imagine budgeting out a vacation and then having to double it. Yikes.
It became tough to justify going on vacation when I realized this, and again, the anxiety of it inspired me to create another account for vacations. Every month I would set money in the vacation account, it wouldn’t go towards paying for expenses, its purpose was to make up for the lost income for when we did travel. If I wanted to take a week or two off, I had to make sure I had enough in the account to justify it.
3. Know when to outsource work
When I started my business, I wanted to do everything myself. One reason was to save money, and the other was because I thought I could do it all. I probably could do it all, and you could too, but I promise you it’s not worth it.
My first EHR (Electronic Health Records) system was a free platform I found. I figured I could use a free system and save money each month by dealing with the insurance companies myself.
This “free” system resulted in me not getting paid for months. I was in over my head, and I could spend hours and hours learning the intricacies of filing and processing claims, or I could spend $70 a month and get an EHR that did it for me. After a couple of months of not getting paid, I made the switch and started receiving checks immediately.
I wasted and lost a lot of time because I wanted to do everything. When it came to the credentialing process of getting a new hire on insurance panels, I recognized right away, this was a time to outsource the work. Again, I could learn it, or I could use my time seeing more clients and paying someone else to do it.
Be honest with yourself about the areas you can handle and those other areas you need to contract out. I get it, you are an entrepreneur; there is nothing you can’t learn how to do if given enough time. Except, your time literally is money. Learning the areas you should pursue, and the areas you should outsource is a skill best learned sooner rather than later.
Sometimes you never know the questions to ask until after you have been forced to answer them. Those are the three things I wish I knew when I started my business. Hopefully, they will save you some time and anxiety when you start yours.