Finances

Do You Have an “Intentional” Practice? How to Find Out & Why It’s Important.

By Adam Cmejla, CFP®

March 2, 2022

We’ve all heard of companies with a vision and mission statement, and the importance of having a business plan to accomplish that vision and mission. But how often are such business plans linked effectively one’s personal plan and vision? Here is how to create a practice with an intentional focus on helping you achieve what is most important to you in life.

What Does It Mean to Have Purpose?
I’m talking about the importance of building a practice on purpose. “Purpose” as in the antonym of accidental. Purpose as defined as “with intention.” But here’s the twist: not through the professional lens, but rather the personal lens.

There’s something magically empowering about being clear, convicted and confident in how you define personal success. I recently had Ashby Daniels on an episode of 20/20 Money and, toward the end of the show, he talked about how “it” won’t make you happy. “It” is defined as anything materialistic that one aspires to have, believing it will bring them happiness.

I’ve found that in the absence of how an individual or family defines success, they will default to “more” in all aspects of their life—personally and professionally. Focusing on more has the propensity to lead to higher stress, anxiety and even burnout. On the other end of the spectrum are those practice owners who have a clear definition of what “success” means to them.

Define What Success Means to You & Calculate How Much It Will Cost
When I think of the word “success,” the first word that comes to mind is “contentment.” How do you define contentment in your life? My personal definition of contentment is the return on life I feel when I’m spending time with those I care about most and we are doing things together that we enjoy.

Once you’ve defined success/contentment in your personal life, the next step is to start attaching dollars to those goals and intentions. This is not a budgeting exercise—you don’t have to build your monthly Netflix subscription into your plan. But you should put basic dollars to what it’s going to take to underwrite your ideal lifestyle.

For example, a friend’s statement of intent with his family is “quality time with our kids, ideally spent outdoors.” This manifested in their plan as a move to Park City, Utah (where he’s originally from) and commitments to outdoor family activities. All of these commitments have dollars attached to them. Some of them are significant. Some of them are smaller. But they’re all tied to an intention.

If honoring your intentions means purchasing a lake house/ski condo/mountain house, or making another investment, you must determine how you will need to build/grow/change the practice to be able to afford to do those things.

Maybe it’s not buying a property, but allocating $X,XXX per year to spend on week-long rentals at various locations, enabling you a variety of destinations. Maybe it’s the annual Disney trip and experiences surrounding that destination. Whatever it is, these exercises and conversations can be extremely empowering and exciting for you and your family to engage in. It instills a sense of control rather than “just showing up” to the practice (and life!) and going through the routine on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.

Create a Practice that is Intentionally Focused on Helping You Achieve Personal Fulfillment
The first point to recognize and ingrain is that one of two things is happening in your practice: you either run it or it runs you. There is no middle ground. The challenge with the latter is that it can sometimes be hard to see. It’s easy for OD owners to get caught up in the day-to-day of seeing patients, charting, referrals, team issues, etc., i.e. “white coat fire-fighting.” Running the practice this way is reactive, chaotic and leaves little time for periodic strategic planning.

On the other hand, the proactive and intentional practice owner takes inventory of where they are spending their time and resources in their practice. One of my favorite phrases in business, while seemingly harsh, illustrates the connection between your intentions and your actions: “Show me your calendar and checkbook and I’ll show you your priorities.” They’re cognizant of where they are not only investing their time and money, but also highly attuned what they need the practice to do for them personally for them to live their “on-purpose life.”

The Math of Creating an Intentional Practice
Distilled to its most basic form, your revenue potential as a combined practice owner and clinician will always bump up against the glass-ceiling product of the following multipliers:

Revenue per patient x number of patients per day x number of clinic days you work

If you’re not happy with the amount of money that you are making in your practice, these are the three, and only three, “levers that you can pull” to increase your revenue, and thus, increase your profitability.

(Adam’s note/word of caution: it’s easy for practice owners to immediately focus on the expenses of the practice and look for areas where they can cut costs. This is indicative of a scarcity mindset and limits one’s potential. Absent an overhauled relationship with your vendors/buying groups to reduce your cost of goods, reducing operating expenses generally doesn’t move the needle in a significant way to accomplish the goals we’re discussing. You’re much better served focusing on growing revenue than reducing expenses).

Beginning with the End in Mind
Let’s revisit the intentional, purpose-driven life, which I noted the importance of planning out and defining. You now have the information you need to determine and answer the following big-picture questions: “In the time that I’m working in my practice, is it providing to my family and me all of the qualitative and quantitative benefits we desire?”

• Am I able to see patients in accordance with a time commitment that serves me well?
• Am I comfortable with the volume of patients I am seeing?
• Am I making enough from the practice that it not only allows me to live my purposeful life today, but also provides the resources (cash flow) needed to save for my eventual exit from the practice?”

Notice that these three questions correlate to the three variables I pointed out earlier that influence profitability. If you don’t like the answer to these questions, you now have the information you need to begin solving the problem.

An optometry practice provides two key resources to the owner: a conduit of cash flow and an asset to eventually be sold. Planning with intention and purpose allows you as an owner to maximize the benefits of each of these resources.

Adam Cmejla, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM Practitioner and Founder of Integrated Planning & Wealth Management, LLC, an independent financial planning & investment management firm focused on working with optometrists to help them reach their full potential and achieve clarity and confidence in all aspects of life. For a number of free resources, visit https://integratedpwm.com/ebooks/ and check out the “20/20 Money Podcast” to get more tips on making educated and informed financial and business decisions.

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And join more than 35,000 optometric colleagues who have made Review of Optometric Business their daily business advisor.
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