By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
March 31, 2021
Optometrists are providers of important healthcare, and many are also small business owners. Here are 10 major challenges currently facing small business owners, how those challenges play out for practice owners and solutions you can employ to turn difficulties into opportunities.
Going through the pandemic has caused us to embrace change. It had to change the way patients flow through the practice, change our disinfection techniques within the office, and even change how we work.
Let’s consider five of the big challenges still ahead of us.
Transitioning to a Digital World
During the pandemic telemedicine exams were far more common than they are now. As we’ve begun to come out of the pandemic practices are doing fewer telemedicine exams. Yet they still exist. We’ve learned our patients like convenience. What plan do you have moving forward with respect to telemedicine exams?
During the pandemic some staff members worked from home. As we begin to come out of the pandemic some practices are calling for those staff members to come back into the office. What plan do you have moving forward to have staff members working from home?
Forward Planning Is Difficult
We are still not completely past the pandemic. Without knowing how long we will be facing the pandemic and if they’re going to be second or third waves, it’s very hard to plan marketing campaigns as well as knowing how we can serve our patients. The good news is that the average practice was only down about 3 percent in fiscal year 2020 over fiscal year 2019. So far, this year is looking even better than last year.
Before the pandemic we had our work routines in pretty good control. Then, when the pandemic hit it disrupted everything in our world. Now that we’re coming out of the pandemic and establishing our new normal, our work-life balance is starting to settle back down. The problem we need to avoid is to not let our work-life balance get out of control in the new normal.
Blips in Production
COVID caused its own unique blips in production due to shutdowns and changes in staffing. The freighter stuck in the Suez Canal and the 300+ ships that were backed up because of that will have its own ripples through our supply chain. We’ve already gone through toilet paper shortages and may yet face those again. But because we survived it the last time, we know that we can survive it again.
“Maintaining stock of necessary materials to continue day-to-day operations is a major challenge. Due to delays and breaks in the normal supply chain, we’ve experienced longer lead times on most materials out of stock for extended periods from some suppliers. The breakdown in the supply chain has made maintaining the standard increasingly difficult,” said Wayne Miguel, COO/Partner, MightySkins. We agree.
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Pressure to Perform
COVID put pressure on everyone. People are concerned about both their health and their job. Living in constant fear can cause a drop in work performance. This is a time for inspired leadership to step forward. Use this time to learn how to improve your employee engagement then make changes in your practice to implement employee engagement systems. This will improve your practice, not only now, but also in the future.
Malte Scholz, CEO/CO-Founder of Airfocus states that a major challenge is the concern over “the external pressure COVID has put on everyone. People are not just concerned about their jobs anymore, but also about their health. The constant fear has taken its toll and I’ve noticed a drop in performance. The biggest problem is that I don’t know how to respond to this. On one hand, I feel that I need to address the drop in performance if the business will suffer. On the other hand, I can’t put additional pressure on people because I know they’re doing their best at the moment…”